The ORION Files (Closed/Started)

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The Orion Files | Tortuga | Tortuga Sands Casino
You gotta know when to *SMACK!* ... ow...
Irina Rostikova

The Bloody Sands Massacre, as it would be later called by future Historians and Sociologists, was cited as being caused by an overzealous security staff, drunken attendees of the annual Fraternal order of Space Plunderers' Convention, an assassin droid shaped like a Warthog and a wager. The BSM was also cited as causing not only the death of some 345 patrons of the Tortuga Sands Casino but also the death of the tourism in Tortuga. Of course, since that was happening some time in the future, neither Shanoa nor Irina were aware of their future mentions in history books. Instead they were focused on their individual tasks.

From her perspective, the Casino Kitten thought that her Friend in Ferrous Feline Form was doing a rather admirable job, having not only eliminated a number of cheats but left their bodies slumped over in a pool of their own blood thereby causing the Casino staff to shift into maintenance mode instead of security mode. Not only did it put Shanoa ahead in the wager but it increased Irina's chip count, as some of the eliminated cheats had been sitting at her table. Sitting at her table, the Catican Mechanically Minded Merchant waited for a new player to take one of the table's empty seats

"Oi! Get this git outta 'ere." A new voice blared loudly near Irina's ear causing her to glance in the direction of the ear shattering voice's owner, a rather massive looking reddish figure dressed in what appeared to be a rather distressed Ancient Terran Ocean-Faring Pirate garb. The "git" that he had been referring to, one of the patrons whose had the eternal displeasure of being on the business end of Shanoa's tail, was dragged off with the Casino Staff muttering apologies to Captain Yogork, the man who now sat next to the Poker Playing Catican.

"Now..Letz get a game goin!" He said out loud, his fist nearly driving a hole through the table. The dealer quickly setting up a new game. Dealing the cards as Captain Yogork picks his two up as he stares. ""

Glancing back over at the man, who had actually picked up his cards rather than hide them against the table, Irina was suddenly hit with a fit of pity for the Raurax, who apparently didn't understand that game that they were playing. It would have been so easy to have taken the pitiful pirate's chips but there was something about the Massive Simpleminded Marauder that kept her from doing so.

"Excuse me, Captain Yoghurt was it?" Irina asked as she tapped the Red Skinned Raider on the shoulder, "You've never played this game before have you?" She continued, gesturing at where her cards were laying on the table, indicating that he should do the same, "You're doing a pretty good job of hiding your cards from the people at the table but you should probably hide your hand from everyone behind you also."

Turning around, she pointed at a patron that had taken a great interest in the Crimson Captain's cards.

"Irina Rostikova." She introduced herself, offering a handshake.

"Excuse me, Captain Yoghurt was it?" Irina asked as she tapped the Red Skinned Raider on the shoulder, "You've never played this game before, have you? You're doing a pretty good job of hiding your cards from the people at the table but you should probably hide your hand from everyone behind you also."

Captain Yogork blinks as he looks at his cards and then at hers. Before doing this again as he set his cards down like Irina. "Hey...You is right!" Yogork has the biggest smile on his face. "Dis is muc' better than 'olding them."

"Irina Rostikova."

He chuckles loudly as he grabs Irina hand and shakes it wildly. Yogork was used to shaking hands with other pirates, so this handshake was rough and he shook the whole arm of Irina. Though it didn't break, her hand would be feeling sore after this just from the grip alone. "Captain Yogork." He sound loudly as he lets go.

"Wha' else ya got for me 'ittle Irina." The captain asked, seeming to taken a liking to Irina since he gave her a nickname. Before she could even answer he yelled at one of the Casino workers. "OI! Get me and my friend" points at Irina with his thumb. "da best drinks youz got! If yous gotz none..THEN GO GET SOME!"

"Yes, sir!" The Casino worker would then salute quickly and ran off. A moment later, bringing back two large mugs filled with a strange looking liquid that was greenish in color. " favorite." Yogork grabs the mug and starts downing it.

Velka | Tortuga Drift | Security Terminus - Bounty Office

Looking for Work: Chapter 7 - Cashing Out

Roughly Fifteen Minutes Later From Chapter 6

Merrick was busy reading an hourly surveillance report when he was interrupted by a metallic sounding cough, looking up from his reading, he saw that Velka had returned and appeared to be holding something; slightly looking over his desk, he was surprised by what he saw, it was both Taliesin and Mishka bound and gagged, and clearly unconscious.

"How the hell did the big one get a cut across the nose?" Asked Merrick as Velka dropped the bundles, the 'big one' referring to Mishka.

"He got it after I knocked his head into a shelving unit, it was what knocked him out in the end."

Further examination would reveal several bruises across the body of Mishka, who bore the brunt of attacks during the somewhat short fight that took place earlier, given that he was not a required target, unlike Taliesin. Speaking of which, Velka had pocketed the poker chip that the crook had carried on him; she wasn't going to keep it herself, as she mostly had no use for it. Merrick meanwhile pushed the intercom button to connect him with Captain Gantu.

"What is it, Merrick?" Gantu asked, clearly sounding a little frustrated.

"You gonna have to come out and see this." Merrick then cut the connection, a couple seconds later Gantu's office door slid open and out he stepped carrying a few reports of his own. It only took him a second or two to see what was going on; a large grin soon appeared.

"Well I'll be. Had a feeling you were up to the job but wasn't entirely certain." Gantu said as he knelt down near Taliesin, looked him over a couple of times before delivering a slap across the face, which woke the crook instantly. To the surprise of no one, he let out a series of muffled screams as the realisation of his situation dawned on him, that and the pain he felt in his right leg from when he was tripped up in the fight.

Satisfied with the result, Gantu stood up and looked to Velka.

"Heard what happened at the Domino Effect, quite a little skirmish if I am lead to believe?"

"Indeed Captain, I would have liked to have kept the encounter brief and relatively quiet, but it seems he had a surprise for me. Guess I've got some situational awareness practice to look into after this. And apologies for any damages caused to the Casino."

"No need to apologise, it was this schmuck that caused it in the first place. Besides, I think the money he has spliced should more than cover it. Speaking of which, you got that chip? We might need it to access his accounts."

