The ORION Files (Closed/Started)

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"Sure. You might not think the Devil-Fish is pretty, but she's fast, and she can fly circles around most other racing shuttles after the time and care I put in her. And she was never a trash hauler."

"Oh don't get your knickers in a twist, I'm just buggin' ya." She chuckled as the pair headed towards the 'hanger' Mar had taken over. "I'm a Navy trained fighter pilot remember? That means I'm automatically pre-dispositioned to scorn anything that isn't a fighter." Reaching into her flight suit, she pulled out her flask and shook it to gauge how much was left, before popping the top and taking a sip. "That said," She went on. "Most pirate small craft are shuttles, mostly what we call 'coffin-crates', civvie shuttles with weapons retrofitted to them. As you can imagine, not the most durable combat platform out there."

Reaching the hanger, Mary reached down and patted one of her artificial legs. "Was flying one of those when some dusty little barge decided to put up a fight; shrapnel cost me everything below mid-thigh." Letting Mar open the door, she stepped into the hanger and let out a low whistle. "She's got some good lines there..." Stepping close to the Devil-Fish, she trailed her left hand across the hull, and along the engine nacelle.

"Well this ain't stock." She quipped, as she looked over the 'aftermarket' engine. Moving along until she found a maintenance panel, she popped it open and booted up the diagnostic display, before letting out another whistle. "Okay, despite the sting to my pride, I'll have to admit...I couldn't catch her in a straight run, 'Misha' just wasn't built for that." Shutting the panel down and closing the panel, Mary flashed Mar a predatory grin. "Guess I'll have to beat you in the turns."

Walker watched as more and more people from the bar shows up. Glad that they were due to how well diverse they were in skills and such. Seeing each one showing up one after the other.

"Brian Wojtek reporting,"

"Welcome aboard Brian. It's nice to have one of you fellows on board."

"Alright, I'm here. Grace is minding the Archer at the moment."

"Good to know, I assume you will be on your own ship during the flight?"

"~SNIFFFFFFFFFFF~"

Walker heard something and wonder what the fuck that was. Turning around to see Irina standing there, her face red with, what he could guess, embarrassment. He was about to asked what she was doing before someone else came up and said.

"Velka reporting in."

"H...H...HI VELKA!" He watched as Irina took Velka hands and started to shake it wildly."YOU KNOW THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT I'VE EVER MET A RESHANI! I'M DEFINITELY LOOKING FORWARD TO LEARNING MORE ABOUT YOUR CULTURE!"

"...welcome board Velka..." Was what all Walker could say at this moment.

"Anyways..." He tried to change the subject quickly. "Welcome aboard to the 'Sweet Child of Mine.' "Walker said with a grin. "Make yourselves at home inside if you are riding along."

In Elliot's own opinion, the Sweet Child of Mine as a vessel for mercenaries was not the best choice. It looked like, and was probably, a cargo vessel. Yes, it had space and storage which could be modified into whatever they needed in there for their personal needs, but it wasn't Elliot's ideal choice. He said this, having spent time basically living out of a gunship, of course. Rick probably couldn't afford a decent military vessel. You know, like something a bit outdated or some kind of a fixer-upper in terms of functionality. You get things like that cheap and, if you know how to fix them up, they become home to you. That was what he liked about the Archer. It was an armed vessel retrofitted into something that could support people adequately over time. It wasn't the best design, but it was good enough. Now, Rick was asking him about whether he and Grace were staying on his own ship.

"That'd be yes, partly because it's an asset I wouldn't leave here if one of the engines burst into flames, and partly because it looks like the Sweet Child could use it in a fight if anyone decides to take advantage of her."

Basically, he was stating that the Archer would be pulling guard duty in the same manner it looked after itself. Either he or Grace would be manning the helm and if anything went wrong, they'd open up like a space war had broken out or something. It seemed like the rest of the crew was filtering in. Some of the smaller vessels were either gonna dock inside the big ship or attach to it. Sadly, the Archer was just a bit too big to do so on a longterm basis. It was a nimble gunship, but it wasn't a small ship. With Rick calling the 'All Aboard', Elliot headed back into his own craft. Making his way from the door to the cockpit area, he came upon Grace, who turned to look at him with an expression you couldn't quite place with ease. She was always calm, but there was a strange earnest desire to please in her.

"Do you want me to take first shift, Elliot?"

"If you want to."

She nodded, and turned back to the console. Well, that was her answer. Elliot was getting some shut-eye.

"H...H...HI VELKA!" Screamed the Catican known as Irina as she went to grab Velka's hand. On the heads up display of the synth, she could see that the servos in her wrist were experiencing a high degree of tension which was correlating to her hand being vigorously shaken. "YOU KNOW THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT I'VE EVER MET A RESHANI! I'M DEFINITELY LOOKING FORWARD TO LEARNING MORE ABOUT YOUR CULTURE!"

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance as well Miss Irina. This will be an interesting time I'm sure." Velka replied within her attempt to sound friendly towards the feline looking humanoid.

"Anyways..." Walker then said to put a break in the somewhat awkwardness of the current situation "Welcome aboard to the 'Sweet Child of Mine.'" He added with a slight grin to his face. "Make yourselves at home inside if you are riding along."

"Thank you, Captain. Is there anywhere particular you wish for us to setup? Or is it 'anything goes', so long as we don't interfere with essential ship systems?" Velka asked, her voice sounding slightly more robotic, but still sounding relatively natural.

<<< Mar >>>
TGR Territory Border | Sweet Child of Mine | Devil-Fish Holding Container
"Can't measure those engines with equine strength."

Mar preferred older ships over the freshly manufactured. Older ships may have had their quirks, but once you fixed them up, they were usually solid and reliable. Older ships had stories. And the Sweet Child was certainly one of those ships, she thought as she absentmindedly ran a true-hand along the corridor's wall as they walked to the Devil-Fish's makeshift hangar. Her thoughts were brought back to Red Mary as she spoke.

"Oh don't get your knickers in a twist, I'm just buggin' ya. I'm a Navy trained fighter pilot remember? That means I'm automatically pre-dispositioned to scorn anything that isn't a fighter."

"Shree may have four arms, but we aren't a race of large, sapient arthropods." she pointed out blandly.

"That said, most pirate small craft are shuttles, mostly what we call 'coffin-crates', civvie shuttles with weapons retrofitted to them. As you can imagine, not the most durable combat platform out there. Was flying one of those when some dusty little barge decided to put up a fight; shrapnel cost me everything below mid-thigh."

As Mary patted the knee of one of her prosthetic legs, Mar couldn't help but grimace a little in sympathy.

"I'm actually all-too aware of the fact that pirate fighters are flying death-traps. Had a few run-ins with pirates on the smuggling runs I was hired to pilot for. I was good enough to keep from being blown out of the skies, but they weren't so lucky. I always took that as a cautionary tale to never be cheap when it really counts." Mar said as she hit the button to the containers loading door with a fist.

It took a few moments for the container to go through the sequence to not only normalize it's atmosphere with that of the rest of the ship, but also to open the door itself, which seemed to be noticeably sticky. Mar would have to fix that sometime soon. As they stepped inside, Mary immediately began to run a hand along the fuselage and let out a low, appreciative whistle.

"She's got some good lines there..."

"Used to be a Mantid-made passenger and light-cargo shuttle. Bought her from a shipbreaking yard. I still don't know why I found her there of all places, since there wasn't really anything wrong with her. Just needed to clean her, fuel her up, and make a few additions of my own." Mar said with not a little bit of pride in her synthesized voice.

When Mary's hand reached one of the more thrusters which were bulbous and curved compared to the sharp, angular lines of the shuttles body, Mar couldn't help but grin.

"Well this ain't stock."

Then she was suddenly prying open a maintenance panel on the side of the engine despite a quick noise of protest from Mar, and was booting up a diagnostic on it. The Shree huffed a little as she stepped a little closer and gave her a sidelong glance. After another low whistle, the corners of her mouth started to curve upward a little again.

"Okay, despite the sting to my pride, I'll have to admit...I couldn't catch her in a straight run, 'Misha' just wasn't built for that. Guess I'll have to beat you in the turns."

Mar couldn't help but let out a low rumble of laughter of her own. It sounded a little odd compared to her voice as it was processed by her translator: Deeper, and a little guttural.

