Campaign of the Month: May 2023

Motes in the Serpent's Eye

Safe Haven (Finale)
No Happy Endings

In which our heroes are taught an important lesson regarding the preferred serving temperature of revenge.

Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, Date ? recording.
Blah. Blah. Blah. End entry.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, RC-880 “Durendal”, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias and Ditak Kirrin.
Players on LOA :
Ereyie Wel.

Session Summary: (raw notes)

Safe Haven (Part Ten)
Cleaning House

The tide is turning on Haven. Our heroes press their hard won advantage and take the fight to the Black Hydra Pirates.

Aboard the Quim Full of Teeth, undergoing uncontrolled re-entry around Jaeger172-1k (Haven); 5041.156:1830~

Captain Yves Dyn’eldi ran for his life. The Quim was dying around him, the ship was shaking and groaning as it fell out of orbit. Explosions, the screams of trapped and dying crew along with the roar of venting atmosphere blended into a symphony of impending, inevitable, extinction. Pure luck had found Yves outside of the bridge when the fatal missile struck, a final punctuation to the ruination of all he’d worked for the last decade. His exposed flesh was raw from the heat of the explosion, the emergency blast doors slamming shut in his face the only reason he still had one. Damn those lucky RES fucks! Damn Rwvyan! He scrambled over buckling decks and bursting conduits, ignoring cries for help as he ran for the nearest shuttle. An explosion shook the deck above, the floor heaving beneath his feet, debris raining down on the pirate captain, knocking him prone. Yves lost precious moments in semi-consciousness, his vision clearing slowly, the deck tilting alarmingly beneath him, fresh injuries screaming at his rattled brain.

“You look like you could use a hand, love,” a familiar voice said from nearby.

Yves wrenched around, still pinned to the deck by wreckage, and saw a familiar face – his own. The black shining eyes told him at once that it was Slither crouching near him. Yves reached out an arm, but the doppel shuffled back, just out of his reach. She smiled a sad smile, her body making adjustments to her form, filling out mass and bone to mimic her lover. The transformation complete, she stood. “It’s been fun, Yves. I’ll be sure to give Yviene a kiss for you.” She stood and began to climb over the shuddering passageway.

Dyn’eldi full-throated screamed at her, trying to grasp her but the doppel was too far. “BETRAYING BITCH!!!”

Slither, or rather a perfect copy of Captain Yves Dyn’eldi, paused for a moment and grinned his own mocking smile at him. “For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first. No happy endings, lover.” His own voice said to him.

The former king of the Black Hydra Pirates, trapped in the wreckage of his dying ship, howled in rage as his first mate left him to perish.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, RC-880 “Durendal”, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias and Ditak Kirrin.
Players on LOA :
Ereyie Wel.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.159~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

The past two days have been…interesting.

I’ll just try to pick back up where I left off last time. Bishop exhibited an extreme amount of both skill and luck, managing to destroy the Quim’s shields, and ultimately, her engines. The destruction of both the Lovechild and the Quim in that battle left the pirates with only one remaining ship; the Deceit, which immediately retreated to the purple moon, Jaeger172-1 H. We took the opportunity for some much needed rest.

On the morning of 5041.157 it was raining. Bishop, Scrapnik and Keriwar started a critical assessment of the damages to the Speaks. They had already powered up the reactor, engines, teleport block, and shields, as well as countermanded the omega protocol. They had to re-slave the gun emplacement next to us since that connection was destroyed when the Speaks lifted off for the previous day’s battle. While we waited for their investigation to bear fruit, some of us decided we would go pirate hunting.

Serpentce continued to analyze satellite data. He managed to reset the passwords, but also got locked out somehow. If he didn’t get access to the new password before the relays passed behind the moon, he would have to start all over. One of the satellite relays was wobbling, and he needed to get it back on course to buy himself time. He recruited Telliar and Ereyie to help him, since there was a piloting and astrogation element to the work. According to Ereyie (Serpy never tells me what he’s doing), several of the attitude adjustors (thrusters) were broken. Ereyie managed to pilot it back into the correct position, while Telliar helped with the calculations. Once they were done, Serpy scrambled the passwords again so he wouldn’t be locked out. He does good work, even if he is a complete dick.

Dr. Rose spent the morning with Samai and Elly. While they were physically healed, we were all still really concerned about them. Dr. Rose isn’t a therapist professionally, but she was willing to try to help them with some coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, Ditak started going through sensor and satellite logs, looking for any trace of the shuttles that escaped the Quim’s destruction.

We landed the Gracious next to the Speaks, just long enough to move some personnel around. Captain Ni Shen, Zanven, Koto, Dr Caladriend, and Dr. Underbough all stayed on the Speaks to help with clean up and make sure no pirates attacked while Bishop’s team was assessing the damages. The pirates really did a number on the science labs and the galley, so we needed some folks to determine what could be salvaged. We also moved the Cudgel and Adiona back to the Speaks, along with Pei’Fa’s bike. That left the Gracious with the Hover APC that Durendal’s team captured on their way to take the ship and the shuttle we seized yesterday, which we were temporarily calling D3, based on the password. I did change the that password from “drinkdrinkdrink” to “esi5015”. Yes, the approximate year of my birth. “ESI” stands for enlightened self-interest. It seemed appropriate, given Gracious’ attitude.

Pei’Fa took the Adiona into Haven Prime to run some errands. He took Fig Bear with him, and dropped the kid back off at the temple with Adiva. We knew we were going to need to try to make a run at the Deceit, before the pirates committed their next atrocity. With Yves alive, they were definitely not giving up, so we needed to be ready, and a pitched battle is no place for a little kid. Even a kid with that many issues. While Pei’Fa was there, he asked around to see if there were any skilled workers who could help repair the Speaks, or work on the power station that had been blown up by the Insanity. We figured that getting the power up and running would really help the citizens’ morale.

Those of us still on the Gracious flew out to Summermount, the town that had been hit by the poison gas, to see if we could help any survivors. That included Durendal, Yevon as pilot, Dr. Keystone, Dr. Nodagil, and me. We took the Speaks’ complement of gas masks, which equaled about twenty. Dr. Keystone brought various salves and pain medicines. He felt it was unlikely that the toxin would do more than irritate the skin, so we didn’t need full suits, but we definitely needed to avoid breathing it in. It took us about an hour to fly out there. Once we drew close, Dr. Nodagil picked up movement on the sensors. From those reading, he was able to identify a few slow moving groups of people on the outskirts, heading away from town. He also located a small group of twelve living people in the middle of town, in one of the buildings. We were able to easily see the remnants of the toxin, even without the sensors. Everything was covered in a sickly greenish tint.

We set the Gracious down in a field near one of the larger groups of people, and Nodagil and I got out and hailed them. Once they realized we weren’t pirates coming back to finish the job, they made their way to us. I recognized Isobe, whom we met in town with the rebel leader, Tymapius Bigsky. The group was a mixed bag, including elves, humans, gnomes, and a single dwarf.

“Isobe,” I greeted her solemnly. She just nodded grimly in reply.

We spent some time treating the survivors and getting them aboard the Gracious. As the other groups of survivors saw that there wasn’t any fighting, they began heading toward the ship. Once we got a moment to rest, Nodagil decided to try to get some information about the townsfolk.

“Isobe,” Nodagil said, “our sensors picked up a dozen survivors in town. Do you have any ideas who that could be?”

“There were a bunch of kids in there,” she answered bleakly. “Bucky and Wallace went to try to bring them out, but they haven’t come back yet.”

“How were they going to do that? Did they have gas masks?” he asked. Isobe just shook her head, without making eye contact.

“Nodagil, why don’t you and Durendal take the APC into town and see if you can get them out of there?” I suggested.

“Let me get the gas masks,” Nodagil said.

“Keep your eyes open for Colethorn and Wallace. Hopefully they just got stuck somewhere.” I murmured to him.

“We will,” he replied.

When Durendal and Nodagil got to the coordinates, they found Bucky outside a survival tent. He had been dead for a long time. There was no sign of a gnome near his body, so they couldn’t determine what happened to Wallace. The survival tent was airtight, and clearly too small for Bucky. Inside were eleven kids with their schoolteacher. They managed to pass the gas masks into the tent without fouling them. After that, they were able to get the survivors into the APC, and back to the Gracious. Wallace was still missing, but since none of us knew him, there wasn’t anything we could do. We weren’t able to recover Buck Colethorn’s body either. The entire operation took us about three hours, and we loaded 82 people onto the Gracious to take back to Haven Prime. Dr. Nodagil and Dr. Keystone had their hands full treating everyone’s injuries.

While Durendal and Nodagil were gone, I heard from Ditak. He identified three shuttles that came out of the Quim as it went down, that didn’t dock with the Deceit. He traced one to Ligues, one to the wreckage of the Quim, and lost track of the third. Once everyone was back and loaded, we put our heads together about our next steps. Originally we planned to go straight back to Haven Prime to unload the survivors, but I was worried about what those pirates might be doing, and the others had similar concerns.

I decided to call Pei’Fa before we made a decision, to see if we could get more information from Adiva or Bigsky.

“Hey Pei’Fa,” I said into the comm. “Are you there?”

“What’s up?” he responded quickly.

“Are you still in Haven Prime?”

“Yeah, did you need something?”

“Could you ask Adiva or Bigsky if they’ve heard from all the towns? I’m specifically interested in Ligues, but it would be good to know about anyone who needs help or hasn’t checked in since the fighting started.” We disconnected, and I prepared to wait for a while, but he called back just a few minutes later.

“Rwvyan, I talked to Bigsky. He said they hadn’t heard from Ligues or Perpilet. They’ve never had great communications with those towns though.”

“What about Brittlebrook? Dragonshade? Did he mention any other towns?”

He stepped away for a moment and then returned. “He hasn’t heard from them either. Is there anything else you need me to ask them? I’m leaving to go to Wildepost, to give transport to some people who have the skills we need to get the power plant up and running.”

“No, I think we’re good.” I thanked him, and disconnected.

After some discussion, we decided to go from here to Ligues, by way of Brittlebrook and Dragonshade. I was worried about Ligues, because it was supposed to be an agrarian farming community populated mostly by halflings. Not a lot of fighters. If a shuttle landed there, they’d be easy prey.

When we flew past Brittlebrook, we saw people moving around on the edge of town, piling bodies and burning them. As we got closer, they started waving at us. It didn’t take us long to identify them as pirates rather than townsfolk, so we flew in their direction. They were very, very surprised when we opened the cargo bay door and Doc Keystone opened fire with the gatling laser. Durendal tried to take two of them prisoner for questioning, but he did so by smashing them together. That broke one’s neck, killing him. The other pirate’s back was broken, and he fell unconscious.

Once they were all down, we ran some scans and identified two bodies on the burn pile that were still alive. We pulled them out and the good doctors went to work on them. Once they were stabilized, Dr. Nodagil made an announcement on the loudspeakers.

“We are the crew of the RES Speaks Softly, and Therapist is now under our control. If there are any survivors, we killed or captured all the pirates we could find. Anyone needing medical attention, or who wants transport back to Haven Prime is welcome to come aboard.” Only about a dozen people came out of the town and boarded the Gracious. If there were other survivors, they weren’t coming out.

We continued our journey, passing by Dragonshade as well. This town was built on the side of a mountain, clearly by dwarves. We flew up to the large stone gates, where we found dwarves, gnomes and a few humans burning pirate corpses with flamethrowers. A few of the people from Brittlebrook had family in Dragonshade and asked to be left here. We let them disembark, and in their place a few survivors from Dragonshade boarded so they could make their way to Haven Prime.

One dwarf laughed when I asked how much trouble they had with the pirates. “Ha! The pirates were no trouble, laddie. It was the zombies that almost killed us.”

“Zombies?” I asked, startled.

“Ya, from the wreckage.” He gestured in the direction of the Insanity’s crash site. I cringed. Apparently, we should have cleaned that up too. They pretty clearly had things under control in Dragonshade.

Flying away, we saw that huge swatches of the forest around the town were burnt to cinders. The fighting here had been intense, but they pretty clearly had things under control in Dragonshade.

We continued on to Ligues. As we approached, we saw a shuttle take off, burning hard away from us and up towards orbit. I contacted them via comms, with a demand they surrender.

“This is First Officer Rwvyan Nenoic of the RES Speaks Softly. Land your shuttle and prepare to be boarded!” They didn’t reply, nor did they stop.

“Durendal, fire a warning shot please.” Durendal fired at the shuttle, destroying it completely.

“Are you proficient in vehicular weapons?” I asked him, trying to hide my shock.

“No,” he replied calmly. Yevon and I shared a look. “Riiiight.”

Since we didn’t have any pirates to capture, we circled back to Ligues and talked to some of the farmers there. There were no garrisons on this side of the water, so there hadn’t been any fighting. The shuttle landed yesterday, and the pirates spent all their time stuffing in as much food as possible. The loss of that food was a blow, but the town still had plenty of crops in storage. We offered them some radios, that would allow them to get in touch with other towns, and with Haven Prime.

We needed to go after the other shuttle that Ditak traced to the crash site of the Quim. Since Perpilet was on the way, we stopped there first. It also had no garrison, and therefore no pirate presence. They were in even better shape than Ligues, since none of their food had been stolen. We left them a couple of radios as well.

When we eventually got to the wreckage of the Quim, the shuttle had been gone for at least 20-30 minutes. The wreckage was slowly sinking into the bay. We used our sensors to try to find a trail, and were somewhat successful. We could see traces of it where it landed. The shuttle left this spot, flying low near the surface of the water.

We followed the path the sensors provided, burning hard, but we never did catch up. Eventually, Ditak contacted us. He found the barest trace of it leaving orbit on the far side of the moon, staying out of sensor range as much as possible. According to Ditak, it seemed to have some sort of stealth technology, making it extremely hard to track. We decided to call it a day, and head back to Haven Prime.

Upon our return, Pei’Fa told us that the third shuttle, the one Ditak lost track of originally, had surfaced up in Thistlebelch’s Landing. The citizens killed all those pirates, who were also there for food and supplies, and captured their shuttle.

The next morning, 5041.158, Pei’Fa gathered up all the engineers and technicians who were planning to work on the power station, and he dropped them off at the plant to start work. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew talked through the options we had, since one of the shuttles from the Quim has fallen into our hands. Koto once again took the form of the dwarf, Vansk, and went to talk to Zelia to see if there were any additional protocols for a shuttle rejoining its ship, but she didn’t have any additional information for us.

After speaking with Zelia, Koto came to talk to me.

“Brother, I’ve been thinking,” she said.

“Prove it,” I quipped back with a grin.

“Everyone from the Insanity is dead, right?”

“Or undead…”

“Why don’t we do the same thing with the Deceit that we pulled on the Insanity?” she asked with a grin.

“Do you mean take that shuttle back to the Deceit?” I tried to think of reasons not to try it, and fell short.

“Let’s run it by the others,” I suggested.

Koto talked to others on the crew, and by dinner time we had a workable plan. We decided to leave it for the following day, since Pei’Fa would be back. I knew he’d hate to miss this one.

Bishop also had an update for us on the necessary repairs.
• Bridge repairs (damage from the explosion): in a shipyard, this repair would take 3 weeks – this will involve compromising the hull, 3-4 months; the ship is not flyable during this repair; flying from engineering takes minuses, engineering could be upgraded and crew retrained in 3 weeks
• Dorsal and ventral hatches are compromised: 2 levels of repair needed
o 1) making spaceworthy/airtight sealed – 1 full day for each,
o 2) full repair in a shipyard 2-3 days, here maybe a week each to fix.
o Either repair could be done simultaneously if we have the people/tools.
• Forward ramp compromised:
o 1) cut ramp off and weld plate over hatch, half a day;
o 2) full repair in a shipyard 2 days, and here 4 days with the right parts.
• Port and Starboard cargo door supports were cut off in cargo bays, and then damaged:
o 1) welding enough plates to make it airtight would take 3 weeks;
o 2) full repair in a shipyard would take 3 weeks, and here 2 months.
• Hangar door for shuttle was damaged: full repair in a shipyard would take half a day, here would take 2 days.
• Battery systems were suspect: full repair in a shipyard would take 2 weeks, here would take 3-4 weeks.
• Extensive damage to the inside (mostly cosmetic) and sick bay, food stores and lab were wrecked: 3 weeks
• Magazine was empty; we only had lasers

We spent the evening discussing whether we should try to do the entire repair here, or just get ourselves space-worthy and then starcast to the closest shipyard we could find. By the end of the night, we really hadn’t made a final decision. A couple of people expressed interest in checking out the satellite relay station where Serpy had found some activity, but no one wanted to fly the Gracious out there, leaving the Speaks and the townspeople undefended.