"Here it is." Velka fished the chip out of a coat pocket and gently handed it over. Gantu examined it for a moment before putting it in a waistcoat pocket.

"You have done some nice work here Miss Velka, after a year of causing us trouble, Taliesin is finally going to be behind bars. Guess you be wanting your payment now right?"

"It would be appreciated."

"Here you go." Spoke Gantu as he passed over a black coloured credit chit. "I had the chit on standby in case you were successful. Say, don't suppose you'd be up for tackling another contract for us? Payment ain't as good as Taliesin, but it's decent enough?"

"And leave other bounty hunters out in the cold?" Velka asked nonchalantly, but with a hint of a smile.

"I appreciate the offer Captain, but I must be going. I mainly took this contract as I needed to blow off a little steam; the job before this wasn't exactly successful.[/b]"

"I see. Well should you happen to change your mind, you have my comm signal, just make sure to delete that when you leave."

"I'll take it up under advisement. Be seeing you." With that, Velka gave a quick nod towards the pair, then turned on her heels and left.

So, after a whole lot of silence from Grace and no report, Elliot was starting to get worried, but she soon reappeared in the corridor he'd been hanging out in. Rather surprisingly, she seemed slightly bothered by something. Was that just a trace of a blush on her cheeks?

"Grace, is everything alright?"

"...yes, I think they'll be fine."

"What happened back there?"

"I found out there are a series of in-between places comprised of mostly-unused portions of the ships that comprise this station."

"And that's where Mar and Mary are now?"


"What're they...oh. I get it now. Let's not worry about those two, then. They're in good hands."

"Please don't say it like that."

Grace may've been a young woman, but the thought of engaging in the kinds of activities the Shree and their mark were doing now was not something that came first in her mind. She didn't expect it, she hadn't gotten involved in that, and she wasn't even sure if she was the type who should. It was hard for someone who's life was mercenary and expertly handling weapons to focus on that when she had never focused on that. She wasn't even sure which way she leaned, if she leaned at all. Trying to get her mind off of that, she just remembered something.

"Elliot, I need to go back to the ship."

"Alright. I'll keep this part out of the report to our client."

"Thank you."

Why was she going back? Well, there was still the manner of Irina's training, actually... So, getting back to the Sweet Child, Grace found a sheet of paper and a pen, and wrote up the following notice to put up on the door to the Redeemer...


It has been suggested that you require training from someone
who actually understands how to pilot a space vehicle.
You will report to me for lessons on this, and you will take
them all seriously. Blame Ed if you don't like it.


The Orion Files | Tortuga | Tortuga Sands Casino
Table under the drunk...
Irina Rostikova

It appeared that her new friend's name was Captain Yogork and he had quite the firm grip. As his massive hand encircled Irina's more slim one, she could hear the knuckles cracking and popping as he gave her a rather enthusiastic handshake. She had half a mind to order some cielnuts, a rather delicious plant seed that was encased in a tough shell that usually required power tools to crack.

"Wha' else ya got for me 'ittle Irina." The Fancy Looking Pirate Captain asked, the nickname causing the Catican Mechant Mechanic to wince slightly, content with the fact that at least it wasn't "Ball-Irina," a name that one of her clients from her former life had given her after asking her to dance provocatively in order to close a deal.

"Well... Texas Hold'em isn't the most complex game here but..." the Cute Casino Kitty started to say, warming up to explain the rules and strategy behind the Terran card game.

"OI! Get me and my friend best drinks youz got! If yous gotz none. THEN GO GET SOME!" The Colorful Captain called out, his speech patterns causing even Irina's translator to wince. Drinks, however, seemed like a good idea considering the type of gambling student that Captain Yogork was bound to be.

"I guess it's not gambling unless you're having fun..." she said weakly as the casino staff delivered a rather large and umbrella'd drink that appeared to be a radioactive red... since it literally bathed the smoke floating off the drink's surface a bright red color. Eyeing the drink, Irina dubiously commented on the beverage's appearance, "This doesn't look healthy in the very least."

Turning to her newly found friend, she noted that he had already finished his and was waiting politely for her to finish her's before ordering another round.

"Okaaaaay. Here goes nothing."

------------------------------Several Drinks and Hands Later------------------------------


"Wh...wass thaht?" A slightly slurry alcohol sponge slurred as she patted down her body looking for the source of the annoying beeping before realizing that the beeping was coming from inside her head, "Teh daahm casino puht a bugh in mah drinkz!! Waaait. Waaait a secnnd! Ish juhst a message."

Incomimg Message:
It has been suggested that you require training from someone
who actually understands how to pilot a space vehicle.
You will report to me for lessons on this, and you will take
them all seriously. Blame Ed if you don't like it.


The Catican At the Casino that you wish you didn't start a conversation with eyed the message, reading it several times before the her brain addled alcohol registered the messages meaning. Taking another long swig of the rather strong radioactive red drink, Irina eyed her cards and her growing chip stack.

"I.... *hic* I'll need s'more drinkz befur I can deep with Grace..." Irina slurred, tossing down a pair 2 and 7 down on the table in disgust, "HEY! HEEEEEY! SHANOA!!! MOAR DRINKZ!!!!!"

Captain Yogort was drinking to large mug at once while the drunken cat woman yelled for her robot friend. Slamming them down at once as he let out a large burp. "Aha HA hA ha...Ahh..Dis..Dis is da best night I had in..a..uh...While!" Yogort laughs loudly as he put his massive left arm around Irina and pull her in closely, while his right arm grabs the guy to the right in as well. Giving them a big hug, "L-lets...Lets sang some songs! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" He let out as he starts to sang, though anyone nearby would have to cover their ears to block out the horrible singing.

"'WHAT WILL WEZ DOZ WITH A DRUNKEN SAILOR! WHAT WILL WEZ DOZ WITH A DRUNKEN SAILOR! WHAT WILL WEZ DOZ WITH A DRUNKEN SAILOR, EARLY IN DA MORNING!" At this time one of the casino's workers came to clean up the bottles and put down a fresh one for Yogort. He quickly grabs it and chugged it down, but hitting his limit as he falls back and a huge crash is heard. Snoring loudly as he lay there.

