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Thread: Run to the Rim (A Vance Bros. Adventure)

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    Talking Run to the Rim (A Vance Bros. Adventure)

    This is from actual play (filled in with my own creative license, as my notes are not so good), starting from around the same time as the fic "Cold Morning" was begun.
    The Characters:

    Captain Calo Vance: lord and master of the freighter Lazy Rider, crack shot and indomitable Wit.

    Zac Vance: Pilot, brawler and aficionado of barroom decoration.

    Cole: The Kid. No more, no less baby.

    Doctor Cahlil: Overeducated yet nonetheless highly suggestible alien of unknown species,

    Major NPCs:

    Argos: Highly mysterious man, plot device.

    The Zeeze: Delusional manservant-bot.

    Cue-Nine: Unappreciated droid; only crewmember qualified to fix hyperdrive (often forgotten point).
    Chapter I: An Indecent Proposal

    Galena’s contacts looked every bit the typical hyper-idealistic “freedom fighters” that the cynical fringe community heaped abuse on in their off-hours: Young, upbeat young adults with long hair and thrift-shop bought Republic-era apparel. Hell, the boy had an earring, of all things.

    They were probably brother and sister, Calo decided as he appraised the two of them: the boy was perhaps eighteen, with dark curly hair and big brown eyes that complimented a lean and athletic frame (All the better to recruit you with, my pretties, Calo thought with disgust), while the girl was a year or two younger. Her hair was much fairer, but they shared a certain similarity about the face and both were built the same way. Cole kept his eyes firmly fixed on the grubby turf of the spacer’s dive rather than make eye contact with their new female acquaintance.

    Technically, Galena’s contact had been the bartender—a grizzled old Mon Calamari—but the fish-man had directed them to a back booth where sat the two youths.

    “So…” Zac ventured before trailing off.

    “We were told that you desired to help in The Struggle,” the young man started, his enthusiasm only barely concealed.

    “You were misinformed,” Calo replied flatly.

    “Then what are you here for?” the girl countered with a hint of bitterness—things were not starting out well if half of their would-be contacts took a dislike to them.

    “We require your assistance… and we were told that you might be interested in our services in the form of payment,” Calo explained, remaining calm and polite in the face of a possible downturn of mutual respect.

    “I see. Perhaps we can help, but I need to know what it is you need of us before I can make a call,” the boy responded, also maintaining his previous, enthusiastic, countenance.

    “We have a bounty that needs to go away,” Zac supplied nonchalantly.

    “Ah… something on the Hutt Network, I assume?”

    “Just so,” Calo nodded.

    “That could be arranged. You’re in luck,” the boy smiled knowingly, which both Calo and Zac found somewhat frightening, “we have been looking for a freighter crew for a certain job in the next week. You said you were smugglers?”

    Calo coughed in alarm: “Not hardly—we are independent freighter operators. Smugglers don’t congregate in the open or advertise their presence… like Rebels.”

    “Point taken…” the girl smirked wickedly. Once again, Calo and Zac felt something shudder inside their stomachs.

    “What is the job… and how much is it worth to you?” Zac asked, bringing the conversation to its point, finally.

    “We are from Adarlon, and we need to return home in order to… pursue job opportunities in our home sector. This one has gotten a bit too… crowded,” the young man explained, carefully thinking about his phrasing as he paused.

    “Adarlon? That’s way out in Wild Space!” Zac exclaimed under his breath so as not to attract too much attention from the other patrons.

    “Minos Cluster,” Calo confirmed with a moan, “Half as much again in distance than Elrood down the Rimma Run.”

    “Right,” the boy confirmed, “we would hitch a ride with a like-minded individual sent by our employers, but they would be thrilled to be able to task one of our few ships elsewhere.”

    “Thrilled enough to call in a favor along the lines of what you need,” the girl added.

    “That trip is a sixteen grand job, even with just passengers!” Zac coughed.

    “And without expenses… we need fuel and other consumables for a run like that,” Calo added dourly.

    “We are not entirely unreasonable—we will pay for your expenses and a reasonable amount will be provided for spending money once we arrive in Minos. Say… two thousand credits. We will also have a small amount of cargo to bring with us in addition to our personal effects; five hundred kilos or so—I wouldn’t recommend asking what it is, seeing as though you aren’t into that sort of thing.”