In the morning, 5041.158, we put Spaghetti and Meatloaf (the two pirates from Therapist who surrendered to Durendal), in the brig on the Speaks. A little later, we put Koto, disguised as Zelia, in the cell next to them. The real Zelia was tucked away in the Captain’s meeting room, which was scry-proof. I didn’t want to risk Yves having his sorcerer scry on her and find out we were trying to pull a switch. Pei’Fa mind linked with Koto so she could give us information as the plan progressed. While she chatted with the two pirates, we moved the Quim’s shuttle from Thistlebelch’s Landing and parked it right next to the Speaks. Durendal boarded, rolled himself up into a ball and sat in the back of the shuttle with all the food. Then, I went in to pay Koto-Zelia a visit. While I played the fool, rubbing her shoulders and pretending I was worried about her, Koto-Zelia snagged a keycard from my pocket.

After I left, she pushed the two pirates into escaping with her. I actually felt bad for them. They didn’t really want to escape, and kept lamenting about betraying Durendal, who had promised them a fresh start. However, they really didn’t stand a chance against my sister, and she was in her element. The three of them ended up sneaking off the Speaks and “hijacking” the shuttle.

When they took off, we chased them a bit in the Gracious, and I even took a couple of pot shots at the shuttle, missing wildly, to lend veracity to their tale of escape. Since I didn’t want to actually hit them, I did the shooting myself. They escaped, and flew the shuttle up to the purple moon, and to the Deceit.

Once they were close enough, Koto-Zelia contacted the Deceit, and was put in touch with Captain Blackhate.

“How did you get away?” he asked Koto-Zelia.

“They felt sorry for me, and I took advantage of the situation. They had this shuttle right there in the landing area, still packed with supplies, so we took it. Where’s the Quim?” she asked, pretending she didn’t know the answer.

“Gone,” Blackhate replied grimly. “Yves is dead.”

“What? How?” cried Koto-Zelia.

“They got a lucky shot in and took down the Quim’s shields. Another lucky shot sent her down into the atmosphere.”

“Yves is actually dead?” she queried, acting stunned.

“Yes, and the Doc didn’t make it either, but we got a parting gift. We got Slither.”

“Slither? How did you manage that?”

“She boarded, pretending to be Yves. She cut him loose when the Quim went down. She fucked up though, and we got her. She’s going to pay for it for a long, long time.”

“So, what’s next?” Koto-Zelia asked.

“Get the supplies unloaded. We’re going to start over somewhere else.”

They were allowed to dock on the Deceit. When they opened the door, they found that Blackhate sent a handful of pirates down to help with the unloading.

Once they got started, Koto-Zelia said she needed to use the bathroom, and left Spaghetti, Meatloaf and the others to unload the shuttle. She looked for a good place to cast her gate spell, so the rest of us could join the party, and found an ideal spot.

While she was doing that, the pirates moved Durendal into the kitchen, thinking he was some sort of automated chef’s machine. They rolled him behind the cappuccino maker and left him there. Biding his time while he waited for a signal from Koto, he investigated the area. Crucified to the cabinets was a female doppel, clearly Slither in her natural form. She was alive but unconscious. Based on the parts of the ship he’d been able to see, he recognized the Deceit as a Chimera class ship, with the capability of breaking apart into three different ships and a minimum crew of fifteen people.

I need some rest, so I’m going to leave it here, right before Koto opened a gate so we could all board the Deceit and finish this.

Safe Haven (Part Nine)
Carry a Big Stick

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but a well placed ship-to-ship missile will fuck up anybody’s day.

Savain Star System; Meneer, Throneworld of House Golion; Stannic City; Ishin-Kura MultiDomain Amalgamated Headquarters; 5041.155:1500 (relative) I.E.

Tink, tink, tink.

Lord Angkar Quirin, scion of House Golion and Personal Factor of His Bewilderment, Lord Baronet verus sanguis Tyraginal Lycaenidae Malachitrix Cyprian Gemshadow, tapped his nails in agitation on the fine crystal of his wine chalice. He glowered at the elderly human who stood before the wide expanse of his desk, as if his gaze alone could wither the man. The gray haired, compact man had refused to sit during his report and now stood comfortably composed, hands behind his back, somehow conveying both courtesy and a relaxed sense of barely contained disapproval.

“The situation is utterly unacceptable, Admiral,” rumbled the copper-scaled half-dragon.

Tink, tink, tink.

“I couldn’t agree more, my lord.” Rear Admiral Telzron Kimmuren replied somberly, meeting the half-dragon’s stare intractably.

Tink, tink, tink.

For a moment, Angkar had the distinct impression that the RES Officer was not commenting on the same topic. He continued, edging his tone with rebuke. “Barely two months into this operation and your Captain Xau has gone astray from his itinerary, unnecessarily engaged bandits halfway across the galaxy and lost his starship! I’m beginning to think that entrusting the Royal Exploratory Service with Dr. Rose was a mistake!”

“Ni Shen, my lord.”

The half-dragon blinked in consternation. “What?”

“His name is Captain Ni Shen, my lord,” came the unruffled reply.

Angkar Quirin half stood, slamming his fist on the fine polished surface of his desk, accidentally knocking over his wine. Damn it – that was going to stain the carpet. “I don’t give two shits what his name is! He’s screwed up what was supposed to be a covert mission and endangered the entire undertaking!” A curl of soporific gas escaped from his nostril ridge. If he’d been graced with wings, they would be spread wide in draconic rage.

Admiral Kimmuren remained impassive. “Actually, my lord, you and your patrons set the stage for disaster long before the Doctor and her team set foot on the Speaks Softly.” The older man took a step forward. “Your operational security was appalling, your eagerness to play intermediary with multiple factions has jeopardized the integrity the ship’s crew and your coy, lazy ambiguity regarding important details of this assignment have unnecessarily impeded the effectiveness of this team.”

Stunned, Lord Quirin struggled to form a retort, but before he could, the insolent little man continued, barely raising his voice and leaning close.

“Frankly, I should be astounded that Captain Ni Shen and his crew have survived this long – but you somehow managed to scrape together the good sense to come to me for a command recommendation. I knew this was a shit-sandwich when you first approached me so I chose the best officer for the job. Now I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do to help me mend this situation, but first, you’re going to Sit Down And Shut Up.”

The last five words rang through Angkar’s office like shots and, completely dumbfounded, Lord Quirin, scion of House Golion, sat down and shut his mouth.

Characters Attending: Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lady Kotonaru, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, RC-880 “Durendal,” and Ditak Kirrin.
Players on LOA : Ereyie Wel.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.156~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Zelia Storm. Now she brings back some memories, none of them particularly pleasant. When Yviene tried to murder me, Zelia found me, hid me, and managed to get me back to my father’s house. She burned some bridges with Yviene, and the last time I saw her was on Gwydion’s ship, so I had to admit I was shocked to see her here. I was doubly shocked to hear she was serving under Yves.

That being said, her call was convenient, even if it did bring me in line for some teasing from the crew about my pirate “girlfriends”. She was able to point out two more prisoners who would be worth questioning, a man called Hunter and a woman named Vulture. Apparently Hunter came up with the idea of hunting the centaurs for sport, and organized events and prizes. Vulture came up with a strategy Zelia called “Kiss the Mayor”. Whatever that was, it certainly got the attention of everyone in the temple.

I asked Adiva, the Priestess of the Creator who initiated the call, to hang onto her and the other two so we could question them. She promised to do her best, but Zelia’s announcements caused a stir, so we needed to hurry before the good townspeople held another lynching.

The Gracious landed awkwardly in the square. The Captain, Durendal and I led the survivors from Ambergloss out of the ship and into the temple, followed by Ditak. Adiva met us at the doors. She was accompanied by a large centaur and a halfling.

“We have those on the Gracious who are too injured to walk. Are there stretchers available?” I asked Adiva.

“Yes, certainly.” She turned and called for some of those nursing the wounded to come and help. Dr. Rose and Dr. Nodagil helped the most grievously wounded out of the ship, and began assisting the nurses to be best of their ability.

When she turned back, I quickly introduced the Captain. “Adiva, I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding. I am the first officer, not the captain. This is Captain Ni Shen.” Adiva was startled, but gamely introduced herself to the Captain.

“This is Tymapius Bigsky, from Nessus,” she continued, gesturing to the towering centaur. “He’s more or less in charge of our forces, such as they are. With him are Buck Colethorn and Isobe Hyrmithoe,” she nodded off to the side and we saw a familiar centaur, complete with floppy hat. Next to him was a female centaur. She was frowning at us as we walked by, and nudged Buck. They moved close enough to hear the discussion.

“This is Lilly Undertree.” The halfling woman stepped forward into the torch light, and we saw that the right side of her face was ravaged and scarred. She simply nodded. A half orc woman joined us as we walked, and Adiva included her in the introductions, “And this is Nir Edhu. Lilly and Nir are from Thistlebelch’s Landing.”

“Any luck getting power back up?” I asked her.

“No, no power and no transport. Nothing is working.”

“It looks like they bombed the power station north of here.”

“That would explain it,” she said dryly. “All the power on this moon is run from there. Did anyone escape?”

“I don’t know. We noticed it on our way to Ambergloss.” She just nodded heavily when I answered.

“Where are these important prisoners?” I pressed, eager to back to the Gracious.

“Over this way,” she said, and led us through the maze of injured and weary citizens to a group of people being guarded by a number of centaurs with guns. I quickly spotted Zelia.
“Roo, it’s about time you got here,” she said cockily. The Captain looked at me but said nothing.

“Zelia,” I replied, warily. “Where are the other two?“

“Hunter’s over there.” Zelia said gesturing with her chin. I noticed that she was more tightly restrained than the other prisoners.

“What about Vulture?”

She chuckled and looked down at the ground, where a body could be seen. “She didn’t make it.”

“What the hell?” I turned to Adiva.

“Your friend there, having figuratively stabbed Vulture in the back, proceeded to steal a knife and literally stabbed her in the back.”

“What the hell, Zee?” I exploded.

“You didn’t need her, Roo. You’ve got me.”

“Is that so?” I asked grimly. Zelia didn’t seem to notice my demeanor. “That’s right. I’ve got all sorts of juicy details for you. She was the commander of the garrison at Thistlebelches’ Landing, but I’m a senior pilot on the Quim itself. I sit at the right hand of god, so to speak.”

I ground my teeth, which doesn’t feel particularly good when you’re a half dragon, and turned to Tymapius. “I understand that you and your people have a specific interest in Hunter,” I said to him. He nodded cautiously to me. “We need to question him, but I promise you when we’re done, we’ll turn him back over to you.”

“That’s fair enough,” Tymapius replied thoughtfully. We gathered up our two prisoners and started to make our way back to the Gracious. As we were leaving, the Captain paused.

“XO, do we have healing supplies on the Speaks that we can donate to these people?”

“Captain, we moved those supplies to the Gracious, since it doesn’t even have a Medbay. But yes, we do have some supplies that we can leave here.” Durendal went to unload some of our medical supplies.

Adiva laid a hand on the Captain’s arm, “It is greatly appreciated, but what we could really use is any magical healing you might have available. Some of these people have injuries beyond our ability to treat with mundane means.”

“Ditak,” the Captain said, “do you have any healing items you can donate to these good people?”

“I have some derm patches,” Ditak replied. “I’d be happy to sell them…for 1600 credits per derm patch.”

“Excuse me?” the Captain said sharply.

“Well, it is standard practice to charge wartime prices, to maximize profit.” Ditak replied calmly.

Captain Ni Shen was silent for a long moment, then he said, “Just donate what you have and we’ll work out your…compensation…later.” Ditak shrugged and pulled eight derm patches of healing from various pockets around his person, and handed them over to Adiva.

I have Ditak a hard look, and pulled three derm patches out of my pocket. “Adiva, take these as well. They’re from my own personal stock.”

The Captain replied, “I didn’t order anyone to give up their entire supply of healing,” but I turned away, cutting him off. I glanced at Ditak pointedly and said to the Captain, “No need to compensate me.”

Noticing the exchange, Dr. Nodagil came over and pressed two medgels into Advia’s hands. “Please, take these as well.”

Advia handed the healing items off to Lilly, saying, “Your generosity is much appreciated. Is there anything else we can do to help with the fight?”

“We could still really use codes to the satellite network. We didn’t exactly get a chance to ask when we got to Ambergloss.”

Adiva took us over to talk to a gnome named Wallace Bimkonk Whistlebrass, who was one of the Ambergloss survivors.

“Well, most of the satellites are controlled by the starport, so the folks from Haven would know more about that than any of us would,” he explained. “Deg might know. Shortlight Deg.” He looked around, at a loss. “I don’t see her though.”

“SHORTLIGHT!” I yelled. For a moment, there was a startled silence. In that silence, a female gnome sits up, startled.

“I’m Shortlight. Galvemore Shortlight Deg. Most people call me Deg,” she said into the relative quiet.

We moved in her direction and the noise levels began to rise. By the time we reached her, the noise levels had increased to normal. I explained that we were hoping to get the codes to the satellite network, so we could lock the pirates out (among other things).

“Well, I don’t know them all, but Senior Arlin Goldriver might be able to help, if he survived.”

“Is he here?”

“I haven’t seen him.”

I looked at Adiva, “Is he here?” I repeated. Advia looked at me helplessly. “I haven’t seen him, but there are so many people…” she trailed off.

“If he’s not here, where would he be?” I asked Deg.

“At the control tower?” Deg suggested. The Captain and I shared a glum look.

While we met with Adiva and the others, Yevon took the Cudgel and flew back to the Speaks with Bishop, Scrapnik, Pei’Fa, Koto, Zanven, and FigBear. They had orders to disable the Omega mode, power up the Speaks, and raise the teleport block and shields.

Once that was well underway, Scrapnik and Zanven headed over to the gun emplacements in the grounded ship next door, trying to fix what Serpentce did to scuttle them, get them operational and slaved to the Speaks’ control systems.

Serpentce had stayed on Gracious, keeping an eye on our three remaining pirate ships. Deceit was in orbit around the purple moon, while Lovechild and Quim stayed next to each other in geosynchronous orbit just over the horizon. He also found a maintenance message stating it had been 55,000 days since the last maintenance. This led him to make a failed attempt to hack into the relay satellite. Since he couldn’t get in an fix the orbit or make other changes, he beefed up security on the main system. He noticed that the pirates were attempting to hack their way back in, and he made changes to prevent that. Once that was done, he started to pull data to analyze from just the last six years, since we know the pirates arrived at Haven around five years ago.

After working on the gun emplacements for a while, Scrapnik called Serpentce in frustration.
“Hey…hey, Lord Stick Up the Butt! In the tradition of my people, grab my ballsack.” After this brief, frustrating consultation, Scrapnik finally got the guns back online, and slaved over to the Speaks as ordered.

I called Pei’Fa, and when he answered I could hear Koto in the background. They appeared to be having a disagreement about armor for FigBear.

“Yo…” Pei’Fa said.

“Yo back. Listen, we’re trying to find a guy called Arlin Goldriver. He may have been in the control tower there at the starport. Apparently, he looks like Santa Claus, but has green hair. Could you guys check to see if you can find him still alive?”

“Sure, give me a sec…”

Eventually Pei’Fa came back to tell me that Bishop ran a sensor check and didn’t find any humanoid life in the rubble.

I turned to Deg. “There’s no sign of him over near the control tower. Would you be willing to come onto the Gracious with us to talk to our computer guy? Maybe you know some codes that will help him.”

“Sure,” she agreed.

We marched Zelia and Hunter onto the Gracious, and got them secured in separate cells. Then Deg and I went to see Serpentce, who was a dick as usual. Deg didn’t have anything to tell Serpy that he didn’t already know, so she went back to the temple before we took off and headed over to the starport to rendezvous with the Speaks.

When we got there, Koto shifted into her male halfling form with a scarf tied into her left arm, to ensure the Speaks crew could recognize her. That was the persona that Zelia and the other pirates had met, and she wanted Zee to recognize her.

We gathered with Durendal and Ditak, as well as the Captain and a few others, to come up with a plan of action. We quickly identified the topics we needed to cover; 1) info to help confirm the remaining pirate forces aboard the three ships, 2) info about their secret base on the purple moon, 3) relationships and interactions among the captains, 4) codes and communications that would give us intel, and 5) any stand operating procedures that would help us. The Captain made a special point of telling Ditak not to use torture, and suggested some specific questions they could ask.

Direndal and Ditak went to question Hunter, and I went to talk to Zelia. I stopped by Gracious’ quarters and found a good bottle of whiskey.