An hour later, an older man would walk in with a few men. Looking around the place as he would soon spot Yogort and shake his head lightly. He whispers to his men and they got to work to grab Yogort and help him out. Anyone nearby would hear them say, "Come'on Captain, Time for restin."

"Daaaaawah...but I wanna..'ang out wit me new friend soommmmess 'ore" He said in a slur state as the guys helping him were straining to keep him up. The Older man went up and spoke with someone who was part of the Casino's management, though mostly whisper while the Older man handed over some Credits for the drinks and any damages that Yorgort might have done.

-One Week Later-

During the week, Walker was informed that the ship was going to get more than just a standard repair, It was going to be refitted a bit to make sure whatever they were delivering for Mr.Watts makes it to its location. Giving the crew a small R&R for longer then they thought they would have. With this, Walker had Pitt try to search for any information about their unexpected guest at the Warehouse.

During this, Walker went to get some supplies for the ship by selling off some of the extra cargo they didn't need at this time. Once the week was up, Walker was informed about the repairs and refits being done. Though this was the start of his problems for today.

-At the ship-

"WALKER!!!!!!!!" Pitt screamed at the captain as he angerly walks towards him. Walker letting out a long sigh as he knew this was going to be a headache.

"What is it, Pitt?" He asked as he sort of knew what was wrong already.

"Look! Do you see what they did! HMMM! DO YOU!?!?!?!" Walker looked up at the ship and seen the refits, though nothing too wrong with it besides the rush patch up parts. "The ship its ruin, RUIN I TELL YOU! We can't leave yet. I have to fix all these mistakes...ALL OF THEM!" Pitt looking up at the ship as he put his hands on his helmet. "Ugh, So much work to do! SO MUCH WORK!"

"Look Pitt.." Walker started, "I know how you like to run things..but we need to get going for Mr.Watts. I'm sure his men know what they were doing and just had to make quick repairs and refits. We also need to get our asses out of here and do the job so we can get some I really don't want to stay here for another week just to let you do repairs.."

"Ha...haha..HA.HAHA.>HAHAHAHAH!" Pitt started laughing as he looks up at Walker. "A..A week you say? IT WILL TAKE ME A MONTH TO FIX ALL THIS!" Pitt waving his arms all around. "I should have been doing this instead of going on a Wild goose chase!"

Walker sigh as he put his face in his right hand. Rubbing his forehead lightly. "We'll talk more about it later..just..just go back to your workshop and relax."

-The Next Morning-

Mary awoke to a few things; the tell-tale 'buzzing' sound in her head of a hangover/on coming sobriety, the slightly heavy and warm sensation of a larger body pressed against her, which included a not unwelcome hand resting on her chest and the slightly stiff feeling that resulted from falling asleep with one or more of her prosthetics attached.

Opening her eyes slowly, the dimly lit room gradually came into focus as she replayed the night before; the drinks, a bit of flirting, a good brawl...a slight shifting confirmed that the bruises were coming along nicely...and then into the backrooms with an overly amorous Shree. Turning her head slightly, Mary smiled at the softly snoring Mar. Now, her reaction is going to be interesting... She thought as she went to sit up; unfortunately that was when she realized her left arm was pinned under her larger companion. She tried pulling free a few times, but lacked the leverage. Fortunately, she still had her right attached, so after a few pokes to Mar's exposed torso she was able to extract herself. "C'mon sleepy." She yawned. "Best we get back ship-side."


"Okay, the transfer just came back green, I'll send the loader your way now." Mary said, talking to a comm screen in the cockpit of her fighter as it resting in her hanger. "Did you think I'd try and cheat you?" Came the reply from Zernedi male, his four eyes blinking in sequence. "Zaxs, I trust you about as much as you trust me." She replied with a grin. "Ouch," Zaxs chittered. "Well in this case it seems both parties made out well...later Red." "Later." With that the feed was cut.

Outside of the fighter, an autonomous cargo loader was picking up the last of the small arms that Mary had 'acquired' from the botched Chronus job to take them to their new owner, one Zaxs Betharid Vesde, one of Tortuga's many arms dealers. She'd had enough stock, and the guns were good enough, that she'd actually managed to spark a little bidding war for them and had ending up splitting the guns into two lots and selling them both for more than she'd figured she was going to get for the whole load.

Add to that the sale of the mech and her old fighter, and Mary was a happy girl...granted she'd then turned around and blown a lot of those credits on munitions, fuel and a few upgrades and mods to her new ship, but even after that her account was up to a healthy 500k.

With that business handled, she returned to what she'd been doing before Zaxs' call had come in, finishing integrating some new toys into her 'Spectre'. She'd had Shipbreaker's people remove the shield generator from Stumpy before she sold it and had them install it into the Air-to-Ground weapons bay; since the fighter was so much newer and actually had some power to spare, the shield was turning out to be more reliable than it had been, but it still wasn't prefect. The other work she'd had done involved the gutting of the rear cockpit and the installation of a ECM/CCM unit out of an old TGRN Mare Imbrium class corvette. With all of that tied together and overseen by the fighter's VI, the crew of the Sweety now had a nasty little surprise on their side.

With the loader away and the hanger pressurized once more, Mary had the canopy open and some music playing as she worked.

The Orion Files | Tortuga | Sweet Child of Mine | Hanger
One week later
Irina Rostikova

Irina heavily sighed the sigh of annoyance as she sat behind the rather rudimentary controls of a rented shuttle, her eyes locked on the heavily neoned casino seated just on the other side of the shuttle's canopy. Ultimately the wager between Irina and the casino was declared a wash by those who were truly in charge of the establishment, their reasoning was that the pit boss who had made the wager was not authorized to make such a decision and that he was getting a kick back from the Cat House for any new girls he sent their way. It wasn't all for naught though, for a nominal fee, Shanoa and Irina were to hold their tongues regarding the matter while the Casino claimed that the spike in deaths were the result of an assassin bot with faulty facial recognition. Anyone who claimed otherwise was bad mouthing the Casino and those who ran it, who were not the type of people who took lightly to rumor mongering.

