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Shelter from the Storm, Part I

Posted on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 @ 6:50pm by NO FATE & N0K-2 Slaughter Droid
Edited on on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 @ 3:01am

Mission: The Motherlode
Location: 117.7 Parsecs Rimward from Roxuli, Wild Space; Republic Merchant Marine Vessel Sweet Ravenna
Timeline: MD -32: 2200 Local

"What's our status?" Cool white overhead light gleaned off the edge of Captain Bodhi Godai's Republic rank insignia. The command deck of the Sweet Ravenna was sparsely peopled and eerily silent. Heavy was a sense of waiting and it wasn't hard to see why: across the entire span of forward windows was a crackling purple and red ion storm. To Godai's eyes, it looked darker, thinner somehow than it had when their hyperdrive had kicked them out of hyperspace as a safety precaution. That had been a day ago. With a narrowing of an eye, Godai thought he could see pinpricks of starlight beginning to break through the spaceborne storm.

It was his ship's second that spoke up: resonant, multi-tonic. The Ithorian sounded like he could sing in a baritone, three part harmony all by himself. "We are currently flushing the hyperdrive of excess ion buildup. We should be ready to jump in three hours. The rest of the repairs are nearly done."

Godai tapped his heel against the deckplate, shoving his hands into his pockets. He hated waiting, and felt the weight of schedule bearing down. He was not a man who enjoyed wiggle room on a timetable. And he considered this assignment, privately, an insult. He should have been in command of a Republic cruiser by now, not bargaining for agricultural products from unaligned alien Consortiums out beyond the frontier. Deep space appealed to some- not him.

The mocha-skinned man looked out at the ion disturbance. Strikes of lightning arced reddish-white in the wispy anomaly. He sighed. "Let me know the minute we're ready to go. I want to get back into Republic space, post haste. We're overdue at Roxuli."

The Ithorian bobbed his hammer-like head which took the momentum of much of his body. A Protocol Droid strode by him, daintily, as if it were afraid to impinge itself on the Human crew. Godai glanced at it's burnished copper color and lifeless disc-like eyes. "Good Evening Captain Godai," it stated in a high androgynous voice. Godai snapped a nod to the obsequious machine.

First Mate Parn studied the control readout before him. The de-ionization cleanse was going at a decent clip- the Ithorian did not share the Captain's huffy, stressed undertone. What was, simply was. Wild Space was wild because it was unmapped. The simplicity of jumping between recognized hyperspace lanes was largely one of routine. Out here, safety protocols, these kinds of fail-safes, were necessary. He understood that in his placid Ithorian paradigm.

"Aft view," Godai stated. He'd strode to a console and tapped controls. The screen at his fingers flickered to a dark, cinder-like interstellar asteroid they were sheltering near. On the lee of the great carbonaceous ice rock, they were able to hide in the shadow from the worst of the storm's effects. Ions did bad things to technical systems. A good jolt from this storm could render portions of the Sweet Ravenna powerless and without computer access for hours. Even days.

"Captain." His navigator turned to look at him. Godai blinked to meet the look. He assented his head, bored and tersely scratching his immaculately shaven cheek. "I think we have a bogie bearing 021 mark 332. It's not coming up fast... a few dozen klicks a minute. I think it's adrift."

Godai frowned, both mouth bowing and his eyebrows flexing. Another ship? In the middle of nowhere? "Collision course?"

The Navigator checked her instrumentation. On the window screen, a HUD rose with trigonometry, analyzing it's pass with a dashed line and a triangle indicating their ship. "Near miss. I think this asteroid's gotten a hold of it, gravitationally speaking. It'll impact the asteroid probably in a few passes... couple days at most."

"That's damned peculiar..." the Captain stated. "Scanners. Look for identification."

The redhead at her astrogation controls went into motion. Her mouth turned pensive, eyes flitting over her readout. "The storms making it almost impossible. There's no active beacon. And our ship-to-ship transceiver is still down."

Parn swiveled to look at her, his voice rising richly from his Ithorian throat, "It may have been completely disabled by the storm. With our scanners at minimum accuracy for the time being, we could do a visual survey." The dark-colored intelligence of the Hammerhead's eyes blinked with what, to Humans, seemed as patient ennui. The snail-like qualities of his head and neck bobbed. Stalk-like, branching fingers flourished toward his controls, "We have thrusters. We can use the asteroid's gravity field to repulse from."

