Hidden 14 days ago Post by Penny
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Jessica Scarlett, or Red Jess as she was known to her friends and enemies, both of which she had in abundance, cursed the day she had ever come up with this clever plan. Doubtless the six other crewmen with her on this were cursing her all so, but given they had all been hardsuited and in vacuum for the past day and a half. The starfield appeared unchanged, even though they were hurtling through it at over seven hundred miles per hour. Their vessel, nicknamed the "Abortion', was a collection of beams of structural plastic, air tanks, gyroscopes and pieces of glass etched with engineering marker. The guiding design principle of the Abortion was that it could contain no metal or other material that might scatter radar. The resulting craft had no sensors, no life support and no abillity to manuevur other than break. In every sense it was a collection of junk which had been launched into space on a ballistic course.

The problem was that the ship they were trying to board was one of a half dozen which had been shot up by a Hegemony squadron four days earlier. The attack ships had moved on to other engagements leaving a picket and a single salvage tender which was in the process of hauling the derelicts back to a Hegemony controlled world to be condemned as prizes of war. Luckily the process was a slow one, and the ship she was looking for, the slave ship Blackbird, was a low priority to the Hedge. The picket cruiser was orbiting a gas giant two hundred thousand miles distant. Its orbit was calculated to sweep the derelict ships constantly, but due to the nature of the orbits there was a twelve minute gap in its coverage as it passed behind the gas giant.

Jessica's plan to approach the problem was simple. Insane, but simple. Certainly if she presented it to her instructors back at the naval academy on Capella she would have been laughed out of class before being sent for yet another psyche eval. She and her crew had constructed the Abortion, attached it to a stolen tug, and then jumped out of parallax during the picket ships blind spot, accelerated for nine minutes and then released the Abortion before dropping back into parallax. The Abortion, small and non-metallic, hard flown on her ballistic course for thirty seven hours. Thirty seven hours during which her crew with no protection except suits. Thirty seven hours with what snatches of sleep they could grab. Jessica looked at her chronometer, on old fashioned pocket watch which had been sprayed with a synthetic resin to protect it against vacuum. Thirty eight hours. It was nearly time. Jess climbed forward hand over hand past one of her crewman, asleep and tethered to a tie down, to the nest of cables which served as the Abortion's controls. There was no instrumentation, merely a sheet of glass which had been etched with navigation markers. All of which were just about aligned. Jess checked the pocket watch again and then grasped a lever and yanked. The ship slammed into her butt, jolting her spine as cylinders of CO2 on her port and starboard began to vent, slowing the ship. The other spacers, jolted awake by the sudden deceleration, clung on to the vessel as gyroscopes fired smaller jets to control the ships attitude.

"Twenty seconds," Jessica said, though no one could hear the words without air to carry the sound. Ahead of her she saw a metal hull swelling larger. Amazingly they were on course. She drew the single piece of metal equipment she had allowed herself, a laser range finder that was low powered enough that the scatter wouldn't be visible for more than a few hundred kilometers, and pointed it at the approaching ship. It returned a relative rate of close and she adjusted the gas release slightly with the twist of a lever, then she stood up and took one of the lines of woven plastic.

"Ten seconds," Jess muttered, the hull completely occluding the starfield now. The rate of close was now only a few meters a second, still a little faster than she had calculated but it was too late to worry about it now.

The Abortion hit the side of the blackbird with a crash that every soul aboard felt in their spines. As a group the sailor leaped from the ship and onto the hull, tying lines to whatever they could find as the Abortion rebounded away. It sailed ten meters back before snugging on the cables. One of them snapped soundlessly under the strain, but the other five cables held. Jessica let out an explosive breath. They were aboard.

_____

The hatch slid away as the burn gel cut through the metal. As expected the interior of the Blackbird had been depressurized by battle damage so the hatch didn't blow out. Jess slid the hatch away, letting it drift off into space and sliding into the ship. Without power, the artifical gravity was gone also, and debris floated everywhere, They were on the ceiling above the main hold. On the floor below them were several dozen cryo tubes. Many of them were cracked open, leaking globes of bluish cryo fluid into the weightless void. Those tubes which had lost integrity were caskets now, their occupants frozen and dehydrated. Jess growled. She didn't like slavery or slavers, and it was a comfort to her that the crew of the Blackbird had died when Hegemony guns had ripped their tub open. She made a hand signal to one of her crew, a slender woman named Jacobis, who kicked off and floated over to her. Jessica caught her and then pressed their helmets together so that the vibrations could transmit between them.

