charybdis

Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [Duval’s Mercy Hospital : [Persephone/Lambardelli’s Legacy] : [3301/30/05]

[Report Summary] Currently recovering from a serious crash in a Persephone hospital. Release date unknown.

[Manifest] n/a.

[Incidents] LRDV Pharos Brightly lost.

[Signed] Cmdr William Gearwright of Antfarm Consolidated, Dulos.


[Private Entry/Decrypted/eckthmp0023-ripa] [embeds enabled] You know that old saying about your life flashing in front of your eyes just before you die? Well for me at least that’s bullshit. For me it was the dash exploding and the sound of my remlok deploying as the entire top of the Pharos’ cockpit was torn open above me. At the time I was just entering the toast rack and the speeding courier’s nacelle ripped me open like I was made of foil. It seems I took a significant blast to the face and chest, the doctors tell me my eyes will grow back in a week or so, but the ejection is what did most of the damage as I bounced off some wreckage and into the docking shield. Apparently brain death is more common than people realise, but I still don’t think I’d recommend it.

Backing up a little, I was heaving into Lambardelli’s Legacy to deliver a hold full of meds for the outbreak relief effort. I was fresh from Diso where I’d been hauling agri-tech in for the Alliance and frankly I was still exhausted from 78UM and Quivira. Something had to give but some rich kid in a brand new Courier smashing into me as I tried to dock was not what I thought was going to happen. The kid got away with nothing but a huge insurance bill but I lost the Pharos, my eyes, both legs below the knees, my whole right arm and portions of my frontal cortex. Fortunately for me the kid’s dad is a high up in the Princess’ court and his insurance has paid for the best medical care available, and given I’m deep in the heart of the Empire right now that means the best across the whole of human space. I’ll be in for a while longer but when I leave I’ll be as good as new, hell! in some cases better. Not only that but I’ll have a new Asp to replace the Pharos and the kid’s dad has had a ship of my choice delivered to Wilson Ring for me, a factory new Diamondback Scout, by way of an apology. All in all I couldn’t have been killed by a nicer chap, really.

The other benefit to my predicament is that convalescence affords a not-inconsiderable time for catching up on current affairs, especially now Galnet has gone round the clock on all platforms (Hell’s Teeth, I’m beginning to hear “Your galaxy in focus!” in my bloody sleep! Still, without it I doubt I’ve have heard about Halsey until I got back to Dulos). Now, I don’t care what anyone says, it’s going to take another bout of brain damage before I believe that that war-monger Hudson didn’t have a hand in Spaceflight One vanishing. On top of that Patreus is still trying to take over the throne in his usual, charmless and openly aggressive manner and damn any poor bastards that get in his way. In favt given the machinations of the Empire, the in-fighting of the Federation, the desperate expansion attempts of the Alliance and the ugly mix of insanity and cruelty of the Independents (i.e. utopian religious freaks and pirate scum) it seems like every bugger and his dog is making a play for power right now. I’ve been in touch with Charybdis (when my messages get past his spam filter, of course) and it seems from his more-guarded-than-usual chat that the lure of a mystery has taken him out into deep space to help with the search for Halsey. To be honest, reading between the lines of his messages that he’s looking into Thargoids. I’m not sure what to make of that. I mean Thargoids! From anyone else I’d assume they were insane, but Char… well let’s just say I hope he’s wrong and leave it at that.

So, out soon(ish) on good-as-new legs with 20/20 eyes and a new ship to play with. I’m heading back to Dulos as soon as the docs sign me out and no doubt the Old Man will have a fair few contracts for me, especially in these uncertain times when every player in the galaxy is trying to fortify and expand to grab more and more power. Still, it pays the fuel bill, doesn’t it.

Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [ISDV Vestigial Echo : [Zaonce/Zaonce A 1/Ridley Scott Station] : [3301/05/04]

[Report Summary] Sub-contracted to Silver United Solutions based out of Ridley Scott and providing local Police with back-up in the RES sites.

