Ignacio's Inveterate Railroad

Departure Advisory
Chapter One: Ship to Ship Search

Previously:

Aelth needs to escape the man who has just bought her; getting a crew spot on a ship seemed like a good idea.

Ignacio has mortgaged his genetic lineage for a a ship, the Helena. Now he needs a crew, a cargo, and time for his engineer to complete departure preparations.

And Now:

Space. Gotov-g(iv) Spaceport – Establishing Shot

Among the scattered debris of a giant, doomed, rock planet, various lights flicker and flash. A tall vaguely-cylindrical station drifts in front of the sun. A half dozen Tauri ships cling to the station, resting like they are spokes on the end of the station atop of several thick umbilical pipes. Along the length of each ship, large berth identifiers transition between a variety of human and alien numbering schemes.

Interior. Gotov-g(iv) Spaceport Upper Crew Concourse

A large, two-story, corridor rises up and away in either direction as it sweeps between the two-story connectors leading to the crew segments of each ship. There are an unusual number of goons in station guard uniforms on the concourse compared to the various crew members in the corporate uniforms of the ships docked.

As per tradition, Captain Ignacio steps out of the station’s core tram on the upper floor, and as the one who just attained his rank, he has a carrier with sealed globules filled with a coffee-like substance for his crew aboard the Helena.

The Planetary Regent, Carlos Alfonso Rafael Fidel (an officious man with odious grooming habits and prodigious girth and chins), waddles through the spaceport with the Port Master and the Port Authority enforcers. With Regent Fidel wailing that each ship has his beloved bride-to-be, the Port Authority enforcers are searching the ships. Monitors along the concourse announce that all departures (and arrivals) are suspended.

Ignacio is accosted by the grieving Regent. Confronted by a holopict of the kidnapped wife-to-be, Captain Ignacio states he has never seen the woman, despite the fact that she is aboard the Helena at this very moment.

{d20: 7 :: yes …}

Ignacio notices the Regent is wear a peculiar ring which matches the peculiar watermark embedded in the holopict.

{… but …}

Regent Carlos Fidel notices that this captain’s eyes linger a bit too long on his ring and the watermark in the holopict. Carlos decides the captain recognizes the matching symbols, because the captain is a slaver!

Carlos frowns, uncertain what to do. Desiring time to mull over the possibilities, he points at the next ship in line. “They are the ones!” he bellows. “They have her!”

Taking the opportunity, Ignacio ambles past the man, glad he has a solid poker face, and resumes his saunter towards:

The Upper Floor of the Station’s Umbilical Connector with the Helena

The Regent watches him go. Slavers don’t poach others’ slaves, bad for business, he thinks. Still…. This slaver hasn’t bothered to familiarizing himself with the local buyers. Why is that?

Interior. Helena Upper Crew Umbilical Airlock – Start of the 8s

As the airlock cycles from station atmosphere to ship atmosphere:

Captain Ignacio makes a thumb and pinky finger interface gesture to active the ship’s private comms. “Goidi,” he informed the computer.

“Yeah. Whadda want?” the engineer, Kranaii Goidi, grumps back over the comm line. The engineer never deals well with the beginning of shifts or planetary day cycles.

“Find the new steward and put her somewhere the port authority goons won’t find her when they search the ship.”

“Hmmph!”

“If I know you, you’ve already found some spaces to hide stuff in.”

“Fine. Fine. You, keep opening that valve slowly. Slowly!” The line clicks off.

Ignacio exits the fully cycled port airlock to:

Interior. Helena Upper Deck, Crew Quarters Deck

The standby lighting indicates that the Helena remains on station power, and her own reactors remain offline.

Captain Ignacio heads medially along the corridor to:

Interior. Helena Access Slides

In a well practiced maneuver, Ignacio swings the drink carrier onto his back, grabs ahold of the ladder’s rungs and kicks off the floor. He grabs and pushes off of every second or third rung as he heads upward in the fading gravity to the deck above.

Interior. Helena Off-Duty Deck

As Ignacio exits the access slides, he brings his fist up to his chin to trigger the ship’s general comms.

An attention “boing” echoes through the ship.

“All hands meeting in the galley, I brought the coffee.”

… or at least the “coffee-like substitute” which has more in common with a iced energy drink than the actual brewed substance.

Interior. Gotov-g(iv) Spaceport Upper Crew Concourse

The Portmaster watches Planetary Regent Fidel complete his computer search. “Is something wrong?”

Regent Carlos Fidel smiles as he gestures for his chin implants to grow a beard. A gangrenous wisp oozes from between a fat fold. He strokes it absently. “He is a slaver.”

“What! Should we arrest him?”