Godai's frown was skeptical and added in sour. "Alright," he muttered begrudgingly. "Bring us on a pass over their dorsal beam, then back around." He tapped his console, "This is Command and Control. Go to ready status. Damage control stand by for ion discharge protocols." He tapped the comm off, the button ceasing its jade color.

"Engineering here. What's going on?"

The Captain stroked the comm key again, "We have a derelict, Citro. We're moving in to check it out."

There was a terse sigh from the other end, "I don't recommend that. We're trying to flush out our systems down here. If we move too close to the threshold of the storm, all the work my people have done down here's gonna be for nothing."

The Captain twisted his mouth in annoyance, "Just make ready. Control out." He stabbed the comm key again. He glanced at the Ithorian, "I hope you're right about this, Parn." The Ithorian gracefully bobbed the outcropping of his head and neck, blinking. His knobbly lengths of fingers stroked through his wiry mocha black beard.

"Fantree," Godai chin jutted to his Navigator. "Maneuvering thrusters. 110kps. Bring us over the derelict's dorsal hull. Parn, get what you can." Godai folded his arms tightly across his chest, tucking his chin near his chest. His eyes sensed movement in the window span as the ship lurched into motion. It was painfully slow, enough that impatience was crawling at the Captain's spine even before the black object adrift in the sea of wispy color was recognizably more than just another hunk of something.

"Corellian design?" Godai asked but he didn't get any immediate response. It felt like an hour before they drifted over the ship. Godai watched his Navigator punch at controls: the Sweet Ravenna angled it's bow to follow the dorsal run of the ship. "Get what you can," he repeated. "What's our distance?"

Parn's resonance spoke up, "About a hundred off their hull." The Ithorian fluttered fingertips at his control. "There's almost no power down there. Their engine room is about all." Parn brushed a key and the window full of the black line of the ship, silhouetted in red, clicked. A nebulous pulse of thermo orange and red emanated from the ship's aft center, near the engines.

"I've got a name," Fantree spoke up. She flicked on the navigation lamps. The dark hull of the derelict was suddenly awash in light. It's hull looked beaten down by carbon scoring and small pockmark black singes. But the registry was clear enough. Godai narrowed an eye at it as swiveled his controls to him. As he did, his Navigator spoke up. "Alexia-Meru."

"I see it, thank you," the Captain muttered. He scanned the logs for what felt like awhile. "It's an independent freighter out of Glee Anselm. Republic registry, civilian. Captain is... Harcor Lept... sounds like a Twi'lek name." He itched his cheek again, "It left Glee Anselm over six months ago. Their flight plan was destined for Ilum."

"Khyber crystal haul?" Fantree asked, her orange eyebrow raised on a freckled face. "They're hell and gone from Ilum..."

The Captain harrumphed, "Probably a khyber crystal smuggle job." He shook his head with a sigh. He hated being proved wrong and when he did a database search of any warrants on the ship or crew, he found none. They were clean... or as clean as one could be out in these dark times. He sighed and pulled down on his uniform. "Dammit. Alright. Fantree, all stop. Use our maneuvering-" The ship quaked and the lights flickered. A simple brush at his console had a static charge. "Use our maneuvering thrusters to keep us close. Line up the docking port with theirs. Parn, magnetic grapplers standby." He tapped the comm key.

"Control, Engineering. Standby to extend the emergency boarding ramps. We'll need the atmo snake."

"Engineering to Control. That last ion strike took out life support in the third starboard container."

The Captain pushed the key, voice deliberate and crisp, "Then evacuate anyone in there and seal it off for now. Rescue and recovery protocols. Control out," he snapped. Godai looked at the dark hull before them. "Is that damage?"

Parn was stroking his beard, pensive, "It may be a micro-asteroid strike." He blinked, "Two of them." Godai followed the lines that looked like two, twin holes punched into the side of the Alexia-Meru's dorsal hull. Something didn't look right. There was no carbon scoring from the heat of the impact.

"I'm going over there," Godai grumbled. "Assemble a damage control team and a medical response team. Have them and Engineer Citro meet me at the docking port." He was tired of this inconvenient mystery.

Parn frowned, glancing at Fantree. She'd kept her eyes forward and focused. "Yes Captain." Captain Godai folded his arms and strode off the control deck, the heavy blast doors closing down behind him. He sidestepped the protocol droid, which did a last minute skitter to the side, then watched him go.

"He seems upset," the droid stated. Parn blinked his wide-set eyes and nodded sagely again.

 

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