The Reft

071-111 Ecumenopolis

“Holy parakeet poop, that city is huge!” exclaimed Tiny.

“Well,” explained Admiral D’irt. “It is actually a planet city. There isn’t a vacant spot on the whole surface.”

Huey finished patching up some nasty hole in Beaker. “This monkey seems to have been aerated by some sort of dangerous projectile weapon. So much for local law levels.” Beaker winced in pain as Huey filled another hole with some fast-healing genetic ooze.

After facing the desperate vagabonds at the downport warehouse on Tobia, the Sobya crewmembers reflect on the ridiculousness of the situation.

“Did you actually shoot at the janitor, Tiny?” asked D’irt.

“Of course not,” said the pilot. “I was busy shooting at the brunette.”

“I’m pretty sure I saw you fire that ACR at the janitor bot. It was obvious that it was just trying to mop up blood."

“You know what?” said Tiny, “That T3P0 droid freaked me out. What in the hell was that? He says Hello I am from the government I am here to help you but then seconds later he has lasers shooting out of his arms!”

Ave popped her bubble gum, “Yeah. It’s a customs and security droid. We should probably get one for the ship.”

Shee’Rah was unimpressed. “We have a vargr engineer who should be doing that job. He keeps smashing wine crates about, letting the riffraff in through the cargo hold, and can’t fill out a customs form to sae his life. He isn’t earning his pay.”

She scraped her new hardened dewclaw against a countertop in the crew lounge. “Hey, D’irt. Do you remember Arag? He used to work for us.”

“I’m not sure…I thought you were the engineer,” D’irt replied. “However, I am very happy that we came out with a KCr500 profit on the wine. We’re damned lucky that very little turned to vinegar…

“…And hopefully we can keep the monkey from smashing wine bottles on the bodies of our enemies.”

“You know,” said Ave. “It seems like a very strange coincidence that our wine somehow got mixed up with crates of bollubemmings. I think that GeDeCo is secretly trying to manipulate some sort of war between the government and the Tobia Commerce Guild.”

Huey’s head perked up. “Manipulate, you say?”

Ave jumped up, “Hey! We have particle accelerators in our turrets now!”

“Particle Beam Weapons”, D’irt corrected her.

Tiny chimed in, “And we also have new top-of-the-line sensors.”

They all took a moment to reflect on their current station in life. The little 300-ton Droyne ship was turning into a badass little ship.

“Small fish with big teeth in a small pond?” Shee’Ra quipped.

“Agreed,” someone said.

A groan emanated from the cargo hold.

“Oh fer fucks sake,” Shee’Ra complained. “Isn’t that pirate dead yet?”

“I sure hope that weird passenger Chester didn’t wander off and push the DE-FROST button on the low berths.” Tiny was suspicious.

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064-1111 Leaving New Moscow

“Yes, I like wine,” D’irt said cautiously.

“Good,” Tiny responded, “Because we bought some!”

The pilot watched on the monitor overseeing Arag in the cargo hold as he made sure the new containers were loaded into the Sobya. Ave sat on the bridge panel twirling her hair and popping bubble gum.

“You know,” Ave said, “It sure is hard work loading cargo.” She winced as the vargr engineer clumsiliy bashed another cargo container against a bulkhead in the cargo hold.

Tiny jumped up and spoke into a microphone transmitting to the hold: “I should warn you, Engineer, that the cargo is very valuable and damage will come out of your salary.”

D’irt spoke in a puzzled voice, “Tiny…what exactly is in those containers?”

“It’s wine,” the droyne pilot replied.

“Yeah, we bought it,” Ave added, popping her gum nonchalantly. “The GECS are full of them.”

“Oh? What exactly are gex?” asked the admiral.

“Those are GeDeCo Environmetally Controlled Storage units,” she replied. “Very technical. Very expensive. You wouldn’t understand.”

“And how much did you pay?” said D’irt with a discomfortingly low voice.

“1,400,000 credits,” replied Tiny. And then into the mic: “Watch out you stupid vargr! Don’t smash another crate of it. We only have 7 tons!”

D’irt began to get angry.

“…and don’t smash anything into the emergency low berths either, Arag!” continued Tiny. “The Dread Pirate Wiyao is locked up in cold storage, and we have plans for him!”

D’irt grabbed the ElectroPuls E3000 Linear-Torsion Bar and began approaching the little droyne pilot with vengeance in mind.

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063-1111 Early Morning Interrogation

Arag and Shee’Rah dragged the unconscious bodies of Khto and his pirate henchman to the cargo hold of the Sobya and tied them to eye rings on the bulkhead. They began to wake up after Shee’Rah tossed a bucket of cold water on the both of them.

“Welcome to the Sobya Enhanced Interrogation Facility,” the Aslan engineer said with a sneer at the dishonorable Khto.

