Imperial Patrol Cruiser Boxing Kangaroo’s maneuver drive fired, breaking orbit for the jump distance from Dismal to Hades. Sublieutenant Hassan prepares the jump plot. He can’t remember if he’s done this particular route before, but it’s a routine Jump-3 in well charted space. Brand had one of her juniors at the controls, who was a jump tech by training. With the final power diversion, the ship shudders slightly as it leaves reality. The watches go to their jump space norm, interrupted by the occasional drill. The major project, under Sergeant Valdez’s supervision, is cleaning up the bunk room. Without the distressed Solomani aboard, it’s possible to give it a deep clean. Besides, it gives the crew a chance to do something useful during the down time.
On the afternoon of 117-1120, Spacehand Recruit Castillo is working with Marine Fini in the bunk room, and they find one of the rescue bubbles in the space removed from the packaging. Looking at, it, they speculate for a few minutes before calling for Sergeant Valdez.
Fini pops to attention, while Castillo matches her in a manner that suggests a less intense discipline, when Valdez enters the compartment. “Sergeant, we found this rescue bubble removed from stowage, and now it’s useless,” and hands the damaged bubble over to him.
Taking a second to examine it, Valdez notes the external seals are all broken, and but the oxygen tab wasn’t pulled. It looked like a quick examination by someone bored as all get out. He remembered his first tour, with his company crammed on a Caen-class Dropship. That was unpleasant, and the order of the day for the rest of the mission was finding things to do to keep the crew out of trouble. There were a lot of locker inspections, and a couple of Terminal Lances were muttering about how this wasn’t the Force. He turned to them, and said “Good work finding this, we’ll get a replacement at Hades.” He went up to the captain’s day cabin with the tampered item. He explained to Lieutenant Brickley about what it was, and how it looked more like boredom than sabotage. Besides, there was no indication of any tampering with the locked door to the missile magazine, and the alarm circuit was intact.
|Keith Illustration, from Megatraveller|
The Boxing Kangaroo began to shudder noticeably as the ship came close to returning to the normal universe. Dropping into the system, the crew was on edge until Hassan and Zabiyah determined the ship had emerged in the Hades system. The cool, red star was normal for the Outback, but the small population orbited a gas giant. It also meant the fairly nice starport was relatively secure, given the lack of population. Officially a colony of Fenris, but that world’s military occupation meant it was a de facto Imperial possession. Other than the message stating the nature of the navigation instructions, there was nothing of interest nearby. Chishan and his section returned to an orbital watch, watching as normal.
Later that evening, the subsisized liner Albatross jumped in from Prometheus, and a pair of fuel shuttles came to start it loading fuel, ready for it to continue on Fenris in a few days.
|Solomani Uriel class Escort, from MgT Solomani|
After a quiet day in orbit, and watching the Albatross make her way to the jump limit, the Boxing Kangaroo was in her usual patrol routine, with intermittent sensor sweeps showing little that changed in the system, when the main sensor array came alive for Zabiyah’s section that afternoon. An incoming jump flare was detected, and he immediately went for an active sweep.
3,000 kilometers away, a small ship came into the universe, barely making emitting anything on the electromagnetic spectrum. The challenge, to submit to inspection of papers and identify the ship, was ignored. Going back to his training, and how he had seen leaders react in the past, he turned on the main radar system, and resent the challenge, further informing the intruders they were under sensor notice. He managed to get a lock on the little target easily. It proved to be a Uriel-class escort of Solomani design, but without the transponder, there was no way to identify the craft.
Brickley came in, ready for ship-to-ship combat, “Officer of the Deck, report,” he stated, standing in front of his seat in the center of the bridge.
“Sir, we have an unresponsive intruder at 3k kilometers and closing. Positive ID with FC radar has it as a Solomani designed Uriel class Escort. They have not replied to challenges, and we have sent two.”
“Very well, what is the status of the ship?”
“All systems normal.”
“Attention on bridge, this is the Captain, I have the Deck and the Conn,” Brickley stated, and paused for a second, and turned on the announcing circuit, “Man General Quarters for hostile starship intercept.” The alarm sounded, rousing the off-watch sections to their stations. Chishan to the missile turret, and Valdez and Afari preparing the Marines in the Ship’s Boat. Hassan slipped into his console, while Brand was readying the power plant and drives. The crew strapped in, sending reports to the captain’s console.
The two ships closed, with the intruder’s operator attempting a sensor lock. The Joey is released from Boxing Kangaroo’s hangar, and takes station. As the two starships reach under 1000 kilometers distance, the Joey races in, to attempt to board. Corpral Afari narrowly makes it, and docks with the Solomani Escort. Upon doing so, they note a name for this little ship; battered but faint, Glycon. The escort, lacking turret mounts, fires the each of its lasers harmlessly at the Ship’s Boat as it closes to dock.
