Star Gazer

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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:46 pm

Chapter 5: Accidental Fire Escape

Dear B17 Balmer Console.

We are currently heading towards the meet-up with Bekky's ex-fence. For the past few days, she's been preparing a book with a diary inside talking about some dark sword. Looking at the book now, I can see why I've never heard of her in terms of bounties. If I hadn't of seen the original book, I'd be fooled myself. Even saw Valms look uncomfortable when I walked into his quarters with the book in my jacket, so she must have found a way to put a light void atmosphere to it. Either that, or Valms cares about people more than he seems to these days.

The last job was equal parts disaster and success. Luck hasn't been on our side for some time seems to me. If anyone besides Valms and Ricks knew what had occurred today, morale could become a distinct problem. Skuz lately has been giving me odd looks, as though she knows, but it could be my mind playing tricks on me. This bad luck has left me paranoid, although then again it's expected.

So the rough job was a simple job. Rough up some clerk who's been shooting his mouth. Make it seem like a robbery, so the clerk gets the lesson not to talk about his money transport gig and without the company behind it getting blamed for the rough-up. A simple job, but the high pay was for discretion rather than skill. We don't speak a word, we hide the event even occurred and we give the money back to the company without anyone knowing.

So I picked Valms and Ricks for the job. Bekky was busy, Jo is roughly as subtle as a space-craft driving through your apartment door and Skuz had to deal with an extra day or two mending her leg. Plus, I knew this job would hurt Skuz to do. After all, she would be hurting someone who means no harm, but just is a bit too talkative for their own good. It'd be breaking her own moral code, and her own clan code. I didn't even want to mention to her the job existing. So when she had to have a final check up and injection at the station's clinic, me, Ricks and Valms left to intersect our target.

The plan was simple really. Ricks would tamper with the electronics in the area so our target couldn't contact anyone nor would any surveillance see us. I would rob the guy with the disposable stub-gun. If you're not used to shady-ops and don't know what a stub-gun is, imagine a repeater, but made simply so it can be fired a few times and disposed of. It includes an energy clip that comes bolted in, although you can theoretically alter it so it can be reloaded. Plus, it's a lot smaller, so you can conceal it better, and made with materials that make detection hard.

What makes it a headache is it's accuracy, damage and fire-rate. Damn thing takes a few seconds to recharge after each shot, and you have to be very close to your target to hope to hit a thing. They also take a few shots where one shot would work from a bullet from a repeater. Plus, usually they're home-brewed. Once saw a kid, no older than 14, try to shoot at me with a stub-gun he'd obviously made, found on the streets or someone else built him. He fires, it clicks with no energy shot. He pulls the trigger again, and it blows up in his hand.

Guess the energy clip over-loaded. Either way, the assailant now had a stump at the end of one arm, a few fingers on the other and a mashed up face. I wanted to arrest him for interrogation but the squad leader told us to leave him. Instead, he got a private to tie him up to maximise discomfort, and left the enemy to bleed out. Of course, our stub-gun was company made so it wouldn't hurt me. Still, the unidentifiable part due to it being disposable worked in our favour.

Valm's role was during this to start tampering with our victim's mind. To make his memory unreliable, as expected, but to also induce extra fear so they would be a lot less likely to talk about it. That they would contact the company as quickly as possible for help, and they would use it to teach him not to talk about business matters again. Again, this was rookie work, but paid well enough to draw us in.

So it goes as planned at first. Our subject leaves his home, and he takes an alleyway as a short-cut. Down goes the fire-panels, and Ricks is working on sending false signals along the surveillance equipment in the area. Valms is starting to create unease in the subject from a nearby window. It was just me and him in the panels. I'm sitting on the floor with a ragged hood coat. I finally get up and point the stub-gun at him. I start the usual robbery routine of yelling at him, berating him, asking him to do something stupid so I could put a bullet in his face. Crying, begging, the victim hands me his cred-card and the company cred-card. Asking for his life, pleading with me. While I knew the contract asked for hitting the guy, it was so pathetic that I felt the message got through anyway.

Then, a cry and a clump. Down my coms, both my team are screaming for different reasons. Ricks was screaming because of the now-charred face of the man we were meant to scare. Valms is screaming because, well, imagining feeling death except without the numbness that follows. I think Valms explained it as “imagine feeling the pain from the wound, and a bony hand grabbing your brain and giving it a strong squeeze while shaking and twisting it”. I didn't have to look for snipers, I had heard where the shot came from. My gun. I threw it to the ground. I thought fast and reacted.

“Ricks, open the fire-guard a bit, I'll be back to the scene in a moment”.
It whirled open a bit, and I dashed towards a market. I tried to look casually rushed, but I'm not sure. I quickly bought a defence pistol. A pea-shooter that fits in the palm. I quickly rushed back, put the gun into the cooling corpse's hand and fired a few shots into the wall where I was near. Then we left. Back to our ship. Valms had to remain near the scene a bit longer due to feeling the effect of dying, but promised he'd meet us back at the ship.

I contacted the company with the news, and fortunately we still got paid ¾ of the original pay. A hefty amount still, mostly for the trouble of nearly getting shot. Usually it's within the company's best interest to mention if someone is packing anything, so when they don't mention they can get blacklisted on the Starcrawler market. I felt bad planting it as a false shooting, but it was better than arguing that the gun went off on it's own. It seemed to, but companies tend to dispute that kind of story.

Valms arrived at the ship a few hours later, noticeably worse-for-wear. The stress of the last two runs seemed to have taken a toll on him. He walked straight to his quarters without a word, and I left him there until I had to check if the book had a void-sense to it. Even then, I didn't have it in me to talk to him. I think he needed more time to himself. I'll likely leave him off the next mission, and then ask him honestly if he wishes to have leave for a bit. It wouldn't be the first time, as Void Psykers are prone to heavy stress. It's rare for them to reach an age where they have a grey hair on their head, and Valm's could be described as “snowy-gravel” hair. Skuz once referred it as “salt-and-pepper”, but it's a phrase I'm unfamiliar with. She tried to explain, and even draw, what pepper was but I gave up on ever knowing. I hope Valms is okay.