Carlos shook his head. “Not yet. He is starting up a new ship, and he has done this before. We will need to plant such evidence.”

“How can you tell?”

“His crew,” Carlos smiled thinly such that his mouth became another fat fold. “He is pulling from the military discharges and rejects. Those desperate enough not to ask the right questions. Unless we force it, he will ease the crew into being slavers so they won’t immediately notice until it is too late. By then, their unwitting crimes will shackle them to him.”

“That is horrid!” The Portmaster glared at the entry tunnel. “How do we stop him?”

Carlos’ flawless white teeth glittered against his waxy skin. “Greed. Lust. Gluttony. Pride. Envy. Anger. Sloth. The downfall of all mortals. We give him the easy way out.”

Interior. Helena Conduit Corridor

Engineer Goidi is walking alongside Aelth. “The captain wants you hidden from the port authority goons. It seems they are doing some sort of ship by ship search.”

Aelth blanches. “Right….”

He goes over to a wall with all sorts of pipes, conduits, and blinking lights. He turns a valve and the wall opens. “In here, and stay quiet. If the goon squads find this door, there ain’t no way we all aren’t going to prison. For a. Real. Long. Time.”

Aelth swallows hard. Nods and goes in there.

Goidi closes the door, spins the valve, and all the light vanishes.

Interior. Helena Crew Galley

“Good morning crew,” Captain Ignacio announced. ‘The Port Authority will be coming in a few minutes and will search the vessel, they are looking for a girl, and we haven’t seen her if asked. Keep quiet, answer their questions, and it should all go fine, and we’ll load our cargo and be on our way to our next port as soon as we can."

“Goodda enuff. Anythin’ else, captain?” the engineer asks.

“Enjoy the coffee.”

Interior. Gotov-g(iv) Spaceport Upper Crew Concourse

The Portmaster frowns at the port belly of the Helena. “Do you want us to plant something?”

Regent Carlos Fidel shakes his head. “Not yet. Treat him like any other corporate profiteer.”

Evil tinges the Portmaster’s smile. “Gladly.”

Series of Shots – Port Authority Searches the Helena

A) Port Authority Enforcers question various crew members while showing them a holopict of Aelth. The crew members shake their heads.

B) Port Authority Enforcers running sensors through various maintenance corridors.

C) Port Authority Enforcers scanning the wall behind which Aelth hides.

p)). {d20: 18 :: yes …}

After shaking their heads, the Enforcers continue along the maintenance corridor.

D) The Port Authority Enforcers leave the Helena.

Interior. Gotov-g(iv) Spaceport Upper Crew Concourse

{… and …}

The Enforcer Lieutenant salutes the Port Master and Regent. “As anticipated, there is neither indications of the bride-to-be nor of any conscript items.”

The Port Master dismisses the Lieutenant with a wave of his hand. “How do we collar him, now?”

The Regent stroked his gangrenous tongue of a beard. “Patience. Cool your anger. The best things always come to the most virtuous of us. All people are creatures of habit, and said captain struggles even now with being virtuous. Wait. Watch. Learn.”

Interior. Helena Bridge

Captain Ignacio sits at his console near the rear of the raised dais. His full visual width HUD projection flickers to life every once in awhile to disappear almost immediately. The other two consoles upon the dais remain empty. In the inner ring of the trench, Jackeith Pery sits at the pilot station (which also seems more flicker than life), and Jacob Duke sits at the navigator / SCAN station (which is faintly active, yet stable). No one is at the various stations along the outer ring.

Ignacio downs a slug of his coffee. “Well that was rather more eventful than I’d planned for this morning.”

Duke gives a grin. “Captain, we’ve a minor problem. Do you have the Tauri Sense, as they call it? Able to say if a ship or part is genuine Tauri?”

“It’s why I hired you Duke, You can sense it too.”

He nods. “And, you’d say this is a Tauri ship. Without any doubts?”

“I’d say most of it has the feel, excepting the engines”

Duke nods again. “That’s what I say too. If that is the case, we’ve got the strangest Tauri ship that they ever made, or someone has figured out how to make a forgery that even we can’t tell from the original.”

“What makes it strange to you Duke? and if its a forgery that 2 people with the sense can’t tell the difference between, it’s as good as.”

“Hidden among the frozen storage units are prisoner transport cells. None of the retrofitted junk used by planetary and in-system enforcers. Brand new smelling Tauri cells, stasis pods, and security systems. And half of them have prisoners in them.”

“Umm, what kind of Prisoners?”

“A bunch of different species, including a few dozen humans.”

“No record on the ship’s systems?”

“Wiped clean beyond recovery, just like with every other ‘new’ Tauri ship. No indication the ship was ever powered up before being towed here.”

Ignacio mutters, “shit….”

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