Part 46: Rebellion - Part 02 - May 3rd, 1178 NC: The Empire Strikes BackMay 3rd, 1178 NC: The Empire Strikes Back
By proxy, that is. The writing in this part of the Bounty Hunter storyline is ridiculous enough that I'll let it speak for itself. We first head to Honor to pick up Bindi.
You walk off your ship wondering what Bindi looks like when you hear a discreet cough off to your left. You turn to see a slim young brunette smiling in your direction. She comes over and introduces herself as Bindi.
After you show her around your ship she begins telling you a little about herself. You learn that she has been involved with the Guild since her early teens when Folstam rescued her from starvation on the impoverished Brass in the Glimmer system. Since then she has worked as a low-level courier between Guild members, operated as a secure contact and spent a few years studying under Corrin in the Federation office.
Despite her youthful enthusiasm, you sense a deep intelligence behind her words, as if she is deliberately trying to draw you into conversation. To your surprise she succeeds, and while you go through your pre-flight checklist you find yourself telling her many of the things that you haven't told anyone for years.
You make a mental note to pay close attention to this young lady.
The first thing you notice about Honor is the weather. While extremely changeable, the rains are never extreme (more like sun-showers), and the hot days never too bright or too hot. Honor is seen by the Taoists as the perfect example of balance, and there are many temples of that philosophy here, as well as Shaolin Buddhists. Honor puts one in mind of a picture perfect day in the ancient Middle Kingdom on Earth, and certainly many of the population are oriental in background. By general unspoken agreement, Honor is fairly low tech, with any areas that must be modern discreetly hidden from casual view. The spaceport is often missed by tourists from the air.
Honor's Bar posted:
On entering this bar you see a number of young Shaolin monks drinking heavily. You are about to question why when the bartender tells you that they are attempting to train in some style of drunken martial arts. You find this idea amusing, but you decide not to push the issue just in case.
Bindi fills your ears with pleasant banter as you pilot your craft down to the landing platforms of the arcology that houses the new Chapter House. You feel like you have known this pleasant young woman for years, not just a few weeks.
However, you still get that feeling that she is trying to find out as much about you as possible, almost as if she is trying to figure out how best to handle you. You realize that this bubbly young lady is a very effective operator, if only because she is capable of hiding her true abilities behind a screen of pleasantries and youthful exuberance.
You remind yourself for the thousandth time on this trip to watch yourself around her.
This conversation changes according to your gender. I've mixed up the dialog and can't even tell which is meant for which gender, which makes me wonder why they bothered. Mu'Randa bugs us on Aurora, but we tell her to bugger off. Porkins is an ace bounty hunter, not some courier.
"Well, thanks for the lift," says Bindi gratefully as she exits your ship. "If you want to find out more about the bounty that the Aurorans have for you, it should be in the Mission BBS."
She shifts her weight, striking a seemingly girlish pose.
"Oh, well," she sighs, "I guess I'll see you when you come back this way to collect your pay."
She looks down at her shoes, suddenly nervous.
"I've never met anyone like you," she says with a strange admiration in her eyes. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to you."
In a sudden motion she leans over and gives you a admiring hug before giving you an embarrassed smile and hurriedly walking away.
You stand, a little stunned, and remind yourself once again to pay very careful attention to that girl. She suddenly got that much more dangerous as you are somewhat unsure about how to deal with the hero-worship she so obviously has towards you. After standing there stunned for a few moments, you shake your head and head back onboard your ship.
We take our first Auroran bounty.
The Aurorans have put a 100000 credit bounty out for the capture of Kaniuhk. He is believed to be located on the asteroid Houseless in the Kipa system.
Kipa is very far from Aurora. Luckily, nothing in Auroran space is very far from a Hypergate.
Apparently the disgraced warrior Kaniuhk has been organizing the myriad fallen warriors into a formidable fighting force and neither the Tekel or Dani Houses are prepared to deal with him, with both families claiming that it is the others responsibility.
Intelligence on his exact whereabouts on the asteroid 'Houseless' is sketchy, but is known to frequent the bar virtually every afternoon for several hours.
He is to be captured and returned alive to the Chapter House on Aurora in order to stand trial for his crimes.
We're met by a large contingent of pirates. Although they can be killed, I take the easy route and evade them.
You breathe a heavy sigh of relief as you manage to get your beloved V-Wing down in one piece. You quickly unstrap and go through a very abbreviated post-flight routine so that you can get out of here and after this guy Kaniuhk as soon as possible. In all likelihood, he already knows that you are here, and is probably crawling down some hole somewhere just to make your life difficult.
Soon enough you are standing outside your ship smelling the metallic odor of recycled air trying to remind yourself why you like your work. Pushing those negative thoughts aside, you head off to the bar to start your search.