Of course the negotiations towards a resolution where everyone was happy weren't the smoothest that Catican Merchant/Mechanic had been involved with, what with the Casino being used to threatening the mortal lives of any who crossed it and Shanoa not exactly being mortal, but there came a point where Irina could only stare incredulously as Shanoa threatened to reduce the Casino little more than a building with a whole bunch of non-functional equipment and a severe lack of credits for repairs.

"I'll be back inside a week to get revenge if you kill us. After all it won't be that hard to sneak my way onto this station leave you in ruin, and be off the station before anyone knows what happened. I'm REALLY good at rigging systems destroy themselves after all." Shanoa had stated bluntly.

It was somewhere between the threat of future property damage and the loss of future profits that the Casino finally decided that killing Irina was not the best option, since they were probably already going to have to boost their security based on the number of families and pirate outfits that would be looking for revenge. Trying to fend off a relentless, tireless killer of meatbags was just budget breaking.

So how had Irina spent the last week of her down time in Tortuga? Well, she'd spent quite a deal of time trying to make a fully functional mount for the weapon that Shani had purchased from Crazy Sal, she'd also worked on using rebuilding SARA-00735's muscular system using the nano-agents purchased from Crazy Sal. Finally there was the Grace's flight training... which had been painful on the first day, considering Irina's hangover.

It was quite obvious that Grace was never meant to be a teacher, since no parent in their right mind would leave their children alone with Grace for more than a couple of seconds. Of course, that was only Irina's personal opinion about the woman, considering their prank filled history. Despite having the manners of a Borrian Bear, the mercenary turned out to be a competent instructor and managed to teach the ship denting newbie pilot a few things... none of which was particularly useful for being a testing platform for a weapon that had not been fired in an unknown number of years.

"Shani, Ed, are you both locked in?" Irina said of the comms as she started her preflight checks, "Though, if you think about it, being locked in might not be the best option if that thing malfunctions..."

"While I always will welcome an opportunity for field testing a weapon, why must I be outside of the craft with Shanoa again?" The Colossal Mountain of Cat Meat asked as he double checked his magnetic boots.

"Because if something goes wrong, you're going to help Shani chuck the weapon overboard before it destroys the shuttle and we lose our deposit." Irina quipped as she powered up the engines, "Now... any objections, Shani or Edward?

With the non sense at the Casino behind them, Shanoa spent her week divided between upgrading her mechanical frame to be more combat capable. Which really just meant targeting systems and a tweak to the drivers in the legs to handle weapon recoil better.


Working on that encrypted Data Spike as it was of more interest to her then the TGR locked one. After all, anything that heavily locked down HAS to be containing something interesting inside it. That and the way the encryption was set up defied typical encryption methods, leaving her normal hacking routines less effective then normal, not that it really bothered her. If fact it was kinda hard to pull her away from said 'puzzle' some times.

But now, she was standing out side a shuttle, with Ed, and an old weapon on her back. She was running a few final checks. making sure the rifle was pointing where she was looking, and locking on and zooming in on things like she should, and making sure the Rifles 'Anti-Armor' as it was listed in it's system, activated like it should. Which visually, just caused the barrel to split and open up a little bit, as well as keeping an eye on the energy levels in the weapons barrel/rails and generator.

"Everything appears to be green on my end, just gimme something to 'do science' on and we'll see what this thing can do." Shanoa replied as the weapon hummed to life for the first time in who knows how long. The hum and the general 'feeling' of her waiting for a target to be presented felt so ...

Nostalgic, familiar, to her.

To say nothing of the weird feeling of 'completion' she had now that the gun was 'back in her possession.' Though that she chalked up to it being a part of her past. Ether way, she liked the feeling.

"That one looks good" Shanoa said after a moment, relaying the image of a fairly large rock, only about the size of the shuttle she was 'glued to' at the moment, and not to far from their current location.

Once in range, Shanoa began the firing tests, starting in the 'Anti-Personnel' mode. The Rifle, so far at least, seemed to be functioning as intended. Though the rate of fire was a bit sluggish due to the charge time, but since it was pretty clearly a rifle intended sniper operations, it wasn't a big deal, but still an issue that would need to be looked it later. The damage done to the rock in this mode was, really pretty minimal. But it was making some noticeable dents, so despite the age it still had plenty of stopping power behind it.

Shanoa then switched to 'Anti-Armor' mode, and let it power up to that modes required charge level, keeping a sharp eye on the charge cycle for any irregularity's. Shanoa, re-anchored her self, giving her self a stronger stance to handle the increased power of this mode, then fired.

and was immediately surprised by the fact it pushed her back a little, a solid 7 inches worth of fresh scratch marks on the shuttle hull from her being forced back. She was also receiving errors from the mount it self from the stress put on it from firing, from the weapon it self, due to heat generation. Though the emergency cool-down protocols seemed to still function correctly as the whole thing just shut down once it 'red-lined' to vent and cool.

The damage to the rock the was significant though, a whole chunk had been blown off and there was a pretty serious crack through out the rest of it.

"Anti-Armor in-deed. It seems to work just fine. But we'll need to go over it with a fine toothed comb to address the effects of who knows how long worth of sitting in a box." Shanoa said to the Catican Company she was currently in. "Re-enforcing the mount to handle the alt fire mode is gonna need to be done." She continued as she noticed a few minor errors in her legs, also stress related. "And ... well, work. lots of work."

<<< Mar >>>
Tortuga Drift | Shore Leave | Dead Orbit Privacy Room
"Not while I'm hungover..."

-The Next Morning-

The first thing that Mar was aware of when she slowly came to consciousness was that her head was throbbing with the kind of pain she had only felt a scant few times before: The pain of one hell of a hangover, because she had clearly overdone things the night before. The next things she was immediately aware of were a variety of sensations: The fact that her mouth was dry and there was an odd lingering taste on her tongue; That she was in a bed with someone else pressed against her; And lastly that both of her true-hands were currently squeezing something that felt both firm, yet soft. She felt her bed partner shift a little before a familiar voice spoke.