Anyway, sorry for the short report, but we appear to be pulling up next to the client of the book's ship. The only other information worth mentioning is we took off soon after Valms arrived, as we didn't want to be around if they work out who may have been the robbers. We went at a slow speed while Bekky put the final touches on the journal, and now I can hear Ricks putting our air-locks together with the client's. The client is probably going to call in a moment, so I'll fill out the next report after the deal is finished.

Crawler Captain Nathaniel Lamb, logging out.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:17 pm

Still heading for the 10-chapter plan. Got a rough arc in place for the last three chapters, with a plan in place for at least two of them. Really depends on how long the next chapter is.

Is there any chance of this fan-fiction featuring in the game as a log series you can stumble on? I can adjust it if desired. I admit that I don't proof-read, so it has a diary feel of someone who isn't big on writing. So I can fix the grammar issues if necessary. I can also adjust certain events if they're a bit too dark. If it's not possible, it's honestly fine.

Chapter 6: Business Conclusion.

Dear B17 Balmer Console

I'm going to make this report short, as I'm feeling tired. Guess it's my age getting to me.

So we arrived at the fence's ship at co-ordinates we agreed upon. We were on the dark side of a moon. Away from the noticeable attention of other ships at a moment's glance, and I knew his ship would have a static generator to cloak anything in the near vicinity. As long nothing was specifically looking for something, we'd be fine. As far as I'm aware, the police haven't been called down upon us for the manslaughter, and no bounty hunters have come knocking for my head.

Funny thing about bounty hunters, to them manslaughter is murder. It's a lot easier for them to just claim I pulled a gun, and go for a headshot. Plus, they get paid the same. If a life wasn't taken, perhaps then they'd have a harder time getting the full amount for a fatality, hence why those jobs tend to be easier to find. No one wants to lug a hostage, they'd rather lug evidence of death. I once had to pick between hunting someone who was a convict who was broken out and now sought to murder as many people as possible, or hunt someone who stole part of someone's garden fence on a swamp planet. The latter paid a lot more. Plus, he never hid. Just took a knock at his home, a barrel in his face and 20 minutes of dragging to get paid three times as much as that criminal hunting job would have cost. Funny how much more you can get paid if you don't mind dragging someone.

So the ship pulls up next to each other, and we assemble into the air-lock. Me, Skuz and a tied up Bekky. Although we left the blind-fold off, it seemed cruel to blind-fold someone who was tied up and had only one eye. Their lock opens up and we see Bekky's former fence and the same strange robe looking at us.
“You got what I want then or you just returning damaged goods? Gonna need a receipt for that.”
“I have what you want, but I'm not handling your thief any more. It's bad business having someone who may steal something not bolted down, or some things bolted down, for a quick credit or two.”
“Well, go on, toss 'er and the book here then.”

I brought Bekky up from her knees, and pushed her to walk. She did the odd shuffle she did when she was first on my ship after the blind-fold came off, all the way over to him. The fence picked up the book, and flicked through it. Then he brought up his datapad, and I gave him my datapad details. 30 seconds after he had finished typing away on his, my pad pings with a confirmation. He even threw in a little extra.

It's then we say goodbye, he says he'll forward me more work and we separate our ships. We waited, even as the fence's ship leaves. We continue to wait, until my datapad pings with a co-ordinate. There, we found the ruins of a ship and a floating body: Bekky. At first we left the door open, but then realised we'd need to grab her ourselves. Skuz suited up with a wire and threw herself towards Bekky. Over coms Skuz confirmed Bekky was still alive, if knocked out, and would need reeling in. So we used the wire to pull Skuz and Bekky in and after a quick examination by Skuz, put Bekky into her new quarters.

Our original plan going into this was simply to trade the book and go. Officially, our crawler team's plan was to trade the book and go. However, officially, Bekky wasn't part of the crew yet. I had wanted to sort the fence situation out first, as she could have left the team to be a thief again and dealing with the bureaucracy of starcrawling is a headache. At the time, all Bekky had told me was she wanted to be traded back to the fence but would return. That we'd need to pick her up at co-ordinates she would send us. Deniability I assume really.

What had occurred according to our new crew-member was this: She wanted to revenge, and to clean all ties. Not to mention, when the book leads to false co-ordinates he'll naturally want to catch up with her. So she got traded, stealing two items that belong to us. She took an old datapad Ricks had about, and a small multi-tool Jo had. Even as small as a small multi-tool is, as well as datapads, I'm surprised she smuggled it on board. So she got searched, and they found nothing. Then they locked her in an empty storage room until they could work out what to do with someone they didn't want. She used the multi-tool to break into the ventilation system, and the datapad to send waves of EMPs. Just enough to disable the machinery if she needed to by-pass it.

She sneaked into the equipment room, and took her space-suit and her two blasters. Then just mixed cleaning equipment in the ventilation system, and allowed the gas to kill everyone for her. However, this presented a problem for her: The fence's friends would know she killed them all and would want vengeance. So she went into the cockpit and fired at the nearest merchant ship she could see. Naturally the mercs went for the ship. Bekky wrapped herself in ventilation walling to prevent heat detection (walling we never saw when we found her) and jumped out the air-lock. She then sent the co-ordinates to us. The blast of the fence's ship blowing up shortly after must have knocked her out.

Personally, some things don't add up, but I'm too tired to do the interrogation thing. I'm sure she's twisting the tale for some reason. Anyway, I'll send the documentation enlisting Bekky as part of our starcrawler crew tomorrow, and then we're off to a junk planet for a simple mission. Well, it's meant to be a simple mission, but it never seems to be these days. If it's not one thing, then it's another. It reminds me of a saying my captain during the war would mumble often between encounters: “Pray for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Crawler Captain Nathaniel Lamb, logging out.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:28 am

Chapter 7: Old World Blues, Part 1

Good morning B17 Balmer!

It's me, Skuz! : D!

I hope you've been well lately. It's been a while since we last talked, back before Captain Lamb told me to stop leaving diary entries as it apparently wasted space. He can be a bit grumpy, and his entries here have been a bit formal >.>. I told him to write it like a letter. I hope he doesn't talk like that to his war buddies on email. Ugh, just thinking of back then is getting me all teary eye. Anyway, let's get onto these reports Nathaniel wanted me to do.