[Manifest] n/a.

[Incidents] Multiple conflicts due to heavy police action against the local ‘Jet gang’ pirates.

[Signed] Cmdr William Gearwright of the ISDV Vestigial Echo (Faulcon DeLacy Cobra Mk3), Antfarm Consolidated of Dulos.


[Private Entry/Decrypted/frelp40062-Wilt441] [embeds enabled] After LTT9494 I found things a little hot in Dulos so the contract from the Old Man to escort Cmdr Paws back in from his epic journey to Sag A* was welcome distraction. I had to fly 250lys out to meet him but it was a profitable trip as I picked of a UC surveyor contract on the side and so more than covered my expenses with a wee bit of stellar cartography (the UC woman said they would pay more for reliable data on Ts which makes me think the Imps are looking at some form of expansion, but who know with them?). The journey back in with Paws was quiet (and profitable!) but once back in Dulos I could feel eyes on me again. Small things such as ship-system intrusion atteempt warnings, random hails from untraceable routers and bogus job offers clogging up my inbox. In the end I asked the Old Man to get me out – maybe memories in Dulos are longer than I thought – and he got me a stint to Zaonce, the banking capital of the entire galaxy and home to those frak-ugly leathery eggs people pay so much for, Odd thing was that instead of requesting I fill up the Pharos he had the Echo made ready and fitted out to take, and give, a beating. The Old Man said it was because Zaonce is undergoing a push back against some nasty local pirates and even though the local SysSec require the usual military & medical supplies they are not beyond popping anyone who looks at them funny, but I wasn’t so sure and I was right to be sceptical because the old swine has subbed me out to the local corp under a general ‘do anything’ contract that has me patrolling the RES near Ridley protecting miners and backing up the 5-0. Still, it’s low risk, high pay and mostly quiet. Well, apart from the Python…

I was checking in with a mining Asp out of Ovid when the pilot started squawking about a wing closing fast. I was 15ks away but I was the nearest ship in a good 60k bubble so I hit burn and screamed in weapons hot. So far I’d come up against ‘Winders, Cobras, Adders, and the occasional Viper but from 6k I could see the arrowhead of a Python silhouetted against the milky light of the ring and I knew this was going to get messy, especially as he had two Eagles with him. I told the miner to throw out some cans and run like hell away from me and head for the cops. Sure enough the Python turned its fat behind to me and slowed to scoop the cans whilst the Eagles chased the Asp deeper into the ring. I boiled the first one quick, peeling shields away and shoving both ‘seekers up his exhaust, it happened so fast I doubt he knew what hit him. The second wheeled around to see what the frak just happened to his buddy but by then I’d FA flipped and boosted back to put some distance between me and the Python. The Eagle fell for it and chased me like a furious wasp. I waited until I was 6k out from the Python before I FA flipped again and hit boost, effectively stopping dead for a second. The Eagle screamed past me and I flipped again, targeting and firing in the same motion. His shields melted and he hit boost to escape but by then it was too late for him as both my ‘seekers were closing on him. Not that I had chance to pat myself on the back as the Echo bucked like a mule beneath me and she began screaming – the Python had a rail gun and had done a good job of introducing its payload to my rectum in a wholly unfriendly manner. I hit boost and pulled some high-G jinxing but the freller had me in his sights so I hoofed power to engines, hit the shield cell and boosted right at him. My shield lit up like a firework party on Six but held together as I screamed under his belly. Another FA flip and I was heating up his shields from behind – the urge to pop off a missile or two was enormous but would have been a waste so instead I held my nerve and selected the power plant location to concentrate my fire on. The freller must have spent his life savings on turrets because even from high behind I was being riddled with tracer fire and depleted tip ammo – I hit my chaff but mistimed a cell boost so caught a line of rounds across the nose – I heard my canopy crack in dozens of places and as my suit began cycling up its risk responses I hoped for a miracle. Which is when the front of the Python’s shields erupted in blue fire and the whole ship swayed and rocked. I checked the Echo’s sensors and saw it was another of sub-conned Cmdrs in an FDL and it appeared he’d brought a lovely big plasma cannon to a knife fight! The Python didn’t know what to do – I was hardly doing any real damage whilst the new guest was causing him some real headaches. In the end he went after the ‘Lance and that was his last mistake. Another plasma bolt dropped his shields and so I began to let his plant have my missiles, all of them because I’m generous like that. The ‘Lance switched to a seriously big pair of rails and it was all over for the Python bar the expected, desperate, far-too-late attempt to jump out, and just like that 100 million credits worth of cutting edge technology became a salvage hog’s wet dream. The 5-0 rocked up just in time to avoid any actual danger and managed to locate a single escape pod – I wasn’t actually sure they were going to pick it up for a while but they did, although I suspect the occupant might wish they had just popped him by now.

