Part 48: Rebellion - Part 04 - January 25th, 1179 NC: Load RunnerJanuary 25th, 1179 NC: Load Runner
We meet Jay and are sent out to pick up supplies, equipment, and personnel. The Federation isn't a big fan of us, so we get to kill quite a few enemies in the course of our duties.
Ion cannons are really overpowered.
A few months later and we're in tight with the Rebels, as usual. Here's some cheese to show you what you're missing with respect to dialogue:
Fiona thanks you for giving her a lift as she leaves and you watch her walking away. You realize that, in all likelihood, you will never see her again. You will never know her story. Why did she join the Rebels, why is she willing to risk her life and mental health for something as ephemeral as an ideal? Her retreating back seems a fitting metaphor for the way this war is being carried out.
Feeling a strange sense of sadness, you head back up to your cockpit.
Going in to the hilt, we're sent to Rebel Intelligence.
"I don't know what they want you to do," Jay continues seriously, "I've been told that you have to report to Rebel II in the Koria system, and that's it."
He leans forward on his enormous arms.
"Just be careful with the spooks," Jay says carefully. "I'm sure that they all have the best of intentions, but I get the feeling that the longer a person spends manipulating other people and learning to live several different lives, the more it warps their perceptions. I don't think there's a spook out there that doesn't go a bit weird after a while. And look out for that Frandall guy. He'll come across as a decent sort of bloke, but I've never met anybody who is more willing to sacrifice anything to achieve his aims. To him we are all pawns to be moved about in an enormous chess game. None of us matters as long as he wins.
"But good luck anyway," he thumps you on the arm. "It'll sure beat the hell out of carting freight around."
You are greeted by General Smart and a rather non-descript man just short of 6 feet, slim build and a slightly hooked nose.
"Welcome to Intel," states General Smart as he shakes your hand. He indicates the man standing next to him. "Allow me to introduce Geoff Daniels, he will be your intel supervisor."
The two of you shake hands, eyeing each other curiously.
"I've heard good things about you," Geoff says positively, "it's nice to finally meet you. Why don't you have a look around the station and meet me in the bar in an hour or so. I need the time to come up with your code name and to hammer out the details of your first mission.
"We have also cleared you to purchase many of our ships, such as they are, but of course you can keep your current ship if you wish."
General Smart leans over, and announces in a conspiratorial whisper loud enough for Daniels to hear, "Watch out for these spooks, they think they run the universe."
Geoff Daniels just smiles gently, "But we do, General, didn't you know?"
Hello space-Jesus, we didn't see you there.
"There you are," says Geoff when you enter. "What do you think of our humble station?"
You mumble something noncommittal.
"That's what I like to see," he laughs good-naturedly, "a man who keeps his cards close to his chest. You'll do fine working with us in Intel. By the way you have been assigned the code-name 'Ory-Hara'. Don't worry about it meaning anything, the computer just spits them out randomly. From now on everyone around here will call you by that name to protect your true identity. Also, now that we have you on our books you will have a small pittance of a salary paid into your account and you will get a slight discount at all Rebel ports. It's not much, but it's better than nothing.
"I suppose you want to know about the mission?" he asks smiling. "Well, it is a mission to go and meet the Polaris. Do you think you can handle it, or do you need some time to prepare? It is after all a very long journey through pretty hazardous space."
We now have access to the lower tier of Rebel ships and outfits, not to be sneezed at. It's a long trip to Kel'ar Iy, with pirates en-route. Luckily they're just pirates, and the Polaris still like us after our Bounty Hunter mission.
"Excellent!" Geoff exclaims. "We needed someone with the ability to handle themselves in a tight situation," he continues earnestly, "as well as being completely trustworthy. You would be surprised how small that list actually is. Especially when you factor in availability and the conspicuous nature of most of our ships. You came out near the top of all our list, and you were the only person to do that in every category.
"The Polaris have gotten a message to us asking us to send someone to them. They were pretty vague on what the meeting was actually going to be about, but we cannot afford to let slip any chance at gaining another technological edge over the Bureau. When we got the Dragons, they were a godsend. Even if it is only to foster better relations with them, we cannot afford not to go a little out of our way to accommodate them.
"So we want you to go to Kel'ar Iy in the Kel'ariy system," he concludes decisively, "to find out what the Polaris want."
Space-Jesus now offers guaranteed shipping.
After your long journey you are only too happy to be landing, even if it is on a strange world. You are looking forward to stretching your legs if nothing else.
You open your hatch to see a black-robed young woman standing at the end of your ramp.
"Greetings Ory-Hara," she greets you, "I am Mu'Randa of the Mu'Hari. I have been chosen as a representative of our Ruling Council to meet with your leaders."
Your confusion lasts only a moment until you realize that obviously the Polaris contacted the Rebellion about arranging a meeting. You quickly explain that your leaders will be unprepared to greet her as they were uncertain as to the nature of this mission.
"Of course," she says. "That was our intention. We have no wish to the see the Rebellion as you would wish it to be seen, we want to see it in its everyday mode. How else are we to make a decision about supporting it?"