“Ooohhh!” Tiny got excited and clapped his little talons together. “Are we going to play ‘good dog – bad cat’ here? What’s the plan?”

Arag growled at the little droyne, “I’m never the ‘good dog’, you little parakeet.”

Shee’Rah brought out the crimping pinchtool and began the process of extracting Khto’s dewclaws. She was only thirty seconds into the torture when Khto began wailing like a banshee.

“Shut your mawl, you dishonorable miscreant,” Shee’Rah mumbled. She and Arag began a very amateur procedure for extracting information from the pirates.

“We don’t need an 81-million-credit contract to coach torturers,” Arag bragged. “We’ve got this.”

- – -

An hour later, Arag and Shee’Rah were in engineering comparing notes on what Khto had told them. They were plotting the location of the secret planetoid base on the ship’s computer when Tiny approached.

“Whatcha doing?” the little droyne asked.

“We are finalizing the system coordinates of Wiyao’s base right …. about…now.” A large, stable asteroid appeared on the screen at a location only a couple hour’s flight away.

“Is that it?” Tiny asked.

“Yep.”

“So you got everything you need from the two pirates?"

“Yep.”

“Okey dokey!”

With that, Tiny pushed the button that cycled the cargo doors. He waved at the two Aslan pirates through the small viewport as the vacuum of space sucked the air out of their lungs.

“Bye-bye, pirates!”

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062-1111 Firefight at New Moscow

New Moscow / Tobia (3119 Trojan Reach)

Beaker Monkey was so excited about out-gunning Ave during the first several volleys of the ambush against the pirates that he jumped up in the air and screeched. At that very instant, enemy lasers burned into the casemate protecting the monkey gunner. A box of Bonomos Banana Turkish Taffy flew through the interior of the turret, instantly melting in the heat, spraying every surface with sticky yellow goop.

“RA RA RA!” Beaker screamed and jumped back into the gunner’s seat, re-engaging the pirates.

A mixture of laser beams and yellow plasma slammed into the hull of a 10-ton fighter and sent it careening off into the asteroid belt.

“Dammit, Beaker!” Ave shouted across the comms link. “That fighter was mine!”

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Meanwhile, aboard the Odysseus, the commander was already drunk and high as a kite. He was piloting the mercenary cruiser dangerously close to the other ships of the alliance.

“Dammit human!” Crat and Fuzzwit broadcast across the airwaves. “We’re vulnerable enough in this little tin can without your big ass barreling over us!”

Pierre wasn’t listening. He was too busy issuing order after order to his gunners to fire missiles at the heavily armoured Ktiyhui Class Courier, despite them having absolutely no effect upon the ship.

Yet the tide of battle turned to the advantage of Shee’Rah. Most pirate ships lost their courage and fled the battle as their armour and hulls were ripped apart, retreating to their base on a remote planetoid.

The alliance members focused their firepower on the Nishemani Corsair, disabling its maneuver drives and rending its fuel tanks. The hull and structure were swiss cheese.

Lieutenant Commander Nevean stood upon the bridge of the Sobya next to Tiny, D’irt and Shee’Rah. “I love it when a plan comes together.”

As Ave armed herself to board the pirate flagship, she called Arag on the comms link, “Hey! Dog! You’d better get up here and clean this baked banana crème pie out of Beaker’s turret. ASAP!”

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055-1111 Starport Bebop

Bastion / Usher (0118 Reft)

Colonel Son Joo introduced Chief Engineer Shee’Rah to the commanding officer of the “Odysseus”.

“This is Leuftenant Pierre Ketteridge, commander of the Yamal Class mercenary cruiser. You saw it earlier parked out on the north deck.”

Shee’Rah eyed the grizzled 50-something Imperial Navy officer with a judgmental eye.

“You’re a bit old for a junior officer, aren’t you, Ketteridge?” she asked.

Ketteridge grumbled something about a line of coke awaiting his attention on the instrument panel of his ship.

The colonel spoke, “Ah….the Odysseus has a reputation for the riffraff crewmembers that are consistently boozed and drugged up.”

Shee’Rah raised a questioning eyebrow.

“…which is probably why they were the only cruiser unwisely volunteering for this duty supporting you. Wiyao’s pirates are quite notorious in the Trojan Reaches.”

“This human officer and his ship will do,” Shee’Rah said. She just needed a cruiser’s bulk and spray of triple laser turrets to help protect the little 300-ton Sobya. They would have difficulty.

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“We’ve recruited a naval crew that’s probably seen more court martials than combat?” Ave asked the Aslan engineer upon her return from Colonel Son Joo’s office.

Shee’Rah snarled, “Do you have a better idea, Widowmaker?”

Ave laughed and tossed her hair, accidentally spilling her gin-and-tonic, “On the contrary! I like my men like I like my weaponry….loaded and at my fingertips. Bring it!”