"You might find that a little harder than you think." she said, patting the thruster, "These babies can be independently adjusted on the fly, making the Devil-Fish not only fast, but maneuverable. Had to be, for the SRL circuit, though I never got to put her through her paces in a race after I had these installed."

There was a note of bitter disappointment as she said that, before she added slyly, "These were pulled off of a Terran Space Fighter, actually."

Crossing her true-arms over her chest again, she gave Mary a crooked grin. Being an ex-Navy pilot, she was sure to appreciate this part.

"The 223-SSF, though apparently the TGR took to calling it the Hellbat. No idea why. Fastest fighter they ever made, but they phased it out because they didn't have enough pilots that could handle flying them. Shame. When I found one, I couldn't really afford the whole fighter at the time, but I managed to make a deal on the thrusters." the Shree explained.

Mary grinned appreciatively when Mar explained that the thrusters were fully gimballed. "Damn...we are going to have some fun! It'll be nice to work with a pilot who at my level for once...there are far too many cockpit-fillers who think that just because they can take-off without scraping, or can manage an RCS flip, they're shit hot."

She was still poking about various parts of Devil-Fish's hull as Mar explained where the new thrusters had come from. "Hmm...think I've heard of the 'Hellbat'." She said, stopping to ponder for a moment. "Yeah! They were supposed to be the next great thing, while I was still Navy, but I seem to remember them killing more than a few test pilots before the techs go the controls dialed in, and once that was done, it wasn't any better than the 'Foxbat' they were supposed to replace...and no I have no idea why they named them like that."

Continuing her inspection, she'd open inspection panels and boot up the relevant diagnostics, mostly for her own curiosity, to see how the shuttle's various systems functioned. "Well, my compliments to whoever did your engine work. I've seen plenty of re-engine jobs, but usually they are a barely functional mess that are one power surge away from total disaster...if you had some body work done to the Fish, it'd be hard to tell whether or not she came like this."

Closing up the last panel, she patted the hull with her right hand. "All-in-all, a sweet little ship you have here...we should totally try and find you some weapon sim emitters and have us a good old 'fur-ball' one day." She added with a predatory grin that Mar would have been hard pressed to better. Arching her back a bit, she rolled her right shoulder and nodded towards the door they'd entered through. "So, I've seen yours, wanna see mine?"

Brian watched and listened as others from the room came and went, trying to remain presentable in his movements and demeanor as he payed attention, trying to avoid reacting to anything odd before he knew how odd they all were and if any of them were liable to become threats.

The annoyed looking pirate that made him wonder what an "Oso" was, the flirtatious Shree, the odd Catican woman that appeared to be smelling the captain, the mechanical woman, and the... he realized he didn't quite know what the pair did. Infantry? No. They didn't have the look. The way they were eyeing Mary made him wonder if they were after her which would make them trackers or hunters.

"Welcome aboard Brian. It's nice to have one of you fellows on board."

Brian unconsciously attempted to nod his head before the mechanisms groaned and he remembered that he was incapable of doing that in his armour.

"Welcome aboard to the 'Sweet Child of Mine.' Make yourselves at home inside if you are riding along."

He began to ask if he was to be assigned anything or if things were first come first serve, as Velka spoke up ahead of him wondering the same thing. He'd need space to work and to store his equipment, and preferably another to rest. Maintenance was almost constant with Kodiaks during operations, not that anything ever went wrong with them if you didn't, they just felt 'tired.'

The Orion Files | Drift Station | The Hanger
Clinical Clarity
Irina Rostikova

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance as well Miss Irina. This will be an interesting time I'm sure." Velka responded kindly, giving Irina Rostikova a chance to recover from her embarrassment.

While the Caticans were not a species that shunned the subject of sex, it was probable that the Merchant Mechanic's reaction to the captain's scent was due not only prolonged exposure to Terrans but possibly due to study of early Terran culture. Regardless, the fact that Irina could detect her vat sister's scent on the captain explained why the captain was able to resist the Feline-esque Female's scented charms. In a word, it was all about territory.

Prior to the advent of interstellar colonization, the population of the Catican Homeworld was nearing an unsustainable level. As a result of this, the members of the Royal Caste instituted a population control measure using a pheromone block. As a general rule, Male Caticans are uninterested in mating unless exposed to female pheromones, allowing them to concentrate on their duties rather than procreation. Under the newly implemented measure, after mating, males became immune to the pheromones of females, other than their partner, for a period of years. This was accomplished via the utilization of a pheromone blocker that is introduced to the male's body through oral or vaginal secretions during intercourse. While this measure was effective in maintaining the population on Catica, there was the unexpected side effect of the pheromone block having the ability to be passed to non-Catican males.

"Welcome aboard to the 'Sweet Child of Mine.' Make yourselves at home inside if you are riding along." Captain Walker said rather unceremoniously, interrupting Irina's thoughts.

"Thank you Captain," The Merchant Mechanic responded as she boarded the freighter.


The Orion Files | Mother-Ship: Sweet Child of Mine | Hanger
Ship of Tools
Edward Aubergine

There were a couple of things that hit the Catican Shock Trooper, Edward Aubergine, as soon as he slid down the ladder that connected the Redeemer to its new mother-ship, The Sweet Child of Mine. The first was the Sweet Child of Mine's artificial gravity, which, while being the standard one Terran Gravity, was only 75% of the gravity found on the Catican Homeworld and Catican ships. The four armed, purple Shock Trooper's stomach lurched as he felt his acceleration change when he hit the freighter's lighter gravity.

The second thing to hit the mammoth was a rather strongly scented cloud of musk, compliments of the Shree Pilot, who appeared to be in heat, not that he had time to adequately deduce such a thing since the concentration of the Shree pheromone caused the Catican Shock Trooper to temporarily forget that he was sliding down a ladder which caused the third thing to hit him.

CLUNK!

It was the floor that was the third thing to hit Edward as he landed on it. It was a stroke of good luck that that the floor was made of reinforced steel and that the mammoth feline was in 75% of normal Catican gravity, otherwise he might have ended up with broken bones or paying for unintended damage to the ship. It did not, however, mean that the Eggplant Assault Trooper was immune to being stunned by his sudden stop at the bottom of the ladder.

"So, I've seen yours, wanna see mine?" A familiar voice said nearby.

"What manner of ship did I just land on? I was supposed to dock with a mercenary ship... not a courtesan's pleasure yacht," Edward thought out loud as he lay there, waiting for the room and his stomach to stop flipflopping. As he lay there, he absently analyzed the smell that had surprised him, finding that scent was heavy in excitement, light on enticement. Picking himself up from his previously pancake-like position, Ed rubbed his head an turned the corner, spotting the both the Pilot turned Mercenary, Mar, and the Pirate turned Mercenary, Mary, who appeared to be figuratively drooling on the Devilfish's hull.

"(I have landed on a 'Ship of Tools')" The Catican Shock Trooper thought to himself, misquoting the name of the fabled Terran ship for the insane. This was not meant as a slight, however, as insanity was sometimes a mission prerequisite.

Out in the Asteroid belt.

A flash of light and a disruption in the gravity sent a section of the asteroid belt flying. There was a void where there had been a capitol grade exploration ship and a few escorts prior. Empty space filled by a series of gunshots and the dashing of a speck of light. The speck of light was a fast and nimble fighter, making rapid distance away from the two pursing heavier craft.

Resha breathed a panicked sigh of relief. She was alone out here now, in the asteroid field and hiding from the pirates. For a test pilot, she didn't have any combat training as they had nobody to test it on and no real reason to fight. Now with an asteroid hiding her, the female had pushed the distress signal. It was an older signal for a rather antique diplomacy vessel from the inner Terran colonies. IT was developed based off of a wreck and adopted for the expedition fleet which was expecting to only really encounter humans.

This ofcourse drew the attention of the raiders, so the female was once again dancing in her white glint of a fighter. Fire erupting form increasingly mad pirates who were unable to touch her with their fire. Resha was already afraid for her life and didn't know how long she'd be able to dance like this.

Shanoa fallowed the rest of the crew to the ship after introductions, and for the most part just sat out of the way on top of a shipping container and watched as every one else fetched their gear.