Durendal restrained Hunter while Ditak asked the questions. Unfortunately, Hunter didn’t actually know much. He was from Therapist, so most of his info was outdated. He wasn’t high enough in the inner councils to know the answers we needed. He did provide one useful piece of data. When Ditak asked where Gracious would have run, he answered
“Albastion, because there’s a shuttle and booze.”

Once I felt prepared, I sauntered into Zee’s cell with the whiskey and a couple of plastic cups.

“There you are!” she said casually. “Took you long enough.”

I didn’t respond to that, but sat down and poured us each a drink. I knew the Captain, and possibly others were listening in. Taking a sip, I asked her, “How the hell did you end up on Yves’ ship?”

“He and his sister fell out hard. She went crazy after you left, like gibbering mouther crazy.”
I didn’t pursue that. She wanted to distract me with news of Yviene, and I needed information that would help us save Samai and Elly. I wanted to yell and shake her, but I needed to stay calm, like there was no rush.

“How long have you been here?”

“This shithole? Been here five years.”

“Be useful. Tell me about Yves, Ironbraid and Blackhate.”

“Blackhate is a loyal vassal to Yves. Yves “saved” him from this orc crew he was traveling with. He’d do pretty much anything for Yves. They picked up Ironbraid on a small station. Funny convinced Yves to let her join. She’s useful but annoying. Yves had something on Funny. Something to do with his magic.”

“Was Funny worried about Yves? Afraid of him? Nervous? Angry?”

She considered that for a moment or two, and knocked back her drink. “Yes, to all of the above. Do you remember Bristig? He was that guy Yviene put the bomb in and made him dance. It was like that. Like you have my ballsack and I’ll do what you want, but if you let go…”

“What’s on the purple moon and why did Deceit go there?” I asked her.

“That’s where they keep the heavy armaments and primo loot. There’s a station there… FAIP LLC bought this system from Zuffusinog Exploratroy Mining Inc. and it’s their station. We just took it. That station is why we came, you know. The colony was a bonus. Slave labor just waiting to get tapped.”

“What do you mean? What’s there that’s so important?”

“A diamond the size of a mountain, and a gate to the elemental plane of earth. Yves found the instructions on how to open the gate. They’ve been trying to get it to work for 5 years.”
Interesting, but ultimately not what I wanted. Now that she’d had some whiskey and relaxed a little, I zeroed in. “What frequencies would Yves be using to communicate?”

Unfortunately, she was as clever as I remembered. Not smart, but clever. This is why she killed Vulture. Hunter didn’t have anything worth killing him over, but Vulture could have answered these questions, so she had to eliminate the competition.

“I want some assurances. I want to get away from this shit stain of a world. I want this ship and a small crew, just enough to get me somewhere else, away from here.”

“That’s not going to happen. Keep dreaming.”

“Then I’m not talking.”

“You’d better give me something. Not gossip, that’s cheap. Something verifiable. Something to prove you’re worth all this trouble. The locals want you all dead. Maybe I should let them.”

“I’ve got something worth your time. I can get you security pass codes for all three ships, user passcodes for the entire Haven satellite network, I can provide you with detailed deck plans of the Quim, which is a Morningwolf class cruiser. It didn’t get decommissioned like it was supposed to. I guess Yves’ family knows somebody.”

“Let’s start with the satellite passcodes. Let’s start there. Once we know your intel is good, we’ll talk about deals.”

In the end, she agreed. She pushed as hard as she could, but eventually she gave me those codes. I took them straight to Serpy, who put them to excellent use pulling down lots of data.

I felt the Gracious take off, and made my way up to the bridge. I left Koto the whiskey, so she could keep at it with Zelia.

“Captain, where are we headed?”

“Albastian. We need to get control of that shuttle.”

Once we got there, we were able to locate the shuttle on the sensors. It was hidden inside an empty grain silo. There were six humanoid life forms outside the shuttle. We flew directly toward it, assuming those were pirates who knew about the shuttle trying to get aboard. Flying past Albastian, we could see there was still some fighting going on between the locals and the pirates.

We got to our destination, where Durendal and I hopped out and moved towards the grain silo. Ditak stayed on the Gracious, providing backup. I used Durendal as cover, due to his size. It was a good thing, because they started shooting at us right away. I yelled out, “This is Rwvyan Nenoic, First Officer of the RES Speaks Softly, surrender or die! I don’t really care which.” As I finished speaking, I heard Ditak fire from behind us. One fell and the other five immediately threw their weapons down and came out with their hands raised.

The Gracious landed, and we got the five pirates restrained and in a cell for transport.

“Hey Ditak, I don’t suppose Hunter gave you the passcode for the shuttle?” I asked.

“He did. It’s drinkdrinkdrink.” Ditak replied with a grin. I lost no time flying the shuttle onto the Gracious. According to the logs, it had been sitting in that grain silo for the last eight months. Prior to that, Gracious flew it all over the planet, and to all the towns. That data would prove potentially useful.

The Captain had Durendal turn the ship and go back towards Albastian. We flew into the middle of the fire fight, and helped the townspeople resolve things. We turned the pirates over to the local leader, a centaur named Adocious Pridefall.

While we prevented the pirates from gaining another asset, Koto had another go at Zelia.
Using subterfuge, she faked the Captain’s signature on a pardon, and got a lot of information out of Zelia in a reasonable amount of time. Most alarming, Zelia told Koto that she thought their next move would be to use a nerve gas on the population. We turned the Gracious back towards the Speaks and Haven Prime in a hurry once that news hit the bridge. We’d barely started the flight back when the Lovechild dropped into atmosphere.
We were too far away to help the Speaks. We just had to trust in Yevon and Bishop to handle the Lovechild. Koto began her scrying ritual, while Pei’Fa reached out with a Mind Link to Elly, telling her we were coming for her.

The Lovechild dropped four drones over Haven Prime. The Speaks disconnected from the gun emplacement for maneuverability and managed to shoot down three of the four. The fourth drone shot its missile over the forest at Summermount.

“No, no, no, dammit,” I cursed as the gas spread out over the settlement.

“Fuck that bullshit,” spat Bishop, firing missiles at the Lovechild. He succeeded in taking down their shields. We saw the Lovechild pull up, heading away from the fight and back into space.

Then the comms beeped and we heard Yves say, “Captain Ni Shen, this is your last chance to surrender. Land the Speaks Softly and maybe you’ll survive this.”

Bishop replied, “I was about to make you the same offer.”

“Your crew members are going to pay the price for your foolishness.” Yves opened comms so we could all hear Elly screaming as she and Samai were swept out into space.

Pei’Fa quickly said to Elly via the Mind Link, “Remember your training. We’re coming for you. Remember your training.”

“Oh gods, he spaced us. Oh gods, it’s cold. Remember my training. Remember my training. Please, hurry!” He kept in contact with her, encouraging her to hang on until we could get up there.

The Quim turned and burned hard towards the Lovechild, firing at them and the Deceit followed suit. The Lovechild continued taking damage and we saw her try to starcast from within atmosphere, which is really dangerous. In this case, it was fatal. Even from the Gracious, we clearly saw their ship falter, and then vanish.

“Wow, I’ve never seen a starcast failure before,” muttered Ereyie from the pilot’s seat. The rest of us stayed silent. It wasn’t a comfortable thing to watch.

Bishop fired the last two missiles on the Speaks at the Quim. The first was an EMP missile, which actually hit, and took out their shields. The second missile hit the engine, and we were able to see the Quim was falling into atmosphere and burning up, just like the Insanity did. A shuttle left the Quim and was picked up by the Deceit, which then fled to the purple moon, Jaeger172 – 1I. Other shuttles also left the Quim before it hit atmosphere, but I lost track of them because Koto’s ritual was complete and my attention turned to her.

Koto nodded to us, and reached out to Durendal. Then they vanished from the deck as planned, teleporting up to space. Once there, Durendal grabbed Samai and Elly, and the four of them teleported back to the Gracious. When they arrived, the girls were unconscious, and neither of them was doing well.

Dr. Nodagil and Dr. Rose immediately went to work. Elly was in better shape than Samai and they quickly stabilized and healed her. Samai was almost dead, and suffering from exposure, blood loss and shock. Dr. Nodagil prepared a ritual, and he and Dr. Rose worked on her for the rest of the trip back to Haven. During the ritual, they managed to regrow Samai’s hand.

It was such a relief, seeing the two of them back with us and alive. Safe. Not ok though. After what they went through it’ll be a while before they’re ok.

I turned to the Captain saying, “Captain, may I call the Deceit?”

Captain Ni Shen gestured and said, “Be my guest XO.”

I moved to the comm and opened a channel to the final pirate ship.

“Captain Blackhate?”

A moment later I heard a growl, “What do you want?”

“I just wanted to let you know that your little plan backfired. We’re all fine here and living happily ever atter. Even the crew members Yves tried to space.”

“Rwvyan?” I heard Yves’ voice at distance. “Rwvyan, watch yourself!”

I just laughed and closed the comm.

Safe Haven (Part Eight)
Send in the Cavalry


In which the Black Hydra Pirates discover that some bites are too big to swallow.

Jaeger172 Star System; Jaeger172-1k (Haven); Alpha Continent; Thistlebelch’s Landing; In the ruins of the Creator’s Basilica; 5041.156:0240.
The soft whispers of hushed conversation blended with the sound of the rain, becoming a susurrus of white noise that seemed to mock the reverence the collapsed chamber had once inspired. A dozen or so cloaked figures huddled close and spoke, trying to remain both unheard and unsoaked by the water that steadily dripped from the ruined ceiling. An emergency ship-lamp provided some illumination and warmth, with care taken to prevent casual detection outside of the broken walls.
“Are you crazy?,” one voice rose in dissent, then quickly continued in more hushed tones. “I don’t want to wind up like poor Aaliyah – do any of you?” An uncomfortable IuII followed, leaving only the sound of rain, during which many of the figures glanced involuntarily in the direction of the nearby town square, even though it was blocked from their view by broken and scorched masonry.
“Squawk box says that Gracious is dead. Lots of explosions and fire over in Prime – you can see the smoke on the horizon,” Spoke another, smaller figure, warming tiny, calloused hands by the e-lamp. “Clearly something’s got them riled up.”
“And when has them being ‘riled up’ ever been good for us?” Countered a third. Indistinct muttering scampered around the circle as all of those present offered soft dubious opinions. Another voice chimed in, saying “the garrison here and Albastián are huddled in their blockhouses… almost like they’re scared.”
“That means shite,” interjected the first, "probably just keeping their arses dry. Even if they
are frightened of something, it just makes them more dangerous. They’ll take it out on us and our families." Another round of quiet mumbling followed.
“So are they fighting each other?” Asked a previously silent voice. “What does that mean?” Quiet, far off thunder rumbled, seeming to provide an ominous answer. A series of soft, steady clicks, metal on stone, emerged from the dark in the aftermath of the sound, startling the huddled group, some of whom clutched at hidden weapons, others preparing to scatter into the dark of the night.
The clicks approached, slow and steady, and three large shapes slid into the faint light cast by the ship lamp, resolving into a trio of drenched centaurs, their flanks steaming in the dampness.
“Tymapius…” hissed the first speaker, pulling back her hood to revealing graying dreadlocks and the aging face of a half-orc woman. She spat on the wet cobbles. “We know it’s bad when you come skulking out of the shadows.”
The big bay male in the center of the new arrivals grunted, slinging a well used assault rifle over his shoulder. He wiped water from his face and grimaced at the half-orc.
“Surprised to see you too, Nir Edhu. I expected you to be cowering in some cellar.”
“Go fuck yourself, ponyman.” The two other centaurs, a female appaloosa in a hooded shirt and a younger male chestnut wearing a floppy hat that dripped water, both stiffened, gripping their rifles. The centauride snarled softly and started to raise her weapon. The larger centaur just stopped her with a light hand on the barrel and a frown. The younger centaur in the hat merely looked aghast, gaze flashing nervously back and forth between the rivals.
“Let’s save it for the pirates, Nir. As much as we’d both enjoy a little scuffle, we’re here with news.”
A small wet figure moved forward from the gathering, taking a step toward the big centaur, also drawing back her soggy cowl, showing a once winsome halfling woman with horrific scars up and down the right side of her neck and face.
“Where were you, Tymapius Bigsky?” Her rough voice accusing. “Where were you when they looted the basilica? Where were you when they beheaded Conrad Button on the altar?” Her voice rises, shrill and uncaring of being heard over the rainfall. “Where were you when they made me ‘Kiss the Mayor’?” She cried, touching the wreckage of her face.
Her words clearly stung the big centaur, who flinched and looked away. The centauride beside him actually growled and strained to raise her rifle against Tymapius’ grip, but it was the young centaur on the leader’s right who hissed an answer at the challenge.
“You know very well, Lilly Undertree – we were fleeing for our lives! They burned Nessus to ash – our folk fell by the score trying to save our town. Just like yours. Trying to stay alive. Just like you. We’ve been scattered and scrounging in the forests while they hunt us for sport.” He paused, hands shaking with emotion. “We buried our dead and worked to keep our kin alive. Just. Like. You.” The young centaur lowered his rifle and head, shoulders slumping. He wiped ineffectually at his eyes, tears and rainwater mixing on his cheeks.
It was Nir Edhu who broke the awkward, angry silence. Laying a hand on Lilly’s shoulder, she spoke quietly. “She’s sorry, Bucky. She’s hurting. We all are.”
Lilly gave a frustrated little screech and pulled away from the half-orc, turning away. Some of the tableau’s tension bled away into the rain. Again, the storm took center stage for a few minutes.
Tymapius Bigsky shook his head wearily and then met Nir’s gaze. “We’ve all lost a lot. And,” He let out a large sigh, “we all have … regrets.” The old half-orc nodded tightly in response, so he continued.
“They honey-trapped another ship – but this one’s different. They can fight. Have fought.”
A bearded man toward the back threw up his arms. “Great! Just what we need. Mercs or worse yet, Imperials.”
“You’d rather try your luck on next season’s ‘Target Practice Hunt,’ Joundu?” an old gnome beside the human said wryly. Several other of the still cloaked figures shuddered.
“No,” interjected the big centaur, “They’re not Legion. They’re Royal Exploratory Service. Not the same thing. And they kicked the shit out of Gracious. We think they’ve captured Therapist.” The centaur named Bucky nodded vigorously. A few soft gasps could be heard.
Bigsky held up his hand in admonition. “There’s more. We think they may have shot down the Insanity.” More sounds of astonishment. “Isobe here saw what we think was Captain Funny’s ship go down to the north-west, near Dragonshade, on fire and spewing escape pods.” One bedraggled dwarf by the e-lamp actually cheered, then covered his mouth with both hands.
Nir Edhu sputtered. “You’re serious?” The centuride next to Tymapius grinned savagely. “It’s true, I saw it while scouting early this evening. Then Mad-eye’s ship rocketed low over the shade forest dropping cargo containers shortly after.”
The grey haired half-orc stood a little straighter at that. She met Tymapius’ eyes.
“Then we have to act. We may never get a better chance. Shite, may never
get another chance.”
The centaur gave Nir a fierce smile, baring his teeth. “We hit em hard and fast.”
“They’ll retaliate against us all if they win." Edhu cautioned. "It’ll be worse than when they first arrived.”
It was Isobe who replied. “Worse than what we’ve already been through these past five years?”
Afterwards, as they all filed quietly out of the broken church, breaking off into smaller groups with various assignments to vanish in the still falling rain, Tymapius Bigsky paused by the town’s garbage-filled central square. Nir came up beside him and placed a wrinkled hand on his flank as they both gazed up at the defiled statue of Haven’s founder. Secured lewdly with barbed wire to the statue was the vacuum frozen corpse, re-animated by necromancy, of a human woman who had once been the mayor of Thistlebelch’s Landing. The ever writhing body snapped its teeth and strained vainly to reach them, making hungry, animal-like noises.
“I’m sorry, Aaliyah. It’s time you had a rest. I’ll tell Yves you said ‘hello’.”
A single gunshot echoes briefly in the night.

Characters Attending: Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lady Kotonaru, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, and RC-880 “Durendal.”
Players on LOA :
Ditak Kirrin, and Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

This is so long, and I’m so tired, but so much happened and I don’t want to forget any of the details.

Picking up from my last log, the power was still off. We were moving around the Speaks on emergency power, since if we turned everything back on the pirates would know about it. We were hoping to fool them into thinking they had killed most of us. Plus, we didn’t want them to bomb the Speaks, since we’d be sitting ducks. Emergency power gave us enough light to move around, but not enough power to run anything on the ship.