"Get one of the escape pods warmed up," she instructed, "I'll see what..." She paused as one of her crew, already down among the tubes, made an urgent gesture. Jess arched an eyebrow and then kicked off, sailing down towards the deck, she hit and rolled, catching the deck grating with her fingers. She straightened, the soft magnets in her boots barely enough to keep her grounded. The crewman made a gesture to the translucent tube. Inside was an angelic looking face of deep blue, with bright red hair.

"A starborn?!" Jessica wondered. Then made a gesture to Jacobis. The other woman nodded then reached out and pressed the emergency release. Their was a puff of air and the tube slid free of its metallic clasp. The two women man handled the tube into an escape pod. Unlike the rest of the ship, the escape pod could generate both atmosphere and gravity, as they passed the tube through the shimmering mag field it settled to the ground. Jessica rolled the tube over and tapped at the controls, initiating the thaw. Fluid drained away as inbuilt injectors pumped drugs into the veins of the sleeping slave. Her eyes snapped open, starring up at Jess unseeing. The pirate pulled her helmet off to reveal her own shock of red hair, tied into a severe bun to keep it out of her face during weightlessness.

"Hello there," she greeted the Starborn.

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Hidden 13 days ago Post by SporkoBug
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Star-Born, Ms. Nova, Nessa, Ness. And more frequently; Star Hopper. The woman had been called many things in her life....

Nessa didn't remember how she got captured, she was just glad to have Ra with her the entire time. She used to ponder how she was captured before they shoved her and Ra into a tube together and everything went black; was she careless to not hide her identity? A starborn, on its' own was a rare find, but one that was seen as a war criminal to a crucial part of one of the councils made her worth higher than it already as.

She remembered fighting the chill that flooded through her body, but when they transferred her from her cage to the cryotube they had a spacial band around her eyes to stop her from seeing starlight, meaning she had no power left on her.
She felt weight suddenly hit her body again as she breathed in a gasp of air.
Her eyes were blurry, there were figures with her. She went to move her hands, only to be reminded they were tied up behind her for the Slavers safety.

She opened her mouth as her vision slowly came to, her ears slowing their ringing as she heard a females voice speak to her.
"R...Ra." She uttered weakly, her voice croaking at first before she looked around. She tried to struggle against her restraints again, to no avail. "Where is he?" She asked in a cold voice, struggling a bit more. "What have you done with him!"

Just out of view, Ra uncurled from the tube. He had climbed into Nessa's hood to stay safe, but as she thawed, he fell out onto the glass.
At first he didn't seem to be breathing, a casualty like the rest of the ship. But the small dusty orange creature's ears started to flick, lifting himself up from the ground with a bit of a stretch.
He moved sluggishly to leap up to his humanoid companions shoulder and gently pressed his head against her head.

Nessa's fear washed from from her face as she looked to Ra and leaned her head into him.
"You're safe." She croaked quietly before she looked back to the Pirate carefully. "Lemme guess, 'large price, high liability'?" She asked almost disgusted, she hadn't really come to senses of where she was, to her she was given to a new 'Owner'.
Hidden 6 days ago Post by Penny
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A Starborn! Jessica had never seen such a creature in the flesh before. Aliens were, as a rule, unlikely to interface with humans. Differences in biology, diet and metabolic requirements meant that competition between species was rare. Methane breathers were not particularly interested in earth type planets which were as lethal to them as volcanic sulpur worlds were to humans, but their were exceptions. Jess watched with further amazement as the strange pet which seemed to have been frozen with the alien also thawed out.

“Well I’ll be buggered,” Jess muttered.

“Not be my last I asked,” one of her crew complained. Jess stuck her tongue out at the spacer and turned back to the reheated slave.

“Captain, we got a problem,” Jacobis called, pointing out beyond the lifeboats containment field. To where another pirate was manhandling what was pretty clearly a frozen corpse.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Jess cursed pulling a printed flimsy from a pouch on her suit. The picture was grainy and from a poor angle, but the identification with the frozen cadaver was clear. Jess felt her heart sink, there wasn’t any doubt that this was Fevere Shin, the insane explorer who was rumored to know the route to the fabled treasure of Kadith Shaw. Shaw had been one of the early explorers who charted this region of space and its treasure house of ancient and vanished alien technology. His writings, now considered to be largely fanciful, had sparked the first tech rush, in which humans and other species, having finally found something worth fighting over, had flocked to the newly named Nexus. Much of what Shaw had described had turned out to be based in fact, but some of his most outlandish claims, claims of technology which would grant magical powers, or of great crystal engines which could turn back time, were considered to be ravings. At least they had until Fevere had shown up in Saint John’s Port having been miraculously healed of a missing arm. Unfortunately it seemed that whatever Fevere had known had died with him when Hegemony rail cannons had gutted the slave ship, puncturing his cryo tube.