Astute readers will notice that this is the exact same model as Menin, just at a slightly different angle.
Situated deep in the Rochak Dust Field, Kipa is one of this group of systems that play home to ronin warriors; warriors who have been cast out of their families for dishonorable actions. These warriors occasionally attack along the trade routes close by. On this small asteroid, which they have named Houseless, these warriors have a small base for refuelling and some basic repairs. So far they have managed to avoid angering the Dani and Tekel families too much, and so they continue to plague this area. Both these great houses claim that these systems fall inside the borders of the other, and that therefore it is not their problem. In short, these pirates continue to operate freely.
This richly appointed establishment is overlooked by a balcony which has but one table. A shadowy figure sits there watching the movements of everyone in the bar.
Baring or barring? Either way, it's nice to see how often the space-melee-combat tropes are averted here.
You walk into the bar, but you don't recognize anyone as being even vaguely like Kaniuhk from the photos that came with the bounty. That is until you look up to the second floor balcony and see a man who looks as though he has the right build to be your mark.
The man notices you looking in his direction and immediately bolts out of sight. You immediately sprint up the stairs after him only to be met by two muscular tattooed Auroran warriors bearing various types of bladed weapons barring your way. With no other option, you decide to take these men down. You pull out your blaster and blast their legs away. You leap over their groaning forms and continue your pursuit.
As you step onto the balcony you see a number of older Auroran warriors leaping to their feet, and baring a door through which you presume Kaniuhk has fled.
We're chased by a handful of ships, but now we have our pick of destinations and I destroy them leisurely before Hypergating to Aurora.
You switch to rapid fire and blast away at the warriors, putting rounds down range and forcing them to put their heads down or have them taken off. As you get closer some of the warriors begin to shoot at you, but without a second thought you turn your field of fire to them and take them down. Blaster bolts fly past your head and graze your arm. You go to cover, slam home a fresh charge clip, and hammer away at your foes. Soon, you have a clear approach, but are pretty sure that your mark has escaped. Cursing, you break cover, and burst through the doorway.
No sooner have you leaped through than a storm of fire erupts all around you. You switch you selector back to single, power level to stun, and go to ground to start picking off the enemy. Once you take stock of the situation, you become aware that there are only a few targets in the room. Watching for their muzzle flash, you pick them off before fumbling for the light switch. You quickly cast about the inert warriors and find Kaniuhk. He is deep in blaster induced unconsciousness. Hurling him over your shoulder, you quickly make your escape.
After dodging some warriors who were obviously looking for you, and having to put a couple more into Kaniuhk to keep him under, you finally reach the safety of your ship. It seems like days since you left, but in actual truth it has only been a couple of hours.
As soon as you get on board you secure Kaniuhk, slapping some leg irons and para-drugs into him to make sure he wont disturb you. You strap in, and blast off, probably committing a number of port violations on the way.
You land as close to the central stem of the arcology as you possibly can, calling for medical help for your prisoner as you recklessly plummet down through Aurora's atmosphere.
As soon as you touch down you throw your post-flight routine out the window and immediately get the severely injured Kaniuhk out to the waiting medical teams as quickly as possible.
After watching the men depart, you notice several Auroran warriors standing several meters away observing the proceedings. Before turning away they all give you a small nod, acknowledging your skill.
You nod in return, before heading inside and arguing over the com unit with the Dock Master as to how much the maintenance and repair of your craft is going to cost you.
The gendering gets much more pronounced here, the writers pushed the hero-worship hard.
After taking care of your ship you head off for what your insides tell you is the most dangerous part of your mission - returning to face Bindi.
As soon as you set foot in the Guild Offices she almost pounces on you and asks question after question after question trying to find out everything that happened. Eventually you manage to tell her pretty much everything, only to have her scold you for being careless about running through the rear door of the bar.
"You could have been killed!" she exclaims. "We can't have good people like you taking stupid risks with their lives just for a little money."
At that you jump at the chance to change the subject and ask her when you can pick up your pay. She looks at you askance and without saying a word hands over a credit chip.
You thank her profusely only to have her admonish you to 'take more care next time'.
You realize that your well earned rest is going to have to wait for another day as soon as you recognize Jack Folstam heading toward you.
"You really get around," he says as he sits down across from you. You shrug, saying that it is necessary in this line of work. "I seem to spend all my time looking for you."
You grin, waiting to here what new escapade the 'Day-Master' wants to pass along to you.
"The Guild wants to expand into Polaris Space," he continues smoothly, "and guess who comes highly recommended?" he finishes with a smile.
You snort, thinking that perhaps there should be some other space-jock to run the Day-masters errands.