So Mr Balmer, lookin' at this last report apparently we were heading to the junk planet after the “explosive deal” we'd made ( ; p ). It took a few days to get there. During which Nathaniel got sicker and sicker, and I had to give him tranquillisers. I mentioned everything in the medical report (the captain loves his reports, probably his army days), but the general summary of the recent report is everything is going as expected :/. Valms has been chatting with Mr Lamb mentally, at the very least to make sure he's not going bonkers. Valms kept what he said hushed as usual -.-. While he's tried to hide it in his stony face, it's obvious Valms isn't doing too well. I think we're all suffering a bit, not just Nathaniel D ': .

Due to our captain sleeping, we had to work out who was to be captain in his place for now. It took a lot of talking, a bit of yelling like we do (Jo and Ricks got at each other's throats, eh...). In the end, we took a vote. Wouldn't of happened back at home, but then again ain't no council here. The vote came down to a tie, the problems of an even numbered crew I guess : P. Valms and I shared the lead. Two votes each. Ricks thought he could be captain, and voted himself :/. Me and Valms voted for ourselves, but then again we actually stood a chance. Jo just swore a lot, voted for Valms and said it was in Lamb's interests. I suppose :/. Bekky got her papers signed in before Nathaniel got all poorly. So she was included in the vote, as much as that made Ricks a bit sour :/. Jamie can be such an ignoramus sometimes. She voted for me : D.

Nathaniel though...We still don't know what Nathaniel wanted. Every time Valms would ask, his mind remained blank. Guess he knew we'd take his vote as the winning vote, rather than an equal one :/. Is true though. I know Valms wouldn't hide the vote if our captain wanted someone that wasn't him, Valms is too...Objective for that. I dunno how to explain it. He's above arguments, above emotion and above humanity. He's almost machine. Back at the clan, he'd either be a council member or banished for being spiritually compromised depending on his birth. Oh well -.-.

So me and Valms talked it out, and decided we'd be joint-captain : D. Although Valms put it in his usual grumpy way: “We work together, but if you get in my way I'll just push you aside and do what needs to be done”. He really can be a nasty man sometimes (ooo, nearly swore then, just thinkin' of him)... I'm sure we're just suffering though. We need you Mr Nathaniel Lamb D ': .

So off we go merrily to the planet. In case you dunno what a junk planet is, or you base your view on what those stupid fear-mongering news-networks say: A junk planet is just a planet that people discard whatever they don't want on. There's all sorts of little laws around what can be dumped and what can not, but mostly it's about doing it safely. Guess they don't want a repeat of that explosion that took out the planet and sent a sickly void-and-radiation cloud up into the area for the next decade. Eventually, one of those particularly large space worms (they're called ilsaramus, but I know you and most people just call them space worms) came floating through said cloud and absorbed it up. I've read different historical stories of what happened next. Some say it just carried on happy, some say it mutated and some say it blew up : o. Me? I think it probably just went on it's happy little way : ).

So anyway, not only do people dump stuff on it, but people live on it. They sell anything that's valuable that people dumped, repurpose what isn't and salvage into scrap metal what can't be saved. It's quite impressive! I once saw the cutest little metal rabbit! It even ate bits of material it found, and processed it for energy. It was so cool! I'm glad personally they're recycling there, beats people just wasting things and just sucking more planets dry : (.

We were called to the planet to look into some murders. As the previous report blunted said, normal murders just don't pay to fix. Plus, they love to hire multiple companies on the go, so you end up competing not just against the target but also pesky bounty hunters just getting in your way > : P. However, there were two parts that increased the contract price:
1. There was a specific note to bring the murderer in alive. I could imagine bounty hunters just there-and-then closing the contract at that note.
2. It wasn't a traditional murderer, as it seemed to be killing pets.

I know, how weird : /. Basically, the short story is there is a merchant village called Brickford, since they can afford bricks instead of metal scraps for building construction. The population of said village is about 20, including 5 children. Near this village is about 200 to 500 workers who scavenge and sell things to the merchants. A bit exploitative, but what can you do : /? So it started off with the rodents going missing. One of the kid's jerboa called Simon went missing : (. Followed by two more. Most chalked it up to just simple escaping, but jerboas are smart. I'm sure they know outside would have a less reliable food and water supply. Plus, I saw the little den the kid made, and it looked like the pet was very happy there. I didn't sense anything like loneliness or sadness.

Next were dogs and capybaras. One of the owners kept some as guard dogs, and others as just general pets. The locks were broken to the shelter for the capybaras, but there was no obvious sign to the owner. I looked at the scene, and flicked through the dirt. Nothing. Then again, that was about five days ago.

Two days ago, a small bonfire was set up in celebration of the anniversary of Brickford. The adults seemed to hand-wave if off as a bit traditional, but the kids were so excited to talk about it. Their faces lit up to talk about a big feast, a dance and party games. There was meant to be an unveiling of a statue. Y'know to celebrate 15 years of Brickford. They brought in some artist who had chiselled rock by hand to a symbol the town can stand behind. Which B17, rock is really hard to mould into an image. I've tried it small scale, and only managed to do crude heads of me and the team : (. Although the others seemed impressed, it still seemed a bit off.

However, as the veil dropped, what was meant to be a coin became a sacrificial table. It's stone with ingrained gold became bloody with the bodies of animals around the outside. The inside with a blood-written incantation to a void spirit. I'm glad they didn't show footage of the statue, as apparently the footage got looped. When Valms found out, he was pretty angry at having less evidence. Considering no one saw anything, I'm not sure if we would have noticed anything. Cultists are very sneaky -.-.

That's all the information we got via a quick instant text chat with the head of Brickford before we arrived. Based on that, Valms and I brought Bekky and Ricks along. Well, we brought Bekky along because there might be resistance and she might have knowledge on void. Ricks got brought along because between him and Jo, only Jo knows basic medical care. I had to refresh her on timing on medication, and to contact me on my private channel if Nathaniel grows worse. I don't want everyone's temper to get worse :/. Plus, I think Ricks could do with some time from out the ship, him staying in there has made him a bit crankier and paranoid than usual I think.