    “And you will pass along our need to those who can accomplish it?” Calo asked.

    “It can be arranged,” nodded the girl.

    “Very well,” the captain nodded, “you’ve got yourself a ship.”

    “Good; there may be additional work we can offer you once we get there—this time at proper wages. Think about it,” the girl added before she and her accomplice left the booth without further comment.


    “Great, we have a job, but what about the kid,” Zac asked once the Rebels were gone.
    Calo winced: “I had forgot about that—we need to drop him off on Eriadu.”

    “It is on the way,” Zac pointed out.

    “True, but we would get there a week or so early.”

    “Point taken, perhaps we should take the precaution of letting the old Auntie know we’re coming. She said she’d be there earlier anyway,” Calo agreed.

    “That won’t be necessary, I’m afraid.”

    Calo almost jumped out of his chair; he hadn’t even noticed Argos had left, much less that he had returned at the side of the booth where Calo sat.

    “Why is that?” Zac asked skeptically.

    “Doctor Cahlil, would you take young Master Cole to the bar and see if they have anything to eat at this place,” Argos said calmly. The Doc blinked quizzically, but after a discrete nod from Calo, the ursine alien shrugged and complied, despite the boy’s protestations.

    Once they were gone, the mysterious fellow sat in the vacated space across from the Vance brothers and pushed a recently purchased flimsiplast news flat across the battle-scarred table to Calo.

    “What, ‘All Datapads and Personal Information Devices Half Off;’ are you in the market or something?” Calo asked as he glanced at the advertising heavy document.

    “Below the fold, a third of the way down,” the man replied simply.

    “Oh, crap…”

    The indicated article was entitled “Prolific Con Captured, Convicted,” and the attached picture was clearly Cole’s mother, apparently a glamour shot from one of her business cards.

    “What?” Zac asked curiously, causing Calo to spin the document to the appropriate angle. Zac cursed roughly.

    “How are we going to break this to the kid?” Calo asked.

    “Make The Zeeze do it?” Zac offered semi-helpfully.

    “No,” interjected Argos, “you will simply have to tell him. I suspect he already knows his mother’s profession, at least had some idea. It is better just to give him the truth.”

    “Easy for you to say,” countered Zac.

    “Perhaps, but then, it is your responsibility no matter your choice.”

    Calo crammed the paper into his pocket as Cole returned with the Doctor, bearing a basket of appetizers. The boy looked at Argos suspiciously, but sat nonetheless.
    Calo’s mind stewed for a while, unable to come to a decision, and partially concerned by the fact that he could not remember Argos ever being shown any holos of Cole’s mother…

    End Chapter

    EDIT: Fixed a bit of metric system confusion from notes
    Last edited by Rostek; 17 January 2007 at 04:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Terras Jadeonar & Raven's Avatar
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    Woot! first reply

    Talk about continuing quality fic material, that just keeps getting better and better

    Hmm, and a bit of intrigue at the end piece, and Calo with indecision... Should prove interesting...


    That reminds me, once i get moved over (again), i really should start working on Yahnev's casefiles (backstory serries)...
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    Give us more! MORE!
    Seconded..More of the Vance bro's and there lunatic party I say! and on that note.. more ZeeZee! Viva la delusional manservant droid!

    P.S Just wanna say.. Damn fine work as usual Rostek.. Looking forward to more whenever it comes around
    “Idealist: a cynic in the making.”

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    Default A Wrinkle in The Plan...

    Chapter II: Friggin' Revolutionaries...

    “I suppose you still want to be dropped off at Elrood?” Zac asked Argos nonchalantly.

    “No, I believe Minos will be sufficient for my needs, so long as you can afford a quick stop at Derilyn. I have… business there to deal with before I can leave proper Imperial space,” the man responded politely.

    “That can… be arranged,” Calo nodded, his mind having drifted from his previous concerns, at least for the moment.

    The comlink buzzed in Zac’s pocket: “Masters, there is a young lady outside the ship demanding to know your whereabouts,” The Zeeze intoned worriedly. Yelling could be heard in the background, and The Zeeze’s response, something to the effect of ‘I am trying to find out, aren’t I?’ was also heard from the mall speaker; Calo moaned out of irritation.

    “Ah, she is indicating that there is some sort of ‘move forward’ in some sort of timetable. She also has a small pile of bags with her. Have you any idea what she is talking about, Masters?”

