The Vessel: Prologue

Space Pirates. No one likes them. They are an evil that wastes thousands of trade credits by damaging and stealing from merchants and their freight ships. For this reason there are patrols send to dispatch the pirates, using long range sensors to and tracking beacons to tell the freight and transport ships apart from the pirates.

Yeah, like that helped.

Seriously, as the freight ship The Almos ventured into its authorized destination it was surrounded by war ships: pirates.
It was off the boundaries of the Phallux system, where the ship was coming from, loaded with medical supplies bound for the Knoix system... not that you cared of course, just setting the scene.

At any rate leaving the system was a boring and uneventful incident. Tim and Malonie were supervising the cargo... medical supplies spoil you know, and sometimes explode... Chaffer was at the helm with a standard course ploted for Knoix... standard as in it was auto-programmed and Chaffer just had to make sure the ship didn't ram itself into a wayward comet or something... Marle was in the engine room tinkering keeping an eye out for breaks in the machinery, and Bile was in the helm room doing jack shit – it was his ship after all.

At the boundary of the Phallus system, however, they get hailed by a nearby vessel. Bile responds to the hail. A gruff male voice response with:

Your ship is surrounded. Surrender and prepare to be boarded or we will destroy your ship.”

Bile and Chaffer looked frightened. “Sir, what is your command?” Chaffer asked in a quivering voice.

How in hell are you in this cosmic-space without a tracker or policy enforcers on your ass?” Bile asked as he laughed into the speaker, “Even if you get our shit and blow us up you will have better equipped war ships on your tail! So let us pass and maybe your just get sited for illegal passage!”

Oh, but dipshit, we have a tracker onboard our ships,” the pirate replied, “you should know better than to rely on enforcers, the retards.”

Bile was frozen. “Sir, what do we do?”

Over the intercom feed Marle piped in “Sir, why are their tagged* ships surrounding us? This isn't a spot inspection, is it?”

Marle, I want you to stay in the engine room and tinker with the engines,” Bile replied shakily.

Sir?” Marle was confused by the strange request.

I have little patience,” the pirate barked, “either prepare for boarding or we destroy your ship... and I guess whatever is onboard isn't worth your lives.”

What's your guarantee that you will not just kill us anyway?” Bile make the question in false bravado.

Sir, the ships are charging their weapons,” Chaffer said as she read off her instrumentation.

Sir, what's going on?” Marle spoke through the intercom.

Nevermind Marle,” Bile replied in anger, “Just stay there and be calm.”

At that moment the ship shook.

Did those ships just open fire?” Marle screamed, “Bile, if you don't tell me what the fuck...”

Shut up Marle,” Bile replied, then turned his attention to the ship-to-ship. “Alright, you have your way captian, but lay a hand on my crew and...”

Then lower your shields nice and easy, and prepare for our freighter to connect to yours, so we can get the nice goods you have,” the pirate stated.

Marle, cut power to the shields... we are greeting some guests,” Bile spoke to Marle, then on inter-ship com got Tim and Malonie, “Boys, we are being boarded, prepare the cargo bay.”

Guests?” Marle squawked, “Are we... being attacked by pirates?”

The bay was prepared and the pirates were on board. About five large men were carting out the medical supplies while the pirate captain made his way into the helm room.

The captain was a large and intimidating man who loamed over the smaller Bile. He looked at the man.

You brave now?” the captain spoke while waving a blaster at him.

Bile and Chaffer quivered in their shoes while in the cargo bay Tim and Malonie were being eyed and intimidated by the other pirates.

Good, very good... now to business...” the pirate captain looked at Chaffer with a lustful eye, up and down her modestly dressed body. The captain approached, grabbed her arm and whispered “how tight are you... or maybe I should find out for myself... yes that would be much fun.”

Chaffer looked to Bile and back at the captain in fear. “Captain, we had an agreement,” Bile chided softly, “You take our things and me and my crew leave unharmed.”

The captain shook his head. “I think I can get quite a bit for the lass here on Fre'gatta core,” he spoke matter of factly, “but you aren't worth anything.” The captain then shot Bile in the head, killing him, as Chaffer screamed.

Marle could hear everything that happened in the helm room. It was at this point that it was a matter of time before a pirate came before her and would take her as well.

She switched the com to the cargo bay, only to hear blaster fire and men screaming. They wouldn't spare her.

With that Marle ran for the lift. Her goal was the bottom deck where the escape hatches were. She didn't know how she was going to save Chaffer, who sounded like she was going to be spared. She just knew that she was getting out herself before she ended up dead or on Fre'gatta, a world with a booming slave trade. She made her way inside of an escape pod as the pirate captain took notice of her darting out. He ran at her as she entered and shut the hatch of the pod and was jettisoned out into space.

This was an added nuisance to the pirates who put a tracker-beam that thing fast. Escape pods are small and it was easy to drag that thing as the ships powered up to return to whatever space they were from.

Pulling the pod into the pirate ship was hard... not because its hard to drag escape pods onto ships – in fact they are designed for that – but as Marle saw that she was being dragged towards them, her distress signal crying for policy-enforcer ships to come, she tinkered with the pod, creating a field around it that made keeping a tracker-beam on it difficult.

You might want to know that we are now outside Terran Alliance space,” the pirate captain barked over a hail, “turn that field off or you will be blasted out of space!”

Marle expected this. The pirates after all had to hussle out of their previous location before the policy-enforcer ships took wind of what was going on and got to seen. It is a safe assumption that the pirates were clean out of the Phallux system and go knows where, leaving the Almos a shell of a ship behind with corpses onboard.

Marle knew in her mind she didn't want to be taken aboard their ship. She knew she would be joining Chaffer in whatever horrifying fate she had coming.

Marle appeared to drop the field by rerouting the jury-rigging that she did, but not to normal specs. No, she rigged it to have the tracker-beam power channel through the pod, and she used the viewing panel to time this. At the last possible second, when the bay doors of the towing ship opened, she rerouted the wires again, which sent the buildup of power through the beam and to the bay, causing a panic as the door closed and the beam disengaged.

All while the ship was still moving at light-speed through the void.

This brought the desired effect: the pod went sailing through space on its own momentum, and it became apparent that the pirate figured that it wasn't worth it to chase after her.

However, this brought on a different dilemma.

She was in open space. She couldn't figure out where she was. All there was, a distress call, looping over and over again.

It was several Terran days of

This is an escape pod from a Terran Alliance ship. If you are hearing this it has been detached from its original ship and the person onboard is in distress. Please respond.”

being looped over and over again in an robotic voice when the pod was hailed.

This is Travis of the Phenoix-Belle, your signal has been received and I am towing your pod onboard. Please remain calm as I mean you no harm.”

*A tagged ship is one with a functioning, up to date tracker on it that indicates that it has authorization to be in that part of space. An untagged on by contrast would be one with no authorization at all and would be towed/destroyed by policy enforcer ships.