You can't take the sky from me

(Interlude) Final Approach

The sun was setting as the Aces and Eights made its final approach. The angry red light reflected on the peaks of nearby mountains, as well as illuminating the top rim of the narrow canyon in which Durmin was built. The city itself was buried in the fog that always appears in the evenings, illuminated by a soft blue-white glow that hid the angular, utilitarian metal architecture. A few tall spires peeked out of the fog, not to mention the massive raised platform of the spaceport, but most of the city was sprawled low along the bottom of the canyon, shrouded in a sea of illuminated cloud.
Captain Mallorn nodded in approval at Neil’s flying: he’d guided his injured baby across the landscape carefully, and he wasn’t about to let anything happen to her now. Despite the strong evening winds, the Aces and Eights was moving smoothly towards its assigned berth. Those of the crew who weren’t watching the landing were already asleep: it had been an eventful day, and there would be time to take care of everything else tomorrow. Well… almost everything else. Waiting on the platform below was an armored vehicle, the EITC representative ready to take possession of the cargo that had caused Mallorn and his crew so much trouble. He would be glad to be rid of the dim thing.

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Siegebreakers

(TODO: Can probably place some links here)

The captured bandit, between Ivan’s scary scalpel and Rose’s reassurances, was happy to share all the information he knew. He and his outfit had been hired to get some cargo that was being delivered on that ship, and since the Captain was being stubborn about giving it up, the ship was being held under siege. They also found out that there were about a dozen bandits in total, and that their leader was named Terry Daniels. The crew hadn’t known that the Captain was delivering confidential cargo, but weren’t surprised. The debate about what to do with the prisoner was cut short when the kitfighter was seen lifting off from the spaceport. The crew took off running towards the spaceport (and the paddock and stable on the way).

Despite some attempt to be stealthy and avoid notice, the kitfighter spotted them. Instead of attacking, it simply circled and observed. Rose and Niel headed towards the horse paddock. Ivan decided to put his hands on his head and walk towards the front gate of the spaceport. Granny Tea followed Ivan. When the kitfighter flew low overhead, however, she whipped out her shotgun and landed a clean shot to one of its engines, knocking it out of the sky and causing it to crash-land right in front of the spaceport gate.

Ivan ran to the downed kitfighter, shot the pilot as he was climbing out of the wreckage, and then got down to business trying to saw off his head so he could pump the pilot’s brain for information in his lab later. Meanwhile, the bandits that had been waiting in the spaceport opened fire. Ivan was able to find cover for his dirty work behind the downed kitfighter, while Granny Tea stayed to the side of the gate and out of the line of fire.

While all this was happening, Neil and Rose found Ed the stablemaster hiding in the stable attached to the paddock. He explained how the starport had been overrun, as well as the existence of (and keys to) a side entrance. Niel and Ed took off running towards this side entrance. Rose stayed behind long enough to saddle up a horse, and hearing gunshots and seeing Ivan pinned down, charged towards the gate intent on rescue.

Seconds later, Rose had her horse shot out from under her just as she got to the gate. She took cover with Ivan, and helped him fend off a close-range attack from the bandit leader. The two-on-one gunfight leaves the leader wounded, and he retreats.

Meanwhile, Granny Tea joined up with Niel and Ed in sneaking in the side entrance. From there, they get into the security building, where they find the two remaining living workers for the starport being held in the brig. Granny works to free them (shotguns make effective lockpicks), while Niel and Ed climb to the observation and control tower for a better view and a clear shot of the area.

This is where things start going very badly for the bandits. They’d positioned themselves to have good cover from the spaceport entrance, but being flanked like this took them completely by surprise. Niel and Ed started taking them down with ruthless efficiency. A second kitfighter launched from the roof of the building on the far side of the spaceport got shot down too, a well-placed rifle burst causing the pilot to go out of control, bounce off the Aces and Eights, and crunch into the ground. Ivan finally finishes his gruesome task, and after securing the carefully-severed head in a sterile storage bag, joins Rose in assaulting the front entrance.

Granny Tea, after freeing the prisoners and helping them hunt down a couple of pistols in the security building weapons locker, busted out the door to join the fight… and was immediately met by the bandit leader, Terry Daniels, who had retreated to about that position. He grabbed her shotgun, and tried to wrest it from her. She fired a couple shots to empty it (in case he succeeded), but after a half-minute of struggle managed to regain control of the gun while knocking Daniels backward. Before he could get back to her, she quickly and calmly loaded her gun and gave him both barrels to the chest, ending him loudly and messily.

The fight ended soon after that. Captain Mallorn and the rest of the crew appeared through the main cargo doors of the Aces and Eights. Two of the bandits managed to escape by truck. One of the bandits surrendered, and after pleading for medical care for his fallen comrades, told Ivan and the Captain everything he knew. The main new things learned were that the bandits had been hired by one of the major corporations working under the table. Despite Ivan’s suspicions to the contrary, all signs point to straightforward industrial espionage against EITC. Captain Mallorn was able to get in touch with an EITC contact and arrange to have the cargo delivered to a better-policed location at Durmin. While there, the Captain plans to make repairs to the hull, replace the supplies lost in the shuttle crash, and find a new shuttle.