    “Is she short and blond with a nose ring and a Red Shift Limit shirt?” Calo asked knowingly, and girded himself for an answer.

    “Why… yes master. So you do know her? Shall I let her in—”

    “No. Wait for us to get there, and stay off of the line for a few minutes, I’ve got to talk to Edani for a bit…” Calo responded.

    “Yes sir, though I suspect she probably won’t like that; would you like me to patch you through to Captain Edani?”

    “Sure. And Zeeze—don’t be intimidated by her, no matter how she threatens you. Be firm.”

    “I will try, Master Calo; one moment…” The Zeeze’s signal blurred then shifted to Edani’s.

    The line buzzed a few times, but the messaging system came up.

    Damn Calo thought.

    “C’mon, we’ve got to get out of here,” Zac interrupted, motioning to the door of the bar.



    “Crap… they’ve only been gone fifteen minutes! What could have happened that they need to leave now?” Zac wondered aloud as the small group trotted toward their landing bay, avoiding puddles along the walk and trying to keep from being soaked by the persistent cold rain.

    “Things that make their types anxious to leave are generally things I would rather avoid,” responded Calo with a sardonic edge.

    “Agreed,” concurred Argos, who brought up the rear.

    “What do you think is in those bags?” Cole non-sequitored.

    Calo winced: “I’d rather not think about that, either.”



    The Rebel woman was, in a word, pissed: “Where the hell have you been!” she raged as The Zeeze opened the ramp for the incoming crew, pointing out with satisfaction that he had followed orders to the letter. No one paid any attention.

    “What is the rush? I thought you weren’t going to bother us with this until tomorrow?” Calo rejoined irritably.

    “There has been a complication,” the girl responded.

    “Fabulous,” Zac moaned, “Where’s your boyfriend, then?”

    “He is my brother, and he should be on his way with the rest of our gear in a minute or two.”

    “You had better hope he doesn’t get picked up en route, or else this will be the shortest charter flight of all time,” Calo growled before lowering the cargo elevated.

    The girl shot him a scathing look in the middle of picking up a pair of the duffle sized bags and making for the cargo elevator.

    “Hey, do you need help with those?” Cole asked, trotting over to her.

    The Rebel’s expression shifted from irritated to pleasant in a nanosecond, and she favored Cole with a smile: “Sure—grab some bags and bring them to the cargo elevator,” she said. The boy jumped to the instruction faster than Calo could have imagined, and the freighter captain shook his head with a sigh.

    Just what I stangin’ need… Calo thought.

    True to his sister’s word, the boy showed up five minutes later on a small skiff loaded with eight crates, some which had Imperial markings.

    “Hold on, you said a couple of crates…” Calo started.

    “Don’t worry, there are only three crates of any interest to me. The rest are all yours to deal with as you wish. We will need them to hide the others in your hold, however. Someone help me with unloading,” he said excitedly, for a reason Calo mused that he would rather not know.

    “Doctor, help the young fellow load the cargo, I’m going to the cockpit to get takeoff clearance,” said Calo, who spun and began up the ramp.

    “Wait!” shouted the Rebel a little too emphatically.

    “Dare I ask why I shouldn’t go to the cockpit?” Calo asked dangerously, Zac turned from his task of checking the external ports to add onto Calo’s warning look.

    “They’ll check the cargo if you let them know you’re coming.”

    Calo raised an eyebrow, “How do you happen to know that?”

    “They are almost certainly on Customs lockdown… they have probably figured out that some crates fell of that back of a ground convoy about two hours ago,” the young man admitted.

    “So, you want me to run an Imperial inspection point while smuggling Imperial government property, and I’ve just met you?” Calo asked.

    “This trip just got more expensive, kid,” Zac explained with a headshake.

    “You want the bounty removed, don’t you!?” the kid threatened.

    “Don’t pull that crap with us. We had a deal, and none of it involved us committing any felonies other than your transport. We are professionals, kid we don’t work for free,” Calo shot back.

    “We agreed—”

    “We agreed to transport you and five hundred kilos of cargo in exchange for a particular favor and two thousand credits. That’s at least four tons of cargo, and you want me to violate nineteen separate Commerce regs in transporting said stolen cargo across sector-lines without claiming it or submitting to Customs authority; we need to renegotiate,” Calo interrupted(1).