The Captain and Caladriend were in the starboard bay, while Zanven and Wel took the portside bay. Keriwar, Scrapnik, Telliar, and Dr Underbough were in engineering. We were spread out because the loading ramps were cut off, so the bays were sitting open. The pirates also breached the ventral port on top of the ship, and damaged the forward ramp underneath. They basically made it impossible to secure the Speaks, so Scrapnik and Keriwar set up cameras to cover the ventral port and forward ramp. Engineering already had cameras on the bays, so we were able to watch the camera feed for intruders.

Koto, Doc Keystone, Dr Rose, and I finished questioning Slither. We made sure she only ever saw Koto, who was in Yves’ form. Once we were done, we knocked her back out, keeping her bound and secured, under watch. We weren’t taking any chances that she might escape after we went to so much trouble to capture her alive. I found myself wondering if it wouldn’t be safer to kill her, but a trade for Samai and Elly still seemed like our best and only option.

Meanwhile, the command deck of Gracious in Defeat was filled with cursing, grumbling and the grinding of draconic enamel. Durendal’s group “enlisted” the two surviving pirates to help staff the bridge, while Serpentce dug around in the logs.

Pei’Fa kept our minds linked. I’m sure it drained his energy, but it was convenient to be able to pass messages so easily. The Captain was connected to Pei’Fa, Durendal, and myself. We each remained connected to our teams from the morning.

I’m inserting the list of teams again here for reference:
• Captain to Team Leaders
• Team 1: Pei’Fa, Dr Rose, Dr Nodagil
• Team 2: Durendal, Kirrin, Bishop, Keriwar, Serpentce
• Team 3: Rwvyan, Koto, Zanven, Yevon

At 16:30 local time, the Captain asked Durendal for a status report on the pirate ships. He asked Durendal to have someone covering the sensors at all times, keeping track of where the 3 pirate ships were, and monitoring in case there was anything else in the air. Durendal assigned this task to Bishop, who was well suited for it.

They reported back that the Quim was in geosynchronous orbit, roughly over Haven Prime. The Lovechild was in the atmosphere to the northwest, flying around in a seemingly random pattern. The Deceit could not be located at all.

In poking around on the Gracious, Bishop found a cache of preset scanner locations from before Durendal’s reset for most of the settlements. There were a few off-planet, and finally one called “Birthday Cake”. Gracious’ transponder had a setting called “The Rapist” and another called “Bonco’s Investment”. The last one was transmitting loud and at full volume, so Bishop turned it off immediately.

After some discussion, we reluctantly agreed to move the entire crew and our prisoner to the Gracious. The Speaks wasn’t getting off the ground anytime soon, and would take weeks of repairs to be space-worthy again. Common sense dictates that when your enemies know where you are, don’t be there. It bothered me more than I expected. I’m attached to that stupid ship. Strange how you can live some places for years and they never feel like home, but a few short months on this ship and I’ve gotten all attached.

Captain gave the order to be ready to go by 18:00. Instead of scattering in a panic, people took turns grabbing their most necessary possessions, since we still needed to monitor all the entrances. Everyone buddied up with other crew members, and we managed to get packed without incident. Koto was packing up our stuff when Serpentce contacted her and asked her to pack for him too, which was a surprise. I suppose he wouldn’t want anyone who wasn’t a “lord of the empire” touching his things. I spent my time making sure I had all my weapons, and cleaning out the armory. I loaded as much as possible onto the Adiona and Cudgel. I didn’t want to leave anything behind that these fuckers could use against us.

Keystone and Keriwar did the same thing in the Medbay, since we didn’t expect to have enough supplies on the Gracious. We figured we would need all the medical supplies before this mess was over. I did remember to ask Yevon if she needed anything from her quarters, but she said she didn’t. Then we initiated Omega mode for 24 hours on the Speaks. That was gut wrenching, since we just turned it off.

The Captain drove the Adiona, with Koto, Keystone, Slither, Telliar, Underbough, Caladriend, and Scrapnik packed in. Zanven piloted the Cudgel. Dr Rose, Keriwar, and I went with him. Ereyie took Pei’Fa’s hover bike. That guy is a lunatic. He was doing barrel rolls and other tricks every time we caught sight of him. He definitely took the bike on a joyride, but by 18:30 we were all at the Gracious in Defeat.

The Captain stopped in the loading area and asked Durendal for permission to come aboard, which was granted. I guess the Captain wondered if Durendal was going to claim the Gracious as his own, but he handed over command of the ship right away.

Once that was resolved, the Captain pulled Bishop, Durendal, and me aside to give us RES official guides. They go blank if anyone else touches them, which is kind of neat. Not sure when I’ll have time to read it though. He also showed us a small black ball called an ansible and explained that it would let us call for help one time if things got really bad. I found that amusing in a dark sort of way. How much worse do things have to get before he uses that?

Durendal told us about the two pirates who surrendered and the surviving slaves who were still aboard the ship. He explained to the Captain that he offered them their lives if they behaved themselves. Dr Rose immediately left to help Nodagil tend to the former slaves. While the command staff was talking, Dr Keystone and Keriwar brought Slither aboard, and put her in a room where she could be restrained. Keystone and Keriwar were assigned to watch her. Durendal also mentioned that Serpentce found Gracious’ personal log. He was busy going through that, as well as listening in on the pirate transmissions. Apparently, they got their prisoners to provide information on the pirates’ communications channel.

As a reminder, when we first arrived at Jaeger172, we scanned the moon and found fourteen settlements on Haven and a small 15th settlement to the north in the wooded mountains with heavy industrial looking buildings, that seemed to be abandoned. The fourteen inhabited settlements are as follows:

1. Haven Prime (notable for being the most urban location on the planet, has the only starport)
2. Nessus (ruins to the south in the grasslands)
3. Dragonshade (in the mountains to the northwest)
4. Brittlebrook (to the northwest in the grasslands, about halfway to Dragonshade)
5. Emberspell
6. Ambergloss
7. Ligues
8. Spirit Valley
9. Perpilet
10. Liciennes
11. Wildepost
12. Thistlebelch’s Landing
13. Albastian
14. Summermount

This information will be relevant later in the log. The Gracious was located 2.5 clicks from Haven Prime, in the scrapyard. There were other ships there, which is ultimately good. We might be able to repair the Speaks if we survive this.

We made our way to the bridge to find out what Serpentce and Bishop discovered. Bishop reported that there were six humanoid life forms in other ships around us, who were almost certainly pirates, watching and reporting back. I’m really glad that we drove the Adiona and the Cudgel into the bay, so they couldn’t see us all getting out. Zanven turned himself invisible and went out to scout the pirates watching the Gracious, so we could deal with them.

While he was out scouting, Bishop called out that Lovechild was changing direction and moving towards a hydro-electric facility to the north of Haven Prime. Apparently, Lovechild had orders to bomb the facility, which took out most of the power in Haven Prime, and the other settlements.

Serpentce was monitoring ongoing communications among three groups of pirates: 1) survivors from the Insanity, waiting for order and hoping to be picked back up, 2) ground-based pirates in 13 distinct locations, talking to each other with simple messages like,
“Power is out, trams are down,” and 3) a group that must be the three remaining pirate ships, with designations of Purple, Dread and Void. Here’s a short transcript of the conversation as I remember it.

Purple to Dread: Status?
Dread to Purple: Objective accomplished.
Purple to Dread: Go to orbit as discussed
Dread to Purple: What’s going on with Void
Purple to Dread: Mind your business
Purple to Void: Status?
Void to Purple: Enroute. No happy endings.
Purple to Dread: No happy endings.

Have I mentioned that I really hate that phrase? Yves used to say that shit all the time. No happy endings. I’d like to end his happy with extreme prejudice.

Around 19:00 local time, Bishop picked up Lovechild, except she is not where he expected to see her. She was running dark, and had taken up geosynchronous orbit, roughly over the Speaks. Bishop also noticed that the Quim’s beacon was brighter. We did some brainstorming about what could cause that, such as cloaking another ship, getting outside the teleport shield, or a blast to hide something going on behind it from the planet. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come up with a theory we could all agree on.

Just as the conversation was heating up, Zanven returned with his report. All six of the humanoids were pirates, as suspected. There was one pair, and the other four had taken up individual positions, surrounding the Gracious. Two of them had missile launchers. He laid out their locations, which were roughly noon, 2, 4, 6, and 9 o’clock.

We really needed to get Pei’Fa and Yevon back to the Gracious, but they were still hours away, and on foot. Koto said she could teleport out to get them, if she knew where they were. She explained that scrying was the best possibility, but that it wasn’t a power she had. Apparently, it is a power in the Knowledge domain, which is not something Koto can access.

Durendal called Pei’Fa, so that Koto could get a fix on them, which worked. They left the feed open for 60 seconds, and she was able to see enough of the area to teleport to them.

While this was going on, Durendal turned and walked off the bridge, saying, “Captain, did you hear that?” The Captain left with him, while I stayed on the bridge.

Koto teleported back with Pei’Fa and Yevon, but they arrived in cell 5 with some of our pirate captives rather than on the bridge. Moments later, Yevon sent me a mental poke, saying, “We’re in cell 5. Come let us out of here.”

“On my way,” I replied, and headed over to the cells.

Meanwhile, Durendal and the Captain arrived at the door of the room where we were holding Slither. The doorway was completely iced over. They broke in, only to find Keriwar lying in a pool of her own blood, and Slither gone. The Captain quickly went to help Keriwar, and in the process discovered that she was still alive, but wired to a bomb. If they tried to move her to stop the bleeding, the bomb would go off.

I could hear urgent voices as I walked towards the cells, and as I passed I called out to them, “Hey Captain, is everything ok?”

The Captain yelled back, “Keriwar is down and Slither is free!”

I snapped ““Wait!” to Yevon through the link and changed direction, running towards the Captain. As I did, I saw Nodagil at the end of the corridor and shouted, “Nodagil we need you, run!”

Hearing the shouting, Yevon turned to Pei’Fa and said, “Cut through this door, now!” He did, and they all rushed out of the cell. Koto took a moment to secure the pirates, replenishing her magical energy in the process.

I ran to the room, but the Captain threw out his arm, preventing me from entering and stumbling into Keriwar. I paused and looked around the room. Slither’s restraints were sliced and hanging loosely from the chair where she had been secured. Keriwar was bleeding out, the blood puddle growing steadily as I watched. Finally, I noticed the wall, where someone had written “No happy endings” in Keriwar’s blood. It had to be Yves. He had been here moments ago, within my grasp, and I didn’t even know it.

As Nodagil rushed up to us, slipping a little on the blood, I felt my vision go red. I know I yelled and cursed, but it’s all a blur until the Captain slapped me.

“Get a grip XO!” he snarled at me. “This is what he wants. He wants you to lose control!”

I sobered instantly. I’ve experienced this rage before and it has never ended without violence. I stood, completely immobile, watching Durendal and Nodagil trying to heal Keriwar without blowing us all to pieces. It never occurred to me to run. Durendal managed to somehow grip the grenade and hold it closed, while flipping Keriwar over onto her back. Nodagil began the healing. After a moment, or an eternity, Keriwar took a breath. She was alive. I turned and walked out, light headed with anger and relief.

The Captain was right behind me, “Where are you going, XO?”

“I’m going to kill some pirates.”

“Not without backup. Get up to the bridge.” I found myself obeying him, even though I wanted to snarl and rage. He was right, I needed backup. I needed Koto.

In the end, a group of us went out to kill the nearby pirates, including myself, Koto, Pei’Fa, Serpentce, Kirrin, and Bishop. Pei’Fa went directly to the pair of pirates hiding at the noon location. He killed them both and took their missile launcher.

I made my way to the pirate hiding at the six o’clock location, exiting via a side sally port off the bridge. He also had a missile launcher. He saw me coming and tried to shoot me, but unfortunately for him, his aim was terrible. His missile bounced off the Gracious and hit the pirate sheltering at the four o’clock location instead, killing him outright. I cut him down, taking his missile launcher, three more missiles, a chainsaw and a laser pistol.

Serpentce cast Detect Surveillance. The pirate at nine o’clock popped up to see what was going on and Kirrin was able to shoot him easily. Serpentce immediately rushed over to the body and began looting it. I have no idea if he found anything of interest because…Serpentce.

Koto was watching the final pirate sitting at two o’clock. She saw him talking on his communicator, so she cast a bolt at him, which shook him up, but didn’t kill him. Bishop took care of that by snapping of his neck.

While all that was going on, the Lovechild took an opportunity to fire on the Gracious, but Yevon skillfully shot down their missiles. Pei’Fa decided to take a shot at the Lovechild with the missile launcher he liberated from the pirates at his location. He did manage to hit it, but the shield deflected the damage.

By 20:30 local time, the pirates closest to the Gracious were dead, and the ship was operational.

I desperately needed something to do. Slither’s escape was devastating to me. I hadn’t realized how heavily I was counting on trading her to get Samai and Elly back. My brain felt like it was wrapped in wool. I was furious with myself, and as a result, I was furious with everyone else. Koto knew the signs and was giving me space, but I needed a task.

I requested that the Captain let me take the Adiona into Haven Prime to check on the locals and get news. He agreed, as long as I took a few people with me. In the end, I took Koto, Dr Rose, Pei’Fa, and Serpentce.

It was dark and raining, and the power was still out. When we rolled into town, some of the locals started firing at us. They went so far as to load up a cart with combustible items and start rolling it towards us. Eventually, I got out and introduced myself, which convinced them to stop attacking us long enough that we could make it to the temple.

Once we got there, I was startled to see a line of spikes in front of the temple. Each spike had a head impaled on it. Most of them were pirates, but I saw a few gnomes as well.

The priestess Adiva Saadi met me at the temple door. “Come in, come in,” she said, hustling us inside. “We weren’t sure you were still alive.” Dr. Rose immediately entered and started moving from group to group, looking for townspeople to aid. Pei’Fa kept one eye on her while listening to my conversation with Adiva.

Once securely inside, I answered her, “We are alive, and we’ve taken Therapist. Gracious is dead, and we’ve rechristened his ship Gracious in Defeat. We crashed the Insanity, so you don’t need to worry about Funny continuing to bomb you or the other settlements.”

“Praise the Creator,” she said, genuflecting slightly towards the altar. “Haven Prime isn’t completely liberated, but any pirates left here are in hiding.” She paused as a small figure pushed its way into our circle. It was Fig Bear.

“Hiya Fig,” I said, “Good to see you.” Adiva looked uncomfortable.

Fig Bear grinned and said, “We’ve rounded up more collaborators for execution!” I blinked at them, trying to understand. They turned to Pei’Fa. “Pei’Fa! You’re here! You’re going to teach me to eat faces, right?” They wriggled their way over to Pei’Fa’s side, and I turned back to Adiva.

“Collaborators?” I asked quietly. She nodded soberly. “When the townsfolk ran out of pirates to execute, Fig Bear and others started identifying other residents whom they deem as supportive of the pirates and their rule here.” She looked grim as she spoke.

“Fig Bear?” I said. I looked at Pei’Fa, where he stood talking with Fig Bear. “Fig Bear is targeting other residents?”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “I fear the town has gone a bit…mad…”

“How many pirates do you estimate are still on the planet? They had a garrison of sorts here in Haven Prime, did they not?” I asked her, getting back on topic.

“Yes. I think they kept a local garrison in every town. There were guards on the hydroelectric station as well.”

“You have a satellite system, don’t you?” I asked. “Are you in contact with the other towns?”

“We do,” she replied. “But while I know the frequency, I don’t have the codes. Someone in Ambergloss should know. We can try to reach them, although we haven’t heard from them recently.”

She crossed the temple nave to a group of people huddled around a small radio. After a few minutes she came back, “We aren’t able to reach anyone on their end.”

“That’s ok,” I said. “Keep trying, and let people know that Therapist is under new management. We’ll head that way and see if we can offer any aid.” She nodded in agreement.

Pei’Fa added, “They seem very focused on the other moon. The purple one. Do you have any idea why it’s so important to them?”

Adiva shook her head and answered, “The other moon? I do not.”

Fig Bear piped up, “Can I come back with you, Pei’Fa?” I opened my mouth to say no, that where we were going was no place for a child, when I looked out the doors of the temple. Was Haven Prime really safer for the kid? The talk of collaborators was troubling me as well.

Adiva leaned in, catching my gaze. “Please,” she said, almost whispered. In that moment, I realized she was afraid of Fig Bear.

In that moment, I answered, “Sure Fig Bear, you can come with us.” Koto looked at me like I had lost my mind. “Pei’Fa,” I continued, “the kid is your responsibility.”

“Captain,” I said through the mind link, “We need to go to Ambergloss.” In short order, we arranged for the Gracious to fly over and pick up the Adiona, before flying out to Ambergloss.

Once they arrived, we boarded the Gracious, Fig Bear in tow.