A few of them had ships of their own it seemed, and the pilots where talking among them selves, probably about their ships. She gave the ships a once over, if for no other reason then to know what there 'allies' where running as that could be important to know later. Apart from that, she just 'people watched for a bit'

<<< Mar >>>
TGR Territory Border | Sweet Child of Mine | Devil-Fish Holding Container
"Don't worry. It doesn't look nearly as disgusting as it tastes."

The little rush of pride that Mar had when Red Mary inspected the secondary engines intensified a little as she recognized the name of the space fighter they had come from, and was not only knowledgeable, but also sounded just a little more impressed as a result. She went on to mention that they were going to have a lot of fun flying with and against one another, especially if Mar was to get some weapon-sim emitters so that they could practice dog-fighting.

It was a particularly alluring idea as Mar considered the possibilities. While she had been reasonably happy as a shuttle racer, what with the courses being lined with obstacles and other potentially deadly hazards, she could only imagine the thrill of flying a ship under fire that could actually fight back. She found her lips spreading into a wide, predatory grin, showing off quite a lot of shining white, needle-sharp teeth. When Mary spoke again, Mar had to shake herself out of the violet daydream she had been in the middle of.

"So, I've seen yours, wanna see mine?"

"You bet. Just give me a few seconds to grab something from the Devil-Fish." Mar said with a little wave.

Stepping up to the main loading hatch at the front of the shuttle, she keyed in a code on an odd keypad marked with alien digits with a free false-hand while placing her right true-hand on the flat scanner above it. There was a shrill tone that told her both her key-code and hand-print were accepted, and with the same true-hand she slammed a fist on the bright red button underneath the keypad. The main door opened with a hiss, and she stepped inside the moment there was enough clearance to.

It wasn't long before she stepped right back out, clutching some sort of thick tube in her false-hand, and she gave the button outside the door a backward fist to close it.

"Ready. Just needed to grab something to eat." she said, holding up the tube.

It looked not unlike an alien sausage, only with the casing being made of plastic, and the insides being a disgusting looking off-yellow. With the way Mar held it, it was hard to see any kind of label, and there didn't seem to be any kind of opening, though when the Shree lifted it to her mouth it was clear why as she simply bit through it and began to slurp down the contents surprisingly quietly.

After a moment, she lowered it and wiped a few flecks of paste from her mouth with the back of her false-hand, then gestured to Mary.

"After you." she said with a small smile.

Following after the former Pirate, Mar spotted the robotic form of Shanoa, seemingly inspecting the ships of the crew herself. Or itself, Mar supposed. She wasn't the only one in the hallway either: The massive four-armed, purple-furred Catican, Edward was there too. She gave them both a nod in passing.

"Hey Shanoa, Edward. Feel free to look over the Devil-Fish, just don't mess with her any." she said casually, before going right back to slurping down her nutrient paste.

For a gunship with just two people on it, the Archer was significantly quieter than the situations going on within the Sweet Child of Mine. It was quiet and, to be honest, preferable that way for the Ignis. Let's get one thing straight here. Grace didn't have problems with boredom like most people. Her early life pretty much made long stretches of having nothing important to do, no distractions other than keeping herself alive, an often occurrance. Having to moniter equipment and watch space was only slightly different in terms of attention, but it was still alot of not much...which she was use to and okay with. She was okay, because she was more secure in her life, working with Elliot. It was somewhat relieving, strangely enough, even though she had to get into combat situations with him. She didn't mind. She was helpful to him.

Still, these gaps in events were not a problem for her to handle. She would sit and watch the stars quietly, checking on the equipment occasionally to make sure everything was green. It often was, but they did this in shifts to make sure of that, because exceptions would still apply sometimes. So, she was taking in the area of space before her... Hmmm. That's odd. There was a gap in that asteroid belt. The only natural phenomenon that would be a rather large comet. That wasn't likely, so it was probably something far more normal, like an explosion. And then...

Well, which came first? The light or the beacon? It doesn't matter. They both arrived. Grace saw pinpricks of light that could only be distant combat - which you don't question an Ignis about, because they know light - and there was a sudden bleeping of a distress signal which, given the situation, probably translated into 'Holy crap, I'm under attack!'. Acting on this immediately, Grace increased the Archer's speed and plotted an intercept course. She then contacted the Sweet Child, to give them the heads-up.

"There's a battle going on in the asteroid field. Archer is going on ahead."

The gunship wasn't retrofitted for combat. It was just blatently fitted for it, and then modified for living conditions. Assuming the enemy is not in large numbers, there should be no problem. As of yet, she felt no reason to disturb Elliot's rest. She deployed the Archer's Hull-Piercer and the targeting system immediately came online. She wanted first shot, no warning. The distress beacon was a diplomatic tag, meaning that it was non-hostile, yet under attack. So, as soon as she was in range, a nice mag-driven slug with a shaped explosive head was going to hurtle through space and - hopefully - break an enemy vessel. If it was small enough, it would tear apart. Medium-to-larger vessels usually hull-breached, which was a terrible way to start a battle, assuming they didn't die from a lack of oxygen or that a powerplant had been hit. That is why Grace wanted first shot. When rescuing a person from certain death, you become certain death.

"You bet. Just give me a few seconds to grab something from the Devil-Fish."

"I ain't goin' anywhere." She quipped as the big Shree opened up her shuttle. Mary watched with mild interest as Mar unlocked the ship, more out of professional habit than anything else. While Mar was rummaging around inside, Mary heard...and felt a rather solid 'thump' but before she could go to investigate, Mar returned with what Mary assumed was a snack of some sort.

"After you."

Leading the way from Mar's hanger, she spotted the cat-like bot and the big Catican. "Hey Ed-plant." She grinned. "Try not to break this hauler until after we've been paid." While Mar admonished the two 'cats' to leave her 'Fish alone, Mary headed to the lift doors and tapped on the adjacent key bad; her own 'hanger' was a bit too far away to walk to with any speed. When the lift car arrived, she waved Mar over and the pair entered.

A minute or so later, they were deposited a short distance from the retrofitted cargo container Mary had commandeered. Keying open the access door, stepped through and made a sweeping gesture across the room. It was basically the same as where Mar had her Devil-Fish, except that instead of one modified racing shuttle, there was a fairly old and well-worn looking interceptor and a big metal crate with some ominous looking warning labels on it. "Here she is." She said proudly. "Lockheed-Dynamics ICV-25 'Manta' Dual Environment VTOL Interceptor." The big fighter was obviously a fairly old Terran design, and showed the signs of being both well used, and well cared for. The outline of old GRSN insignias could still be seen on the hull, and a 'pin-up girl' was painted just below the cockpit, along with a series of tally marks.

Running her right hand across the port wing, Mary was smiling at Mar. "Roughly two hundred thousand kay range, with fifty thousand klick top in vacuum. Like I said, she's 'DE' ship, so she does work in atmo, though tops out at the low hypersonic. She's got twin thirty mike mike chemrail autocannons with a fifty degree cone of engagement, in the nose, and twin MRAFM launchers on the wing tips." Her smile turned into a bit of a grimace as she mentioned the missiles. "Had to bail unexpectedly, so my load for those is a bit less flexible than I'd prefer; all I've got right now are two kiloton laser heads."

"But hey, you gotta work with what you have." She said with a shrug. "She may be older than me...hell they surplused the last of the Mantas just as I was joining the Navy...but she's still a tough bird. I'm not deluded enough to think she'd fair well against the current frontline Navy fighters, let alone any of the newer Corus or Sphere ships, but she's got plenty of bite against anything you'd be likely to find in an OC system defense force." As she spoke, her grin returned, and it was positively nasty.

When Walker was going respond to both Brian and Velka to where they can stay, he got a message from one of his crew. Listening in with the small radio device in his ear. A crew member said. "Um sir, there seems to be a battle going on in the asteroid field. A-and a distress beacon was activated. Some old Diplomatic one. Just hold one moment." He was talking to someone else as Walker waited.

"Jim whats going on?" Walker asked as Jim returns.

"Sorry sir, it appears that the Archer went ahead to deal with the problem."

"What?" Walker said and then whisper "damnit.." While he didn't mind the archer going to help, they should have still waited for him to read the scene. He learned that the hard way as he looked at the others. "Lets go, the Archer picked up a distress signal and went ahead to help out. We'll discuss living arrangements afterward. Board up everyone."