    “It isn’t that we have moral objections, kid, but we have to get paid properly for it,” Zac added.

    “Just so. Six thousand, five hundred cash, or eight and a half on kind; half up front,” offered Calo, who had, like Zac, assumed a lazy appearance and ceased all appearance of effort towards the job.

    “We can’t afford that much… we only have twenty-five hundred credits for expenses, the rest we were to pick up from drops on Coyn and Tantra” the girl injected, shocked at the spectacle.

    “You are getting the other crates,” the Rebel boy argued.

    “True—assuming they are standard industrial trade goods, I had already taken that into account when naming the price. If it was all yours, it would be ten,” Calo explained.

    “We can’t pay that,” the girl replied adamantly.

    “Then you’ve got a hell of a problem,” Zac shrugged, joining in on the little repartee.

    The Doctor had taken the cargo off of the skiff, but had not advanced it towards the cargo ramp. He watched enrapt at the spectacle.

    “We could almost buy our own ship for the price you want—ten thousand mixed cash and kind with a major favor to boot!”

    “Kid, it’s a long-ass trip which curbs our economic opportunities,” said Calo.

    “It is well within a reasonable price for such things. Crap, we’re cutting you a discount be cause your idealism is just so damn adorable and because you stole this cargo from the Imps. We’re assuming a hell of a risk transporting this stuff half-way across the whole damn galaxy. Do you know how many Customs and Navy ships are between Elshandruu Pica and Adarlon? Any one of them could board and search us at will,” explained Zac.

    “Hey, we’re stopping at Eriadu on the way to drop me off. You can have them buy you a regular cargo to hide the contraband. It will decrease the risk for the rest of your trip, and you’ll have your payment in Elrood or Minos whenever you choose to sell it,” Cole offered helpfully. He had finished placing the duffels into the elevator even after the Rebel girl had stopped the loading to argue with the Vance brothers.

    “That… would be acceptable,” the dark haired Rebel finally said.

    “Very well,” Calo nodded, “finish loading that crap onto my ship, and hurry up: there is another front coming in from the west.”

    “Good idea,” the girl said to Cole as she walked past to get at the crates.

    “Thanks…” the boy replied sheepishly.

    “Kid, c’mere and start the ship’s systems, we’ll still need a few minutes to secure the cargo in the hold, but that doesn’t mean we can’t warm things up,” Calo shouted from the entry ramp. Cole dutifully trotted over, but Calo threw an arm in his way. Leaning in close and looking both ways conspiratorially, he started in a low voice… Cole was justifiably confused by the development.

    ”Kid,” Calo intoned quietly, “just a bit of manly advice, from male role model to kid: keep the decision making process above the belt at all times. When the logic chains are being made up downstairs, bad things happen.”

    “I’m not sure what you mean,” Cole replied quizzically.

    “You will, kid, you will. The first time you are tempted to do something stupid, think about your motivations for a moment first. For me and the rest of the crew, Please.”

    “I guess…” Cole replied, despite still obviously having no idea of what Calo spoke.

    “Good,” Calo finished, removing his arm to let Cole pass from the ramp onto the ship.

    “You still haven’t told him,” Argos sighed, and shook his head as he followed Cole into the ship to start the engines.

    “I’m getting to it!” the Corellian captain shouted after him.

    “Captain,” the Rebel girl shouted from the now-empty skiff, “the scanner shows an Imperial detachment en route… they seem to have tracked Owen and the skiff here.”

    Calo slammed a fist against the ramp overhang: “F@^&ing revolutionaries!”

    End Chapter

    Authors Notes: (1) I think the GM was shocked that I had the gall to renegotiate the deal at the last minute despite the fact that Imperials were probably bearing down. He shouldn’t have been, given the kids were trying to blackball us at the last minute, but I’m sure he was tempted to claim the “incoming unfriendlies” earlier than he did situation and screw us, but I think he (rightly) figured that I would press the deal upon entering hyperspace regardless. The Bargain dice do not lie, however, and badda-bing

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    F@^&ing revolutionaries
    ROFL

    Great writing Rostek, I look forward to learning more of how this game went.
    Recruiting / My fanfic / Good SWRPG Resource/ A great poem
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    In one word....

    NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE!!!!!!!!!

