Part 54: Pirate - Part 02 - January 11th, 1178NC: AccretionJanuary 11th, 1178NC: Accretion
Last time, Uncle Olaf gave us a ton of cash and a daily income. What surprises lurk in store for us? We return to Viking to find out.
Olaf waves to you as soon as you enter. "Well, how was yer trip? Are ye ready to set up the family business again?"
You nod, and tell him that you are as ready as you are likely to be.
"Good, then lets get down to business. Ye start by increasing the amount of money that ye're making. Once ye're making more money, ye can start setting up safe havens, and secret warehouses and the like.
"Now in the old days, this was pretty hard, but now that the Rebels have been around for a while, we have a good place to start. What happens now is that ye go to a meeting of the Rebel High Command. They will hopefully allow ye to become one of their major shipment runners.
"The trick is simple. Members of the Association are capable of running large shipments of goods without the Federation finding out about it. The Rebels are always short on supplies. Ye offer the services of the Association in return for a fee and the use of their network. They will agree because ye will be a lot easier to deal with than having to organize their own shipments, and because it saves them the risks of Federation intervention. If anybody gets caught, it means that they are not directly linked to it.
"So, am I a bright spark or what?"
Membership fees? Maybe we can reorganize as a communally-owned co-operative?
"Now the meeting will take place on the Rebel II station in the Koria system. Be ready for lots of security, but don't let that phase ye. This meeting is pretty much a formality. Most of the rebel freighter pilots are either old members of the Association, or their fathers were. They'll jump at the chance to revive the old system, for it is easier for them to work for us. Once ye're seen to be organizing things again, the membership fees will start rolling in. Soon we will have enough people to start taking on the Pirate gangs who live off the fat pickings in the galaxy. And once we do, ye'll be amazed who they work for. But for now, just get out to that meeting.
With the wave of a credit chip, the Black Joke turns into a brand spanking new Pirate Valkyrie. I strip out the terrible default weapons for a pair of railguns - not much investment, since she's meant to be traded out for a capture. The Free Trader lifestyle is a richly rewarding one.
We end up looting and killing far more pirates than we capture on the way to Rebel II, but money is still flowing in. The Pirates that meet us at the station are plot-spawned and unable to be looted, however. This just means more notches on our space-knives.
And now we run the typical Rebel supply missions, except without any despair or malice. Let's skip past all that and just run the highlight reel:
The Rebel High Command takes little time to ratify the use of the Association of Free Traders as the freight handlers of the Rebellion. Once the point was made that the Association would be responsible for the backlash from any intercepted shipments, the Rebels were more than happy to sign on the dotted line. The deal was struck quicker than you dared hope, and after the meeting, many of the rebels came forward to inform you that they worked for your father. You feel honored that they hold you in such high esteem.
We capture a Pirate Starbridge and quickly upgrade it to "holy shit" levels.
Visit the 13th colony...
Neo New York posted:
Neo New York was a flourishing Colonial Council colony until the crettic plague destroyed all life here. The atmosphere is a now a poisonous shell of its former self, containing mostly methane and variants thereof. Some remnants of the plague virus survive on the methane and sulphur compounds. You can feel the heat through your bio-suit, and the sludge squishes under your feet as you walk through the deserted streets of the spaceport. There is nothing of worth here, and even if there was it would never pass through your ship's biofilters.
Reassign the Queen Anne's Revenge as a fully upgraded escort...
And kill a whole bunch of pirates along the way.
We make it through the Rebel rigamarole. Olaf has something planned for us...
A board of equals!
The complex details of organizing so many different convoys and where they are headed, and whose ships are better equipped for handling which freight soon becomes too much for you. You discuss the options open to you with Olaf, and promote some more trusted members to help with the workload. As soon as you create this board you realize why your father had done it all those years ago. The Association begins to run smoother, and Olaf helps you to decide, with the help of the Advisers how best the money should be spent. There are some troubles, but most can be dealt with.
Olaf organizes some clandestine outfitting yards, and soon pirate versions of many ships begin to ply the space-lanes. The Federation are dealt some bloody noses by the likes of the modified 'Enterprise', and the modified 'Starbridge' becomes the ship of preference for blockade runners.