He then put his finger back on the device to send a message back. "Jim lets get going now once we get inside. Let everyone know inside whats going on." Walker then started to walk inside with the rest of his newly hired crew.

On the inside, One of the crew members played a message.

"Alert. Sweet Child of Mine is taking off. Grouping up with the Archer for a rescue mission."

<<< Mar >>>
TGR Territory Border | Sweet Child of Mine | Devil-Fish Holding Container
"Pirates... I hate pirates."

As Red Mary led the young Shree through the corridor of the freighter's cargo section, it didn't take long until they stepped into a similar container as the one that held the Devil-Fish, only in this case, it wasn't taken up solely by a ship. There was also a large metal box with more than a few warning labels slapped onto it. But Mar payed the box barely any mind, and instead focused on the fighter that was being stored there.

Taking a few steps up, Mar smiled and ran a hand along the nose, and she even let out a soft, grunting chuckle at the sight of the pin-up girl painted on the side along with quite a few kill marks just underneath. It was clear that this ship had seen quite a lot of action in it's time.

"Here she is. Lockheed-Dynamics ICV-25 'Manta' Dual Environment VTOL Interceptor."

Looking back at the ex-pirate, Mar could see the look of pride on the Terran Woman's face, and she could definitely understand why. Some people didn't appreciate ships the way they did, and that was a real shame.

"Roughly two hundred thousand kay range, with fifty thousand klick top in vacuum. Like I said, she's 'DE' ship, so she does work in atmo, though tops out at the low hypersonic. She's got twin thirty mike mike chemrail autocannons with a fifty degree cone of engagement, in the nose, and twin MRAFM launchers on the wing tips. Had to bail unexpectedly, so my load for those is a bit less flexible than I'd prefer; all I've got right now are two kiloton laser heads. But hey, you gotta work with what you have."

"Well, that isn't so bad for this day and age." Mar conceded with a nod before taking another slurp from her tube of nutrient paste.

"She may be older than me...hell they surplused the last of the Mantas just as I was joining the Navy...but she's still a tough bird. I'm not deluded enough to think she'd fair well against the current frontline Navy fighters, let alone any of the newer Corus or Sphere ships, but she's got plenty of bite against anything you'd be likely to find in an OC system defense force."

Mar gave another nod and reached down to give the fighter an affectionate pat on the wing with one of her true-hands.

"She's a fine ship. Good lines, looks like she's built sturdy. And really, I prefer the older ships. They have more character." Mar said with a thoughtful smile.

"Alert. Sweet Child of Mine is taking off. Grouping up with the Archer for a rescue mission."

The Shree Pilot's head jerked up at the sound of the alert over the shipboard comms, and spared a moment to glance at Red Mary before she made to bolt out of the container.

"Get prepped for launch! Once the Sweet Child of Mine is disembarked, you should go engines-hot and give the Archer some fire support!" she called back before hastily downing the rest of her paste in a single gulp.

It didn't take long for her to reach the helm, and she had taken the time to get there to shove the empty plastic tube in one of her jumpsuit pockets, and had put on her helmet. As she stepped inside, she immediately noticed that the main pilots seat was already occupied, which was more than a little irritating. So when she got there she hauled the occupant up and on their feet before shoving them to the side and sitting down herself.

"Out of the way, this is my seat now. You don't have some amateur up to bat when you have a clinch hitter like me." Mar growled behind her helmet before she started her pre-flight checks and hooked her helmet up to the ship systems.

She had to force herself not to rush as she did, however, given the mention of a sudden rescue mission. That told her that this was a time-sensitive problem with innocent lives at stake, but she couldn't afford to skip any crucial parts of these checks, because any one of the ships systems being irregular could potentially be a symptom to a bigger ship-wide problem, so she focused on the essentials.

Once she was done, she pinged Station Control.

"Station Control, this is the independent freighter Sweet Child of Mine, requesting permission to launch." she told them coldly.

"She's a fine ship. Good lines, looks like she's built sturdy. And really, I prefer the older ships. They have more character."

She smiled as Mar ran a hand along the wing, in much the same fashion as Mary knew she did. "Yeah...they have a 'life' to them...one of those things that's hard to explain to non-pilots." She chuckled. "Mar honey, I think we're going to get along grea-" She never got a chance to finish, as Walker's voice cut in over the ship's intercom.

"Alert. Sweet Child of Mine is taking off. Grouping up with the Archer for a rescue mission."

Mary's head snapped towards the speaker, then she turned and dashed towards 'Misha's' cockpit; Mar was already making a b-line for the hanger's exit.

"Get prepped for launch! Once the Sweet Child of Mine is disembarked, you should go engines-hot and give the Archer some fire support!"

"Way ahead of ya!" She yelled at the back of the rapidly departing Shree. The tone in Walker's voice suggested this was an impromptu 'scramble' situation, and not their over-all employer trying to hustle things along. As such, she breezed through a heavily truncated pre-flight, made sure the interior hatch was sealed, then dumped the atmosphere in the hanger by 'snapping' the exterior door open. The moisture in the air flashed into a crystalline fog as it blew out into space, and Mary, hard on her ACS was right behind it.

In her ear, she could hear Mar on comms talking to Traffic Control. Good luck with flying that pig. She thought. Keying her mike she radioed 'Sweety'. "Mar, I'm punching out now...sorry...I'll buy you a drink next time we're in port." She was far enough out her thrusters posed no more risk to the freighter, so she jammed the throttles forward. Diving through the traffic around the station, she laughed as she rolled her fighter between two cargo shuttles. Giggling like a mad woman, she listened to the controller go apoplectic trying to yell at her for her flying, and 'Sweety' for the unauthorized small craft launch during undocking. After another moment of that, she swapped to another channel. "Archer, this Bonny Oh Two..Mary. I'm on your six."

A query to 'Sweety's' system gave her the 'Archer's' sensor profile and transponder code, which she'd keyed into 'Misha' as friendly. Ahead of the attack craft, her sensors had a single light craft running an impressive evasion routine against a swarm of other craft. Curiously the runner was squawking what appeared to be a fairly old TGR diplomatic distress code, only any ship old enough to have one of those could not be pulling the maneuvers this one currently was. That was a question to be answered later; now, apparently, they were going to rescue the ship.

"Archer, you handle the ones closest to 'princess', I've got the trailers." She'd spotted a second group, under hard burn, that looked like they were trying to get around their intended victim...a standard ploy really when dealing with a fast and evasive target. Rolling towards them, she lit up her ECM, creating a wall of jamming and denying her targets any hint of what was coming. Amateurs. They should've jammed their victim from the get go...then maybe I wouldn't be here about to fuck up their day.

Amongst pirates it was considered bad form to interfere with another crew's prize, unless you figured you could get away with it of course, so normally she would've simply stayed back on board 'Sweety' and made snide comments about the take down; but now she supposed she was one of the 'good' guys. Dicky boy better be either coughing up some more credits, or covering my expenditures... She thought as she brought her weapons online.

Four ships had peeled off from the pursuit and were barreling towards the wall of jamming that she was kicking out, and kicking up some jamming of their own. Four on one, they should've had the advantage, even if she's seen through one batch of ECM trickery there were still three others; unfortunately 'Misha's' VI recognized those ships, and Mary had always made it a point to try and learn as much about her fellow pirates as she could...never know when you may get into a 'disagreement' with another crew. Filter programs and counter-jammers sprang to life and cut the incoming interference significantly.

Practiced fingers flicked toggles and pushed buttons as she keyed her weapons to life. The LiDAR array locked on to the lead two craft and fed target data to her missiles. As soon as she had tone, she fired and juked laterally and 'down' compared to her previous course. Her missiles broke clear of her jammers and the hostiles reacted accordingly, breaking into two, two ship formations...exactly like she was expecting. A programming change into the missile's detonators caused them to go off almost a hundred kilometers short of their 'standard' intercept profile.

The pair of two kiloton thermonuclear warheads surrounded by multiple rods made of chromium which served as an x-ray gain medium, released x-rays when 'pumped' by incident photons created by the flash of thermonuclear detonation. Each rod functioned as a separate x-ray laser, the 'pumped' chromium emitted a pulse of coherent x-rays, in the direction of the long axis of the rod. The x-ray lasers formed a cone of destruction that tore through most of the attacking craft like a chainsaw. The lead two ships, a pair of Sphere surplused fighters that were older than 'Misha', died before their pilots realized what exactly was going on; the light-speed beams of x-ray lasers tore through the fragile hulls, turning both ships into little more than expanding clouds of plasma.