You sigh and get ready for a long trip back.
On the express orders of your passenger Mu'Randa, you make no contact with the Rebels until you begin the docking sequence. You radio out that you have a representative of the Polaris government on board wanting to meet with the leaders of the Rebellion. After you finish relaying the information you sit back with a smile.
"What are you smiling at?" inquires your passenger politely.
You reply that you are thinking about the mad chaos that would be resulting from the message you just sent. You chuckle at the thought of Rebel officers running around trying to get as many head sheds together as possible given the time frame.
As soon as you finish your post-flight check list you lead your passenger out into the waiting station.
You are surprised to be greeted by five of the six founding members of the Rebellion. One by one Mu'Randa is introduced to General Smart, Cardinal Vardy de Valera, former head of theological studies of the Church of Krim-Hwa, Professor Barry Williams, former Vice-Chancellor of Kane University, Mr. Donald Chick, former CEO of Sigma Shipyards and Dr. Oriallo Pentecost, former Port Kane representative to the Federation Council. The only one missing is the mysterious Frandall. But then, according to rumor, he has not been seen in public for several years now.
Mu'Randa is led away by General Smart and you are left standing, not knowing what to do until you see Geoff Daniels coming over.
"Quite a show of rank wouldn't you say," he says with an indolent grin. You nod looking a little confused. "We had an inkling that this might happen," he explains, "so we prepared ahead of time. Regardless, she'll need transport back soon, and that'll be you. Stay near the bar. I might need you in a hurry."
We head back to pick up our plot coupon.
It is some time later, as you are sitting quietly waiting for news to reach you regarding your visitor when a sudden drop and then surge in the conversation near the door draws your attention. You look up to see Geoff leading Mu'Randa towards you.
"Howdy," greets Geoff greets you casually. "Well, the 'historic' meeting is ended, and you're stuck with being chauffeur again.
"Seriously though," he continues gravely, "as I understand it the Polaris are considering giving us a new type of scanning technology that will allow us to detect high-level holo-transmissions without carting around several hundred tons of equipment. So what we want you to do is take Mu'Randa here back to Kel'ar Iy in the Kel'ariy system and wait there for final word on whether they are willing to allow us to use this technology. If they do, while you're in Polaris space, pick it up and return here."
"Thank you Ory-Hara," says the delighted Mu'Randa, "your help has been much appreciated in this matter. Very few non-Nil'kemorya (that is the Polaris name for our warrior caste) pilots would have even attempted the journey you did. And to get past all those Federation vessels undetected was masterful. You have earned not only my respect, but when my people hear of your deeds, you will have earned theirs also.
"Were you aware that the word 'Ory'hara' means something in Polaris?" she asks quietly. "It is a little difficult to translate, but it comes out as something like 'eternal vigilance' or even 'recurring vigilance', although it also has connotations of stealth and to a lesser extent cunning. An interesting piece of trivia don't you think?
"Now if you could go to the bar and await me," she informs you quietly, "I will return as quickly as I can with the council's answer."
You sit in the bar trying to get used to the strange surroundings. Your eyes keep flicking to the group of gray-cloaked men sitting at tables surrounding a man garbed in all-brown. They seem to be acting very casually, but you keep feeling their eyes bore into you every time you even blink. You get the feeling that these men are far more dangerous than they are trying to look.
You see Mu'Randa walk in and she grins as she spots you.
"The Council has decided to allow you access to the technology," she confirms happily. "Once they heard about your piloting exploits they were more than willing to hand it over to you. They do suggest that you tell your leaders to look into their intelligence network. They believe that you might have a leak."
We couldn't be allowed to just get the plot coupon right away without dragging it out further.
"Now we have to go to Ver'ar Shan in the Ver'ashan system," she continues cheerfully. "I will be going along with you so that I can introduce you to avoid any misunderstandings. Not that many Polarans actually understand Basic, so I will also serve as a translator.
"So when do we leave?" she asks brightly.
You down the remains of the almost revoltingly wholesome Polaris drink they serve here and the pair of you start heading back to your beloved V-Wing. Despite the incredibly advanced Polaris ships around her, possibly because of it, never before has she shone quite so well. You step inside feeling enormously satisfied.
Back to Rebel II.
Mu'Randa heads out and greets a elderly looking green-robed man in the musical Polaris tongue. They exchange a few pleasantries before Mu'Randa turns to you.
"May I present Ver'Tanin," she says, "the leader of the Ver'ash, what we call our engineer and healer caste."
He bows, and you bow deeply in response saying that you have been overwhelmed by not only the technology of the Polaris, but also their kindness and generosity. He beams and bows deeply. He responds with a few words and Mu'Randa tells you that he is impressed with your courtly manners and that he is happy to learn that not all outsiders are barbarians. He then glances towards a group of similarly garbed men and they begin loading your cargo before bowing again and leaving you alone with Mu'Randa.
"Well done!" she praises freely. "I doubt that he could have been handled better.