One day Olaf pulls you aside to deliver some news.
Off we go.
"I have been working on something for ye, but it is a surprise, and I need ye to travel around and pick up a few people for me before it will be ready. First I need Blind Charlie from Dunroamin in the Journey's End system. Now many folks think to look down on Charlie because he is blind, but he is the best communications operator I have ever met. His ear is incredible. He'll tell ye if the guy on the other end of a hailing channel is lying, because he'll be able to pick the tension in his voice. He's that good. So go and pick him up."
And back again.
Blind Charlie turns out to be quite easy to find. You find him working in a safe house for the Association, making money off the others there by telling them what the people in the next room are doing or saying. Another of his favorite tricks is to get people to throw things in the air, and let Charlie catch them. When you ask him how it is done, he smiles and tells you that he can hear them moving through the air, and the sound of the air being pushed aside. It is all pretty amazing.
You shake your head, and start going through your pre-flight routine.
On the return trip, he tells you that the port engine is having difficulty, and sure enough, once you land, it becomes apparent that the fuel intake valves were leaking. At this point it was only a hairpin leak, but if left too long the engine would have either seized or blown. Neither option appealed to you.
"I reckon we should see if Olaf is in at the bar," murmurs Blind Charlie in his quiet voice. "It will be good to catch up with him again... "
Olaf and Charlie embrace warmly, and you get the impression that there is a lot of history between them. That night at the bar they reminisce about old times, and there is much laughter.
"So," Charlie waves at you, "when are you going to go and get the others? God knows you'll need them."
"Others? What others," you ask, "and why will I need them?"
"All in good time, Coronne Harlock," Olaf slaps you on the back. "Firstly, tomorrow I'll need ye to go and fetch Sven Fjordnham, the best radar operator in the known galaxy. Ye'll find him at Serenity in the Lotus system. So go get him and come back. I have further things to organize here"
You feel a bit like an errand runner, but you have trusted Olaf your whole life, so you are not about to stop now.
Let's go pick up Sven.
Once you are able to raise your head, you make your way to the spaceport. The journey to Serenity will take some time, but then again, you have a feeling that Olaf is sending you away for some time for a reason. It makes you a little mad that no-one will tell you what is going on, with but you realize that you have yet to earn all your stripes.
And back once more.
You meet Sven working in the back room of a dingy nightclub. He shakes your hand warmly, and tells you that his father was a sensor-man for your Father. You observe him security scanning all of the patrons as they enter. The scanners strip those waiting in line, first of their clothes, then their skin, showing all biological enhancement. You start to laugh at one man, who has had the "Mr. Wonderful" nether region enhancement, when you realize that it was YOU standing outside scant moments before. You think of Sven inspecting you, and blush a deep scarlet.
As if reading your thoughts Sven smiles apologetically. "Sorry Cap'n, I only looked for a moment, I swear." Something tells you he enjoyed that moment though.
"Interesting software, Mr. Fjordnham," you tell him coolly.
"Yes, Cap'n, it is. I designed it myself. It's called the Nightprobe. Olaf funded me during its creation, and it is fast becoming the industry standard. Of course, the Association makes a fair cut from the profits."
You both leave, and head back to your ship, wondering how many "little projects" Olaf has set up. If they are all this clever, you'll surely make enough money to buy your own Universe and leave all the troubles of the one you are in behind.
Crew chief at a mining station... I can buy this.
After settling Sven, you surprise Olaf. He quickly shuts down the design terminal he was working at, and meets you as you cross the room. The other Association staff laugh at his behavior, and you know that they know what Olaf is planning.
"Only two more. Ye may as well pick 'em up at the same time. On Boral I in the Arcturus system is Ferret, the best damn crew chief I have ever met. Ferret knows how to deal with crew, from the Roughheads to the Bastards. From idiots to lazy good-for-nothings. Most crew are good, but Ferret, he can make the simplest of men perform better than ever.