So we arrive, and wow, it's night and day difference between Brickford and the rest of the planet. Brickford is a place I almost wouldn't mind living in on a break, with it's greenery and beautiful houses. Everything is so clean. They even afforded to put up an interactive background image and odour-simulator so it looks like a small village on a wonderful green hillside. Like a village a few hundred years back on Earth. Oh Mr Balmer, I'll have to show you this quaint 2d photo I've got of some place in England, just the tiniest village amongst a sea of green. I'll definitely have to see if I can witness something close to it as part of my spiritual training. So soothing... : ).

Beyond the image and false-odour though, is a series of laser fences and low-tech electrified metal fences with laser-wire. I saw about two mercs walking the full boundaries, along with some securi-bots. I could break in easy, but I'd be surprised if I would be able to do it evidence-free. If I was able to, it'd be due to my training back at the clan. Meanwhile, Valms was in the basement of the warehouse studying the statue, while talking with the head: Kimber Solvo. Valms summed up his report with:

“It was civilians, trying to scare the merchants. Either that or the void spirit is weak and is nothing to worry about. Either way the civilians did this. Just about picking one out and picking his brain apart for information.”

I told him of my concerns. Not only of the heavy-enough security, but also his desire to less ask about and more potentially cause neurological damage just for information. He simply hand-waved it off as “if it's rogue void manipulation, then a few broken brains will be the lease of our problems, if they wish to hide a criminal then a broken brain will be the lease of their concerns”. I felt a bit uneasy about the willingness to disregard ethics, as the road to ruin is paved by good intentions and ill-methods, but I knew if I pushed it Valm would likely turn on me : (.

Ricks tried to unhack the looped footage. He mentioned once about how most looping involves layering on the footage you want to copy on top of the footage you don't want people to see, so it'd just be about striping away the layer you don't want. He compared it to wallpaper, which the idea of putting paper on walls seems like an odd thing to do to me. However, he said he couldn't find the lower-layer at all -.-. Which that kind of work is apparently key of manually hacking. Ugh, back then it just confused me so much what happened.

So Ricks, Bekky, Valms and I set off into the junk-yard. Deep deep down. I had to mentally block out the thick odour, but Ricks was sure to keep use reminded it existed. Yes, even with his oxygen unit he still some how smelt it. I had to dig deep into my own mind, just to not force myself to tell him just to be quiet >: (.

We arrive at a metal village. Just building after building, built out of metal sheets applied in different ways. Some rusted, others melded, there was even some that had strange origami folds of metal. Instantly, I knew where the leader of this village would be. As sat on the edge lay a rusted mini-spaceship with more holes than I felt comfortable with. There were some attempts to weld them with sheet metal, but “attempt” is the important word I believe. Either that or something tried to claw it's way in, as some of the sheets was peeled back.

So we arrive with no one about at first. We assumed that perhaps they were out scavenging any new trash that had been dumped. However, a clumsy foot by Ricks sent a basic alarm off as a cord got pulled. Enough of an alarm that I could hear clearly the running of boots. I was about to rush everyone to cover before someone noticed when I heard a growling voice telling us not to move. That pause to work out how to react to this, allowed at least three others to point their rudimentary guns on us.

One cool thing about history is weapon advancement. So first there was rocks and sticks. Then bows and various forms of melee instrument came about. We then found gunpowder, and begun to fire small pieces of metal at each other. With each advancement over that, learning new ways to hit harder, faster and more accurately. People like my clan tend to stick with an advanced version of what an ancient race called the Japanese called “the katana” with some adjustment to allow us to cut through armour smoothly. Others preferred the upgrading of ballistics to more better ways to incapacitate someone efficiently and through armour.

The interesting part is as armour improved to fit with new advancement in weapons, it left themselves mildly open to older weapons. Jackets designed for ballistics before shields, weren't designed for knives and katanas. So while we were all equiped with shields, the people seemed to be equipped with primitive firearms. Some with crude-forms of double-barrel shotguns that just shot shards of metal at you, others had a scavenged form of assault rifles and some had SMG bullet-hoses. The man who had caught us had something called a revolver. Something usually merchants have for the sake of nostalgia for days they never lived in. This one was still a pretty revolver, polished and complete with what looked like a wooden grip.

I counted six around me. I figured I could dodge through and kill the one with the revolver. Maybe we'd kill all six as a group, although chances are someone would get wounded. Shields just don't work as well against basic bullets. They still work, just takes a bit more out of them. However, I knew their guns would be prone to jamming or just missing. In contrast, I'm sure Bekky could hit each and every one. However, killing them would present a problem: No information.

I begun saying: “Let's calm down, we're here from the merchants.”
“The merchants? What they want?”
“We're just looking for those touched by the void, mind if we just all holster our weapons and talk it out?”
“Why should we? Got the upper hand I see.”
Valm cut in with “Because the alternative is the merchants just gas this planet and come back with their own workers once it clears up.”
I was mentally cursing Valm's name. We needed to keep the peace and be their friend, not just intimidate them into helping :/. Although the fact some of the guards seemed to be shaking, and the others seemed scared as well, had me sure we could maybe smooth over the conflict. Finally the man with the revolver told everyone “Alright, everyone put their weapons away then”. Everyone collectively put their gun away. Ricks hesitated, but a firm look from me rectified that. We had a tense peace, but a peace we could work with : ).

So we talked to the locals. I found out the head guy, a rather burly man with an n-shaped moustache was just called Cap or Captain. He was the head of a worker team of about 30 to 50 people. Although he made it clear it was hard to keep track of who was still alive, who was lost and who had just decided to leave. A bit on the blunt side for my taste, but I'm sure him and Jo would have got along : ). Both to the point, and both have a particular love for machines. Which reminds me! I still need to finish the mini-personality bot I was designing! Aahh, I'll have to do that later once these reports are done!

So while he was having a hard time tracking people on his crew, he was very sure that the vandalism wasn't due to his men. Really mentioned it over and over again how his men were honest men, and weren't touched by the void at all. They've had one case of someone potentially invoking dark spirits, or being a bit mysterious. It ended with the man strung up, forced to swallow a grenade with the pin-tied with string, and then said string pulled. Plus, it still confused me how all that gore got sneaked in without anyone noticing. The fact there wasn't much void essence on the statue, according to Valms, still had me puzzled.