"C'mon sleepy. Best we get back ship-side."

Mary? The Shree's brow furrowed a little as she slowly stirred awake and opened her eyes, fully intending to tell last nights companion to get the hell out while she got dressed and hashed things out with Mary. She woke face-to-face with Mary herself, naked and in her arms.

Mar flinched backwards with what could only be described as a squawk, only barely catching herself before she fell off of the privacy rooms bed.

"Mary?! What the fuck are we doing in bed togeth--" she began to protest, before reaching up with all four hands to clutch at her skull as the throbbing worsened, "Oooooh, my head..."

As she pushed herself up so that she sat on the bed, she took that moment to both try and will the pain to lessen, and to try and recall the night before. Most of it was in a haze, but she remembered more Mind-Crawlers than was strictly prudent, going bar hopping with an amorous Mary, getting into a bar fight and then... Her eyes popped open and a look of scandalized shock passed over her features. It took her a moment to look up at the nude ex-pirate before she swallowed, hard.

"I remember now," she said hoarsely, "And I have to admit this is a first for me. Let us never speak of this again."

-One Week Later-

Upon learning that the Sweet Child of Mine wasn't just getting repairs, but a full refit, Mar realized that she was going to have a lot of time to herself. Which meant that she had time to take care of more than a few of the lingering things that had been nagging at her since signing up with the ORION Company. First of which was performing minor repairs and a repaint of her Devil-Fish.

Second of which was finally personalizing the Hellbat fighter that she had recently... 'Requisitioned' from Chronus. Since Pitt had given her an all-clear regarding any hidden bugs or other unpleasant surprises that Chronus might have had in store for her, that meant she had full reign to properly refit the controls, name and paint it. And over the course of a week, she had done exactly that.

As she stood in front of the freshly painted Peace Lily, she sighed happily and nodded once in satisfaction. The irony of a fighter ship even having 'Peace' in the name wasn't lost on her, but it seemed appropriate given the paint-job she had given it. She had decided to give it a rather more 'retro' paint job, consisting of a cream-colored base, bands of a rather washed-out orange, and maroon peace lilies on both the main body, and smaller ones winding around each main thruster. The business end of each thruster had also been given a classical checkerboard band them in black and white. All-in-all, she was rather satisfied with the results.

That left one last item on her agenda: A proper test-flight.

It was, admittedly, the first time she had instructed anybody in anything...but Irina was hardly a model student.

Let us review, shall we?

First, there was the fact that while she was patiently awaiting the Catican's return while cleaning her sniper rifle, Grace had learned that she was apparently spending her time getting drunk and holding up a casino with Shanoa. It's times like this when you really consider that the rifle in your hands should be put to constructive use. After Irina had recovered from her hangover enough to be considered safe to operate a console, she had been taken out for some maneuvers, the basic stuff that she seemed to fail to grasp that'd led to a broken airlock and the Archer nearly separated from the Sweet Child in a heavy combat situation. Seriously, the only thing that'd saved her from being the victim of a ton of glue and feathers that she'd seen someone selling on Tortuga was Ed's rather competent diplomacy. The large purple Catican had been unexpectedly constructive and Grace couldn't fault his simple logic.

In retrospect, maybe he wanted both of them to suffer.

Irina complained, called Grace a slave-driver, a nagging old widow, and a heartless bitchy drill-sergeant. Grace had asked Elliot if he knew anyone like that during his time in TGR. He said no, because it's bad for morale to be completely heartless. The rest was up to the individual. She knew that she herself wasn't so bad, considering that the goal here was completely reasonable and would prevent damage to any of the ships. Even still, the female Catican needed some serious micromanagement to get it right faster than slow, because she kept saying the right way was too slow and she'd get shot. How did she ever manage a ship before now? Elliot piloted the Archer like a true professional, and so did she, after a while.

And so it came to be that after a week of this nonsense that Elliot brought her a cup of coffee in her room while reviewing the whole shebang.

"Thank you."

"Caticans are similar to the actual cats, in ways, so they don't train well, sometimes. It's probably why Irina's out in a situation like this."

"I know, but...this is why I leave the leadership to you. You know what you're doing. Ever though we're a team and we work together, I know where I stand with your initiative. I can't depend on someone like Irina."

"We'll work on it. And if she doesn't catch on quick, I'll let her know she has a very noticeable bald spot in a place that's hard to check out."

That produced a snerk from the white-haired one. At Hogwarts, they'd call that mischief managed.

"Now, I hear that the captain's got us a job coming up. Should be soon, since the refit is done, except I heard Pitt shouting at him. Until then, though, why not do something a little fun, for a change?"

"Like what?"


Mar would get a message from Elliot on her personal line, via the ship's network.

-Hello, Mar. Elliot here. I understand you've been working on a new piece of work, but it hasn't been out for a test flight yet. Why not work out some of the kinks with the Archer? We can even fire some of our decoys as obstacles.-

The Orion Files | Tortuga | Sweet Child of Mine | Hanger
A Three Hour Tour...
Irina Rostikova | Edward Aubergine



"There goes the deposit..." That Novice Space Jockey muttered to herself as she worked the controls to stabilize the rickety rental craft. The next time they decided that they wanted to test fire an untested weapon, they would definitely have to use something with a bit more mass than a four seat Foundry Brick. Besides the loss of the rental deposit, the Minnow's acting captain had also lost the ship's automated stabilizers, probably due to the recoil of Shani's miniature battleship cannon, resulting in the ship performing a series of involuntary barrel rolls.

"Stop wrenching the controls!" Grace's voice ordered in the back of Irina's mind, her voice sounding unusually bitchy for someone who supposedly cool under fire, though it might have had to do with the fact that she'd uttered that exact phrase some thirty to forty times during the first hour of training. Whatever the case was, Captain Kittyhawk loosened her grip on the controls, recovering control of the ship in practically no time... practically.

"Perhaps I should not have had breakfast this morning..." Edward said over the comms, his voice filled with a hint of motion sickness. There was a slight pause as the Purple People Mangler examined something, "It appears that the mount sustained some damage from the second test firing. I think it best to head back to the ship and work on reducing the amount of recoil generated by the weapon before we test it again."