Pei’Fa let our mind links drop. As we walked towards the bridge, I said, “Hey Pei’Fa, do you have to be near someone to mind link to them?”

“It depends,” he said. “How well I know them, for example. Or how far away they are.”

“Could you mind link with Samai or Elly?”

A moment later I realized he had stopped walking. I turned and looked at him.

“Well, fuck. I can try.”

Once we were on the bridge, Pei’Fa settled down to try to link to Elly. I’ll report here what he told me after they were done.


“Pei’Fa? Pei’Fa! Is that you?”

“It’s me.”

“Oh gods, oh gods, he said you were all dead.”

“No one’s dead Elly. We’re all ok. Only you and Samai were captured. Are you both ok?”

“Oh gods, they hurt us. I think Samai’s dying. She’s so cold.”

“Where are you? Do you know what ship you’re on?”

“No. We’re in an airlock. It’s so cold here. She’s in shock. I’m trying to keep her warm.”

“OK. That’s fine Elly. Can you tell me what you see?

“Another ship. I can see another ship. That’s all.”

“OK. That’s good Elly.”

“Pei’Fa? Don’t leave me, please don’t leave me.”

“I’m still here.”

“That man, Yves, he said you were all dead. He said Rwvyan was working with him, helping him., betraying the crew.”

“That’s not true Elly. He’s just messing with you. We’re all fine, and Rwvyan knows him but he’s not helping them.”

“He asked me questions. I tried to lie, but…oh gods, they hurt Samai, the orc and the doctor, they cut off her hand. I…told them everything in the end…I couldn’t help it. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“That’s ok Elly. That’s fine, its going to be fine. We’re going to get you both out of there. We’re planning now. Just pay attention to what’s around you. You might see something important.”

“I’m so sorry. Please don’t leave me alone here.”

Pei’Fa talked to her for a long time. He offered to let the Captain talk to her directly, but in the end the Captain declined. If I had to guess why, I’d say he couldn’t afford the distraction. Maybe he just didn’t want to hear her voice knowing he couldn’t save her.

While Pei’Fa talked to Elly, giving her what comfort he could, Serpentce hacked into the satellite system with the frequency that Adiva provided. He managed not only to get us logged in, but to change the codes and lock the pirates out.

Bishop was keeping an eye on both the Lovechild and the Quim. They were right next to each other in geosynchronous orbit just over the horizon. We overheard a message coming from somewhere in space to the two ships, “Candle’s Lit”. The only reply was, “No happy endings.”

Sooner than I expected, we were approaching a plateau near the village of Ambergloss. There had clearly been a battle here. As we watched, about a dozen pirates moved around the plateau performing coup de grace on wounded enemies. They saw the Gracious and started cheering.

Moments later, we got an incoming transmission, “It’s about time! Get over here and pick us up.”

We just responded, “We’ll open the hatch for you.”

We met them at the hatch with the gatling gun, and mowed them down. I don’t feel bad about it at all. Not one bit. Once the pirates had been sorted out, we used the ship’s sensors to locate survivors. We found some people on the plateau were still alive, and there were people hiding in the settlement. We ended up with about thirty survivors boarding the Gracious. Most were injured, and in need of medical attention.

We started the trek back to Haven Prime. Among the records we found at Ambergloss, Serpentce and Bishop found records showing there used to be a sixth pirate vessel, the Basilisk, until a year ago. The pirates shot it down themselves. They have a strict policy: no escapes, no messages out, no wreckage. They’ve been very careful. They keep an armory on the purple moon nearby, rather than on Haven, which explains some of the importance of that moon, if not all.

Bishop managed to pick up the transponder of the Deceit. It was heading for the purple moon. He also reported a message from the centaurs. They have retaken the planet.

We found out from the records that they resupply at Almer Station. They sell slaves there, and recharge their starcasters. Maybe if we don’t get Samai and Elly back here, we can buy them back there. The thought makes me ill.

We just arrived back at Haven Prime when the Captain pulled Pei’Fa and me aside with a very serious look on his face. “No matter what happens, gentlemen. No matter what, Yves doesn’t survive. That’s an order.”

The severity of it settled around my shoulders. My Captain has just given me a kill order. Finally, something in my life is black and white. I am to kill Yves. I look at Pei’Fa and we nod solemnly to one another.

As we reentered the bridge, Ereyie was saying, “Priestess Adiva Saadi, from Haven Prime would like to speak to Captain Nenoic.” He was smirking, and I was horrified.

“Captain,” I said desperately, “I didn’t tell them that, I never said…”

The Captain snorted and said dryly, “Take the call, XO.”

Ereyie patched it through, and I clearly saw Adiva. “We have a prisoner, first helmsman of the Quim. She’s demanding to speak to Captain Nenoic.”

I opened my mouth to explain that I am not the Captain, when a prisoner is shifted into view. It was a woman, dark skinned with long black hair tightly braided and pulled back into a ponytail. She was a handsome woman with high cheekbones and prominent eyebrows. I recognized her immediately, even with the bruising and one eye swelled shut.

“Hiya Roo, parlay?” she quipped, with a hesitant grin.

Well, fuck me sideways with a spanner. It’s Zelia Storm, and I kind of owe her my life.

Safe Haven (Part Seven)
Snipe Hunting

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Aboard the Quim Full of Teeth, in geostationary orbit over a point west of Haven Prime; 5041.155:1630~

Ellywick returned to consciousness sitting up, head slumped, chin damp with drool. Squinting and blinking gummy eyelids open she quickly arrived at several realizations. First, she was bound to some sort of wheelchair, arms, legs and torso strapped securely to the conveyance. Second, she felt significantly better. Not great, but not all shocky and about to go down for the count. Lastly, she was apparently the guest of honor at some sort of feast.
Her chair was pulled up to a lavishly adorned dining table, covered in delicacies and delectables. A gold-embossed dish filled with some kind of dark custard sat before her, gold spoon and fluted crystal glass of wine to either side. Her mouth started to water at the food smells. Elly pulled at her bindings, winced in discomfort as her twisting pulled at her nearly healed injury.
“Welcome back, Ms. Frothelthimble. You nearly didn’t make it – fortunately, your trauma symbiote kept you going until we could get you to a healer.” Said a rich, pleasant voice from somewhere across the chamber space. The gnome’s eyes quickly adjusted, and she could now see an equally appointed sitting room? Dining room? A tall, fit human rose from a stuffed armchair and strode unhurriedly towards her, setting a book aside as he did so. He seemed vaguely familiar, but Elly couldn’t place where they might have met. As her vision cleared and she regained focus, she blinked in surprise. This guy looks like he stepped out of a space pirate tri-vee serial! She almost laughed, but then caught the look in his cold gray eyes and remembered her situation. “Where’s Samai? Where’s my crewmate?” She croaked, voice cracking unexpectedly.
The pirate captain – at least she presumed that’s who this guy was – approached and sat one hip up on the table next to her setting. “Ah, right to the point. Are you sure you don’t want something to eat first? Some wine perhaps?”
Ellywick cleared her throat. “Cut the crap, Captain Corsair. Where is my..:”
Quick as a flash, he slapped her. She gasped both at the suddenness and disregard with which it happened. No anger, no more thought than he’d spare to flick an ash from his sleeve, just cold, simple, admonishment – like he was correcting a puppy.
“Let’s stay polite, Ms. Frothelthimble.” He picked up the spoon and helped himself to a bit of the custard. “Mmm. Yummy, Elly. May I call you Elly? You can call me Captain Dyn’eldi.” He gestured at her nose with the utensil. “Now, Elly,” he continued, his tone warm and conversational. “As to your companion’s disposition…” He withdrew a data tablet from a hanger on his belt and propped it up on the table before her. It lit up, displaying what looked like a dentist’s chair in a medical theater. Strapped to the chair was Samai Wolff. A balding, white haired elf stood nearby, fiddling with equipment.
Ellywick went cold. “Don’t hurt her. Please.”
“My dear Elly.” replied Dyn’eldi, “I have no intention of hurting your friend.” His voice rose a bit, taking on a commanding tone. “Dr. Xyrwynn, you may begin.” An electric crackling sound came over the datapad’s speaker, joined by Samai’s cries of pain.
The pirate captain leaned close to the trapped gnome, blocking her view of the screen. He grasped her chin roughly, forcing her to meet his cold, empty gaze.
“Allow me to explain how this is going to work. I’m going to ask you questions and you’re going to answer them to the best of your ability. If I think that you’re lying, or you hesitate, or obfuscate, the doctor is going to hurt your friend. Nothing permanent at first – but we can work our way up to the kind of things that require regeneration or wishes to fix. Do you understand me?”
Ellywick was shaking now, straining to break away and see the datapad, from which the distressed sounds of her friend still emerged.
He shook her face and leaned even closer.
“There are no happy endings here, Elly. No heroes are going to burst in and save you. You and your friend are only going to leave this ship by an airlock. You get to decide if there’s a slaver transport or vacuum on the other side. Nod if you understand.”
Lip quivering, she nodded in his grip. If she got the chance, she was going murder this man. But he had made his point.
Captain Dyn’eldi released her, leaning back to sit on the table’s edge again – all smiles and charm once more. He took another spoon full of custard, savoring it while her best friend whimpered in pain. Smacking his lips and setting the spoon aside, Yves crossed his legs and folded his hands on his knee, regarding her with a serious expression.
“Now. Let’s start with the crew compliment of the
RES Speaks Softly. Skip no one. Begin.”
Eyes never leaving the display of the datapad, Ellywick began to talk.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.
Players on LOA :
Ditak Kirrin, and Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

We appeared in the starboard bay of the Speaks, where Keystone immediately pointed the gatling gun at us. Once we convinced him to stand down, we rushed outside to look for where the Insanity was going to crash, hoping it wasn’t right over our heads. Thankfully, it was a good distance away. As we watched, escape pods continued to burst out of it. That meant more pirates on the ground, which wasn’t great news.

Keystone and Pei’Fa briefed us on recent events and the current status of the bridge crew and Durendal’s team. I was crushed that Samai had been a fake, although it explained why Yves was claiming to have both girls locked up on the Quim. Zanven was even more upset than the rest of us, and pulled me to one side to explain that he had lent “Samai” his invisibility ring. We grabbed some communications gear off the dead pirates around the Speaks, in the hopes of hearing something significant.

We clearly needed to regroup, but it was also obvious that Yevon and Pei’Fa were both seriously frustrated. I asked them to go secure the weapons emplacement next to the Speaks. It served two purposes. Firstly, securing the weapons emplacement. Secondly, letting the two of them blow off some steam. They were quick and effective. There were only two pirates manning the guns, and they quickly captured them. Yevon then shot up the control panels, so the guns couldn’t be used against us. Meanwhile, I checked in with the Captain.

The bridge on the Speaks was a mess. It was obvious we wouldn’t be taking off anytime soon. The Captain was in his ready room with the other members of the crew. They all looked a little worse for wear, and Dr. Nodagil assured me they were looking much improved since he healed them after the explosion. We managed to overhear a communication from the pirates that “care packages” would be sent down to the survivors on the ground. That seemed way too humanitarian for Yves, but we started seeing parachutes from space coming down in the area around the Insanity.

While all this was going on, Bishop was starting his repairs on Therapist, which were going to take about two hours. First he got the video feed up and running, so Koto could find a good place to teleport over with Nodagil. There were a number of prisoners on Therapist all from other ships which were unfortunate enough to be caught in this trap. Nodagil wanted to check on them and make sure they were healthy.

The Captain asked us to gather some intelligence about the townsfolk, so I volunteered to go into town. Dr. Rose volunteered to go with me in case she could help with any injuries. I also took Fig Bear, intending to get them out of harm’s way and back to their family. Fig Bear is such a cute kid, but damn are they dangerous with a weapon. They insisted that Pei’Fa had taught them how to use a blaster, but Yevon relayed to me that Pei’Fa wasn’t comfortable with their skills, which was alarming. I thought about giving them a stun baton, but I was afraid they would hit me with it accidentally, so I gave them an unloaded blaster pistol. Fig Bear immediately started miming shooting everywhere, so I made the right choice. I was planning to take Brilletai with us, but when I got to the brig, he was dead. My guess is “Samai”, a.k.a. Slither, killed him on their way out.

So much of the town was destroyed that it seemed like the only place to go was the Church. We noticed along the way that the townspeople were getting more and more hostile. When we got to the Church, the priest on duty asked me what the Captain was playing at. When we offered to help, he suggested that we had done enough. After some back and forth, I convinced the priest to tell us what happened. Apparently, the Captain had just driven through town on Pei’Fa’s hoverbike shooting random civilians.

Dr. Rose started healing people while I did some fast talking to convince the clergy that the shooter was in a disguise. Then he went out to calm down the crowd, and I started helping people put out fires. While I worked, I used my link to share our new intel with the Captain, who was not amused at the shapeshifter’s antics.

While Dr. Rose and I were in town, and Nodagil was treating the prisoners aboard Therapist, Pei’Fa and Yevon headed out into the forest to look for the “care packages”, since we didn’t want the pirates to arm themselves and regroup. I ran into Buck Colethorn, and told him about the packages and what Pei’Fa and Yevon were doing. He left to go and search the forest.

In the meantime, Pei’Fa and Yevon actually found one of the “care packages”. Pei’fa had Yevon hide over a hill and used one of his powers to open the box from a distance. It was just as well, since it exploded. Yevon contacted me to let me know they were booby traps. I immediately warned one of the centaurs, and he went to find Buck and let him know. They went around finding more of the traps and setting them off, in order to prevent civilians from stumbling across them.

Durendal finally checked in with the Captain with the news that the newly christened Gracious in Defeat was operational. As the ship’s systems came up, he asked Bishop to scan for life forms aboard, to be sure the complement matched the expected number. It didn’t. There was one extra life form. Bishop recounted the eighteen refugees, and got the same result. He then did some more specific readings, looking for a location, and he eventually found them in one of the service ducts. After some chasing back and forth, a pirate climbed out of the duct work and surrendered. They locked him in the brig.

While I was helping with the fires, I was asking people if they had seen the Captain or the hoverbike. I finally got some intel, so Dr. Rose and I made our way over to the parking garage near what used to be the civic center.

We saw the hoverbike on the top of the garage, but we couldn’t see Slither. We crept carefully up the steps so we could get a closer look. Pei’Fa had an auto lock function to disable the bike in case of theft, so he set that off remotely. I started to maneuver around some of the wrecked cars, getting closer, looking for a sign of the rider. We assumed they were wearing Zanven’s ring, so we tried hard to be quiet and careful.

Dr. Rose backed down the stairs and started casting a spell that would create some rain. Her idea was that if we could get the shifter wet, then they wouldn’t be able to sneak as effectively. Unfortunately, Slither must have heard her moving around, because they attacked her. Dr. Rose managed to shake off the attack, and she continued casting and recasting, creating wet and muddy areas so we could see footprints.

I took every opportunity to attack them, but Slither was really good at sneaking and moving around. Eventually Dr. Rose’s casting paid off, and I was able to see a footprint in the mud. Instead of trying to attack them with my sword, I tossed a thermal grenade in the area where I thought they were, and slid over the hood of a vehicle, taking cover behind it. The grenade went off and it did everything I could have hoped for, setting Slither on fire, and knocking them out.

Dr. Rose and I quickly bound Slither and called for help. Once I told Koto where we were, she teleported over to get us, since she had seen the parking garage earlier that morning. She took us all back to the Speaks, so we could examine them and determine if they had any sort of spellware. Dr. Rose scanned her and sure enough, she had a trauma symbiote, something to boost her agility, and a subdermal communicator, which we removed. We removed their shoes, bound them and gagged them, and put them in the brig while we discussed next steps.

I pulled Zanven’s ring off their finger, and returned it to him privately. He was very happy to get it back. Slither also had mutable combat armor, a bag of derm patches, a gyrojet pistol with a variety of color-coded rounds, goggles, a datapad, a cred stick, and a short cape made of metallic scales.

Then the debate began. We finally had some leverage. However, questioning her was going to be tricky. After much debating and persuading, the Captain and Doc Keystone allowed that we could question her while keeping her partially under sedation. Koto came up with the idea of shape shifting into Yves and trying to get her to talk about some topics that might prove useful to us.

Koto shifted into Yves’ visage and Doc Keystone woke them up. They were punch drunk and silly. It quickly became apparent that Slither and Yves were lovers.

Koto started out by asking what we did to them. Slither replied, “It was Yviene’s boyfriend…tricksy, tricky. Why did you shave?” Koto hedged that answer, but we realized that we hadn’t actually seen him recently, and our time was probably more limited than we originally thought.