The other two were 'coffin crates' like what Mary had been describing to Mar; fast civilian shuttles with weapons strapped to them. Though they were in let capable craft, their pilots reacted a touch faster, and both ships almost made it clear of the path of the lasers. The last ship took a glancing blow which caused a thruster to explode. He3 fuel fed a roaring plasma fire and caused the little ship to begin to gyrate wildly as centrifugal forces began to tear it apart. The time from launch until the death of the third ship was about a minute. The last ship was pouring on the thrust in an attempt to escape, but Mary was in no mood for that; her blood was up and she was hungry for another kill.

Waste of a missile. She thought as she switched to guns and increased thrust to close the gap. Now she had a solid lock, and the shuttle didn't have nearly the manoeuvrability to shake her. The computer had a lead indicator to give her an aim point, and her guns swivelled to meet it. The target did its best to duck and weave, but it was all for nought; finally the reticle reached the lean indicator, and she pulled the trigger. There was a soft 'thrum' as the twin autocannons fired, and moments later her zoomed optics saw concussive flashes march across the shuttles hull. She fired a second burst for good measure, but that proved to be unnecessary as a series of secondary explosions tore the shuttle apart. "Archer, you're six is clear. I'll hang back here to keep it that way."

The female was panicking still, she saw the support fire come in and breathed out a sign of releif, as to if they were going to do something to her afterwards was a concern for later and not now. Resha pushed the fighter to the limiters on it before ducking around and asteroid. Eight fighters blew by her as she hid in the shadows, distress beacon down. She bounced transmissions over several asteroids. IT was open comms and her galactic standard was pretty shit, but she had enough to communicate.

"thank.... you." she got out in a distinctly thick and a accent that was unique even among the most obscure of the races. Now that Resha was broadcasting and recovering her breath; the pirates around her began to search, hoping the rest of their friends would keep the rescue party away long enough to find her. A diplomatic ship had to be worth some money, right?

While this was going on, the fighter was shifting forms, turning from the hidden fighter into a hidden mecha. The pland folded into her mecha's hand, the suit taking care of everything and leaving her in a far more agile craft. "i need.... help still.... around me.... bad guys." said the female, sounding like she was struggling for the words.

With her initial strike having taken out a fighter, Grace was prepared to engage directly. There was actually a plethora of targets to choose from, more than had been anticipated. However, they were not very large profiles. A few hits should be enough to destroy, to decompress, or at least to send spiraling out of control. Space combat was all about how well you handled being riddled to pieces without prior warning. They didn't seem to take much notice of the first death, but then that could've been written off as an accident, not a well-placed snipe-attack. Just then, a communication came in.

"Archer, this Bonny Oh Two..Mary. I'm on your six."

"Acknowledged."

Mary would hear the voice of the white-haired girl for the first time, because it sure as hell wasn't Elliot that was talking.

"Archer, you handle the ones closest to 'princess', I've got the trailers."

"Understood."

If that was how they wished to do it, that was fine. They wouldn't get paid by any grateful rescuee unless that person remained alive, so it was better to divide and conquer. Of course, if any were in range while Mary went to go engage them, she was going to open fire with some of the Archer's turrets. All that velocity in rapid-fire slugs in space would tear such things apart. This was on her way to pursuing the other vessels, which had...lost their quarry. If they had lost it, she had lost it too, but they still didn't have it, which was something. A new communication followed, though, which meant she must've been seen.

"thank.... you."

Unfamiliar... Grace hadn't been around as much as Elliot, but she had in the past. She wondered if Elliot or any of the others knew this accent. The owner couldn't have had much experience with human speech, for all her trouble with the words. The only thing she could be sure of was that this was a female.

"i need.... help still.... around me.... bad guys."

"I know. We're on it."

Now, the beauty of a gunship was that it was a decent piece of work for flying into situations, gunning them down, and flying out again. The Archer itself was sort of the longboat privateer of space. It swooped by and cut down things on either side of it, while still covering up, down, and ahead. Not so great on behind, but you'd have to chase it down first. The searching pirates would first have another Hull-Piercer attack from behind and above, followed by the Archer passing through the new gap it had created turrets firing at close range to drastically-reduce their numbers. Any survivors would find said gunship - After probably having some sort of WTF reaction - moving behind a meteor, where it would turn to get up around it so that it was going over top of it sideways, rather than around the side, right-side up. Grace wasn't in their line of sight yet. She was waiting to see if they took the bait or did something else, provided any were still alive, of course.

"Out of the way, this is my seat now. You don't have some amateur up to bat when you have a clinch hitter like me."

The pilot didn't say anything as he just looked at the rest of the crew and gave them a "What the fuck man?" type look. They just shrugged and got back to work. Which the pilot gave Mar a dirty look, before walking to a empty chair as he lets her take over.

"Station Control, this is the independent freighter Sweet Child of Mine, requesting permission to launch."

"This is Station control, you are good to go Sweet Child of Mine." The SC said as they were given the green light to go.

Meanwhile, Walker just got to the bridge and was sort of surprised to see Mar already there. Sighing as he just shook his head lightly as he walked up to Mar. "Heh I see that you got into the job quick," Walker said as he watched her take off. While Sweet Child of Mine wasn't a heavy hitter, she still got Turrets in place for protection against pirates and other people of ill intent within the galaxy.

"See if you can send a message to our friend in need and get them onboard as soon as possible."

The Orion Files | Mother-Ship: Sweet Child of Mine | Converted Hanger
Hunting the Hunters
Edward Aubergine | Irina Rostikova

Alert. Sweet Child of Mine is taking off. Grouping up with the Archer for a rescue mission.

Were this a proper warship, the announcement would have been followed by the blaring of klaxons, the sound of scrambling boots belonging to freshly woken pilots and turret gunners, the sounds of weapons being holstered by anti-boarder guards and a short pre-battle briefing. But this was no ship of war, Edward reminded himself as he climbed up the ladder that lead to the docking collar which connected the Sweet Child of Mine to the Redeemer. This was a mercenary ship filled with crew that had met for the first time not one hour ago. The Purple Brute considered it on the verge of insanity that the ship was already rushing into battle without a strategy other than not to get shot and rescue the ship in distress.

"Irina..." The Catican Pilot said over a Nanex communications channel, grunting as he pulled himself into the Redeemer's main cabin, his body taking a moment to adjust to the ship's higher gravity.

"Right behind you." Came the verbal response from the ladder, Ed turning his head in time to see the Merchant-Mechanic quickly pull herself into the ship, pausing long enough to stroke the hull of the ship like it was a living creature, which wasn't too far from the truth.

Despite their appearance, Catican ships, such as the Redeemer, were not fully manufactured as Terran ships were so much as they were grown. Like a giant space faring coral reef, the Redeemer's chassis was composed of a colony of stem-cell like organisms anchored to a manufactured skeleton. Depending on the organisms' position relative to the ship and the stimuli they were exposed to, the initially gel like creatures specialized, adopting a function that would help the colony survive. For instance, when exposed to the vacuum of space, the organisms on the surface of the ship would harden into the ship's hull, with some specializing as optical sensors. Because of their organic nature, anyone wanting to pilot or crew a Catican ship needed to have a Nanex system installed in their body. It should also be noted that due to natural organic constraints, the only components on the ship that were manufactured were the ship's engine, weapons systems and drones.

The Purple Pilot had already started his prelaunch checklist prior to entering the ship's cockpit, closing the hatches on the docking collar so that the ships could be separated at a moment's notice. As he strapped himself into the standing harness, he detected Irina's consciousness linking with the ship's drone, sensor and ECM systems.

"Redeemer to Sweet Child of Mine, Pre-Launch checks completed. Drone Systems and Weapons systems ready. Ready to launch if needed. Over." Edward reported to the pilot of the Terran Freighter.

"Why aren't we launching now and joining the others?" Irina asked, ever curious of her companion's choices, ever ready to learn about something that she didn't understand. While it was she that Edward followed about as bodyguard, it had been determined that during combat situations, he would be the one who was in charge due to his experience.