Edward was the real Captain on this three hour tour... the captain of all things obvious.

"Alright... heading back towards the Sweetie." Irina said as she moved to fire up the main engines... or tried to fire up the main engines. As the Catican Merchant/Mechanic attempted to start up the engines, two things happened. First, the ship did not gain any forward velocity. Second, the ship's diagnostics stated that they were out of fuel due to a rupture fuel line located right around where Edward and Shanoa were standing, "Or... maybe the Sweetie can come pick us up..."

"Irina... I believe that the shuttle may have sustained some damage..." Edward stated over the comms, the ship's external showing the Colossal Catican Shock Trooper pointing at an expanding mist of frozen fuel.

"Great... another thing that Grace is going to blame me for..."

The day after Velka's contract work against Taliesin Rafe, she had overheard from Captain Walker that the Sweet Child of Mine was going to be going under a rather extensive refit and that the ship would be unsafe to fly for approximately a week; she began to rethink on her stance regarding Captain Gantu's offer for more contract work.

No doubt it would bring in a small sum of credits, and perhaps she could use some of those credits to upgrade/expand her arsenal of equipment, as whilst she had the means to engage her foes at distance, she lacked the sufficient to means for close-quarters engagements; something that would of certainly been helpful for the previous contract. So after recalibrating her gear, she got in contact with the Captain and requested a few contracts.

So over the course of the week, Velka took care of her assigned contracts with a greater degree of subtly, and less property damage than before. The contracts given were mainly those who were trying to muscle on some of the businesses that operated in and around Tortuga Drift.

In fact, by the end of the week, a rumour started to circulate regarding her efforts, though they didn't directly mention her. Something of a fanciful tale, though it did get something resembling a chuckle out of the Reshani, was that a so-called 'spectre of vengeance' had descended upon the station, causing some small-time criminals to turn themselves in, in fear of being visited by such a creature. By the end, Velka had personally dealt with a dozen contracts and had put an end to a few small gangs in the process; all in all, a good job in all respects.

True to her word, part of the credits she received from bounty hunting went on a couple of new weapons that she purchased from a male Reshani, one who, judging from the numerous scratches and scars she could see on his plating, had seen a fair bit of action. The weapons in question were manufactured S.A.I (Seburo Arms International); which according to the Reshani, were the most recent incarnation of an ancient Terran company. Based on their design and functionality, they were an assault rifle and a pistol.

According to the salesman, whilst they weren't a top of the line model, they made up for it in terms of functionality, adaptability, and a surprisingly light carry-weight. Supplied with them were a box of ammunition for each, attachable suppressors, and red dot sights. It was fortunate for Velka that the ammunition they used was of a common type, which meant that resupply wouldn't be as big an issue. Following those purchases, she went and picked up a tactical webbing vest for her new weapons, some tools to modify them with to suit her frame, along with a couple of long coats to wear.

--- Present Time ---

After making the final adjustments to the combat rigging and making sure it could fit over her both when she was and wasn't wearing a long-coat, Velka decided to see if anyone else needed help with something; or if there was something they wanted to do. She knew roughly where some of the others were going to be, in and around the hangar, for the most part, so headed in that general direction.

--- Five Minutes Later ---

"Ha...haha..HA.HAHA. HAHAHAHAH!" At the sound of this rather manic laughter, Velka ducked into a nearby alcove so as to remain unseen. Peering out, it appeared such a caterwaul was being made by Pitt as he wildly waved his arms about in the presence of Captain Walker. "A..A week you say? IT WILL TAKE ME A MONTH TO FIX ALL THIS! I should have been doing this instead of going on a Wild goose chase!" It appeared as though that the engineer didn't approve of the repairs and refits that had been done to the Sweet Child, seemingly finding fault with everything.

Judging from the Captain's expression, Walker didn't have the same opinion, "We'll talk more about it later..just..just go back to your workshop and relax."

Stepping out from the alcove, Velka approached the couple, giving out a small cough to signify her presence.

"I take it you find fault with the work that has been done then, Mr Pitt?"

"And that is that!" She muttered with no small amount of satisfaction as she put the finishing touches on the install of her new kit. The Shipbreaker's people were good at the physical installation, but she had to do a few tweaks here and there to get the UI working the way she preferred; but now that that was done it was time to do something more interesting.

Taking advantage of the open cockpit to stretch, she did so before strapping on her helmet and prepping to launch; like normal she was already wearing her flight suit. After a brief pre-flight, Mary pushed out into space. Still gotta give her a proper name, and maybe a little nose art. She'd seen some of what Mar had done to her fighter, but that was a bit much...and anyways if they can see you, you're probably way to damn close.

Still coasting on inertia, a thought struck her. Lilith's Hand...I like that... Typing it into a screen to save it for later, Mary did a quick scan to get a fix on local traffic when she spotted One of the rickety rental shuttles was drifting along with its engines off, near-ish to one of Tortuga's many tiny natural satellites. Curiosity got the better of her, so she started to boost towards it while tagging the junker with a more detailed scan. "No wonder she's not moving much." She murmured and the scan gave a return on what could only be an expanding cloud of fuel.

Wait a sec...didn't Irina mention something about renting a shuttle to get some flying time in? As she got closer, she brought up an external cam and zoomed in on the craft, and spotted the distinct shapes of both Ed-plant and Shanny mag-locked to the shuttles hull. It took her a few moments to find the right channel, before transmitting, "Hey Kitty, it's Red." She comm'd to the stricken craft. "You had any other failures or just the fuel lines?" A simple 'Out of Gas' would mean that she could do a proper retrieval, go back to Sweety get one of the haulers, tow 'em back etc; but if there were other system failures, she'd have to improvise with what she had on hand.

Pitt seems to want to continue the argument until Velka step from the shadows.

"I take it you find fault with the work that has been done then, Mr. Pitt?"

"Ugggh.." Pitt let out a sigh as Velka was one of the last few people he wanted to chat with. Though since seem that Walker wasn't going to do anything about it, he might as well as rant to Velka about it. Though before he could say anything, Walker stepped up and chuckle.