That was when Bekky made an interesting point. However, I'll save that for the next letter ; ). I'll let you think through the puzzle so far. I've left nothing out, and since Bekky mentioned something that would be critical to solving this, well, the clues are all there : ). It'll be something to consider for now B17. A fun game for you and I : P. Glad to be talking to you again!

Until next time,

Falm “Skuz” Skimar
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:12 am

Chapter 8: Old World Blues, Part 2.

Good Evening, B17 Balmer!

How are you today? : ). As they used to ask: How's the weather? Didya know that before we had weather accuracy systems that allowed us to see what the weather is on any planet up to 150 Mpc at a touch of our datapads, asking about the weather was the perfect little ice-breaker? I think I might use it a bit more often, instead of “how are you?” : ) . After all, some people do use weather to describe their mood, like “sunny disposition”, “to storm out of somewhere” and “to have a cloudy cognition”. Perhaps the last one is less common ^ ^. I dunno if people will know what I mean though. I will have to think about it.

So it's been a week since the last letter I believe. I could check the previous report date but kinda forgot to : /. It's roughly a week, probably : P. Anyway, what is there to tell you...Hhhmm... Well Valms said he's securing a mission. Judging by the vitals, and Valm's conversations with Mr Lamb, this may be the last mission. We'll need to discuss the future after our captain's passing :/. I dunno quite yet what we'll do. He was the only one keeping us together. I know me and Valm can't see eye-to-eye at all. While I know I'll continue to work with Bekky and train further, I'm not so sure quite yet about Jo and Ricks. Both good workers, but we're rather apathetic towards each other beyond business.

What I think I will do is stay with the Star Gazer. It's a good and friendly ship : ). I have all my things on board too. Plus, my little AI bot is nearly complete, and I know it'd be a nightmare to reconfigure her to a new ship -.-. I think Jo will likely go where the ship goes. She always hated new ships :/. I dunno what Ricks and Valms will do though. Ricks will likely work, but dunno if with this crew or a different crew. He is a dangerous person, what with being hot-headed -.-. Valms, I think he may retire to be honest. He's old. Not just physically, but I can sense his age. He is roughly Nathaniel's age... Ugh, I think I better get on with the rest of the junkyard planet tale.

Well, did ya get it? Last chance to guess! : ). One last hint for you: What do you think would be another way to get into the village without anyone noticing? Or perhaps with everyone noticing but not suspecting a thing ; ).

It was then Bekky said something I'm still surprised the rest of us overlooked (well, me and Valms, Ricks is just...Less said...). I think I remember her exact wording, or something similar: “Well, what if they didn't come in across ground? What if they arrived by air? After all, if I wanted to sneak something by you I would do in clear sight. 'Course means you wouldn't suspect anything after noticing something different, and you definitely wouldn't suspect me. Means I can even snatch an item or three as I leave for good measure too. So what if this artist's symbol wasn't vandalised, and rather is in it's final piece?”.

So as the penny drops, we're all rushing back to the head of the village's house. After all, we needed to track down this artist fast. We doubted he was a conman it seemed a bit brazen and lacking financial reward for a typical conman. Perhaps he had made a mistake? We just needed to catch up with him and work things out from there. We were still in a position of making things up as we go along really :/.

We rush into Kimber Solvo's office with our theory, and sadly we don't get much details. Apparently the artist had turned up one day upon hearing of the event and offered to make a statue for the town. He had some references for various previous work projects he had done which seemed to check out. In the corner of my eye, I noticed Ricks smirking somewhat as Kimber explained about the references. Which later Ricks and Bekky got into a discussion on ways you can fake a reference, most I hadn't even really considered. Perhaps says a lot about the self when you can have any identity you desire : ).

So how had this artist known about the events on the planet? It did seem awfully petty to be a rival business, since they'd likely “accidentally” send a ship into the small village or just break their finances. If a prank, it seems like a rather elaborate prank that wasn't too funny. Kimber couldn't think of anyone with a grudge on her or the town. We had a few floating ideas, but nothing more.

As we were leaving, our datapads buzzed. Oddly, it was from Ricks. He seemed to do this when he didn't want anyone else to hear at all, rather than, y'know, do what normal people do like whisper or just wait until out of ear-shot :l . He took the communication logs to the references, and then examined the satellites they had to pass through to get there. He had suspected the references to be fake, and fortunately the false references were done by a “stupid script kiddie”. So they had forgot to bounce it away from the planet before going back, so it had to only pass through one satellite: The one orbiting the junk planet. Which, to Ricks, means it was done by someone near the planet at the time. Knew we kept him around for a reason ; P.

So off we went back into the junkyard. Our idea was to find anyone who had done off-world communication, and go from there. Normally a hopeless challenge as everyone is able to send their word among the stars, but those poor enough to just live on scavenging tend to not have that type of technology. So perhaps Captain would know about any communication.

So, this time turning up to the scrap village, the atmosphere was a lot less hectic. The workers ran in and out with various items, but kept a distance and a wary eye on us. I knew Valms shouldn't have just intimidated these workers :/. Cap left his post of evaluating the salvage to walk to us. Rather than a greeting, he confirmed something I had a suspicion on:
“I got two rifles pinned on you, I'm sure you don't want to do anything stupid. What you want?”
I had seen a shuffle in the shadows, so I had known of at least one. Bekky was a bit uneased about the situation, poor her. Guess she's usually used to operating on more...Diplomatic terms. Ricks seemed obviously rattled. Meanwhile, Valms just looked like he couldn't care less. Ugh, he just frustrates me just thinking about him.

I walked a little forward, hoping to offer up as the diplomatic channel.
“Sorry to take your time, but we need to know if there's been any off-world communications.”
“ 'Course there has, where else do you think we get our prices from?”
“Do you know who handles the coms usually?”
“ I know. Why is it relevant?”
“We think whoever left the cultist sacrifice may be affiliated with whoever sent a call out.”
“I see...Let's get into my office and I'll talk more.”