Tiny looked at D’irt, “I would say that there is not much value in a drunken human crew trying to hit the broadside of a Nishemani Corsair.”

Ave interrupted. “Bring on the sailors! Woohoo!”

She slammed another drink and made a contorted face. “What in the HELL was that concoction?! That didn’t taste like gin.”

Tiny smiled, “That was D’irt’s urine sample. I recently started monitoring the performance of his fifth kidney.”

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054-1111 Arrival at Bastion

Tiny energetically danced around singing Philipe’s song and taunting D’irt:

“Roger was our cabin boy
A crafty little nipper
He filled his ass with broken glass
And circumcised the Skipper!”

D’irt took a swipe at the little droyne pilot. He almost had the little fucker before he danced away.

“I’m going to take that mop handle from your janitorial kit and ram it so far up your ssebooty that you’ll be eating pudding a month!”

“The Skipper! The Skipper! The mohel is gonna trim his Little Dipper!” Tiny danced down to engineering.

With a sly look on his little bird face, D’irt put on his new contact lenses, plugged the black droyne interface into the computer and disabled the lights and gravity.

“I’m coming to get you, my little sporty friend,” D’irt’s voice echoed through the darkness of the ship through the PA system. “I told you that you should have taken that Zero-G class with me when we were at the Lycee on Auitawry.”

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047-1111 Somewhere in the Void of Space

The ship commander stared unblinking into open space for hours. Only the distant stars peppering the inky blackness of space were visible. Then suddenly a small ripple appeared, as if a bubble pressed from behind the dark blanket, and then it popped.

Out of the darkness came the Sobya, suddenly motionless after traveling at almost a trillion kilometers per hour for the past seven days. The 300-ton ship was a distant blip of bright light in the middle of The Reft.

The commander listened for signal from the Sobya. He turned his head and looked with anticipation at his sensors console for the signal. The meson transmission from the black droyne infiltration crew never came.

Three searing beams of laser stretched across the thousands of miles of darkness with surgical accuracy, slicing through hull and weapons of the black droyne ship. The Sobya maneuvered to evade and quickly made distance.

The ambusher had become the ambushed. He gave terse commands to his crew to pursue, disable and board. With one particle accelerator disabled and the smaller craft out of range of the pulse turrets, the only chance of disabling the opponent was to outmaneuver them. The CEW systems were easily blocking the Sobya’s attempts to jam them.

As the black droyne pilot quickly began accelerating and closing the distance, more volleys of lasers ripped into their hull. The commander became increasingly frustrated at the lack of effect with his weapons. When his sensors picked up the Sobya powerplant diverting energy to its jump drives, he smashed his comms unit on the console in frustration.

The surgical triple beams cut into the black droyne ship one more time before the Sobya jumped into the void of space.

The crew were blasted off their feet with the explosion that rocked the bridge. The pilot quickly regained his senses and turned to his commander for further instructions. There were none.

A large piece of steel from the console was protruding from the commander’s torso where his head had once been.

The Black Caste Master was not going to be pleased.

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Widow Ave

Ave was hysterical with grief and inconsolable when she saw the X-Boat message that Admiral Von Smeirin-Holt had died.

She began sniffling at first, then a quiet low growl began deep in her throat that soon grew into a groaning, and then a shrill howler monkey like noise.

“Oh my Ghod, I can’t believe my dear little Admiral is gone!” The tears spilled from her eyes and ran down her cheeks, the heavy black mascara smeared into rings around her eyes.

“What will I do? He was my everything?” She glanced down at her icomm to make sure the vidrec was capturing everything.

“You look like one of those furry four-legged bandits from Terra,” Tiny pointed out.

Ave shrieked and threw a nearby kroffee mug at the droyne and howled at him, “How can you be so insensitive to me during this horrible time of loss?! He was my EVERYTHING!!!”

Ave stopped crying briefly in order to press the XBOAT TRANSMIT button. This sent her personal request to the attorneys in Rhylanor for a digital copy of the holographic last will and testament from her dead husband.

As soon as the XMIT CONFIRM button flashed, Ave picked up her horrendous bawling again right where she left off.

BWAAaAAAAaaaaaA!

Is this thing still on?

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039-1111 Recap

Tiny piloted the launch down to the surface of Gloire with with D’irt, Shee’ra, Ave and Beaker as passengers. They landed on the northeast continent near Crispy Lake about a mile from Cayenne’s farm. They then disembarked in the Esperanza Armoured Fighting Vehicle across land until they approached the farm.

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They paused at a distance so the droyne could scan the area psionically for life forms. They discovered that there were a couple dozen perps in the area, some of them in an underground bunker.

Tiny pulled up to a fork in the dirt road where they discovered a recessed Fixed Weapon Emplacement. Ave emptied a hundred rounds of 12mm gauss cannon ammunition into it, destroying the pop-up fortification.

