Part 57: Pirate - Part 05 - August 25th, 1179NC: VengeanceAugust 25th, 1179NC: Vengeance
Off we go to Rebel II - our comrades have been compromised, and they have to know.
You meet with the Rebel High Command. After the news that the latest shipment has been lost the Rebels grow very long in the face. A plan is hatched after some long discussion. Frandall suggests that the best way to flush out the enemy is to create a shipment that is too tempting a target to pass up. The plan is made to create a bogus convoy, packed full of important supplies and carrying the rebel high command. A series of communications is sent back and forth, and the fleet is assembled. The convoy contains very few freighters, and many warships. The rebels are happy for you to deal with the enemy. The fleet sets out to head back to Aral, with every intention of being attacked by the enemy.
And what a fleet it is.
This only gets better. We return to Aral.
Counterintelligence via violence beats cutscene hand-weaving by far.
The trap being set, the fleet sets out to flush out the enemy. The mood on board is one of tense expectation. The plan calls for you to disable enemy ships, so that they can be boarded and prisoners taken. It goes without saying that the fighting will be brutal and fierce. The possibility of death hangs on everyone, but the current situation must stop. The enemy crews themselves will not be the chief source of information, but the enemy databanks will. So you will have to disable and board whichever ship of theirs seems to be their command vessel.
Getting ahold of the databanks will enable you to trace the movements of specific ships, tracking them to secret bases and rendezvous points. It will also make it possible for you to read encoded messages, and decipher the identity of their senders. Once you know that, you will be able to cross-reference with membership lists of the Association. A long process, but necessary. Only by doing this will you discover the trail of the killers, and destroy them all.
Then a sudden warning comes through the comm; it looks like this party is about to warm up. The bad guys have sent a fleet to destroy your 'convoy'. You smile savagely, preparing to take off and deal with scumbags in orbit who have been trying to stop you from the minute you started looking successful.
You send off a grim message packet to Olaf telling him to meet you on Rebel II in the Koria system if you survive this little encounter...
We charge in. The enemy is a half-dozen Manticores escorted by a few Valkyries and a gaggle of fighters - the Manticores are deadly to my fighter escorts, so I immediately order them immobilized. The EMPs carried by us and our escort Starbridges stop them from intercepting our fighters as I send them off to run interference on the enemy fighters. The Manticores die off just as the enemy flagship Carrier jumps in - now without any backup, I have to recall all ships just to prevent it from being instantly obliterated.
We retrieve the data and head to Rebel II.
The cost has been high - many of our fighters did not return to the docking bays, though the heavier ships have come on in good shape. Note that our escort stays with us - we're not stopping now.
Olaf hands you a full stein of ale, and you silently raise it in memory of those who will never drink with you again. The rebels were already prepared for your arrival, and the wounded are swiftly taken to hospitals and to medical stations whose doctors ask no questions. As their repair crew gets to work you take stock of the situation. Your ammunition stocks are depleted and there are some badly damaged ships in your fleet. Others will never sail again...
"We'll need to take those captured databanks to Rebel I in the Evlei system," muses Olaf quietly, obviously uncomfortable to disturb you during your reverie. "That is the place where the rebel code-breakers are currently hiding. Those guys and their computers will soon have the ciphers broken and the information pouring out to us." You nod in agreement, hoping that the decoding won't take too long.
Once the supplies have been loaded and the damaged sections have been repaired, you instruct Mr. Flynn to take her out, and ask Dala to set course for Rebel I. You hope that this trip will be less action packed than the last, but you doubt it, and so you take along what's left of your fleet to ensure that the data package reaches the decoders...
Now we wait. I haul off to Pirate space to waste some time and pirates. After a few weeks and quite a bodycount, we return to Rebel I.
You are happy to make a safe planet-fall on Rebel I. Dizzy slumps in his chair, gladly letting the helm sit idle. It has not been an easy trip for him. Sven has spent far too long at his post, and his eyes are so bloodshot that you can barely see any whites in them.
"Stand down, gentlemen, and see to it that you both get plenty of rest."
They both salute and leave the bridge. You pick up the hailer and inform Mr. Ferret to begin off-loading the databanks. You remind him of their importance and ask him to place the best fighters on the cargo duty that day. He chuckles, and tells you to relax, as he has already hand-picked the cargo crews for today, making sure that there are some hulking, but fast-reflexed lads among them. You break the connection and sit back. All you have to do now is wait, and you inform the Rebels that you will keep checking by the bar to see if they have unravelled all the information in the databanks and to look for you there when they do.