Jack continues, "The Guild wants you to go on over there to find out a little more about the Polaris before we actually put together a formal proposal," he continues. "Think you're up to it?"
A long trip it is. Though if anyone can fly against the Polaris, it's Porkins. A long trip later and we've arrived.
"Well, the planet you're supposed to land on is called 'Kelarree'(?) and the system is something similar," he grinds out. "Hang on, I've got it written down here."
You wait while he reaches into a belt pouch before handing over a data crystal.
"All we want you to do is to meet with whoever is in charge over there and find out what they're like," he continues. "Shouldn't be too dangerous, but the Polaris do like to be left alone, so just keep an eye out. Remember, the Polaris have technology centuries ahead of ours, so think about running before fighting if things start getting out of hand. When you've finished all that, head back to Earth to get a little cash reimbursement and a debrief."
He stands up, slugging down the rest of his drink .
"Good seeing you again Porkins, and good luck."
After finishing your drink you head back to your beloved V-Wing and read the data crystal he gave you, to see that the Day-Master wants you to go to Kel'ar Iy in the Kel'ariy system. Looks like a long trip.
Welp. Back to Earth.
You feel a little bit nervous as you complete your post-flight checks and cycle the hatch. You aren't very sure what to expect of the Polaris, but from what you have seen their technology makes your ship look like a dinosaur. You exit your ship to see an elderly brown-robed woman flanked by two gray-robed men who have a frightening aura of stillness about them.
"Porkins,thank you for making such a long and arduous journey ," she begins, "I am Bis Andreya, and I am here to inform you that we have no need of the services of your Guild."
She holds up a hand to forestall your protests.
"The crime rate amongst the Polaris is virtually nil," she explains, "and we are more than capable of defending our borders," she shrugs.
"That is why we met you here," she continues, "as we felt that there was no need to waste your time any further. You have made a long trip here for no return, and you have a long trip back. But before you go, please, feel free to wander around so that you can make a full report back to your superiors."
After she leaves, you wander around this technological heaven. You and your achievements shrink into insignificance next to it.
As you pilot into the now-familiar docking bays, your mind wanders over the events of the past few weeks. In retrospect you can see why the Polaris were dismissive; they really don't need anything the Guild can offer. There seemed to be no poverty or crime amongst the Polaris, and if any of the readings coming from the Polaris ships were even vaguely accurate then you can see why nobody bothers them.
Going through your post-flight routine you mull over what to say in your debrief, as you doubt that the Guild hierarchy, whoever that is, will be overly happy with your report.
As you finish up you straighten your shoulders, look sky-ward for a second and stride off to tell the Guild what they don't want to hear.
You are surprised to see both Folstam and Corrin in the office when you enter. They both look up as you enter.
"So tell me about the Polaris," says Corrin cheerfully.
You look over at the more serious Folstam and shake your head. Corrin drops the smile and, in a business-like motion, locks the doors.
We head back to the Houseless wastes to hunt more pirates, but yet another dropbear attack delays us. We should really get that spray eventually. We walk out from the hospital bar only to meet Jack once more.
As she sits back down you quickly outline the events of your mission. You are met with a long silence when you finish.
"I take it you're starting to get a few ideas about my status in the Guild," Folstam begins quietly after the pause. You nod.
"Although I doubt that you have actually guessed the particulars," he indicates Corrin. "Corrin here is the Day-Master."
Your eyes widen slightly.
Corrin chuckles, "Well, the Day-Master's job is to take care of the day-to-day running of the Guild," she ruminates happily, "and I'm in the perfect position for that. The role of the Night-Master is to be ready to handle any extraordinary situations that arise."
You turn to Jack and he nods. "Yep," he agrees, "that's me.
"I've been using you to help me deal with a great number of new situations as I've learned to trust you more and more," he continues. "Don't worry about this negative report, we can't win them all.
"Keep an eye out though, I have a few more things coming up soon that I'll need your help with."
We're a loose cannon, but we get results, damnit. And so begins our career in Internal Affairs.
You are about to order a drink when you see Jack Folstam heading your way. You switch from one finger to two, and the alk-obot spits out two beers.
"Thanks," says Jack, as he slides onto the vacant stool next to you. He sighs "I have been feeling a little parched the last couple of days; the atmosphere regulator in the Hunter has been playing up."
You nod to a vacant corner booth, and the two of you head over to have a little more privacy.
"The Guild has a problem," Jack begins seriously. "Do remember the second rule of being a Guild member?"
You reply that it was something about not attacking other members.
"Well it has come to my attention that someone, with a few friends, has been systematically violating that rule," he continues grimly, "and I need someone to go and do something about it. Are you available?"
Next time: Fuck the police!