The gunfire alerted a pair of “farmers” who unwisely hopped into an All-Terrain Armoured Vehicle (basically a lightly armoured 4-wheel buggy). The peaceful farmers immediately went head-to-head with the AFV, mercilessly blasting their autocannon at our heroes. The rounds bounced harmlessly off the front armour slope of the eight-wheel tank, and Ave quickly destroyed their vehicle. She then heartlessly mowed down the helpless farmers as they attempted to flee on foot, while the droyne nonchalantly watched.

Tiny carefully drove the AFV up to the farm, destroying several more buggies along the way while Shee’ra took strategic shots with her Yeheal autorifle through the firing ports. They encountered a heavily armoured FEW that began melting away the hull on their tank with a powerful Plasma A Gun. Tiny parked the AFV behind a disabled ATAV while Ave crippled the 5-meter tall platform.

Ave then proceeded to blast hundreds and hundreds of rounds of gauss ammunition into the farm house, tearing down walls and slaughtering the people inside. Several retreated into the basement underneath.

They then dismounted and began clearing the root cellar, systematically slaughtering all hostiles in a diverse manner and NOT targeting any specific minorities first. Although it did seem as if Shee’ra gleaned some sort of specific enjoyment out of killing the lesbians armed with machine pistols, using her dewclaw to deliver the coup de gras.

Behind a false wall, they found the psionic Cayenne who assaulted the hapless beaker monkey, draining his physical energy to build a personal shield, but the team was able to quickly dispatch him with little effort. More mysteriously, a strange BLACK DROYNE escaped down a tunnel and fled in a strange spaceship.

Back in the bunker, they killed off the rest of Cayenne’s henchmen and uncovered a plot to breed sarchus as terrorist pets as well as a lab with a weapons grade Gloire Pox production lab.

They returned to their ship in orbit and debriefed Commander Kateway and CPO Jefferson. In fact, Ave gave a very heroic first-person account of how they saved The Island subsector from certain DOOM.

X-BOAT TRANSMISSION

Transmitting…

040-1111

The Cirque des Sirkas kicked off with huge headlines at Old Station Rhylanor as the greatest show in the Third Imperium. 001-1111

Famous author Patrick Cofield has published a new intergalactic bestseller: “How to Make Escargot from Your Garden Snails”. 264-1110

Admiral Von Smeirin-Holt has died. The holograph of his last will and testament will be available to family and beneficiaries through partners Vaughn, Pincher and Stiletto on Rhylanor. 365-1110

The Aslan pirate called Wi’yaoreiyhkowo has escaped from a month-long asteroid belt standoff in the Tech-World system (The Borderland / Trojan Reach 2624). Imperial vessels have put a 1MCr bounty on his head. 299-1110

The Duke Regent in Mora has ratified an agreement negotiated by Admiral Count Santanocheev which forges an alliance between the Sword Worlds and the Imperium. 288-1110

The merchant flagship Rose Star was today lost with all hands in the Abalesk system. The 15,000 ton ship owned by Odin Shipping & Dock Yards was carrying more than a hundred personnel from the surface when it exploded violently when hit by an enormous solar flare. 002-1111

Trillion Credit Divorce. Vicki Packham, more popularly known as Slosh of the Yeasty Girls, is divorcing long-time husband Dave Packham, a hugely rich retired sports star and now part owner of Schunamann und Sohn AG. 011-1111

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a Public Service Announcement
Gloire Pox and You

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Hi,
My name is Ave Von Smeirin-Holt, and I’ve got Gloire Pox.

You may think to yourself " How did this beautiful woman and three time winner of the Imperial Navy Turret Gunnery Championship contract a disease that was thought to be eradicated many years ago?"

I’ll tell you. Gloire Pox does not discriminate between race, culture or economic standing. Why, I myself hail from the highest social strata in all of the Rhylanor Sector, but because I was uninformed about Gloire Pox, I became susceptible to this disease by a very common method…Peer Pressure.

Yes, when my crewmate, who has less shares in the starship we travel in then I do, started to drink from an old, un-maintained water fountain in the center of a death-maze I first said " Hey, that looks like fun." But I knew better and stayed away from the necrotic green sludge filled basin.

But then my frolicking subordinate (really, they are all my subordinates because I own sooooo many ship shares) started saying things like
“Come on in, it smells like an anagathic.”
“All the cool kids are wallowing in slime. You want to be cool don’t you?”
“If you really loved me you’d put it in your mouth.”

I didn’t have the willpower to resist.

Now look at me. Listen kids, it’s not ‘Cool’ to succumb to Peer Pressure and if your Droyne really loved you he wouldn’t force you to do things that you don’t want to do. Most importantly real anagathics come from a black market distributor called Pimp4Mo for 25,000 Creds a pop.

Don’t be stupid.
Don’t catch Gloire Pox.

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