"Because if a group of those pirates break off and target the freighter, we would have to break away from the engagement and present our rear to the enemy, a dangerous proposition. If we don't notice them in time or we don't break away in time, the break off group would be able to fire on the Sweet Child of Mine and possibly destroy her." The Seasoned Soldier responded coolly, his muscles twitching in response to the adrenaline already surging through his veins, "While we are required to assist anyone requesting assistance, it does not mean we need to act in a rash manner that would jeopardize our comrades."

As he said this, his eyes focused on the battle that loomed before them, specifically the other pilots. He had no doubt that they would be able to handle themselves in a skirmish with pirates but he wanted to get a better feel for their piloting style so that he could see how best to work with them.

"Deploying point defense drones," Irina reported as they closed in on the battle. Sending one of the kinetic drones forward as a scout, she quickly found the source of the S.O.S, catching a glimpse of the ship as it completed its transformation into a mecha, "That's interesting... OOOPS!"

One of the pirates had spotted the little drone and decided to fire on it, forcing the Pretty Little P... Catican to pull back her drone or give away the VIP's position. Sending the little machine weaving in and out of the space bound rocks, the Drone Diva used machine's relative smallness to her advantage, firing from positions of cover.

<<< Mar >>>
TGR Territory Border | En-Route to Distress Beacon | Sweet Child of Mine Bridge
"Please remain calm."

The Shree could practically feel the dirty look the pilot she had tossed out of the seat gave her behind her back, but she didn't pay him any mind when she got a pair of incoming transmissions. One was from Drift Station Control as they granted her clearance to cast-off. That wasn't surprising, though the second one was: It was from Red Mary.

"Mar, I'm punching out now...sorry...I'll buy you a drink next time we're in port."

It wasn't the best of timing, but Mar could understand the rush to get into the fight. Every nanosecond counted in combat, even she knew that as a civilian. So she nodded.

"Acknowledged, and good hunting, over." she pinged back before she started to ease the Sweetie out of dock.

She started slow, but quickly pushed the engines to their limit to get them on an interception course with the beacon itself. But even at full speed, they couldn't hope to catch a faster fighter like Mary's Manta Interceptor, meaning that they were going to be tailing behind for most if not all of this engagement.

"Heh, I see that you got into the job quick."

Sparing a single backward glance at the source of the voice behind her, Mar spotted Walker as he finally arrived on the bridge. Then her four eyes were back to the back-and-forth of scanning the various monitors that gave her their surroundings as well as the ship systems, and scanning what was immediately in front of them.

"See if you can send a message to our friend in need and get them on-board as soon as possible."

"Yessir." Mar replied without so much as looking away this time.

While her true-hands didn't so much as leave the main controls, one of her false-hands keyed in the tightbeam communications and directed a secure transmission directly in the direction of where the source of the distress call had been. The information embedded in the signal told her that it was a practically ancient Terran diplomatic ship..

"Unidentified Diplomatic Vessel, this is the independent freighter Sweet Child of Mine. We are currently inbound along with several friendly fighters, what is your status, how copy?" she transmitted.

As she had, she could hear the voice of Edward, the large, purple-furred Catican Trooper as he said that their own ship was ready to launch at any time. Mar was perfectly happy leaving the decision of whether or not they should launch, and when, to Walker.

Sitting in the asteroid's shadow, the girl prayed they'd be distracted long enough for her to make a break for the ship coming to rescue her. However, the tight beam towards her location had caused her to lose her element of stealth as she replied. "i... not... gone." said the girl as her response gave away her location.

One of the remaining pirates swung around came face to face with her suit. Thankfully, she had left her comms on in the panic and she began to speak. "Ny! Yee Dopo!" she hissed in a mixture of fear and sadness. There was a silent second before a bright light lanced out form an asteroid giving off incredible heat emissions. There was a hole clean through who had been the head honchos ship, a moltent hole where the cockpit and powerplant had been.

Over the comms was the heavy breathing of someone trying to calm themselves and hold in a scream. a nervous wreck would sound about right. "I... alive..." she said, activating her tag once more. The remaining pirates split after the show of force and losing the head honcho. The craft held a different profile as it slid upwards and into sight, a sleek and slick looking mecha, it had a lance that's tip was glowing red, in its left hand. "I... afraid... can i.... come onto you?" she asked, breathing heavily, the message directed at the large ship.

"Whoever she is, doesn't sound like any alien I know of." Walker mention and he knew quite a bit. "Alright, let's get our new friend on board. See which hold is free for her and then let her know where to go. I'm going down to meet her. Also please send a message to the Archer. I would like to have a word with them. Anyone else out there bring them back in."

Walker sighed as he walked out of the bridge and head towards the cargo hold. While it wasn't a big deal, he still didn't like how the Archer just ran off without support first, or even making sure it wasn't a trap. Though he couldn't really fault them that much. He would rather have a crew that is willing to help than one who is willing to let people die for no reason.

Walker would soon reach the Cargo hold, waiting for the newest guest to arrive.

<<< Mar >>>
TGR Territory Border | En-Route to Distress Beacon | Sweet Child of Mine Bridge
"Anyone got the make-and-model of that ship?"

In what could only be considered a move of either inexperience, stupidity or simple mind-numbing fear, the reply from the source of the distress beacon wasn't over a return tightbeam, but over open comms. Whoever it was had effectively just broadcast their position to everyone in their immediate space, pirates and friendlies alike.

"I... Not... Gone."

Whoever it was, they sounded rather feminine by most species standards, but their accent was so thick and their speech so slow that it was hard to tell just what the species this person was. At the very least, it was clear that Galactic Standard wasn't their native tongue, though that didn't say much. Walker voiced his own thoughts on the matter, which weren't all that different from her own.

"Whoever she is, doesn't sound like any alien I know of."

It didn't take very long for the remaining pirates, having been given a rather heavy-handed show of force, to scatter as the Sweetie began it's approach.

"I... Alive... I... Afraid... Can I... Come onto you?"

Taking the opportunity to perform a more detailed sensor-scan of the source of the beacon, Mar flinched back a little in surprise as she read out the results.

"Captain, scans show that even though the distress beacon is of Terran origin, the ship it came from isn't of any known Terran make. Something's weird about all this." Mar told him with a backward glance.

"Alright, let's get our new friend on board. See which hold is free for her and then let her know where to go. I'm going down to meet her. Also please send a message to the Archer. I would like to have a word with them. Anyone else out there bring them back in."

"Will do." the Shree Pilot replied with a nod, before switching back to a tightbeam to the ship they were rescuing, saying, "Unidentified Vessel, this is the Sweet Child of Mine, you have permission to come aboard. Be advised, we are on approach and Hold 6 is currently unoccupied, over."

Then she pinged both Grace and Elliot aboard the Archer, and Mary aboard her Manta Interceptor.

"Archer, Bonnie Oh Two, return to the Sweet Child of Mine. We will be bringing our rescue aboard. And Archer? The Captain will want a word once you're back on-ship, over." she told them before switching off her end of comms and bringing the freighter in to bring their newest guest aboard.

Mary cocked an eyebrow as an unfamiliar voice acknowledged her call to 'Archer'. Who the hell is...right! Ellie has a partner. Watching with her LiDAR, she saw the 'Archer' cut a swath through the pirates with ease; she considered lending a hand, briefly, but the gunship seemed to have things well in hand...but at this range all she could have done was fire missiles, and laser heads were neither precise nor discriminatory weapons. Instead she hung back in an 'overwatch' position and winced internally as the 'diplomat' broadcast in the clear, telling everyone where she was. That was yet another clue to Mary, that their victim was not who she was claiming to be. 'Misha's' VI had ID'd the distress beacon as an old TGR diplomatic one...one that had been out of service since before she'd been born, add to that a craft that was far more maneuverable than a ship of that supposed age could ever be, and an accent that was most definitely not Terran, made to ex-pirate rather suspicious.

She listened quietly to the in-system chatter, over on one of the traffic control bands, someone was still bitching at her and demanding she respond, but she paid them no mind.

"I... not... gone."

In the clear...AGAIN! She sighed. She guessed 'Archer' had tried a tight beam comm, but whomever this was, they were either unused to their comm system, or not thinking clearly. Out of effective range, she watched as the last surviving pirates, the ones that'd made the asteroid field, swarmed the signal source. "Holy Hell!" She yipped as her sensors caught a massive thermal bloom that set the remaining pirates running. Why the hell didn't she fight back before?