With that in mind, Koto changed tactics, asking Slither, “What are we going to do now that Funny’s gone?”
Slither replied, “What are you worried about? Ever since you had me steal his phylactery; he’ll be back.” She kept trying to get Koto to untie her or get intimate. Apparently, this is a game they play with Yves regularly. Not an image I really wanted in my head.

Then Koto tried to get Slither to talk about us, asking why the RES was here, and insinuating that it was more than a coincidence. They just laughed, replying, “They’re just here on a routine survey.”

Koto pressed on, asking them, “What do we do about Ironbraid, now that Blackhart’s headed back to the moon?” Slither was too busy being amorous to even respond intelligibly. She tried again, asking “Did any of the other Captains try to contact you while you were on planet?”

They answered “No, no one knew we were there.”

“Well, something was going on with Funny.”

“Yeah, well just show him the button and it’ll be fine.”

Koto knew that we didn’t have enough information about Funny to keep on with that line of questioning and switched gears. “Were you able to get any data from their ship?”
Slither chortled, “They really bought the whole Yviene thing. They think that bitch is really coming here. Hey lover, want to play a game?” She pressed herself up against Koto and shifted…into Yviene. I threw up a little in my mouth. Now I longed for the image of Slither playing bondage with Yves. That image was so much better than picturing Yves revenge fucking the likeness of his own sister. Shards and Shells!

While writhing against Koto/Yves she said in Yviene’s voice, “I will send another army of assassins after you and they’ll all be shifters, you fucker!”

Koto played along for a minute and then tried to get Slither calmed down, professing concern for their well-being. She said, “They didn’t return your pad, is there anything on it that we need to worry about?”

“Just a couple of the scrolls. Only 2 left, I used the rest.” Slither said. They were pouting a bit because they were still tied up, and not getting any action.

“What do we do about Ironbraid? She seems to be speaking more independently, especially since Blackhate left.” Koto pressed harder, hoping for information about what Blackhate was after on the other moon.

Slither snorted. They were definitely coming out of their stupor. It was almost time to put them back under. “Like he’s going it figure it out. Blow her out of the sky. Why are you acting weird? What…are you suddenly not trusting Blackhate? I still think that the key is in the fape charter.”

I think they said “fape”, although it could have been “vape”, or maybe even “fake”. Then they looked more closely at Koto and started.

Koto leaned in close and said, “The eyes are the hardest things to get right, aren’t they? Yviene sent more after all.” She winked at Slither and motioned for Doc Keystone to put her back under. As she lost consciousness she said, “Oh shit, that bitch…”

At least we know that Yviene is not on her way, small mercies. I’m not sure I have any great ideas for getting Samai and Elly back from Yves. The only ship we have that can fly is the Gracious in Defeat. It’s weapons are not impressive. The chances that we can get close enough to board the Quim are fairly slim. Somehow we have to get him to land and bring the girls back within reach. We have the advantage that he doesn’t know how many of us survived our recent endeavors, but our assets are thin on the ground. I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something.

Safe Haven (Part Six)
Gallows Humor


Wherein the crew confirm their suspicion that Cap’n Funny, Isn’t.

Tarnahan Star System; Almer Station (Module Mu7); The Zealous Jackal Pub; 5041.149:2220

Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio, Eater of All, indifferently gripped the throat of the nattily dressed halfing con artist, watching with apparent disinterest as the little man’s face turned blue, then purple, eyes bugging. Around him, the other patrons of the bar attended to their own business as if an enormous green half-dragon wasn’t seated at a nearby table casually choking the life from one of their fellows. And why should they bother? Unless said half-dragon decided to come after them. The halfling drummed his bare heels frantically against the floor faster and faster as he clawed uselessly at the scaled hand of his soon to be murderer. Di’Shio watched the capillaries in the rascal’s eyes began to burst and sighed as the little con-man finally expired, falling limp in the half-dragon’s grasp. Lord Di’Shio gave a last squeeze, savoring the way the the little shit’s neck bones crunched in his hand, then, with disgust, tossed the body aside lest it expel it’s bowels and foul his feet. There was a beat where the bar’s clientele paused to see what Di’Shio would do next. He raised a hand and snapped his taloned fingers loudly.
“Someone haul this trash away from my table before it starts to stink.”
He tossed some gold on the table in emphasis. The reassured customers returned to their drinking, carousing and fighting while staff hurried to drag the still warm corpse away. Di’Shio quaffed his own drink morosely. He’d spent nearly a month in the outlands of the coreward reach running down Dr. Rose’s science ship and had very little to show for it save for an inexorably depleting starcaster and increasingly impatient sendings from his Exalted Mother, Reaper take what passed for her soul. He and his siblings had ridden the
Thirsty for Vengeance hard across nearly a third of the empire trying to catch up to the Speaks Softly only for the trail to go cold at Persilom. Truth be told, they’d been flailing about like idiots trying to locate word of their quarry for weeks. His brother Urthii was no doubt off loosing a fortune in the station’s casino to ease his own dismay.
“Mother is going to eat us,” he muttered sourly into his beverage.
“You look like your dog just died.” Came a voice near his seat. Di’Shio quickly glanced up from mug to find a short – to him – human woman with a clean cut green-black bob wisely standing out of reach at the far side of his table. She wore some kind of uniform with a lozenge he failed to recognize on it’s breast. Several strides behind her lingered a slump shouldered, distracted man with too blue eyes, looking for all the world like a left behind pet.
Di’Shio grumbled, squashing his impulse to ask what a dog was, and showed his teeth to her – it usually was very off-putting to lesser races. To his surprise, the woman smiled slyly and swirled a wine glass in her pale hand.
“What did your last guest do to cause such offense?” She sipped her wine and slide gracefully into a chair opposite him, taking care to remain out of casual reach.
“The little shit presumed to sell me bogus intel. I’m not looking for another ‘guest’. And I’m not into mammals. I am,” he began, flexing his wings.
The presumptuous bitch actually interrupted him, saying, “You are Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio, Eater of All and Favored son of Duchess Reythliivmaar of House Esmer.”
Di’Shio actually blinked, his jaw working slowly in surprise. She’d actually pronounced his mother’s name correctly. Who the void was this human? He mentally checked his implants, finding no hostile enchantments present.
The woman sipped her wine, clearly enjoying Di’Shio’s momentary bewilderment. She set the glass down purposefully in front of her and leaned on the table, fingertips touching in a steeple before her face. She peered at him and smiled.
“My name is Captain Nadira Torell. And I’m here to help, my lord.”

Characters Attending:
Lord Rwvyan Nenoic and Lady Kotonaru Joined by Zanven Greensleeves and Yevon Si.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

We appeared in a corridor amidships, while alarms started going off. I checked the ship layout, and determined that we needed to move straight ahead down the corridor. As we prepared to move out, a mounted gun dropped down out of the ceiling at the end of the corridor. I ran forward, drawing Singularity from my back, and slashed the sword into the array, slicing off both barrels. Koto, Zanven and Yevon moved up to my position, and we turned a slight corner to find a blast door.

We heard a male voice over the intercom say “New playthings! It’s time to join the crew!” We assumed it was “Cap’n” Funny, trying to be funny.

Zanven asked me to slice the cover off the panel next to the door. He pulled out an electronics kit, and began hot wiring the controls, with Yevon’s assistance. Koto prepared herself for whatever might be on the other side of the door. When the door slid open, we saw another swarm of hands. The make voice came over the intercom again, saying “All hands on deck, tee hee.” I snarked, “That was…weak.” Koto used her wand, and the hands disintegrated to ash in a blast of fire. The other door warped slightly.

We were having trouble opening it, so Koto handed me her sword, VoidKiss and I used it to cut through the door. Once we were through, we saw a ramp leading up to the right. As we hit the top of the ramp, we saw six pirates. Three were kneeling and three were standing behind them. All were armed with laser rifles. From behind them, someone else tossed a grenade onto the ramp. I snatched it up and tossed it back to them. Always a classic. We heard a pirate start to yell “Aaargh…” just before it went off, knocking them all down and stunning them.

Koto used her wand again to devastating effect, killing all seven pirates. In the aftermath, we heard the sounds of shattering plasteel and shorting electronics. Lights along the upper part of the wall started flashing blue. Zanven took a look around and said, “Oh. Well.” In unison we all say, “Oh, well, what?” He replied, “Shields are down.”

Zanven started rifling through the pirates’ pockets, and grabbed a laser rifle for himself. He also found a keycard with the number 20 on it. Yevon also appropriated a laser rifle off the floor. Spying something small flying away down the hall, about to turn the corner, she took aim and shot it. It fell to the floor.

Over the intercom, we heard a scream, and then a voice said, “You killed Coco! I’m going to eat your guts, you bitch!” Yevon responded by unloading a couple of additional rounds into a little rotting winged monkey. She refrained from any verbal comment. We moved up the hallway to find another set of blast doors.

Within the mind link, Koto suggested that she teleport us to the other side of the next set of blast doors, rather than trying to cut through them again. We all agree. As Koto casts, a door on our right side opens and four pirates rush out and shoot at us. We can see at least four more in the room behind them. They first group missed me and Zanven, but hit Koto and Yevon. Then they dropped to their knees, and the second row fired, except for one pirate who fumbled his weapon. We could hear zombie noises from the room behind us, and we suspected that the shipboard necromancer raised the defeated pirates, planning to make us fight them a second time. Koto teleported to the other side of the blast doors.
We appeared in another long stretch of corridor ending in another blast door. I took the opportunity to seal the door behind us with quickcrete. We reviewed the schematics, and decided we were close enough for Koto to teleport us right outside the bridge. After a quick discussion, Koto picked a room just off the starboard side of the bridge. Just as we made the decision, Yevon dropped to the ground. She was still breathing, but it was shallow and fast. I picked her up, and Koto teleported us.

Koto had some difficulty getting through the enchantments near the bridge, but as a sorcerer, she was able to overpower the ward. The room where we appeared was clearly central life support, with large oxygen cannisters and control panels. There were three pirates in the room, but we had the drop on them. I carefully put Yevon down, and beheaded the closest one before he could sound an alarm. Koto killed the second one with a sonic bolt, and Zanven jammed his stun baton into the third pirate’s armpit, dropping him to his knees. I stepped over and killed him.

We had a quick discussion via mind link about what forces we might still encounter. Zanven suspected a minimum of 20-25 people would be needed to fly this battlecruiser, and we had already killed ten. However, there was no guarantee that Funny hadn’t stuffed in extra crew.

We needed to figure out how to prevent the necromancer from raising the dead pirates while we were fighting too, and we needed to get Yevon back on her feet. She was clearly poisoned, and none of us had a dermpatch that would cure poison. I looked around and found a medkit on the wall. We were really lucky, because it had one neutralize poison dermpatch. It also had two rebreather masks, and Koto put those in her bag, just in case. I slapped the dermpatch onto Yevon, who woke up pretty quickly. Koto and Zanven were freaking out about her mods. She’s going to be pissed if she finds out they know. Zanven found some additional keycards on the dead pirates in here, and pocketed all of them.
Once she woke up, she wanted to know where her new laser rifle was…apparently, I dropped it when I scooped her up in the hallway. I gave her mine to use by way of apology.

Koto pulled out her window chalk so we could see through the door into the next area, comparing it to the schematic. She saw two pirates run by carrying heavy weaponry, heading to our right. We decided to go left. I asked Zanven if he could get the door open. I didn’t see anywhere to use a keycard. He looked at me and reached over to push a green button next to the door. The door slid open. He pushed the red button. The door slid closed. The little smartass said, “Yes, I can.”

Then we heard a woman’s voice over the comm, “Attention all station, please report in. Please report in.” We were out of time. I passed the web grenades I took from the Armory to Yevon.

I carefully opened the door and stood just out of sight, listening. I could hear people typing around the corner to the left, along the wall. I heard a woman’s voice (not Sofia) say, “It sounds like they’re wiping Gracious’ ass.”

Funny said, “Good, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Now let’s give them a prize for their efforts, prep the nukes.”

Sofia said, “But sir, what about all that treasure that’s supposedly down there?”

He replied, “We’re not in this for the loot, target the RES ship.”

I tried to reach the Captain, but he wasn’t answering. Yves was always a damn liar, but I have to admit, the silence worried me. With no way to warn the rest of the crew, we knew we had to stop them from dropping any nukes.

Koto made sure Zanven had all the key cards we’ve collected. His job was to prevent the launch of any nukes. Yevon was going to continue to watch our backs while Koto and I engaged Funny.

I took out one of my own precious EMP grenades and tossed it right into the center of the bridge. We heard Sofia yell “Grenade!” and Funny cast two spells back to back. Then the grenade went off and all the lights went out. I slapped on a dermpatch of darksight and moved towards Funny, but Sofia blocked me. It turns out that Funny is the necromancer, not Sofia. She said, “You aren’t going to touch him.” I didn’t bother to reply, since I clearly intended to touch him. With my sword. On the kidney.

While Sofia and I tested each other’s martial skills, Koto also used a derm patch of darksight. Then, she used her breath weapon on the five pirates sitting at the panels to our left, killing them. She followed up by casting a rapid fire bolt at Sofia. Both Sofia and Funny had some sort of arcane protection. The first bolt got through the arcane protection but Sofia dodged it. The second one hit but she shook it off.

Meanwhile, Yevon kept her eyes and gun trained on the far end of the corridor, in case any pirates came our way. Zanven pushed the dead woman out of the closest chair so he could sit down as soon as the power came back on. He stood against the wall with his flashlight in his hand, but turned off.

Sofia tried to insult me, bless her black little heart. She said, “What are you supposed to be, some kind of mutated draconic afterbirth?” I replied, “I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.”

Sofia and I continued our frenzied swordplay, neither one gaining any real advantage over the other. Funny was casting spells at me and at Koto, and things were chaotic as hell. Two pirates came running back up the corridor, and both Yevon and Zanven shot at them with their laser rifles. Yevon killed one and Zanven hit the other but didn’t kill him.

Funny is casting spells around the corner, so we can’t clearly see him. Koto decided to cast a Dispel from the wand, and also cast a greater blast. The dispel did not take down either Sofia’s or Funny’s arcane protection as she had hoped. The greater blast didn’t do any real damage to Sofia or Funny, but she did manage to kill three more bridge crew, including a helmsman, who was ignoring the fight and throwing a fit, slamming his fists on the helm over and over again.

I could hear people yelling from the other side of the bridge, out of sight. I took an opportunity to glance around the corner, and I could see there was fire outside the main window, but I couldn’t see the cause.

I continued to fight with Sofia. I have to admit, she was good. Yevon killed the pirate Zanven had been targeting, clearing that end of the hall. Koto decided to try another dispel on Sofia and Funny, and this one worked. She followed that up with a blast of fire from her wand. Funny went up like a candle. He collapsed into the helm seat, dropping his staff onto the floor. Sofia, also badly burned, turns to see Funny fall and screamed out, “You killed him, you son of a bitch!” at Koto. Koto simply replied, “Daughter.”

Sofia decided to retreat, but we were determined not to let her. She used a dermpatch to make herself invisible, but Koto dispelled it. The fight continued but in the end we killed her. I scooped up her sword and plasma pistol, while Koto grabbed Funny’s staff. That’s when we noticed the pirates from the other side of the bridge were fleeing. Looking out the window, we could see flame.

Yevon said, “We’re in reentry, and our shields are down!”

At that point, discretion seemed the better part of valor. We saw shuttle pull out of the bay and whip around, slamming into the side of the ship and crashing.

We decided to follow the bridge crew, and left through the far doors. Rather than follow the crew’s example and try to take a shuttle, Koto teleported us back down to the starboard bay of the Speaks. We found Keystone there, manning the gatling gun. He didn’t shoot us with it, which we greatly appreciated. I asked after the Captain, and Keystone informed us that the bridge had been blown up by a “fake” Samai.

Safe Haven (Part Five)
The Doppelganger Dilemma


In which our crew learn that more is not necessarily better.