“Shit,” Jess repeated on more time with feeling and then sat back looking defeated. Finally she turned to the slave, apparently one of the few who had avoided a flash freeze when the light speed projectiles had smashed the hull of the ship open and sent a sleet of metal and burning gas through the hold.

“Well the good new is, my name is Jessica Scarlett and I’m no slaver, hung my fair shair of them for the Hedge the truth be told. The bad news is, the people who are coming to pick me up, are probably going to kill when we cant deliver the contents of a dead mans brain,” she sighed.
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Nessa watched as the other pirate pointed out the problem, her eyes looking over to where she was pointing as she focused her eyes on the corpse. "I remember hearing him rambling." She said, "I could never really understand what he was saying." She looked to Ra quietly before she looked back to Jessica.
"It may not be any help," She started, "But I think I know where they kept the belongings." She continued, Ra nodding in agreement to her words.

Nessa moved to stand up, her legs quivering before she stabilized herself. "Nessa." She started, "Nessa Nova." She had hesitated on giving her full name, she was a known name across many different circles. Being hunted by one of the most dangerous people within a special council where she used to work as a Bodyguard.
She looked out of the escape pod and narrowed her eyes, "They kept my stuff hidden from the other stuff, maybe they did the same for the other man?" She rubbed her temples quietly, Ra watching Jessica carefully. "And I would prefer to get my stuff, losing some of the things inside would be... Hard for me."

"Scout bots." Ra squeaked quietly, Nessa giving a small nod before she looked to Ra and shushed him. Ra's ears drooped before he moved behind her head so she couldn't see his face properly.
"Is there a way for you to follow me though safely?" She asked, her kind were able to breath without Oxygen for a while; and Nessa reckoned she'd be able to get to where her things were kept in time.
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Hidden 3 days ago Post by Penny
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Jessica grinned, she supposed she could point out that her crew could take whatever they wanted but seeing the Starborn was being helpful, their didn't seem to be much harm in allowing her to have her own possessions. Jacobis came forward holding a pair of low powered engineering communicators. Powerful communications gear might be detected by the Hegemony Warship outside, but these units were designed for away teams and engineering crew to keep in contact. Jessica took them gratefully and handed one to Neesa, then she twisted the small circles apart and attached one to her throat and one to her temple close to her ear. The design would induce a vibration in her bone which would translate as sound.

"So we can talk in vacumn," she explained and then slipped her helmet back into place. The air in the suit already smelt better than it had in days, having had a chance to exchange with the atmosphere in the escape pod. She pulled her pocket watch from her pouch and checked the time against a sheet of paper.

"We have about thirty minutes till our ride gets here," she told Neesa and then tucked the time piece away again. That should be plenty of time if nothing went wrong.

"The rest of you gather up anything that is small and valuable, see if you can pull the memory core from the main terminal as well, might be some clues there."

Hidden 2 days ago Post by SporkoBug
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Nessa relaxed as Jessica smiled to her, she took the communicator from Jess as she handed it over. She looked at it before she followed suit of what Jessica did. She took a moment to pull Ra from her shoulder and placed him to the ground.
"You stay here." She told him, "I won't be long. I promise you." Ra gave a small nod and moved to sit on a juttered out part of the wall of the escape pod before Nessa breathed in.

Her freckles glistened as she breathed in, getting all of the oxygen she would need before she hopped towards the door to the ship. Nessa looked back towards the other woman with a bigger smile, "Shall we?" She asked before she pulled the door to exit into the floatlessness of the ship.
As soon as she was in the floatlessness of space she moved to fix her hair before she fanned her wings out. The wings were helpful in flight, but they acted like rudders in space. With a strong sway of her tail she was pushed along the broken cryopods, she looked to them with a small frown on her face before she got to the end of the hall. She glanced back to see if Jessica was following closely, she didn't want to already lose the other woman.

The light that flickered through the broken parts of the ship, the light from the nearest stars washing over her as she felt her body tremble in the warmth. She would have let out a sigh if it didn't waste the oxygen in her lungs; as soon as Jess got to her side she moved to lead her down a small hallway.
To many, this would be a worrying thing, being led by a former slave and especially potential council criminal down a small corridor.

Nessa moved to grab the door handle and tugged at it, feeling the hinges keep hold before she pulled a bit stronger, the door ripping off immediately with, if there was air, would have been a crunch. The slinters from the door floated around Nessa, slightly lit up from the light now coming off her body.
"This way." She spoke to Jessica, "They keep everything in here, but the important stuff is stored secretly."
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