"Trust me Velka, you wouldn't want to stay here after five minutes of hearing Pitt rant about something," Walker said as he pulled out a drinking flask and unscrew the lid and took a sip. Before screwing the lid back on and putting it back into his vest pocket.

If anyone could see Pitt face, they would see a pure hatred glare at Walker. Though Pitt snapped out of it and started to rant to Velka about the shoddy patch works the crew did to the ship. "Oh and Velka, Meet up at the briefing room within ten minutes. Going to go over what we go to do to pay this off." Walker said as he started to head inside the ship. He would use his comms to send out a message to his team.

"This is Walker, everyone meet up in the briefing room within probably thirty minutes. If you need me, just message me"

Walker said as he then started to head towards the Prison cells within the ship. Wondering how their prisoner was doing at this moment. He had a few of his crew watch over her and to make sure she was treated fairly. He really didn't have a need to mistreat her yet.


A message would be blinking on Elliot and Grace computer. It seems Captain Williams had finally sent a message back.

Hello again. Sorry for the..delay. I've been trying to find out what the hell happen without getting caught. It seems whatever happen on that planet of your is a hot topic right now within the TGR. They're trying to cover up everything about it and it seems info is leaking out through their fingertips here and there. Though I can't say if this information is 100% accurate, it should provide some clues to you guys more then me. Sending the data to you now.

The data files contain files from Sasleyria News before the TGR and Chronus forces put a blockade around the planet. Pictures of a politic movement happening within the city. A small-time party that was trying to encourage people to support a move to join up with one of the three major powers within the galaxy and to fully break away all ties with the TGR and to join up with the Corus Sphere. Though from the pictures provided, they didn't even look like a threat, unlike the ones the Orion group ran into. Until one shows up that show a very familiar soldier's armor in the background. With a time stamp that was taken two weeks before the TGR showed up.

The Orion Files | Tortuga | Sweet Child of Mine | Hanger
It was Space Deer...
Irina Rostikova | Edward Aubergine

Looking down at the ship's diagnostic display, Orion Company's mechanically minded merchant sighed loudly as she isolated the source of the fuel leak. There were four sets of gouges, each one was the width of a certain augmented A.I.'s feet, in the ship's relatively thin hull, one of which had intersected with a fuel line, severing it nearly. It would be a relatively easy fix, one that could have even been done via EVA were it not for the fact that even if the leak was repaired, there was still no fuel.

"Hey Kitty, it's Red," Mary's tinny voice squawked over the shuttle's cheaply made communications array and causing the less than professional pilot to smile. There were few moments in Irina's life that she had been happy to hear a human's voice over comms but this was one of those times, "You had any other failures or just the fuel lines?"

"It's just the fuel lines... I think I hit some micro-debris... or... some sort of creature, attracted by the ship's lights, collided with the hull... or something," Irina said, practicing the lie that she would tell the rental company since that's what space hazard insurance was for.

"This is Walker, everyone meet up in the briefing room within probably thirty minutes. If you need me, just message me" The comms crackled again as Captain Walker decided to make an announcement.

"I do not believe that we will be attending this briefing if we are forced to wait for the rental company to send a repair and refueling shuttle. The Killer Commando Cat that was clinging to the side of the rental, "Perhaps we could request transport from one of the local transport services and have the owners of this barely space worthy piece of y'ta leavings haul it back to their hanger."

From inside the shuttle, Irina considered the suggestion. While the shuttle company would surely attempt to collect some sort of fee for the damage to the shuttle, there was no doubt that they would attempt to collect more than the shuttle. However, in order to ensure that the charge looked legitimate, the company would be forced to pick up the ailing shuttle prior to making any claims so that would give Irina some time to move funds around, leaving only enough to cover repairs.

"Okay. I'll contact the shuttle rental office as soon as we're aboard the sweetie but until then..." Irina paused long enough to type in a message into the communications computer, "I'll set the ship to broadcast a warning signal so that no one gets into a collision with this hunk of junk."

"Hey Mary? You think you could go grab a shuttle from the Sweetie and pick us up? The Captain wants us there in 30 minutes... so you'll have to be fast. You think you could do that?" The Catican coercer called out to the previously involved in the pirate life pilot in a tone that sounded kind of like a challenge.

She heard Walker's announcement, but cut the channel before he could finish. Later Boss-man, kinda busy...

"Hey Mary? You think you could go grab a shuttle from the Sweetie and pick us up? The Captain wants us there in 30 minutes... so you'll have to be fast. You think you could do that?"

Mary grinned inside her helmet to no one in particular. "No, really?" She replied. "I was going to suggest you lot just jump off of that crap can and let momentum carry you back...but seriously, yeah, keep your fur on I'll be back in a tic."

Taking a lazy circuit of the stricken craft, she then did a short burn to bring her back to the large freighter that she'd just launched from. Landing without ceremony, she left her personal hanger and hoofed it across Sweety to her own shuttle bays. A quick rundown later, Mary was back in space and clipping towards the disabled rental ship. Depressurizing her ship, Mary opened the main cargo hatch and brought it alongside the two figures locked to the outside. "Alright folks," She smirked. "Taxi's here. It's 50 creds a click, an extra 30 if we gotta stop for snack and a 100 if'n ya spew, oh and no pets."

Listening to the local comm chatter, she couldn't help but chuckle at Irina's chipper response.
"Looks like you're stuck on the shuttle, Edward, " Or Ed-plant's grumbled reply even as he unlocked himself from the stricken craft and vaulted the short distance into the open cargo bay of Mary's shuttle. "Want me to tune your engines while I'm back here?" Irina continued, before remembering the fact that they were going to have to cross the distance between the shuttle and Mary's ship, "So... how are we going to do this?"

"Contain the calamity that is your mammaries." Mary laughed as Shanoa made the jump as well. Once the AI was in place, she shifted her position to bring the open cargo door in line with the main door of the rental. "Alright Kitty, I'm off your port side." Using an external camera, Mary watched the door open and the slim figure of Irina look dubiously at the void between the two craft. It wasn't until Edward stepped into the open hatchway and extended two arms that Irina hopped.