We know where he is, and we've got a giant fuckoff ship. Let's do this.
Just when you think that you are going to go insane hanging around this tinpot hole on the edge of nowhere, as you sit sipping your drink, a man comes over to you and tells you that they have managed to crack the crypto on the Databanks. You quickly follow him into the Rebel HQ.
As you arrive, the rebels' tactical computer, Horatio, is starting to deliver his analysis.
"The security leak is from cargo handler Jimrin Forge in the Tichel system. I have linked him to the Bureau and the pirate group lead by Chade McGowan. McGowan's fleets are evading us by using the Federation outposts to resupply.
"My assessment of the situation is that McGowan is in the direct employ of the Federation, and is controlled by the Bureau. They supply him with the routes and times of Federation patrol sweeps. This enables him to attack our fleets without fear of Federation intervention.
"It is my suggestion that the McGowan fleet be destroyed. Removing him would decrease Federation intervention by 75%."
McGowan, the man who stole your parents from you; McGowan, the man who has been killing your friends and associates without fear of retribution. The rebels are discussing how best to destroy McGowan. You on the other hand, have every intention of doing it first. You can't let them take away your revenge. Now is the time for blood.
The plan is to charge in, blast our way through and leave nothing standing in our wake. An Association fleet composed of Enterprises, Valkyries and assorted fighters is backing us up against everything McGowan can throw at us - the entire gamut of Pirate ships, plus Harbor's own defense cannons.
You enter the bridge of the Scurvy Goonette to find all of your crew sitting expectantly at their consoles. You pick up the hailer, and ask for Olaf and Ferret to report to the bridge. The two men appear in moments, and you begin to tell them about the findings of Horatio. When you have finished, the faces before you are full of a grim purpose.
"I know that many of you have reasons for hating McGowan, and I say that letting the rebels go and remove him from this world would be betraying all the memories that we hold dear, and disregarding the very tenets upon which the Association of Free Traders was built. Tyranny and injustice must be fought, and they must be fought by those who have stomach for the fight.
"Mr. Ferret, inform the crew that we are headed for battle. Olaf, make ready the engines. I want optimum power by the time we reach Harbor.
"Dizzy, make sure that you are ready to fly like you have never flown before, and Mr. Fjordnham, keep the information coming to my screens. I need to know which ships are weakening, and which ships are still in full flight. Blind Charlie, signal the rest of the fleet to form on Scurvy Goonette and make themselves ready for battle. We go to end a great evil, and by all that is sacred, we will succeed in our task."
It starts innocuously enough, our fleets both jumping in and going at it, but McGowan's flagship jumps in on the opposite side of the battle, flanking us. It's vital that we only disable, not kill, and the main battle still needs our main focus, so I peel off the Scurvy Goonette to personally get the job done.
His personal fighters come out to try and interfere. They're swatted aside, and we slowly gain on McGowan. Back at the main front, our ionising Valkyries have taken out the enemy capital ships. Despite losing almost all fighters in the opening salvo, we have gained the upper hand. I try to keep them focus-firing as the guns and torpedoes wear down McGowan's defenses.
There was no doubt. McGowan is disabled and captured. Far away, our escort completes mop-up and returns to join us, missing most of their armour but flight-worthy. Harbor's guns fall silent as we coast in to dock, holding their leader.
The rebel fleet arrives to find your battered but victorious fleet. The Scurvy Goonette will need some time in dry dock in order to repair the badly damaged sections, but all in all, the day has gone well for the Association of Free Traders. The rebel fleet takes up an escort position, and you land on Harbor to celebrate and recuperate.
Frandall signals you that the Rebellion would like to start using the Association in a more offensive role, to make hit and fade attacks on the Federation. He says that the Association ships seem well suited for this role, and that they can be used to make the Federation pay for the crimes and corruptions they have committed against the small man.
You tell him that you will have to ask the remainder of the members, but that you think they will be delighted to take on that role. The thought of fighting the Federation in the open appeals to you. It is with a song in your heart that you tell Dala to set course for the great beyond. What was your father's is now yours. For now you are happy to leave things the way they are, and leave the worries of the universe to others, for a while. You wonder who will step forward to take the torch from you.
With a smile you head out into the dark comfort of deep space. It has been a good day...
And thus ends the Pirate storyline, and with it, this LP. Thank you to everyone who posted in and read this thread - it certainly turned into something far longer and bigger than I expected!