Aboard the Quim Full of Teeth, in geostationary orbit over a point west of Haven Prime; 5041.155:1400~

Airlocks are not generally designed to be comfortable. They tend to be brightly lit, claustrophobic and cold. Especially when you’re dressed only in undergarments. Samai Wolff huddled in a corner, shivering, knees drawn up and arms wrapped around her equally cold, but better dressed, shipmate, Ellywick. Even though she still possessed her uniform, the gnome was not in good shape. A damp, dark stain spread across Elly’s abdomen where she had been shot earlier. The shooting had been brutal in it’s casualness, a simple goad to make Samai disrobe and hand over her uniform. The two of them had managed to pack the wound with strips of Elly’s own clothing, but inevitably shock had overcome the little technician – who now shivered and sweated, her face taking on a grayish cast.
For the hundredth time, Samai looked around the small room for something that could help them. And for the hundredth time, she found nothing encouraging. The small chamber contained little more than a poor excuse of a fold-down bench, a welded-shut equipment locker, several carabiner connections, a powered-down control panel and two ominous, air-tight doors. One led to potential escape, the other, death by vacuum. The pirates who had tossed them here had laughingly called it ‘the Mayor’s office’. Samai didn’t know why, but was fairly certain she didn’t
want to know, judging from the multiple scratches in the paint and small streaks of old blood.
A muffled rapping of knuckles on porthole of the inner door made the young woman start. Peering in through the thick glass appeared the leering face and tusks of orcish pirate, one of the ones who had brought the two
Speaks crewmembers here. The pirate waved and grinned, the face withdrawing. Then, with a metallic creak and a whoosh of air, the door opened – the inner one, thank the Twelve. Samai did not relish the thought of trying to gasp void. She took a second to breathe in the fresh, warmer air that entered.
The corridor beyond revealed, arranged as if a final exam for ‘MasterClass Menacing Tableaus’, three pirates. The orc from before, dressed in clean but patchwork armor, and dripping with weapon straps. A soulmech, with torn, battered and spotty synthskin covering, profane graffiti spray painted all over it’s body.
In between the two stood a tall human, perhaps in his early fourties. Handsome, dressed in dark comfortable clothing that showed off a good physique. Dark swept back hair, gray eyes and sculpted cuirass with a half-cape and ornate weapons belt completed the image. He looked like a pirate king straight out of the tri-vees, almost, but not quite, cliche.
The man smiled broadly. “Hello. I’m Captain Dyn’eldi. My friends call me Yves.” The smile grew wider, showing gleaming teeth. "I
do hope that we’re going to be friends."

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal” and Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias
Players on LOA :
Ditak Kirrin, and Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

I went back down to engineering to meet the Captain, providing a status update. In order to reset the Omega, he needed RES officers, and he proceeded to swear in Bishop and myself. I’m feeling both nervous and proud when I stop to think about it, but there isn’t much time to worry about that. We cancelled the Omega setting, and then turned our attention to next steps.

The Captain decided we needed to clear the ship first. We hid our noncombatants (Underbough, Telliar, and Fig Bear) in the sensor bay with Ditak as guard. Koto stayed below to continue questioning Scurvy and capture her likeness and mannerisms. Brilletai was freaking out because he heard Scurvy say all the captives were dead, and we had to restrain him. Eventually, we stashed him in the brig for safekeeping. The rest of us made our way to the middle deck, where we picked up Durendal, clearing out pirates as we went.

They pretty much had sacked our rooms, but several of us stopped off to grab personal gear as we could find it. Captain authorized me to open the Armory, and we geared up. Once the ship was clear, at least temporarily, we picked up the rest of the crew from the sensor bay. Samai tucked herself into a corner. She still wasn’t letting anyone touch her. The Captain went to his quarters and got his gear, while we packed into the bridge, and did some healing on Ereyie and Caladriend.

I have to admit, Caladriend didn’t abandon Ereyie, and she fought like a dragon. Color me impressed. I like her a little better. Marginally better. Let’s see if she stays off the drugs.

We decided that in order to get Elly back, we needed three approaches. The challenge was going to be communicating without the pirates overhearing us. Pei’Fa suggested using a mental power called Mind Link to let us communicate. We split into four groups. The Captain would remain on the bridge with the noncombatants, as well as Ereyie and Samai, while Scrapnik and Keriwar worked on necessary repairs. He would be connected directly to the leader of each team so he could coordinate. The team leaders would be connected to everyone in their group.

First was my team, which would include Koto, Yevon, and Zanven. Koto would impersonate Scruvy and try to talk her way onto the Happy Insanity. She would start rumors about treasure on the Speaks, to try to discourage random fire from above. We would try to take over the gunship, preventing it from bombing the civilians and the Speaks.

Second was Dr. Rose’s team, including Pei’Fa and Nodagil, and Doc Keystone. They would patrol the Speaks, keeping it clear of pirates.

Third was Durendal’s team, including Bishop, Serpentce, and Ditak. They would make their way overland to Therapist, and rescue Elly, hopefully taking or disabling Therapist in the process. Killing Gracious would be a nice bonus.

Durendal’s team started for Therapist and ran into a patrol. I wasn’t present so I only have the barest of facts. They fought and killed the patrol, took their APC, and made their way to the target. Some pirates ran from them back toward the Speaks, getting killed by Pei’Fa. The team discovered that someone, probably Elly, had set a very familiar virus lose on Therapist, disabling all ship systems. Serpentce recognized the virus as a modification of the same one that had been released on the Speaks. Sir Gracious geared up in his legionnaire’s armor with a plasma cannon. They killed Sir Gracious and took Therapist. Elly is no longer on board, if she ever was.

My team took the shuttle and bluffed their way aboard the Happy Insanity. We killed an animated skull-hand. Apparently, we were supposed to “feed it”. Yuck. We got swarmed by animated disembodied hands. Koto did a blast to destroy them, while I downloaded a basic layout of the ship from a nearby console. First Mate Sofia Bones gave the order to vent our section of the ship, so Koto teleported us to an inner corridor. The screams of dying pirates were music to my ears.

Yves contacted me over comms, claiming that all our crew on the Speaks was dead, and that if I surrendered he would release Samai and Elly. I asked for proof of life, and he agreed. I could hear them both yelling, and cursing the pirates, so it seems he really did have them on the Quim. That means whoever our “Samai” was on the Speaks, it wasn’t the real one. I tried to reach the Captain, but he wasn’t answering.

Dr. Rose’s crew was wildly successful at their mission, although I don’t have all the details. Pei’Fa and Nodagil killed pirates and kept the decks clear. Keystone got the gatling gun and set it up in the port bay, eventually moving to starboard. Pei’Fa led a bunch of pirates into the fire of the gatling gun. Then he killed pirates with pieces of other pirates. He mounted dead pirates in front of the docking bays and on the hull. They also destroyed some drones.

Dr. Rose was helping out on the bridge. Samai was apparently an imposter, and knocked her out. She set a bomb up on the bridge and disappeared, as did Fig Bear. Koto got some information from Scurvy that Yves’s secret weapon is a woman called “Slither”. Probably a shifter or illusionist of some kind. The explosion went off and nearly killed everyone, except that Nodagil showed up and healed them all with a powerful spell.

Safe Haven (Part Four)
Under a Black Flag We shall Sail

In which some of the luster of the pirate mystique begins to tarnish.

Excerpted from the personal logs of Keriwar Zanogg, Ship’s Chaplain and Third Engineer, RES Speaks Softly; Timestamp: 5041.155:0700 I.E.
“I realized last night that with everything that’s gone on in the last two months, I completely forgot my birthday. Not that it’s really all that much to celebrate. I turned twenty-four fifty-one days ago, but we were all scrambling to repair the ship after the misjump that stuck us out here in the middle of nowhere. The people of Haven seem nice and they’ve invited the crew to a big welcome breakfast. Maybe I’ll be allowed to attend. If so, I can pretend to myself that its a belated birthday celebration.”

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, RC-880 “Durendal”, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa,” and Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias.

Unable to Attend: n/a

PCs on LOA: (Run as NPCs)
Ditak Kirrin, and Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Durendal made it down to engineering, and was able to linger outside listening to the two pirates talking inside. He entered, pretending to be a robot rather than a soul mech. He uttered statements such as “Anomoly identified in engineering bay.” One of them asked him if he was there to fix the ship and he replied, “Affirmative.” He was able to bluff them until he was in what he calls “grabby range”, and then he killed them both.

Triumphantly covered in the blood of our enemies, he started inspecting engineering and discovered that the EMP blast put the Speaks into Omega Mode, which means that the ship will scuttle itself 24 hours after it entered that mode. Only RES command staff can countermand this setting, and Durendal quickly learned that only Captain Ni Shen and Yevon had the necessary credentials. The best he or I could do was reset the timer, since we are not officially enlisted RES. The timer was set at 22 hours and 45 minutes, so he shelved that concern for later. As he continued his analysis of the damage to the ship’s systems, there was a hideous noise like something snapping or caving in.

His next stop was Medbay, where he found three pirates looting the medical supplies. True to form, he killed them and moved to the starboard cargo bay. The pirates had cut the struts that operate the starboard door, which explained the noise, as the cargo bay doors weigh a couple of tons. Inside the bay, he could see a couple of dozen pirates digging through the crates. They found the haul we collected on Chadra, and they were exclaiming excitedly about the treasure as well as the trade goods.

As he was deciding what to do next, he noticed a commotion out on the platform, where two small figures were running for the nearby woods. The figures bore more than a passing resemblance to Serpentce and Keriwar, whom he had expected to find in engineering.

As he considered his options, Ereyie called him over his personal comm, saying “Durendal, are you online? Can you hear me? They’ve got a matter cutter up here, and they’re trying to force their way onto the bridge.” Durendal closed the door to the cargo bay and locked it, in hopes of delaying the pirates. Then he headed for the bridge.

In the meantime, Serpentce and Keriwar had been taken to a landing pad. Serpentce explained to the pirates how much his ransom would be worth and went along without argument. In light of his cooperation, the pirates were being more polite than normal.

The pirate officer, Jagged, apparently named after his facial scar, called up for instructions, and was told to send each of them to different ships. Serpentce surmised he was an officer based on his equipment and jewelry, which was a higher quality than what the other pirates were using. Serpentce stressed his status as a Lord, and Jagged got really excited about the ransom that they could get from the Augenmanthias clan, due to the wealth and power House Mazorgrim holds in the Asamet kingdoms.

Jagged called up for instructions, and was told to send Serpentce to one vessel and Keriwar to another. When the shuttles landed and Serpentce realized the two would be separated, he acted. He cast a spell to unlock their manacles, and the two ran for the woods. Keriwar cast Sanctuary, making them harder to hit, but one of the pirates still managed to hit her with blaster fire. Serpentce looked back and realized that Keriwar had fallen. In an uncharacteristic display of solidarity, he circled back for her, staunching her wounds.

As he was helping her to her feet, Jagged caught up to them raising his sword and yelling, “Don’t let them get away, Gracious will eat you for fucking breakfast!” Before he could strike either of them, his head exploded.

At the tree line, they could see a humanoid figure waving an arm and calling to them. They didn’t waste any time running towards him, while he used a hunting rifle to provide covering fire. From the brush, they could see the pirates moving a heavy cannon in the direction of the forest, so Serpentce cast an EMP blast to disable it.

The centaur quickly introduced himself as Buck Colethorn, and suggested that they get out of there. Serpentce indicated a desire to go back to the Speaks. Buck argued, pointing out that that harder they fight, the more Sir Gracious will take it out on the natives. Serpentce said, “Leave Gracious to us!”

Buck replied, “Us? What – you and her?”

Serpentce continued to argue, “Did you think we were the only people on that ship?”

“The pirates already pulled the rest of your crew in that honey trap. I never thought an RES ship would fall for that.”

Serpentce continued to push Buck, asking for his help. “If you don’t help and that guy comes back its on you.” Buck was finally ashamed and agreed to help them.

Meanwhile the rest of the crew, sans Samai and Elly, were huddled at a 20’ door with a keycard access pad underneath the spaceport. Their gnomish captive, Brilletai, was trying to convince them to surrender. During the pause, the crew members with any knowledge of healing took a moment to patch up Keystone, Scrapnik, and Underbough. We needed everyone to be able to move under their own power, since we didn’t know what we were going to be facing once we opened the door. The Captain was still struggling with the after-effects of being poisoned, but was starting to track his surroundings, and understood enough about the situation to start giving orders again.

Finally, out of frustration, Pei’Fa smacked Brilletai in the mouth and took his keycard. Bishop then used the keycard to open the door, and we entered the building. Pei’Fa tore off a hunk of the tram and used telekinesis to make a screen in front of us as we went into the building.

The doors opened on a large reception area, with a set of stairs and two elevators, one a large freight elevator. The Captain ordered Pei’Fa and me to watch the stairs, and demanded contact with the Speaks. Ditak gently explained to the Captain that the Speaks was EMP’d, and wouldn’t be able to answer unless someone got the power back online.

Bishop decided to try personal comm channels, and called Durendal. He asked Durendal for the ship status, Durendal replied, “In Omega mode and lousy with pirates.”

After hearing that information, the Captain asked, “What is the status of the staff on the ship?”

Durendal responded, “I don’t know. I am making my way to the bridge where Ereyie and Dr Caladriend are preparing to make a last stand.”

The Captain said fiercely, “Durendal, secure the ship.”

Durendal kept moving towards the bridge, when he heard blaster fire. Over the open comms, we were all able to hear the pirates yelling, “Fuck! They’re armed in there! Gracious, there are still crew and the door is partially opened, we need some reinforcements…arrrgh!”

Then a different voice cried out, “Fuck, they have a sword in there! We need backup!”

The reply was merely, “The Happy Insanity is now in geo-synchronous orbit.” Durendal clearly heard one of the pirates say, “Fuck, Cap’n Funny is on his way.”

Durendal hesitated out of sight, watching the pirates. One had pulled out a grenade. The other was using the matter cutter,

The Captain said to Durendal “Sir, I said SECURE THE SHIP!”

Suddenly, Samai broke into the conversation, “Can anyone hear me? Oh gods, is anyone there?”

I replied swiftly, “I hear you Samai.”

She was breathing heavily, almost crying. “Where are you guys? I got away, I escaped, but they’ve still got Elly.”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m hiding behind some crates near the spaceport, on the north side of the building.”

“Don’t move, we’ll come and get you. We’re coming, Samai.”

Durendal tiptoed up behind the pirates, killing the first one instantly. Unfortunately, he had already pulled the pin on his grenade, which he then dropped on the deck. Durendal saw this, and quickly snatched up the second pirate, using him to smother the grenade when it exploded. He passed the matter cutter through the hole in the door to Dr. Caladriend, and turned towards the captain’s office.

He entered the office with extreme prejudice and dispatched the two pirates before they could finish breaking into the safe. He actually impaled the second pirate with the head of the first pirate. Then he grabbed a bottle of the Captain’s whiskey and took it to Ereyie and Dr. Caladriend, passing it to them through the hole. Ereyie snatched it from him, and then wiped his hand off. “Ewww!”

Durendal responded, “No worries, it’s just pirate blood.” Then he turned and went down the ladder to the upper deck to look for more pirates.

While all that was going on, Pei’Fa and I were looking up the stairs, watching for any movement above us. I was still wearing Lassiter’s earpiece and was tracking pirate chatter for anything useful. Then suddenly, a voice I recognized came over the comm.

“This is Captain Yves Dyn’eldi of the Quim Full of Teeth. We know you have Zed’s comm, and we know you’re listening. Who is in command down there? I’ll give you to the count of 5 to answer, and then I’ll unleash the other ships on the town. 5…4…3…2…”
I responded before he could reach the number 1. I didn’t have time to pass the comm to the Captain. The conversation went more or less like this.

“Yves, you black-hearted son of a bitch!”

“Who is this?”


“Rwvyan? Oh, what a wonderful surprise!”

“Come down here and face me.”

“Oh, don’t worry. You set off an alarm. We know where you are and are sending forces unlike anything you’ve ever seen to your location. Give up or…I’ll bomb the civilians.”

“You’ll do that anyway.”

“I also have two of your crew members and we’ll be…entertaining…them until you surrender.”

“Get ready, Yves, I’m coming for you.”

I dropped the commlink on the ground and stepped on it, filling Yves comm with feedback. It was better if he didn’t think he could talk to us. I looked over and both Pei’Fa and Koto were looking at me with concern.

Before they could ask me any questions, Keriwar checked in, having heard the conversation with Samai. She explained that she and Serpentce escaped with the help of a local, and were trying to figure out a good way to attack the pirates.

“Keriwar, can you get eyes on Samai?” I asked. I wanted to be certain that she really had escaped, since Yves was claiming to have two of the crew. I also wanted to be certain that she wasn’t contacting us under duress. It hadn’t escaped me that both Samai and Elly had commlinks, and someone could be listening in, but they would have to be close enough for the comms to work without the ship’s systems to augment the distance.

“Where is she?” I gave Keriwar directions, and she confirmed that she could see Samai, and she was alone.

“Can you get to her? Get her into to woods with you?”

“I can’t run,” Samai interjected. “They…hurt us. They hurt Elly, oh gods they shot Elly.” She sounded like she was about to have a breakdown. I clenched my fists. I was all too able to imagine what had been done to them and was probably still being done to Elly.

“Use us as a distraction,” I said grimly. We’ll make some noise.”

Then the ground shook. The pirates had started bombing the town.