    Very nice, Rostek. Keep it coming, please!
    "Though I die...I go to my death knowing I did something great, that I left a mark on the universe...though few, if any, will ever know what transpired here. We are the unsung heroes, those who died shielding others from a threat never even perceived, except perhaps when it was too late to prevent the spilling of blood necessary to save others...this task was ours...and with it's completion...our time is at an end."

    -Iain Kysler, Jedi Master

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    Authors Notes: (1) I think the GM was shocked that I had the gall to renegotiate the deal at the last minute despite the fact that Imperials were probably bearing down. He shouldn’t have been, given the kids were trying to blackball us at the last minute, but I’m sure he was tempted to claim the “incoming unfriendlies” earlier than he did situation and screw us, but I think he (rightly) figured that I would press the deal upon entering hyperspace regardless. The Bargain dice do not lie, however, and badda-bing
    Heh heh... good roleplaying beats GMs every time.

    Great writing, as per usual, Rostek.
    If you want to contact me, a private message will work. I am currently on hiatus, but I will respond.
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    I've got most of an update written up in celebration of my day of birth...
    Be assured, I shall get it on the boards this weekend.
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    Check out Run to the Rim (NEW! Updated 1/24/08!)
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    Default Flee, Oh Sweet Mother of Crap, Flee!

    Chapter III: Stormy Weather

    The Doc had already abandoned the cargo loading to the Rebels and dove into the Rider for his boomstick, and Argos and Cole frantically worked to get the freighter through preflight as fast as possible. Zac ran up to the bay doors with pistol drawn to check the outside street for Imperials. Seeing nothing, he emphatically gestured for the Rebels to load the cargo and secure it in the hold before the Imperials showed up.

    The rain had begun to become an issue, and it fell harder onto the tarmac, soaking the sister of Owen the Rebel as she pushed crates to her brother on the cargo elevator.

    The Doc returned, concussion rifle in hand, just as the last of the crates was loaded onto the elevator, and Owen started ascending into the ship as fast as he could.

    Finished with her task, the girl caught the Doctor as he joined Zac and Calo at the entrance, which had a partial barricade of empty crates just toppled by the freighter captain. The makeshift defenses sat on the end of a ten meter passage which opened onto a major walkway and cargo road, where the Imperials would inevitably approach from.

    “Got ‘em,” Zac winced. A white paneled hover truck with Imperial markings approached cautiously, causing what little pedestrian traffic there was to scatter and hunker down. Twenty meters from the entry, the craft stopped, and a reinforced squad of Imperial Navy SP types from the naval base nearby debarked swiftly, and followed the large ground vehicle on foot another ten meters before one of them spotted Zac, who had lingered in the entry for too long.

    The pilot retreated as a hail of blasterfire impacted the wall where he had been standing before, blowing chunks of apparently misnamed permacrete from the masonry.

    “They didn’t even check to see if I was who they were looking for!” Zac shouted as he dove over the crates and took up a defensive position with the other three. Imperial troopers attempted to position themselves on both sides of the entryway, but three had to cross the wide open space between the walls—a deadly proposition.

    Calo fired twice: the first short from the heavy pistol penetrated the blast vest of the last trooper and spun him to the ground with a smoking hole in the upper chest, whilst the second sped off into the wall across the street from the bay entryway.

    The Doctor blew another chunk of permacrete off the left side corner where an Shore Patroller with a carbine had been attempting to provide his comrades with covering fire. While the man was not injured, he had to duck back behind cover to avoid losing his face, and was no longer shooting at the freighter crew and their passenger, who fired off a puny (but legal) looking hold out at the maneuvering troopers out front.

    “Get back to the ship, girlie—we’ll cover you then pull back ourselves,” Calo ordered.

    “Not a chance—that cargo is important to the Alliance, and you are all more important to getting it where it needs to go that I am. I’ll cover you!” she replied stubbornly. Privately both Calo and Zac cursed the patent stupidity the girl displayed in that sort of idealistic nonsense—however, they were not going to object to improving their odds of survival. Both withdrew from the crate barricade as the girl and the Doctor kept the Imperials hunkered behind cover. No party seemed particularly interested in pressing the issue: this was not a situation where the remaining Imperials were particularly keen to die over, and Calo was happy to oblige them so long as they remained where they were.