Valms and I followed the Captain into the ship, while Bekky and Ricks were left outside as our eyes-and-ears. The ship seemed not designed for anything but scouting. With one corridor, four doors and a small cargo hull. We went into a small room that looked like it perhaps used to be a storage room, with everything ripped out but replaced with a desk and a few personality items. A few of “those” type of posters -.- , little trophies and a few ancient datapads that looks worn and rusted.

In this little shelter, it is then we talked with the Captain. It was a bit close-quarters and it stunk a bit though :/. Then again, I think this might have been the only room without holes in it. We discussed about possible people who had used the communication device in the last week, which me and Valms figured would be the prime time the artist would be contacted. Along with some discussions about who they would know, if they might know an artist or someone about to feign being an artist. Finally we got a name. I wouldn't share it in this report since he does deserve some anonymity I think after the end result :/.

So we asked the Cap if he'd be fine if we arrested him on the behalf of the traders. He said yes, but his face said no. I wanted to tell him he could say no if he wanted, but I know Valm would have been angry. Just got to keep the peace until Lamb rests :/.

To skip a few hours, since I know it'd be tedious for you B17, we arrested the man under suspicion of unregulated void usage (due to not being part of the galactic void-user's register) and conspiring with a void spirit. Valm did some...Probing and I did some talking and we got the truth out of him. The traders had decided to cut the wages by a quarter rather than keep up with the standard wage of scrap scavengers. Technically a bit illegal, but I knew they were leaping through loop-holes as big as a black-hole :/. They wouldn't be this brazen about it if it wasn't legit.

So, this worker got a friend to construct an statue to a false void spirit. Not only to scare them into perhaps leaving and letting the workers sell the goods themselves, but also since it seemed like an appropriate symbol of the town. Sacrificed animals on a coin? I had to smile at the perfect symbolism here. I really felt sorry for this guy, but a job was a job. So we made a verbal agreement: He helps us capture his friend who will likely just get sued for some change and maybe do a few years hard labour, and he'll get to walk away anonymous. Of course, he snatched at the deal. There's loyalty to friends, but I don't think loyalty stops an apathetic bored void psyker from just crushing a brain for knowledge anyway -.-.

We set up the deal: The artist ship was going to land in a nearby clearing to pick up his friend so they may escape together. We'd hold his friend hostage, get the artist to throw down his weapon (since he apparently travels alone usually on a small ship) and we'll let him go as we capture the artist. Simple, and everyone understood. No one gets hurt : ).

The artist's ship gets called in, and they offer to pick up within an hour. Guess he was in the neighbourhood ^ ^. The tiny transportation ship lands, and the artist comes out. The artist, surprisingly, wasn't a rough-looking man. Rather, a stick-like boy who was noticeably in touch with fashion. A bit impractical, but still well-dressed. Naturally, this boy freaks out. He's waving a handgun around and screaming for the worker to be set free. I talk to him, over and over, that if he just throws us the gun we'll let the worker go. I could tell they were either close friends, or the artist was passionate about worker's rights. Maybe both?

The handgun gets thrown and that's when Valm makes a move that still leaves me very bitter towards him -.-. He thanks either the worker or the artist, I wasn't sure, and then shot the worker in the back of the head. I just stood there in awe as Valms just calmly walks over to the thrown hand-gun and tosses it away. Bekky and Ricks are complaining at each other, demanding to know what's happened and I...I just don't have an answer. Valm does the job, but he always honoured agreements. As he is grabbing the now crying artist and dragging him towards the town, I could only mumble: “Why...What did you do?”. Valm just mumbled back as he walked past me: “I did my job.”

Valms handed over the prisoner, something I only knew with a datapad notification of funds. Ricks, Bekky and I just walked back to the ship and left Valms to do the clear up. Back at the ship, we all went our separate ways and since then have barely talked to each other. I've been doing medical care for Lamb, leaving whenever Valms comes in to talk to him and just reading reports concerning Lamb's neurological state. I also have been painting a bit. We're a broken team now I feel, and I doubt we can be repaired. Especially after the bad luck streak we've had for the past month. We need Nathaniel back, I need Nathaniel back. Please.

So...I think I'm going to do one last mission with Valms. I'm not sure if there is any humanity left in him, rather he appears like a cold vessel within a flesh husk. After that, I'm going to write a letter to Nathaniel's ex-wife and then re-evaluate the team. I would like to stay on the team and ship, as it stands as a symbol of my growth of a person beyond the clan. I will try to lead the team if we can't find an alternative leader. Meanwhile, I'll see who else will be staying on the team or departing, with a strong opinion that Valms needs to leave. Nothing personal, but starcrawling isn't just working logistics. There is a human element to this work, which Valms does not have. I think Bekky will stay in the same team as me, but as I said I'm not sure on the others.

Thank you B17 for listening to me. It's been a rough few weeks, and we're all mopey. Ugh, it just sucks to lose our captain. After this is done, I'm sure we'll come across more cheery news : ). I think I might go work on the AI mini-bot a bit with Jo : ). Then perhaps see if Bekky wants to play a game, since I know her staying by herself isn't going to end well. Just need to raise some morale here : P. I might even see if Ricks wants to hang out for a bit ^ ^.

I'll hopefully send you another letter soon with happier news : ). What do they say again...It rains the heaviest before it clears up? Or it is darkest before the dawn? Told you weather is used to describe mood : P.

Anyway, I will talk to you soon hopefully! Bye!

Falm “Skuz” Skimar
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:38 pm

Note: One more chapter to go. After that, series 1 is finished. If there are any requests for me to continue, just let me know. A prequel or a sequel can work.

Chapter 9: Departure

Log ID: 27729-e-9825
Log Attendee: Lieutenant Voidsman Christopher Valms
Time Of Submission: Unknown.
Date Of Submission: Unknown. About five weeks since the last log by Dr Falm Skimar.
Subject Title: Mission Completion (See Section A), My Retirement (See Section B) and Captain Nathaniel Lamb's Demise (See Section C).