So I’m back in Ridley, my rolling contract update just came in and I need to decide if I sign on for another 48 hours or take the Old Man’s new contract, it seems he has a ‘travel opportunity’ for me in an Indie system called Quivira and it does sound rather interesting…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: William Gearwright

From: Antfarm Consolidated (Dulos)

Date: 3301/05/03

Subject: Travel Opportunity

Message: Dear Boy! Sterling work for the Silver chaps, good reports all round so keep it up. Things here are much the same, I’ve held off on arranging the school reunion until we know more about dietary requirements. In the meantime you can decide if you renew your sub-contract with the Silvers or if you would like to broaden your horizons with a trip to a currently hot locale, a place very much of the moment you might say. Quivira is a small system deep in the most glorious of glorious space but ever so independent in its quaint ways. I can’t help but think you’d enjoy the night-life there, as well as the weather, both of which can be described as hot, although the locals are rightly defensive about such things. There is a tourist guide on Godel Dock you should meet, he’ll be fully accredited and carry the usual insurance documents so you’ll know you are in the hands of a true independent businessman. If you go I’m sure you’ll find the chance to shore up your system’s defences will do you the world of good.

All the best regards,

HBA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Maybe I should drop Charybdis a line, I’m sure he’d find something to pique his interest there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: Charybdis

From: William Gearwright

Date: 3301/05/04

Subject: A tourist trap of note

Message: Hello friend, I hope this short note finds you well. I just wanted to let you know about a small hotspot I’ve become aware of called Quivira. It seems there is a blossoming tourist market opening up right now with special rewards for the more independent-minded traveller. I hear Godel dock is the place to meet up with like-minded vacationers and share the extremely lively night-life. If you decide to go, plan your route ahead of time based on the advice of others – empirical evidence would deem it prudent.

Safe travels,

William Gearwright.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [ISDV Canonical Whimsy : [Dulos/Dulos 6/Wilson Ring] : [3301/04/15]

[Report Summary] Currently docked in Wilson Ring around Dulos 6, Dulos

[Manifest] Empty.

[Incidents] Nothing to report.

[Signed] Cmdr William Gearwright of the ISDV Canonical Whimsy (Core Dynamics Eagle Mk2), Antfarm Consolidated of Dulos.


[Private Entry/Decrypted/Relp4432-RACK990] [embeds enabled] When I was a kid, a teenager I mean, back on Six I was always the one who could sense danger on a night out. A group of us would walk into a bar and I’d feel a ‘tingle’, a ripple of wrongness moving through me, and I grab the arm of the one nearest to me and start ushering people out. Something in the bar ‘smelt’ wrong, ‘felt’ wrong and I knew I had to get away. More than once this weird sense saved us all from a nasty fight and I used to thank my lucky stars that I was sensible enough to listen to this over-active nerve ending. But then, over the years, I seemed to have stopped listening. Maybe life became too routine or too busy or I got too damn old but I gradually forgot how to listen to the warnings. Well I’m listening now.