    The Doctor fired off a last shot and fled to the ramp, followed by the Rebel girl. The Imperials required a few moments to muster the courage required to leave their positions, but leave they did, and quickly three troopers set up shop on the other side of the crate barrier and fired a few poorly judged shots in the direction of the retreating targets which mostly impacted the side of the freighter.

    “C’mon, damnit, I haven’t got all day,” Calo shouted at the Rebel as she got to the ramp and jogged up, while the captain and the Doctor popped off a few parting shots at the pursuing troopers before retreating themselves up the ramp as Zac raised the shields.

    “You had better hope this ship is fast, because they are going to have friends up in orbit!” the girl spat back at Calo, who grinned wickedly as he fired off a last shot through the shields.

    “Don’t worry lady, she’s the fastest you’ve seen,” he replied.

    The Doctor’s last blast elicited a shout of pain, but it was clear from Calo’s last peek before closing the ramp that the trooper had only been winged by the concussion round.

    “Raise ship immediately and prepare for the jump to lightspeed once we leave the gravity well,” the captain ordered into his comlink while his ship rocketed out of the atmosphere of Elshandruu Pica.


    The Rebel girl’s name, Calo quickly learned, was Breha, if her brother’s shout of relief was any evidence. Any good feelings were short lived, as what Calo saw on the sensor screen made his blood run cold:

    “Dreadnaught off the port bow, weapons range in five minutes!”

    “Sonafa&!@#,” Zac cursed, and proceeded to turn the freighter’s course 45 degrees starboard to hold off the rate of gain. The Lazy Rider was twice as fast as the hulking cruiser in realspace, but the Dreadnaught’s captain had the advantage of a head start over the small slice of space that was open for safe hyperspace jumps out of system. Zac could hold his course for a few minutes, but would have to turn back in for a crucial amount of time in order to stay within Calo’s hyperspace profile.

    The Dreadnaught fired a shot across the bow of the Lazy Rider at beyond maximum range. The mostly dissipated bolt flew two hundred meters ahead and above the Corellian freighter; Zac cursed.

    “I thought you said this ship is fast!” Breha shouted in Calo’s ear from the secondary crew position behind him.

    “Don’t worry! They aren’t going to catch us,” Calo shot back as he punched a series of commands into his console, “Rerouting weapons power to the engines; now this little shindig is your responsibility little brother,” he finished with a nervous chuckle.

    Zac grinned and powered the throttle to its limit and indeed, beyond. Calo’s calculations suggested that the Lazy Rider would have to stray into range of the Dreadnaught’s turbolasers for thirty seconds before they could clear for lightspeed. And that window started in less than twenty seconds.

    Both Vance brothers girded themselves, and before directing the deflector screens to maximum effect, Calo gunned the intercom:

    “Everybody hold on…”


    End Chapter

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    Very good stuff. I like that it was a dread' rather than an ISD (yawn )...and how it was explained (by you now or the GM at the time?) that the huge, slower capital ship could get them. All too often PCs think they can simply outrun capital ships, and us GMs have to think up was for that not to be true!

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    Originally posted by Ronin
    Very good stuff. I like that it was a dread' rather than an ISD (yawn )...and how it was explained (by you now or the GM at the time?) that the huge, slower capital ship could get them. All too often PCs think they can simply outrun capital ships, and us GMs have to think up was for that not to be true!
    Yes, it is rather boring when it is "Capship: flee without effort, rinse and repeat."
    IIRC, the GM just told us that if we wanted to proceed along the best hyperspace escape vector, we'd have to be under the thing's guns for thirty seconds, and how long we wanted to put that off was up to us... with the understanding that the planet probably had TIEs at the garrison. There was another vector we could have taken that was a ten minute sprint away, but more than likely we figured that the TIEs would catch us by that poing . Since we were coming up from the planet, it just makes sense that a smart captain would put his ship over the cone of the best hyperspace vector(s) and wait; slow though he is, he's got position and that's got to count for something.
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  14. #14
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    Smile A short update

    Chapter IV: A few seconds of terror and hours of waiting...