“We need to move,” declared the Captain, nodding at Pei’Fa and me. Nodagil cast Sanctuary on the crew, hoping to make us harder to shoot. Koto cast Warrior’s Gift on the two of us, and I cast Protection on myself. Other crew members did whatever they could and prepared to move.

“I’m going to the roof,” Ditak declared. “I’ll be more use up there.”

“Scrapnik, go with him and support him,” the Captain ordered.

As Pei’Fa and I started up the stairs, with Bishop moving up between us, I subvocalized and opened a private channel to the Captain.

“Captain, I know once of the pirate Captains, it’s a long story. But these guys are seriously bad news, even among pirates. He hates me, so I think I can draw him away from the crew, so I may split off from the group once we get up there…” The Captain interrupted me before I could finish.

“You will do no such thing. You will not go off on your own, you will stay with the crew and get everyone to the Speaks. That is an order XO!” He was practically yelling in my ear.

I ground my teeth, but eventually acknowledged, “Yes, sir.”

As we reached the top of the first flight of stairs, we saw an open lobby with multiple glass doors heading out to the landing area. The stairs continued to go up on our right. Pei’Fa looked down, and threw out an arm, preventing Bishop and me from leaving the stairwell. He had spotted an explosive trap with a laser trip stretching across the stairs.

As we tried to determine how to get past the trap without setting it off, we noticed a drop ship land outside the lobby, and pirates started pouring out onto the pad. We could clearly see a couple of Oruks pushing a portable artillery platform. We needed to get out of there fast.

Koto spoke up, “I think I have a solution. Everyone step back.” We all stepped back and she moved to the front, where she started casting. Moments later, a magical arch appeared in front of us, and on the other side, we could see the port side cargo bay on the Speaks.

Meanwhile, using the arrival of the drop ship as a distraction, Samai started to make a run for the forest. She was hobbling, and wouldn’t have made it except that Keriwar ran out of the woods to meet her, supporting her and leading her back into the brush, and away from the pirates. Buck, the helpful native, laid down suppressive fire with his rifle until they were safely concealed.

Serpentce took the opportunity to invisibly make his way to the disabled ship next to the Speaks, and hacked into it’s systems. He quickly discovered that the ship was gutted, with only the exterior intact, and was really only a support for the anti-ship weapons that had been mounted inside it. He took control of the primitive system inside, and redirected one of the weapons towards the oruks with the weapons platform, and shot at them.

Since he was firing an anti-ship weapon, the weapons platform and surrounding troops exploded. The force of the explosion took out the glass doors of the starport lobby, and the debris triggered the explosive trap that we avoided on the stairwell. The tower took structural damage, and the entire building collapsed.

The crew inside the starport walked through Koto’s gate onto the Speaks. She closed it behind us as the starport collapsed, distracting the dozen or so pirates in the bay. Bishop stepped in and shot a pirate in the head, dropping him immediately.

As this was happening, Yves broke in on our internal comm channel, saying, “This is Captain Yves Dyn’eldi of the Quim Full of Teeth. I’d like to speak to whomever is in charge of the RES ship. No, not you Rwvyan.” We were too busy to reply.

Since Bishop, Pei’Fa and I were in front, I immediately used my breath weapon, which set about half of the remaining pirates retching. Pei’Fa shoved a cargo container into a bunch of them, killing another four pirates. Bishop then moved into the bay, and killed two more.
Nodagil cast a quick spell and put any surviving pirates to sleep. Koto killed them all, except for one we kept alive to answer questions. I grabbed her commlink and stuck it in my ear, listening to pirate chatter again, in the hopes of overhearing something useful.

The Captain said sharply, “Comms on silent people, we are running radio silent from now on.”

At the same time, we hear Samai over the comms, “Guys, are you there? Guys? Please tell me you weren’t still inside!” We could hear her crying, but the Captain gestured again, and none of us replied.

“Team, we’ll head for engineering,” said the Captain, “Yevon and I need access to the ship’s systems. We’ll hide the non-combatants in the Sensor bay.”

Koto carefully woke up the prisoner, who looked around and agreed to cooperate.

“How many ships are there, and where are they?” She asked.

“There are five, and most are in orbit. They were hiding on the far side of the moon when you got here, except for Sir Gracious on Therapist_.” The pirate looked around. “_Therapist, get it?” She grinned at us, inviting us to share the joke. It took us all a minute.

“The Rapist? Really?” muttered Bishop.

“Where’s Therapist?” Koto asked patiently.

“In the scrapyard about 10 clicks to the west.” She answered promptly.

“Where are the prisoners being held?” I asked quickly.

“What prisoners?” she asked.

“The ones you took from the colony.” Fig Bear leaned forward eagerly.

“Oh them? They’re dead. We haven’t needed to do that for a while, all you need to do is count fingers and toes.” She nodded at Brilletai. We all looked and realized that he was missing a pinky finger on his right hand.

“This little farm colony is a jewel,” she continued. “We get tribute from all the different communities, but we’re mainly based out of Haven Prime.”

“Tell us about the different ships, and the Captains.” Koto went on.

“Sir Gracious on Therapist is a junior captain, just like Captain “Mad Eye” Ironbraid on Hades Secret Love Child. Sir Gracious killed his Captain (Scorch) a couple of years ago. Therapist used to be a private merchant ship. Love Child is a converted police yacht. They’d like to be senior captains, but they don’t have the clout on the Captains’ Council that the Senior Captains have.”

“What about the other three ships?”

“Well, there’s Captain Dyn’eldi on the Quim Full of Teeth, and Cap’n Funny on the gunboat Happy Insanity. Funny came with Dyn’eldi before Funny had his own ship. He’s a wacko but Dyn’eldi has him on a leash. Quim is a decommissioned military ship. Then there’s Captain Blackhate on Deceit. The Deceit is a modified freighter, and that’s where most prisoners are kept. It’s got six shuttles and a drop ship.

“Where would they have taken Elly?”

“Who’s Elly?”

“A member of our crew they captured.”

“Either Therapist, Deceit, or Love Child. Is she pretty?”

“Yes,” I said, through a clenched jaw.

“Then she’s probably on Therapist.” Scrapnik pushed up to her and started kicking at her. The Captain quickly pulled him away, saying, “Steady, easy now.”

“What’s your name?”

“I’m Jeanette Smythe, but everyone calls me Scurvy.”

“How long have you been with these pirates?”

“You mean the Black Hydra Pirates? They picked me up a couple of years ago.”

“What ship are you on, Scurvy?”

“I started out on the Love Child, but I’ve been crew on Deceit and Happy Insanity. I’m on Therapist now.”

“Have you taken any recent prisoners?”

“We have maybe 20 left alive from the last merchant vessel. They came about a month ago.”

I took the opportunity to step away saying, “I’m going to try to connect with Durendal and the crew on the bridge.” The Captain nodded, and I took off up one of the ladders.

I reached the upper deck without running into anyone. Once I got there, I heard noise coming from the armory, so I made my way there, just in time to meet Durendal. He killed a couple of pirates who were trying to break into the armory, and was now heading towards the galley. I told him we were radio silent, and to meet the Captain and crew in engineering when he was done. Then I crept up the ladder to the Command Deck towards the bridge. Before I exited onto the deck, I could hear pirates trying to get into the bridge.

Safe Haven (Part Three)
WTF is a Clump Badger?

Our heroes politely decline an offer to ‘come along quietly.’ As a result, someone gets hurt.

On the bridge of the Happy Insanity, in geostationary orbit over Haven Prime; 5041.155:1110
Sofia Bones danced and hummed as she monitored comms. An RES starship and it’s crew was one hell of a score and Sofia’s crew mates had already begun partying. The trap that was Haven had sprung perfectly, even drawing the RES command staff out of their vessel to a ‘welcome breakfast’! Haha! The colonists had behaved like the perfect little chattel they were – maybe the Captains would give them extra rations for their performance. But probably not. A communication caught Sofia’s attention. It was Sir Gracious trying to reach Zed Lassiter, the capture team leader. No reply seemed forthcoming. “Initiate Protocol 7” radioed Gracious. Oh boy! The RES rats were putting up a fight! Now the fun would really kick off – Sir Gracious was a vicious SOB and he loved violently thrashing anyone who dared defy him. Sofia Bones took a seat and began to listen more carefully, a big grin spreading on her face…

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, RC-880 “Durendal”

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

After successfully liberating the skimmer that the pirates were using, we loaded aboard our wounded (Captain Ni Shen, Keystone) along with those among the crew who were the most vulnerable to attack (Bishop, Scrapnik, Nodagil, Underbough, Telliar) so we could try to get back to the Speaks. The Mayor’s nephew, Fig Bear, told me there is a secret underground transport that goes from the Civic Hall to the spaceport. With the Captain still out of commission, I made the decision to use the underground train system. Samai and Elly were still missing.

Pei’Fa and Koto were monitoring communications, and overheard one of the leaders, Sir Gracious, asking Zed for an update. When he failed to get a reply, he initiated something called Protocol 7. We finished stripping the pirates of their weapons, ammo and communications gear, and left for the Civic Hall.

When we were about halfway to the Hall, we got cut off by a grav bike. The operator opened fire on us, and I climbed onto the skimmer to return the favor using the mounted gun. Pei’Fa used some sort of psionic scream to kill the driver, and the grav bike almost hit us. Scrapnik saved us from that collision with some truly inspired driving.

That’s when one of the pirate shuttles started a strafing run. Luckily for us, that shuttle happened to be the one with Kirran secretly aboard. He heard the pilot on the radio, and quickly realized they were talking about us, and telling all their forces that we had taken one of their skimmers. He quickly killed the co-pilot, and ordered the pilot to stop his strafing run. The pirate was so surprised that he turned to look at Kirran, instead of paying attention to flying the shuttle.

Koto saw the shuttle first, and called out a warning. However, we realized quickly that rather than a strafing run, the shuttle was going to crash into us. Kirran used a spell to pull up the nose of the shuttle enough that Scrapnik was able to drive the skimmer right under it, narrowly avoiding being destroyed. The shuttle slammed into the nearest building and flipped over, crashing behind us, but sending the front of the building collapsing down onto the street. None of us were killed, but Zed Lassiter was hit by debris.

Kirran teleported out of the shuttle and used a feather fall to land safely. His invisibility ended, and we saw him appear on the ground. He traded places with me, manning the gun on the skimmer until we get to the Civic Hall safely. First, we got our wounded into the Hall. Then we split up. Koto and Scrapnik left to hide the skimmer in the parking garage, in order to conceal our location. I led the rest into the Hall. Fig Bear explained that the entrance to the secret tram station was in the basement, but we would need access.

Koto decided that instead of hiding the skimmer next to the Civic Hall, they should let it travel down the street and crash further along as misdirection. As it crossed a major road, it was spotted and blown up by an anti-grav tank. Realizing she and Scrapnik had been spotted, she teleported on top of the tank, using her magic to force it to power down temporarily. Then, she dropped a fireball through the hatch, killing the pirates inside.

While all that was going on, Fig Bear introduced me to one of the community leaders, Brilletai. I politely asked him to borrow his citizen card to access the tram. Instead of calmly discussing the situation, he screamed and ran into a conference room. We gave chase, and when we entered, I heard him begging the pirate leader to come and save him from us. As I came into the room, I saw that Brilletai called Sir Gracious on video, and he and I had one long moment to stare at each other. Sir Gracious is a green half-dragon. I grabbed a chair and threw it at the screen, breaking it and ending the call.

I grabbed Brilletai, and carried him out, since we need him to access the tram. Fig Bear and I ran into Koto and Scapnik coming into the Hall, and I brought them up to speed quickly. I expect that now that Brilletai has let the pirates know where we are, they’ll be attacking from the air, so I asked Fig Bear to get the rest of the civilians to evacuate.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team was busily trying to access the tram. Brilletai was gibbering in fear, and essentially useless, but Nodagil, Bishop and Dr. Rose had located the entrance. Now that we had his access card, we were ready to leave. Nodagil closed the door behind us and we boarded the tram. I hauled Brilletai along because despite his treachery, he was a civilian and I couldn’t leave him there to die.

After a few minutes, we heard hear a boom from the Hall, and the power failed. The tram came to a sudden stop, throwing Dr Underbough and Scrapnik from the vehicle. Bishop and I immediately jumped out after them. They were thrown about 20 feet in front of the tram, and were both severely injured. We called for a medic when suddenly Dr. Rose yelled, “There are animals in here!” Fig Bear yelled “Clump Badgers” and rolled under one of the seats, while Brilletai helpfully screamed and fainted. Bishop and I carried our injured companions back to the tram as fast as we could. Kirran hopped out and slapped a healing patch on each of them, and we carefully carried them up the ladder and back to the relative safety of the tram. Nodagil immediately started to use his healing magic on them, saving their lives in the process.

Then the clump badgers attacked the tram, and Bishop, who was still down below. We fought them off, and really, the less said about clump badgers the better. They’re giant badgers with eight legs, and they’re almost as pleasant as normal badgers…but not quite.

With the tram out, we had to make our way to the secret door leading into the spaceport on foot, carrying our wounded, while being tracked by murderous giant badgers. We made it to the entrance, and paused to plan our next steps.

On the Speaks, Ereyie got Durendal booted back up and online. He explained to the Second Officer about the EMP and the pirates. They could hear someone using a matter cutter to try to access the bridge. Durendal opened the door, surprising the man, and neatly cut him in half. One of the three remaining pirates crapped himself. The other two tried to get out the door to the airlock at the same time, and one stabbed the other in the eye. That pirate then escaped through the door, closing it behind himself. Durendal slammed the pirate with the eye wound into a wall, crushing his chest. He forced open the door to chase after the other pirate.

Ereyie knocked out the remaining pirate on the upper deck, and restrained him. Wrinkling his nose at the smell, he locked him in one of the closets.

Durendal chased the fleeing pirate down the ladder to the middle deck, where he was attacked from the shadows. He seized his assailant, and quickly realized it was Dr. Caladriend, who let herself out of the medical bay. After a quick consult, she went to the bridge to help Ereyie, and Durendal continued down to engineering to look for Seprentce and Keriwar.

Safe Haven (Part Two)
A pirate's life for me!

The crew of the Speaks Softly discovers that Haven is indeed a true haven – just not for them…

In the back corridors of the Haven Prime town hall; 5041.155:0940~

Elly: “I thought he said the restroom was this way?”
Samai: “It’s gotta be just down there. Quite the breakfast spread, eh?”
Elly: “Eh.. Everything tasted like mushrooms. I mean it was okay, but I really need to find the little engineer’s room.”
Samai: “Why does that guy have a gun?”

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, RC-880 “Durendal”

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

While the Captain and other officers were meeting with the citizens of Haven Prime, our Political Officer, Ditak Kirran, and our Second Officer, Durendal, remained behind on the Speaks, along with First Helmsman Ereyie Wel, and Third Engineer Keriwar Zanogg. Also remaining behind were two members of the Science team, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias and Dr. Nil Galadren Caladriend.

Kirran first became aware of trouble when the power went out. The pirates used an EMP warhead to disable the Speaks, which also incapacitated Second Officer Durendal. Kirran swiftly took command, ordering Ereyie to guard the bridge. He sent Keriwar to engineering to try to get the ship back online, while he attempted to locate and repel the intruders.

Luckily, Kirran was perfectly equipped for sneaking through the dark ship, and he was armed. He crept down to the lower deck, where pirates had already boarded the ship using the ramp. He paused to listen, trying to identify where the enemy was. He didn’t have to listen for long before hearing a fight in engineering.

He crept through the cargo bay towards engineering. When he arrived, four pirates had captured Keriwar. Fortunately, the pirates were questioning Keriwar about who else was aboard, and were not prepared for an attack. Kirran got into position and used his rifle to devastating effect, taking out two of the pirates before they became aware of him. They returned fire, but without success. Once Keriwar was no longer captive, she was able to assist in the fight, and they killed the two remaining pirates.

Engineering was secured for the time being, and Keriwar explained to Kirran that without power she was unable to close the entrance ramp and lock down the ship. Since communications were also out, they were unable to contact the rest of the crew. Kirran told her to lock herself in engineering, since there was no way of knowing how many other pirates were onboard, and get the Speaks’ systems back online.

On the upper deck, Kirran found three more dead pirates. They boarded from the top airlock, and tried to take the bridge after he left. Ereyie repelled them and holed up on the bridge. After some discussion, the two men decided that Ereyie would try to revive Durendal while Kirran went outside for reconnaissance. Kirran exited the ship to find two mages waiting for a report. Fortunately, they didn’t see him. He quickly hid on board their shuttle, in the hopes of finding either useful information, or an opportunity to attack them.