Section A:
After the completion of the previous mission on the junk planet (Planet ID number: 8856721-DSFN-92215), as a crew we were setting up to disband. We agreed upon one last crawler mission. Ms Bekky Vine found a high-risk, high-profit task that needed to be done through her old contacts. It was a bandit mission, which would mean that we would have to disguise ourselves and the ship or risk corporate repercussions.

The task was as follows:
We were to intercept a package exchange between a minor-galactorial corporation and a starcrawler team who were black-mailing said corporation. We would get to keep the payment, but the physical black-mail documentation was to be stolen and dropped off inside an asteroid at some co-ordinates we were given. This meant attacking mid-transaction two ships, while avoiding any back-up either side will bring. At the time, it was estimated the corporation would bring two light ships, but the starcrawler crew would bring none.

Our plan was as such:
We wait until those doing the meeting are in each other's ships de-oxygenation units and are connected together. Private Jo Reims then activates a customised spear launcher. The reason for this is, according to Mr Jamie Ricks, the shields will auto-detect and vaporise most other forms of package delivery and other forms will likely not be precise enough to hit the meeting location. The spear, which should stay on the tunnel without piercing, will then have its explosive payload detonated.

This detonation will not be strong enough to harm anyone or anything inside, however, it will be enough to open a large enough hole fast enough to use pressure to fling everyone out into space. While everyone will be in shock of what is happening and trying to get their crew back, we would drive by and get the package. This was to be done by Dr Falm Skimar via a wire hook on her space-suit, with a propulsion unit to help guide her. She would also get the dropped data-pad, that would hopefully be lost during the pressure extraction, as we could use it to help steal the money. Finally, we'd lose everyone via evasive manoeuvres in the nearby asteroid field.

As we turned up to execute the plan, we were fortunate enough that both ships were acting alone. So we begun the plan, and it went according to it until we begun to leave. The starcrawler ship had recovered faster than we expected and begun to open fire back. As this was during us dragging Dr Falm Skimar in, we were presented with a difficult choice. We could either try to dodge fire as we carried on whirling Dr Skimar in, which meant we couldn't evade too efficiently or risk harming her. The alternative, which is what I elected, was to cut the cord. This meant we would be able to escape before the corporation ship had recovered, and chances are it would have superior fire-power.

Mr Jamie Ricks disobeyed my orders and kept retrieving Dr Skimar, under statement that we had a patient on board that needed care. While this would be in breach of Mr Ricks's contract, this was a breach that was allowed by my equal in command upon her return to the ship. We managed to get into the asteroid field with minimum damaged obtained by the ship. Mostly hull damage, with some minor support damage in the form of a small oxygen leak in the resting quarters and damage to some equipment in the medicare department.

The escape through the field went as expected. Mr Ricks's use of EMPs and firing upon asteroids contributed to our escape. It was shortly upon our escape, an announcement was made that lead to our pilot critically damaging the ship. We made an emergency stop on a near-by planet (planet ID number: 212239-XCPL-45629) with some advanced enough cities that we could enquire about transportation and ship parts, but we could still get away with just parking the ship outside the city and walking in with some minor security on hand. We made the necessary arrangements and got payment and the blackmail money without error.

Section B:
It is following the mission, there have been discussions of what to do. The only person beside myself I can comment on their actions is Private Jo Reims. She and I had a conversation. I went to her as she was beginning to prepare repairing the air-lock chamber. While the rest of the crew have grown to annoy me with their emotional nature, Private Reims has always kept analytical behind her loud nature and forward nature. She speaks in blacks and whites I find, it is refreshing. Perhaps she reminds me of someone whom I used to know?

Private Jo Reims is going to stay with the ship. She is going to repair it herself, which will likely take more money than it would take to buy a new one. Based on evidence I have amassed mentally, I think there is a connection between her and it. An irrationality, however an acceptable one. Her speaking about the ship is the only time I detect her mood soften.

I told her my plans, and we shook hands. I wasn't her superior, despite my title, we were comrades. Saluting would have been inappropriate. While I refer to her as private, I do so as respect of her training and as a formality for this report rather than to remind others I got to a higher rank during the war. I do not wish to say goodbye to the others. They ceased to be a starcrawler team I was apart of once Captain Lamb stepped down from his position.

Once this report is done, I plan to retire. Even typing this, knowing what is in store for me, I can feel some of the humanity the void has robbed of me begin to creep back into me. Besides simply not crawler work, nor military-related, I do not know what I will do. Library work? Research? Advisory? I will see then. I have no further information on my future to submit to the Stargazer log.

Section C:

Captain Lamb's condition had deteriorated rapidly as the medication had ceased to work to the point where his body had to be sedated and his mind was becoming increasingly quiet upon my communications. He was hooked up to a machine in the medicare centre constantly, as no one on the team knew what would be appropriate to do with Captain Lamb. My conversations with him shall remain confidential, as agreed by Captain Nathaniel Lamb. Prior to the previous mission, Dr Falm Skimar and I had a discussion about possibly prematurely ending his life. However, due to part of the conversation I had, I advised her it would not be appropiate.

During the current mission, one of the machines was damaged. This led to a lethal dose of the sedation and medication simultaneously being injected. While I had detected a spirit passing in the air after the machine malfunctioned, I had not spoken as I wanted to keep people's attentions on the task. Dr Falm Skimar, however, investigated the medicare centre herself and reported news of Captain Nathaniel Lamb's demise. This led to the critical crash with the asteroid that left our ship needing emergency repairs. If the void suggested anything to me, it was that Captain Lamb did not die with much spiritual damage. The only thing I felt, was him being simply slightly tired. A side-effect from a tranquilliser lethal injection.

As dictated by the military contractual agreement due to full-fulfilment of service, Captain Nathaniel Lamb will be given a military funeral. All of the crew paid for the shipment of the body, as required by contract, and will be treated according to his submitted spiritual affiliation. I can not speak of who will attend said funeral. He was distant from his family, so they may not go. His old comrades likely will, in their traditionalistic manner. This starcrawler team will. I likely will not, the funeral atmosphere usually claws into my brain in a very uncomfortable manner. I probably will just simply have a drink in his name.

As per my retirement from the team, any further questions on this log entry should be submitted to the new team captain, to be confirmed at a later date.