    It was not as the holonovels described; time did not stand still. Instead, the whole experience moved faster than anyone in the Lazy Rider could have possibly imagined, a blur of chaos, sweat and panic as the Vance brothers furiously manipulated the controls of their freighter in spite of the oncoming warship.
    Ineffectual turbolaser bursts periodically rocked the ship as it flashed away from the closing enemy.
    The rocking grew more extreme as the dreadnaught closed to range, but the big ship still failed to hit her intended target.
    Calo mentally checked off the seconds as his precious freighter rumbled through the Dreadnaught’s flak bursts. He winced with every near miss as fragments impacted the Rider’s shield perimeter harmlessly.
    The blasts grew closer, and the freighter shook more forcefully more frequently as the rangefinders on the creaky old Rendilli began to bracket their mark. The commo light blipped with some Imperial underling’s demand to surrender—the Vance brothers ignored it and resolutely raced to their departure point.
    A shot clipped the Rider’s shield perimeter suddenly, and the lights flickered on and off as the vessel began to stutter sluggishly with ever tap of the yoke.
    “Blew a stabilizer…” Zac observed with a tight, determined grimace.
    “Ten…” Calo began counting.
    The Dreadnaught’s secondary battery of quadturbolasers began to rattle at their maximum range, sending supercharged bolts of energy skittering across the cockpit windows.
    “Nine,”
    The computer detected the tractor beam targeting computers on the cap-ship beginning to acquire a solution… too little, too late.
    “Eight,”
    “Seven,”
    “Six,”
    The upgraded Quadex power core began to hum with anticipation as the nav array lit up.
    “Five,”
    ”Four,”
    ”Three,”
    Another blast rocked the Rider, tearing its shields away in an instant. The hazard light flashed bright red in the darkened cockpit.

    “Two,”
    ”One… punch it!”
    Calo pulled the levers on the control panel, and the stars elongated in front of the escaping vessel. Then, at last, was the blessedly safe glow of Hyperspace.


    The toll was depressingly bleak for the sturdy freighter. Cue-Nine rolled into the cockpit some minutes into their jump, alerting his masters that two major stabilizers had burst, and part of the port shield grid was burned out and required replacement. If the Vance brothers and their… err… “precious” cargo met with pirates, they were—in a word—completely screwed.
    Zac tried to put a positive spin on the affair for their passengers: They were, he pointed out, quite alive and for the moment free of Imperial custody.
    Of course, the Imperials were now searching for a ship of their description and the brothers’ passengers were hot to a positively radioactive degree. Moreover, they would be unable to put into a port until the crew made cosmetic modifications to the hull and flipped the transponder code to their second—and final—clean backup.
    Calo, in thick long-johns and the trouser section of his vacuum gear, sat in the portside corridor, checking the top half of the vac suit.
    “C’mon, kid,” he said, “no point it trying to delay it,”
    Cole stepped out from behind the bulkhead in similar array to his older cousin, holding the top half of his suit uneasily.
    “I still don’t understand why Zac or Doctor Cahlil can’t go…” he pouted.
    “Because the Doc’s too big for any of our suits, and Zac needs to stay inside the ship in case our guests get any funny ideas about us being expendable in their little mission,” Calo explained patiently.
    “I… err, don’t know how to do this,” Cole said, changing the subject while pointing out the sealing mechanism for the top of his suit.
    “Pull it over your head, and then I’ll fix it around your waist.”
    “Young Miss Rebel, dare I ask what you’re doing in one of my vac suits?” Calo asked the interloper, who threw him an equally respectful glance as she sealed the waist connection on Cole’s suit.
    “I will go faster with more of us out there,” she finally answered.
    Calo, briefly tempted to space her and her brother and flee according to his own whims, shook his head and conceded the point.

    “Be careful up there,” Zac cautioned over the communications channel as the first load of scrap floated gracefully out of the airlock.
    “Thanks for that,” Calo deadpanned. Cole clumsily corralled the bundle of scrap and attached it to the hull with a pair of magnetic devices, handing the top piece to Breha, who held the three-meter-long triangular beam against the port mandible edge for Calo to weld.
    In the meantime, Cue-Nine busied himself with rearranging the surviving shield projectors to give the freighter at least some protection against attack.

    Three hours later, a sweat-drenched-but-freezing Calo popped shut the airlock door and removed his helmet with more relief than he might have imagined possible.

    “Zac,” he said, shivering, “take us into hyperspace… Now.”


    Finish

  15. #15
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    Thumbs up

    Good stuff!
    Nice idea with giving the ship a facelift in addition to a transponder change. Have to remember that one!

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