A few days ago I took a contract from the Old Man to recover lost MilTech, Nothing new there as I’d spent the best part of the previous week collecting lost data, artwork, and cargo for a variety of customers – some of them were even the legit owners of the cans I was running down, so I don’t think anything was different about the request to locate and retrieve 1t of lost can 1 system over. Hell, I didn’t even pause when I saw just how much the Oluf Worker’s Party were willing to pay for this can and, looking back, that should have been my first clue something was off kilter with the job.

LTT9494 is an hole filled by nothing but a star and it certainly seemed empty when I dropped in to search for the can sig. It took me a while but I found it, pinging weakly in the black, but when I dropped out it became clear immediately it was a sting. There was an Adder waiting for me, weapons stowed and broadcasting “Don’t shoot!” messages the second I folded out of SC. I didn’t wait. I didn’t reply. I just ran and didn’t look back. Still, the bastard hacked my comms and dropped a message on me claiming he was from the DDP back in Dulos and knew I was searching for the military tech for the OWP – he then offered to pay more, a lot more, if I handed it to them instead and all I had to do was agree to accept a change of contract. By the time I’d hit SC and the Whimsy screaming away from the Adder, I had already picked up a plethora of new signals, some small which could have been the can, other huge which the Whimsy calculated where deep system sweeps. I was being hunted.

All this time I’d been in touch with an old friend from Lugh over secure comms. I just know him as Charybdis and having seen him in combat I could see why; I was there naively defending the democratic ideal and I did that right up to the point Halsey murdered 9,000 innocent people, but Charybdis, well he’s different, he’s an interesting chap with complex motivations and I’m glad he was on the same side as me. We were talking when the deal started to go bad and I don’t mind admitting that I found myself wishing he was a lot closer than 150lys away when it did. He asked if I’d thought about jumping out and I’d by lying if I said that right at that point I was contemplating just that but with my thumb hovering over the FSD button, the Whimsy pipped up to notify me she had analysed the small & weak signals and identified one with a 97.64% probability of being the can I was out there for so I took the chance and went for it.

Let me tell you, she may be a new bird but the Whimsy didn’t let me down, I found the can (along with some others pinging away as ProtoTech), scooped and started the countdown to Dulos in less than a minute. When the Old Man said ‘fast’ I took him at his word.

I was 10k from Wilson when I began a manual system shut down ready for a silent dock and I’m glad I did. Maybe I haven’t stopped listening to that nerve after all, or maybe something about being double-crossed and hunted sharpens one’s focus, because just as I went black a wing of DDP long range fighters dropped out and began to fan out along clear search vectors all around the station approach. I was off sensors but I still had to contact the station which can be risky but I had one last thing in my favour – the Old Man had the berth pre-arranged and so I hit boost once and sailed past the DDP ships and patrolling SysSec like a whisper straight through the toast rack and to my pad. At times like that I like to imagine the faces of the ATC guys in the con tower, poor bastards.

I’m docked now, the cans long gone, removed from my hold and whisked away by a waiting ghost ground crew. No interactions between us took place with all authentications occurring over secure data comms leaving no records behind so that to all intents and purposes nothing happened and the records exist to can prove just that. In the meantime I’ve started the Whimsy on a self-diagnosis protocol just in case the Adder has transmitted any surprises and made myself a cup of tea while I wait, wait and think. Who the hell set me up and why? The OWP? The DDP? The like the DDP for it over the OWP but I can’t say I trust either of them. It’s starting to look like Dulos isn’t as ready for my return as I thought.

I think I need to talk to an old friend over a very, very secure comm channel. Maybe he can make some sense of this mess and then, after I’ve had some sleep, I’ll pick up these waiting messages from Paws, the explorer I met months ago as he headed out into deep space. I wonder what he wants?