Sergeant Valdez is the first one across, with his team. Yap and Binici are ready with them. The Marines start working on opening the portside airlock, but end up blowing through the outer iris valve to get inside. Glycon’s crew tries to break the docking, but just can’t get it. The airtight door from the airlock to the crew’s area, and gets forced open, and the Marines storm in. They open the forward door on the little escort’s common area, and pull the hapless engineer off his couch. Placing him under Binici’s guard, they then force the overhead iris valve, and take the tiny bridge, and the two individuals in there surrender once the laser rifles are on them. The man at the pilot’s couch speaks, “I’m Andre Charpentier, and I surrender the family yacht to you. That includes you, Franca. Is my engineer, Teun, alright?”
“I accept your surrender,” Sergeant Valdez says through an external speaker set to boom in the cramped bridge. “Your man is fine. We’ve got him back on the boat.” Switching to the radio, he calls out to the Joey. “Afari, you and Franke over here. We’ll need you to get this to a stable orbit. Before that, call the Skipper, and tell him to ready a prize crew.”
Appledorn and Fini escorted the two crew down from bridge, and into the waiting boat. The four Marines ensure the three crew are all separated from each other. Corporal Afari and Marine Franke were able to get the ship into a stable orbit, and Valdez and Appledorn stay on the captured Escort.
“Another prize, here we go.” Sublieutenant Hassan notes, with Castillo and Maurer in the boat on the return trip with Appledorn. The Kangaroo had closed into an appropriate distance. The small population here at Hades just couldn’t support a defense force, so roving patrols were about it. The plan for the Glycon was simple. Search the main cargo bay, and place her down at the Starport until the Navy could condemn and sell her. The ship would be under guard until then. The Class B port offered the space to put the captured boat down securely until a real prize crew could come for it. The Marines said the crew refused to talk, other than requesting comfort items, and an advocate. The four junior Marines stayed back on the Boxing Kangaroo as guards for the prisoners, as the Kangaroo secured from general quarters.
Sergeant Valdez was standing by in the bridge of the little ‘yacht’ when the Joey docked. Appledorn was down at the airlock, showing the XO where to go. When they all returned, Hassan gave a final set of instructions.
“Maurer and I will be checking out the M-drive, flight controls, and comms for the Downport. Sergeant, you’ll start searching the cargo bay. I understand you and Appledorn haven’t checked it yet?”
“Yes sir, we haven’t. We’ll do a quick sweep for anything of interest. They did dump the log, though. Standard procedure for when you’re getting boarded by us.”
“Good. Sergeant, carry out a search.”
The trio departed for the cargo bay, and the Marines and Spacer looked through the crates in the space. Valdez found nothing of interest, just some spare parts he didn’t have a clue about. Castillo did find something interesting. A crate of Aquitanian Eau de Vie, lacking the Seals for Imperial Customs, as did Appledorn.
And Appledorn’s was far more interesting than some rare liquor. Eight travel cases for weapons. Two with gauss support weapons, six gauss rifles, eight ammo drums for the support weapons, and four mags for each rifle. All had Imperial model numbers and serials. Somehow, these were stolen and aboard a ship caught in questionable circumstances. The three men leave the cargo bay, and seal it. Weapons smuggling in the border is always an issue, especially with the Solomani Party General Conference going on.
Meanwhile, Hassan and Maurer were going over the flight controls, comms, and powering on the transponder. Everything seemed fairly standard, and though it had been quite some time since he’d landed a starship at a downport, Hassan was certain he could with this one. They managed to get the comm system turned on, and contacted the downport for clearance, along with that for the Ship’s Boat. After about thirty minutes, Sergeant Valdez returned to state what they’d found. The information would immediately be passed to the Boxing Kangaroo and the Imperial Magistrate once they’d landed.
“Boxing Kangaroo, this is Navy Prize Three One. Black sun standard heaters aboard, over,” Hassan radioed to the Kangaroo.
“Prize Three One, Boxing Kangaroo, copy black sun standard heaters. Got a count? Over,” Lieutenant Brickley responded. The Skipper was still on the bridge.
“Couple of heavies and half a dozen regulars. Over.”
“Enough for a squad. I’ll note that, and send it down to the Starport Security and the Warden’s office. Anything else of interest? Over”
“Crate of Aquitanian Eau de Vie. Small stuff, but still a fine. Prize Three One Over.”
“Copy on the fun water. Prize Three One, this is Boxing Kangaroo¸ you can land when directed by Hades Down control, and be followed by the Joey. Boxing Kangaroo out.”
“Boxing Kangaroo, Navy Prize Three One, we can land when directed, and return on Joey. Out.” Shortly afterwards, the prize crew lands the captured Glycon, and starts turning it over to the Starport Security Officer.
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