"I... afraid... can I.... come onto you?"

A craft slid into view, and Mary throttled up to get a better look at it. With optics and LiDAR scans, she saw a craft that was roughly humanoid in shape, and wielding a long spike that seemed to have been the origin point of the thermal bloom. "Who the fuck are you?" She muttered quietly to herself. She hung in space quietly as Mar relayed landing permission to the newcomer.

"Archer, Bonnie Oh Two, return to the Sweet Child of Mine. We will be bringing our rescue aboard. And Archer? The Captain will want a word once you're back on-ship, over."

"Copy that Sweety. Bonnie Oh Two is RTB." She replied. What's the Boss' beef with the bounty hunters? She took her time, electing to remain in a firing position 'above' the flying mech, just in case it did something screw-y. Once it had stuffed itself into another converted cargo container, she returned to her own hanger and landed. Once she was down, and the bay was repressurized, she hopped out of her fighter and headed over to where 'Stumpy' was still all packed up. Aside from the old mech, she also had all her personal belongings stashed in the crate.

Rummaging around in her stuff, she retrieved her pistol and its holster, one of her bullpup rifles and its associated webbing, and ammunition for both. Loading both weapons, and double-checking the hold out gun in her forearm, she strapped the pistol to her right leg and threw the webbing on over her flight suit. Kitted up, she exited her hanger and headed towards the one with the new arrival in it.

The unexpected arrival of armed vessels capable of doing a damage to their numbers soon left the pirates scattering and fleeing the area, those of whom managed to survive the sudden onslaught. This having been taken care of, the pilot of the unknown craft was very grateful, although her grasp of the english language was awkward at best. Still, Grace felt the result was good. Elliot liked having future clients show them gratitude for having pulled them from the fire. The two of them had once been aboard a colony station in full revolt because it was under marshall law and the denizens were not allowed to leave to carve their own lives. Elliot had decided - since the guards had opened up with lethal ordinance on rioters who had improvised weaponry for the most part, that he'd save as many lives he could by taking out said guards and then charge the rebel faction for his actions later. It had been a costly effort, however, in terms of munitions. At the end of the revolt, only a small marginal profit had been made. However, the fact that they didn't lose out and that they had risen to the challenge was enough for him, so it was okay for her as well.

Now that things had quieted down, Grace instituted a detailed scan of the craft their rescuee was making use of. As suspected, it failed to register in the database. She and Elliot had been around, as had this ship in its official tour of duty, but there was nothing on record about this. Very confusing results. Elliot would be interested. Even if he had no idea what to make of or do with it, it would gain his attention because it was unusual, worthy of note. He never overlooked anything that would seem significant to the tactical mind. Once they discovered the origin and identity of this person, there would be much to consider. As the Archer swung back around to escort the craft-mech to the Sweet Child of Mine, they actually messaged her, stating that Captain Walker would want a word. This was not her preference. She wasn't the one who did much of the talking. Elliot did. But Elliot was on his rest period and didn't know anything about this. Grace would have to see what this was about herself.

The Archer wasn't generally attached to the Sweet Child, and it was a bit awkward to do so, but it was feasible, and so the gunship came alongside the cargo vessel, made contact, and locked airlocks to one another. Entering the vessel, Grace looked around for Walker. She didn't know the ship's layout, so it took a bit of trial and error to figure out. Once she did, she soon found him in the cargo hold.

"You asked to speak with me."

It was not a question. It was also kind of soft-spoken.

"Yeah, follow me. Just need to have a small chat."

Walker said as he lead her away from the others. Once he felt the distance was well enough, he turn around to face her.

"Now before I say anything, I just want to say you did a good job out there. Going to help that girl. Glad to see people like you are still around."

Walker smiled before getting serious once more.

"Though it was also reckless."

Grace didn't seem to react to the compliment or criticism that much, except to narrow her eyes at him before replying.

"It was the kind of situation the Archer was built for, dispersing enemy units or supporting a larger vessel. If you're saying the Sweet Child was left defenseless..."

She shook her head.

"There was no danger to it."

"That's not the point I'm making. I'm talking about rushing off without back up or a plan. You had no idea if that was a trap or not."

Whether that was true or not was not something the Captain would ever know. Grace didn't generally act on impulse. Even when she did something funny - like putting graffiti on the butt of another merc's powersuit, this was a calculated act. Walker continued on as he gave her a narrow eye look back at her.

"Sure, this moment it was all fine and dandy. No one on our side got hurt and I would like to keep it that way. But you can't just rush off and act like you're unstoppable just because you have a big ass ship. People die thinking like that."

"I don't ever think that, Captain Walker. I assessed the situation and reacted to it. If it had been a trap, the next course of action would be to punch a hole in it and escape."

There was no sign of her being hurt or indignant about this. She wasn't offended. Ego wasn't at play here, and she didn't seem ignorant of the situation. But then, how could Rick know of her years surviving alone or Elliot helping her with the art of strategy and tactical assessment?

"Sometimes you can't just punch a hole through your problems."

Walker shook his head a bit, wishing he had a drink in his hands.

"Ever heard of Snipers trap? I'm sure you have but in case you haven't. It's when a sniper wounds a fellow soldier to the point they can't move, letting the poor bastard alive bleeding out. Just so that if anyone tries to save him they'll become the next target and so on and so forth."

This was not news to Grace. Walker sighed and started to walk off.

"Thats it for now..but just remember. People might abuse the way you think to hurt you even more."

Of that, Grace was certain. That was why she tended to beat such people to the punch. Walker would hear "I've done that, actually.", but there was no further comment. She couldn't predict everything, of course, but this seemed the right move to her, judging by the light... The classic sniper move was to leave the bait wounded and helpless, as in not bring fired upon, but like a goat tied to a stake, bleating out for help to attract a predator. This was a chase, which was a waste of resources to fake, hour after hour, hoping somebody notices. The distant light of attacking vessels told her the situation was not a trap. And if it had been one, it would have been a badly-formulated one. It was in a place where enemy AND ally could hide, too close to a station where support could come from and refuge could be sought. If said pirates had the ability to take the station itself, they would have, because piracy is nothing without profitting from their raids. A losing scenario would keep them from the station, which means setting a trap so close to one was unlikely.

Grace decided, while she was here, to see what sort of being they had helped today.

The Orion Files | Heavy Cargo Shuttle: Redeemer | Drone Holo-Suite
I call dibs!
Irina Rostikova | Edward Aubergine

From the darkness of the holographic suite that acted as the drone control center for the Redeemer's primary offensive and defensive weapons systems, Irina watched as the pirate ships were shredded by kinetic rounds or boiled by laser pulses before their hulls appeared to bulge like an overly ripe melon left in the sun for too long, their internal ammunition stores or fuel cells igniting and exploding. The team of drones that zipped all about the Sweet Child of Mine acted as a ballet troupe, their patterns choreographed as they fired a salvo of high speed rounds before zipping off to a new position. The last of the pirate ships to be destroyed, the crew's leader by the equipment installed on his ship, suffered a direct hit to the cockpit before all power to the remainder of the ship died, leaving it adrift.

"That's all of them," Irina called out over the Nanex communications channel that she and Edward shared, "The rest are retreating."

"Move your drones around the VIP," The pilot's gruff voice ordered as he took the Redeemer's Engines off of standby and started pressurizing the docking collar.

"Roger that, K1 through K4 moving into escort position" The Drone Conductor said as she moved her little babies in an escort pattern around the mech that was still perched on an asteroid. While the Female Catican hoped that the VIP would be reassured by the escort, Irina wasn't so inexperienced in these sort of matters to know that the escort had a secondary purpose. If the VIP deviated off course or so much as sneezed in an offensive manner, the drones could quickly swing their weapon barrels at the VIP's ship and blast her full of holes. As she waited for the little mech that could to move, she opened a communications channel to the Sweet Child of Mine.

"Sweet Child of Mine this is Redeemer. We're going to deploy a couple repair drones into the asteroid field to check for salvage. Over." Irina said as she waved made a gesture from her shoulders towards the asteroid field, sending her repair drones searching for anything of interest. Through the door of the room she could hear Edward's massive frame walking through the shuttle's main corridor and boarding the Sweet Child of Mine, more than likely wanting to meet whomever it was they'd just risked themselves to save.