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Things get crashy

TODO: Finish wiring up links

The view from the shuttle cockpit was reasonably impressive. As the shuttle crested the ridge, a bowl-shaped valley opened up between the dusty red mountains that characterize this part of Minos. Nearly in the center, light reflected off the single tower of the tiny spaceport where the Aces and Eights was berthed. All of the party had elected to visit the town of Durmin as part of a supply run, and the shuttle was now packed with supplies to make the next few weeks of space voyaging both survivable and enjoyable. Since the party had parted ways with the Aces and Eights in orbit and agreed to meet Captain Mallorn here, it was a minor relief to see the familiar gray curve of their ship’s hull parked on the spaceport’s single large landing pad, now only a few miles away.

“Suddenly, A burst of cannon fire across the nose of the shuttle startled everyone, and a small kitfighter zooms past the cockpit. A voice crackles over the radio: “You’re entering a restricted area. Turn around immediately!”

The party informed the fighter that they were returning to their ship, and the fighter instructed them to go into a holding pattern while it verified this information. A couple of things became clear: all radio transmission attempts were being jammed, and despite the tone of the warning, this was NOT part of the official local air force. The guy piloting the shuttle, Neil Lovell, decided to risks making a break for the spaceport and home. The kitfighter pursued, opening fire, trying to draw a bead on the surprisingly nimble shuttle. As the shuttle approached the spaceport, a light from the Aces and Eights began flashing in Morse code: “SIEGE GET AWAY.”

After a hurried discussion, the party concluded that if there was a siege on the ship, they were better off not sticking themselves in the middle of it. Neil pulled the shuttle into a split-S maneuver, sending it skimming along the surface back in the direction they’d come. The kitfighter continued its pursuit, guns blazing away (although it had not yet managed to do serious damage). Neil decided to try something risky: he spun the shuttle around mid-air, blasting the throttle, and attempting to nullify current forward velocity and ram the kitfighter. The kitfighter barely managed to evade… then came around for another pass on the now-immobile shuttle. Another burst of gunfire found its mark, sending the shuttle sliding out of the air and down to a crash landing.

Thanks to Neil’s excellent piloting and the miracle of safety harnesses, nobody was hurt… but the kitfighter was coming around for another pass. Doctor Ivan attempted to rig the engines to explode, but failed, and the party all dived away from the shuttle as the kitfighter strafed it once more, lighting up an engine and causing a massive explosion. The party hid in the low scrub brush covering this part of the terrain, and apparently the kitfighter didn’t see them: after circling a couple more times to verify that its target was destroyed, it flew back towards the spaceport.

The party started to make their way to the spaceport on foot (about a mile away). They noticed a jeep coming towards them and the crash site… apparently someone had decided an on-foot inspection was in order. They moved off to the side, hoping to avoid attention, but some footprints apparently caught the eyes of the men in the jeep. Before they had long to investigate, half the party simply opened fire from where they were hidden in the bushes, and the men in the jeep dived behind it to take cover. During the ensuing firefight, Doctor Ivan (who had once driven the exact same model of jeep and knew exactly where to aim) shot a hole in the gas tank and used it to start a fire, and Granny Tea carefully aimed under the jeep to shoot one of the unfortunate foe’s feet out from underneath him with her shotgun. Rose, meanwhile, managed to somehow jam BOTH her pistols at the same time. Again.

The fight ended with a two foes down, no casualties, and a burning jeep sending a pillar of black smoke into the sky (nicely matching the one from the shuttle). One of the men in the jeep was still alive, although unconscious and gravely wounded.

At this point, the spaceport is less than a mile away, its metallic walls gleaming in the sunshine. Slightly closer and a few hundred yards from the spaceport, there’s a paddock with a handful of horses (always a reliable and cheap form of transportation where there’s plenty of land around) and a stable.

Loot recovered:

  • Two AK-style rifles (Range 24/48/96, Damage 2d8+1 AP2, ROF 3, full-auto capable, Min strength d6 to use).
  • Two flak jackets
  • An inconsequential handful of credits
  • A couple of spare ammo hoppers (2x 50 ammo/Wt 3)
  • A wireless transmitter
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Intercepted Transmssion

INTERCEPTED CODED TRANSMISSION
The package has been been delivered to the carrier. Recover it at spaceport D-56 on Minos. Date: 369.15.80:4. The carrier is the independent freighter “Aces and Eights.” Contact the captain directly and discretely.
This delivery must remain completely confidential. Do not allow discovery by the government or competitors. Package contents are classified at the very highest level.

K.L. -
It looks like our wiretapping efforts have finally begun to pay some real dividends. We can’t let this one slip by: intercept the EITC package when the freighter drops it off. Acquiring the package should look like the work of simple pirates, and nobody should have any reason to suspect company involvement. I trust that you can source some appropriate third-party resources for the task.
Don’t drop the ball on this one.
- G.

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