Lieutenant Voidsman Chrisopher Valms signing off.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Thunderflux » Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:28 pm

Prequel please! And or sequel. I love the dark ending :D
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:20 pm

Phew, done! It took a good while to finish season one, but it is completely all done now. It would be fantastic to get these as logs in the game people can find, but I'd understand it if it isn't possible. It still surprises me the amount of page views this fiction got. Well, if people have a preference of prequel or sequel perhaps occurring, just let me know. In the meanwhile, it'll likely be some time while I ponder up a possible over-arching plot to do as season two. Thank you for reading all this.
Chapter 10: Goodnight Mr Lamb.

Dear Ms Lamb,

I am sorry I do not know your current surname. I am not even sure if you still use this connection port or if you live at the same address you did five years ago. I dug up your information in an old data-log entry by Captain Nathaniel Lamb.

I write to inform you that Nathaniel Lamb is deceased from his chronic condition. I am not sure if you knew of it, as he had it diagnosed prior to my arrival on the starcrawler team. If it helps, it has been reported that he went peacefully by the ship's voidsman and as the ship's doctor I have no reason to believe there was any suffering in his passing.

I had known Nathaniel Lamb for about four years, so a few years since you and him had departed from one another. If it helps you at all, he did always think about you and the children. All three of you were a common topic during down-time when we'd take a break from starcrawling. Without possibly digging up hurtful memories, he was always sorry really. I knew he couldn't tell you about it, I'd blame that silly military idea of “don't show weakness”, but he made it clear to all of us. It was genuine sorrow. Especially when you put a security block on his daughter and son's communication units so Nathaniel couldn't contact them. When that happened, he drank for the next few days. Although, fortunately, at the time he got back up and moved on.

In case it helps at all, we still have Nathaniel's savings. He always kept 50% of every job and put it aside. It has your name on it, and we'd be happy to send it and his other belongings to you if you want it. I know you will likely see it as his way of making sure you owe him, but believe me when I say he doesn't want anything back. His funeral will be soon, and I can send you the date if you want it, but by taking the money you wouldn't have to attend if you don't want to. We've paid all the excess costs anyway. You wouldn't owe him anything, you'll be doing him a favour if anything. If you want it, you'll just need to confirm your datapad details and I'll send it across.

I also wish to offer out a favour, personally. As Nathaniel raised me into the starcrawler life, I wish to offer to introduce your son or daughter, if either of them are interested, into the life. I still don't know if the reason for your departure from him was due to his starcrawlling profession, but I would like to offer training on the off-chance it wasn't. If either of them are interested in learning, I'll be happy to train. If they lack weapons training, then I can train them. They will just need to be willing to work hard and learn. It is decent money. Just contact me at this connection port address, and I'll respond with further details.

I still remember when Nathaniel took me on as a crawler. I had just left my clan's colony ship to go out to train. Besides things I had read, I knew little about the places beyond our own. I was looking for combat training, as cyber-ninjas always train to become better. To reach a state of self-actualisation. So I had heard about some ex-military who was looking for someone who could handle themselves on starcrawler missions. At the time, all I knew about starcrawling was it involved doing things for people as one-off short contracts. That was it. I could have been asked to do janitorial duties, and I wouldn't think anything was wrong.

So Nathaniel sits me down and asks about my skills. I talk about the things I know, that I had rudimentary medic skills and I could handle myself with a sword. So he raises an eyebrow and tells me about how he's met a lot of cyber-ninja types who turned out to be brawlers wielding swords. He shares his small tale about false cyber-ninja who tried to fight him, and he took care of it with a throw of a bottle and a swift kick to the chest. Due to this, I would need to prove myself before he'd even think about training me and, then, recruiting me. He plops me in front of a block of flats. Tells me that there was a drug-dealer inside that had a package that needed to be retrieve. That I shouldn't open what he has, just take it to the roof and I'll be picked up. I would know the package when I see it.

Well, the place turned into a ghost town after I was done. Looking back, I was surprised how brutal I was. I had assassinated some captains of the gang and hung them in clear sight, just outside of flats. Not clean kills either. The type to make nightmares. I had used the distraction to take out the room with the drug dealer, everyone else in the room and stole the package to the roof. I had passed the test and failed the mission contract. I wasn't aware of a no-kill factor, especially the type that would draw police. Since then, the drug dealers are too scared to return due to “foul spirits” and due to police presence. Nathaniel did tell me a few times he did tell me not to kill anyone, I still don't remember him doing so. In the end though, I still lived and proved to Lamb my skills.

Fortunately, I wouldn't treat your children as rough as Nathaniel treated me, but then again I think he only gave me the mission he did because he knew I could do it. After all, a simpler mission would have likely given the same conclusions. A more complex one would run the risk of police awareness (which took a bit to get rid of), possibility of job relations being affected and greater chance of repercussions. Then again, knowing Nathaniel, he probably just happened to have the job on his desk and wanted it done.

Anyway, I'll stop with the reminiscing. If you want me to spill more tails of Nathaniel Lamb, just throw me a message back and I'll be happy to share everything I know. I know you and him didn't see each other eye-to-eye, but as a crawler captain he pretty much raised me into the job. To quote a saying I keep seeing in books “he was the father I never had”, even though I do have a father.

I will speak to you if you respond back to my message. I hope you do, at least so you may be paid what is yours and to find out if you plan to go to the funeral.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Falm Skimar.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Thunderflux » Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:13 pm

I was going to ask if you wanted to see the logs pop up in game - on my ToDo list now, along with a few other references :D
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:44 pm

Thunderflux wrote:I was going to ask if you wanted to see the logs pop up in game - on my ToDo list now, along with a few other references :D

Awesome. Thanks for including it. As I said before, if there's any alterations that need to be done feel free to do so. I admit some parts get incredibly bleak so I really wouldn't be surprised if they got toned down a bit.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:04 am

A small update:
I'll be soon starting season 2 hopefully, as I've thought of an over-arching plot. I'll just need to cement in the details of the plot, and I'll be ready to go. The only details I'll be releasing at this stage (probably because I somewhat make some things up as I go along) is I roughly plan for 10 episodes, and it'll be both a prequel and a sequel. I hope it is as good, or perhaps better, than season 1.
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