"I believe that this is goodbye," she continues, "for now anyway. I have my duties here and you must return to the Rebellion. I'm glad that we were able to help you, despite the potential difficulties we might face because of it. I'm glad to have met you, Ory-Hara."
You step out of your ship to be greeted by General Smart, Dr. Oriallo Pentecost and Cardinal Vardy de Valera.
"Excellent work, Ory-Hara," exclaims General Smart in greeting.
"This may prove to be a turning point in our battle," agrees Dr. Pentecost.
"It seems the Gods are with us," replies Cardinal de Valera, "for they have blessed us with the best gift of all; resourceful and devoted people who are prepared to serve in whatever extraordinary circumstances arise."
You shift uncomfortably under the praise of these men.
"And don't worry about our intel failure in alerting the Federation to your mission," General Smart informs you sternly. "Steps are being carried out to eliminate that threat.
"We wanted to thank you for your efforts in liaising with the Polaris," he continues seriously, "and to praise your exploits in piloting past the Federation blockade undetected. It is good to know that people like you are on our side, as I would hate to think of what could happen if you weren't."
"A hefty sum" is apparently 75,000 credits, which isn't even enough for a full load of missiles.
After the three Rebel leaders depart you see your supervisor Geoff walk over to you.
"You're starting to make a big impression," he says with a cheerful smile. "Everybody around here is talking about you, the latest big name in the Rebel ranks, and rightly so."
"Why don't you take a few days R&R?" he suggests clapping you on the shoulder. "If anyone has earned it you have, but keep checking back here because it won't be too long before I need you again.
"Oh, and by the way," he suddenly remembers, "I don't know if you've noticed, but we have been transferring money into your account as payment. I made sure you got a hefty sum this time around. You deserve it."
As you step once more into this establishment you notice your supervisor Geoff Daniels sitting at a table not far away waving in your direction. You walk over and sit down after shaking hands.
"I'm glad you stopped by," he begins with a welcoming smile. "I have something for you. You'll be happy to know that it doesn't involve anything as arduous as travelling all the way to Polaris Space and back.
"Now that we have this new Polaris technology," he explains, "we want someone to take it out on a test run to see if it is worth our while to mass produce it to start putting it in all of our ships. Are you interested in being the guinea pig?"
Fly around the Federation, landing everywhere, and if you get scanned you fail. Let's skip the tedious bullshit and go right to New England, the actual destination. The Feds are waiting for us anyhow.
"It shouldn't be too hard for someone of your piloting abilities," he asserts confidently. "Just fly around Federation Space landing on planets and stations until you start getting some anomalous readings. Once you've done that, come back here and we'll get our techs to see if they can understand all the technobabble and we'll take it from there."
He leans back and rubs his tired-looking eyes.
"I don't need to remind you," he states languidly, "that we don't want the Federation to become aware of the technology we now have. Otherwise we will lose half the advantage it gives us. So if you could stay out of the path of their warships, it would be appreciated by everyone in the intel side of things."
As soon as you land on New England you head out to stretch your legs. After spending so long in space you need to work out a few kinks.
You come back after a short walk and you decide to check on the readouts from the holo-scanner. You are slightly amused to see it lit up like a Christmas tree with readouts spewing forth various data at an enormous rate.
You wonder aloud in a slightly sarcastic voice if the techies would consider this to be anomalous. You decide that it is strange enough for you. You were getting sick of this aimless wandering around Federation space anyway. Time to head back to Rebel II.
For a bunch of game devs, ATMOS really doesn't think highly of technicians and scientists.
As soon as you land your ship is overrun by rude techies who have no consideration for the rules of your ship. You get annoyed and throw them out until you finish your post-flight routine.
You walk out and give them an ear-bashing about giving a pilot and his ship a little consideration next time. They are very apologetic and you decide to let them get back to their work.
As they tentatively go about their business you turn to see Geoff looking at you with a large smirk on his face.
"They don't get put in their place very often," he comments laughing. "They normally get free run because we need everything they can come up with. You've made an old hand very happy. Come to the intel office and we'll have a look at the preliminary findings."
Now we have access to all the rest of the Rebel ships! Woo!
You enter a large room with about forty terminals all manned by headset-wearing personnel. Geoff immediately goes up to the nearest terminal and looks over the shoulder of its operator. His eyes widen slightly.
"Where did you get these readings?" he asks calmly.
You tell him that they were picked up on New England in the Wolf 359 system.
"Really..." he muses. "There's an awful lot of traffic going in and out of a planet that is best known as a retirement spot. Interesting..."
He turns to you with an absent-minded nod and grimaces slightly.
"By the way," Geoff continues, "we have cleared you for purchase of Rebel capital ships as well. If would like to have one, you can now buy them wherever we have a shipyard.
"Come by the bar in the next few days," he informs you seriously. "By then they'll have done at least a preliminary analysis of the data, and I reckon that I'll have something for you. In the meantime enjoy the credits we've put into your account."
Next time: A distinct lack of giant space battles!