"Alone at last..." The Feline-esque Female muttered to herself as she unstrapped herself from her harness and deactivated the ship's artificial gravity, allowing herself to float in the room, the holo system displaying the cold light of distant stars. Curling up in a ball, the merchant mechanic tuned in to the 800 year old Terran Radio frequency and thought about what she'd learned about her sister that day...

The female took a few to calm down before swallowing and nodding. Yes." She simply said over the radio before the me ha returned to fighter form and she flew towards the ship. It was a slow and controlled flight, making sure to cruise with gentle and almost fluid like motions as opposed to the dancing she had done to evade her enemies. "Coming to...." She said with a heavy sigh and finally closed her microphone.

She'd reach the hangar and dock inside gently, the fighter setting itself down, looking out of place even by the ship's already weird and wide standards. The emblem on the side of the ship was a black circle orbited by a red, a blue and a green circle. The cockpit popped open and she showed her hands, covered in the bio suit first. It was a black chitinous substance and had blue lines of some kind of semi glowing flesh newr the joints of where each plate ended.

She climbed out of the cockpit slowly and got onto the ground, staring at the small group thAt had gathered to look at her. She held her yands away from her sides where weapon like objects were and reached one up to her neck, sliding a finger along the left side and towards the bottom of her throat. The suit peeled downwards to expose her head now. She had black skin that seemed to glow deeply with a minor bit of blue sparkle. Her eyes were black but quickly a pupil constricted in to get adjusted to the light. She had a somwhat terran nose and instead of hair, she had what looked like crystaline dreadlocks.

Deciding to try her tongue at the old terran she knew better, the girl begn to speak that. {"allo? Anyone speak... Tear-ran?"} asked resha, still keeping her hands relatively up to avoid being shot.

Walker headed back towards the cargo hold where he was supposed to meet up with their mysterious guest. He wasn't sure what to think of the two bounty hunters crew. They seem a bit odd, but besides that they seem to be good people if they, at least Grace, went off to save someone.

It still bugged him about her leaving without helped, but he then sighed and knew why it did so much. It reminded him of his past mistakes and how he wish he could change it. He didn't feel like anyone else should go through that if they didn't have too. Though that was up to her and her actions.

He snapped out of his thought as he heard a voice that he didn't recognize.

{"allo? Anyone speak... Tear-ran?"}

"hello there. Names Walker." Walker said as he tried to pull off a friendly smile. He never seen this type of alien before so he wasn't sure what to expect. His right hand hover his gun, while he didn't think he would need to use it. He wasn't going to take a chance and this alien started to go crazy and attack people.

"So...mind if I ask what the heck you are and why those pirates were after you, little missy?"

As she strode down the corridor, the soft silicone soles of her feet making for a soft footstep, she seemed to startle the Sweetie's regular crew...though that wasn't too surprising; with her helmet on, and her visor still polarized, she looked a bit like an automated security droid one might see on an Inner Colony world or space station.

Arriving at the hanger, she found a couple other ships crew standing outside the hatch. "Captain is already inside talking to the new arrival. He told us to hang back." One of the crew said. "Said something about not wanting to spook the newcomer." "That's nice." Mary replied, the external speaker on her helmet distorting her voice. Ignoring the crewman's protests, she opened the door and stepped through.

"- ates were after you, little missy?"

'Little missy'? Seriously? She managed to control the urge to smack Walker upside the head for his poor choice of phrasing. Instead she kept quiet and moved off to the side so she had clear lines of fire on the ebony pilot. Well that certainly confirms my suspicion about whether or not the contact was human...

Brian stood waiting in the hangar as the battle went on outside, watching the entrance and any feeds he could cut into, listening to the comm channels he could pick up. Silently watching as the VIP entered and began to land he trained his guns on them and felt everything slide into place. Scanning turned up little as it began to analyze and record. Unrecognized design, unknown affiliation, predictable movement, predictable defences. Recommendation: Standard targeting protocols, standard firing patterns.

He briefly felt himself gunning the thing down as it settled and the pilot began to exit, something he quickly shook out of his head. Normal feedback. Normal response to the unfamiliarity.

He watched the figure carefully as they exited their craft, looking for anything he need act on. Armed and unrecognized humanoid species. Appeared almost Human or Humanish. Possibly female. Spoke English or some variety of it. Strange.

He waited to see where this was going.

Resha saw more people moving in and kept her hands away from her weapons. "You can name me Resha..." said the girl, still a bit better with terran than gal common, with obvious ways to go before she can actually speak fluently like a natural born.
"I am of Kyrn... exploration ship attacked, team jumps to save ship. Left me for safety of many, bad guys angry and shoot me now." she said to the apparent captain. "Humans first.... ummmm word is..... xen....xeno.....xen.... gah... ummmm all-eee-ins? aliens? my kind spoke to many.... cycles ago. We look at ships and... remains of.... planet expansions?" she said almost like a question in order to try and ask herself if she got the word right. Shaking her head, Resha looked up at him, still almost squinting. "My world dark. bright light still new." said the female with a bit of an awkward chuckle.

Walker heard something going on in the back and turn to see Mary coming in. He was about to say something but decide against it. Brian was already here as he saw him earlier while coming into the cargo hold. Walker was pretty sure that they can handle it. Though he didn't say anything as he turned back to face the new girl.

While it was kind of hard to understand her. She seemed to be very limited in human speech. "Well, we can find somewhere else to talk where it's dim to your liking. Follow me. Brian, stay here and keep watch over the.." Walker looked over at Resha's vehicle. "You're mech...follow me," Walker said turn around and then look at Mary. "You can come too." As he leads Resha to the briefing room. Turning down the lights some, but just enough to still see.

While he was still not trusting of their new friend. He didn't see her as harmful just yet. Plus she was a new alien in his eyes, and he was a bit curious to learn more about new aliens.

Meanwhile...

Whilst everyone who was involved with taking care of the new arrival was handling that, Velka, however, was busy setting herself up in one of the spare bunk rooms that were onboard the Sweet Child of Mine; an unusual name for a ship, no doubt had some personal meaning towards its owner, or that it was simply a cool name to pick. sigh Humans were weird like that sometimes.

Most of the spare equipment that Velka had brought with her she stored in a nearby locker, which was mostly spare ammunition for her rifle and the stun gun, along with additional supplies to keep her field repair kit stocked up. In all honesty, she didn't bring a whole lot with her, to begin with, compared to some of the others that decided to join, so it didn't take long to do.

With that out of the way, she turned to grab one of the data-slates she brought along. On it was information about medical anatomy from the various species that the Reshani had encountered; something she was given by her mother the last time she was home, about two to three months ago. With it in hand, Velka set herself down on the bed and started reading through it.

Resha smiled and nodded but ran at the mech quickly and tossed her weapons into the pilot's seat, a blade and a sidearm. She Rushed back and nodded, following the man to the briefing room. Sitting down, he could see her eyes relaxed a bit. "Thank you." Said the girl and held up her arm, tapping a few chitinous buttons. She began speaking in her language and the suit took a few minutes and more button taps before starting to translate.

"My Terran isn't the best and neither is the "galcomm" i think it's called. The suit has been taught the terran language fully as the second one i mentioned we couldn't gather enough data for." She began, a good spirit of youthfulness, but a bit of a mature understanding of the situation she was in. "MY fleet is exploratory and expeditionary. We initially suspected that the humans were the only other species, but we've since learned after starting our travels that is obviously not the case." she said, her voice low and the louder suit speaking in translation for her. "the fleet made a unanimous agreement to not not let the mothership fall to enemies. So when i went out with knowledge that i might be abandoned." she said to him, looking around. "Have any water?" she asked, but then continued on after a bit of a shudder, trying to adjust to the gravity here as it was still new to her and the events settling in on her.

"I'm a test pilot. I've never had combat... and never hurt anyone till. well. about ten or fifteen minutes ago. I guess i'm a fighter pilot now." Resha said looking down a bit. They could tell the girl definitely was now having the gravity of the situation fall on her. "Thank you for saving me. I don't know how to repay you other than by offering my services. The pirates were after me because they lost the big ship... it's not every day that something with tech like my kind's shows up. Trying to get something out of my craft is what they're were aiming to salvage." she explained, staring back up at them now. She was coming down off the adrenaline and trying to cope right now.

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