"The second man I need you to fetch is Flynn "Dizzy" McHugh. He usually hangs around Ferret. If he's not around with Ferret, than at least Ferret should be able to point you in the right direction. Now Dizzy could make a destroyer out-fly a fighter if he wanted. Not that he hasn't in the past by the way. He learned to fly the hard way, earning a keep for his family. Even now the lad is barely old enough to shave. One bright captain realized that Flynn was far too smart to grow up being some ship's boy, and discovered his knack for flying.
"If it's a civvy ship, then Dizzy has flown it. He got the nickname while piloting leviathans at 14. Apparently he made the crew dizzy with the things he was able to make that leviathan do. So go get both of them and get back here. I reckon I'll have something waiting for you."
On the way to your ship you begin to piece together what Olaf is up to. First a Comms man, followed by a sensor-man. A crew chief and a Helmsman ... was Olaf forming a crew? But for what?
Nothing like using a nuclear torpedo on a pirate in a one-man fighter. Even better when escorts buy their own ammunition.
And back, for the last time.
It takes you less than an hour to locate Ferret, and it only takes him a quick phone call to get Dizzy to drop by, making your job very easy indeed.
Dizzy and Ferret seem to get along famously... which makes you think that the return trip will be extremely trying. With a deep sigh you decide to head back to Viking to see if you can find out what Olaf is up to.
Right from the start of the trip Dizzy and Ferret made work impossible as they carry on like two old friends, until you asked Ferret how was he supposed to control a crew if he couldn't control himself?
Abruptly the trouble stopped. You allowed Mr. McHugh to take the Helm, and became slightly jealous when he made your own ship fly better than you could. As time goes by you become used to buzzing through spaces that most pilots would have left well alone.
Ferret kept the crew so well in line that you only noticed them when you told them about a job well done. By the end of the trip, you are surprised to find that you are enjoying their company quite a lot.
One thing that has been troubling you is the fact that one of your biggest trade routes has fallen prey to raiders far too many times. There has been talk of a large pirate group specifically targeting Association convoys, and mostly when they are carrying Rebel supplies. The rebels have been getting more than a little worried. You will have to sort it out, and quickly. As you land you see some sort of strife at the shipyards. The blast-shields have been closed and there are warning lights flashing all over the base. You decide to head to the shipyard as soon as you land.
You burst into the shipyards to finds the production floor hung with bunting and streamers. Balloons and laser light shows burst into life as soon as you enter, and everyone yells "SURPRISE".
Out through the main view-port you can see the most vicious looking Carrier you have ever seen. It has six huge engines that look more than capable for blasting it through Federation blockades. The Weapons platform is immense, with more cannons than you have ever seen.
Olaf approaches you and smiles at the stunned look on your face. "I take it ye like yer new ship. I have built a ship for ye the same way I built a ship for your Father. This is yer birthright. I have made her an updated version of the old 'Unrelenting'. I'm glad that ye like her. With a ship like this, ye can go about making the Association safe and strong like it used to be."
You feel tears spring to your eyes, and Olaf puts his arm around you.
"Ahh, enough of that Bonnie, or yer new crew will think ye are a softie and try to walk all over ye. Now come and meet them."
Most of the bridge crew you have already met, and Olaf surprises you by telling you that he will handle the engineering section himself. At least now you know why Olaf has been so secretive lately.
Yarrrr! The half-million credits last time was just a warm-up, because now we have the 20,000,000 credit Unrelenting at our beck and call. The Unrelenting is an uparmoured, upgraded version of the Pirate Carrier, with more guns, more missiles, and more fighters. It's arguably one of the most powerful ships in the game, and it's ours, not even halfway through the plot. It's also apparently crewed by the A-team.
Olaf suggests that the maiden voyage of the best carrier in the universe should be to head out to Outcast in the Aral system and try to discover why the Association has been losing so many ships so near the small supply depot Olaf recently opened on the planets surface.
Bright and early, you meet your new bridge crew on your new ship. The surfaces of the various consoles gleam with a freshness that you find enticing. With a happy heart you order Flynn McHugh to break contact with the base and head for the Aral system.
As the ship makes its way out of the port, you set the course into the ships computer Dala. Dala calculates the best course for and you drop into warp. One way or the other you will discover what is happening in Aral.
This is going to be fun.