Once the telltale lights told her the shuttle was sealed, she pushed away on maneuvering thrusters before coming about and returning home. A soft 'clunk' announced their landing, and once the all clear was given and the hanger holding air once more, Mary dropped the shuttle's rear ramp. "That'll be 80 credits plus gratuity." She quipped as she climbed out of the pilot's seat. "Guess we should go see what the Boss wants...hopefully it's about a paying job."

Once the shuttle landed back at the ship Shanoa disembarked, and headed back to her little corner of the ship with an odd wobble to her walk.

Thanks to a few trips to Sal's during the week for the initial upgrades she had spare parts, but getting fixed up wasn't an issue. The issue was handling the Anti-Armor mode, which caused her to wonder how she'd handled it before. Her first thought was just steal a heavier duty quadrupedal drone then she had right now, and use that for anything that would call for more shooting then sneaking. That plan had quite a few pros to it, with the only real 'con' being availability.

For now though she just shut her frame down and uploaded into the ship to go to this meeting, leaving a rather

in place of her usual avatar, to signify she was there and listening.

"Ugggh..." Said pit with a groan filled sigh after Velka had finished talking, clearly, he still wasn't happy with her presence onboard the Sweet Child of Mine; and she doubted that anything would actually make him change his mind, aside from saving him perhaps, even then that was suspect. Pitt appeared to want to start ranting, but Captain Walker quickly stepped in before the paranoid little human got underway.

"Trust me Velka, you wouldn't want to stay here after five minutes of hearing Pitt rant about something," Looking back between the Captain and Pitt, Velka could see a look of pure hatred emanating from the engineer, though he soon appeared to snap out of it and finally got around to starting his little rant about the supposedly 'shoddy' nature of the work that had been done over the week.

"Oh and Velka, Meet up at the briefing room within ten minutes. Going to go over what we go to do to pay this off." Walker said, taking another sip from his hip flask before heading into the ship.

"Understood Captain," Velka responded with, adding in a short salute before returning her attention towards Pitt. The thought of simply pressing a gun to the forehead of the engineer, a clawed finger of hers resting gently on the trigger as she made a threat of violence towards him if he didn't improve his behaviour towards those like herself and Shanoa had crossed her mind; but her conscience, or 'programming', if you wanted to talk technical, discouraged such an action, citing that it would do more to sour relations than it would help mend them and that something must have happened to Pitt to warrant such behaviour.

"Look, Pitt, I know you dislike those like me and Miss Shanoa, though I think dislike would be putting it mildly; but the fact of the matter is, we are here for the long haul, and we have to try working together, despite the animosity, if we're going to get back at people like the Chronus Corporation who have done wrong to us, who have quite possibly sullied the good name of this vessel with their cowardly deeds and dishonorable actions." Velka then paused for a moment, a hand to her face in thought as she pondered her next actions.

"I know that we will never become friends, that much I can see, but could we, at the very least, have a neutral working relationship?" She then asked rhetorically, leaving it more as something for the engineer to think on. Breathing a small sigh, she turned to look at Pitt directly, having mostly avoided his baleful gaze until now.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, it appears to I have a mission briefing to attend. Good day, Chief Engineer." Velka then turned around and headed towards the direction of the briefing room.

<<< Mar >>>
Sweet Child of Mine | Tortuga Shipyard | Peace Lily Container/Hangar
"Talk about a mood-killer."

The crew's would-be Shree Ace Pilot had only just gotten changed into her pilots jumpsuit when she heard the chime of the Sweetie's intercom. She turned a little with a look of mild irritation and passing curiosity when she heard Elliot's voice.

-Hello, Mar. Elliot here. I understand you've been working on a new piece of work, but it hasn't been out for a test flight yet. Why not work out some of the kinks with the Archer? We can even fire some of our decoys as obstacles.-

A grin quickly worked it's way across her face as she chimed back.

"You bet! Hopping in the Peace Lily now. Launching in ten!" she told him excitedly.

She had just slid into the pilot's chair and had gotten her hands on the controls when she heard another intercom chime.

-This is Walker, everyone meet up in the briefing room within probably thirty minutes. If you need me, just message me.-

As the hardened canopy of her fighter hissed open, Mar irritably threw her helmet to one side of the shipping container. The matter of timing was just typical. And frustrating to no end.

"Are you kidding me?! Fucking cockpit block..." she grumbled before she slid out and made sure to ping Elliot again, saying, "Test flight's on hold, meeting first. Half-a-standard-hour isn't long enough to put a ship like this through her paces properly anyway..."

Giving the cockpit a pat as it shut itself behind her, she made her way out into the ships halls. But first making a pit-stop in her quarters, to change into something more appropriate for a meeting than a skintight jumpsuit. The moment she stepped into the meeting room, she was immediately acutely aware of the fact that Mary was there.

This hadn't been the first time she had to encounter someone after one-night-stand like this, so the Shree spared a single glance in her direction before scanning the room to see who else had arrived. There was a holographic avatar that was presumably a stand-in for Shanoa, while Irina and Ed were just settling in themselves. That just left Velka, Resha, Pitt, Grace, Elliot, Brian and Walker unaccounted for. And she didn't remember seeing Brian since they arrived at Tortuga, or Resha not long afterward.

Settling into one of the chairs, she sat back and sighed.

"Just about to go on a test flight too..." she muttered dejectedly.

After leaving the kitty trio to get themselves sorted out in the shuttle bay, Mary headed for the briefing room and snagged herself a seat. Shortly, some of the others began to file in as well...including Mar. She watched as the slightly irritated shree made glancing eye contact before looking away. You done fucked up haven't you? She chastised herself. One of the few beings on this tub that may be worth a damn, and you go and fuck things up.

Mar's reaction to their night together had caught her off guard; in her past experiences if everyone had had fun, you might've continued hooking up if and when the mood seemed right, and if not, you brushed if off as a 'learning experience' and just went about things like normal...Mar's coldly professional response had been a was as if Mary was back in the Navy.

Biting back a sigh, she took a long pull from her flask. Well done idiot. She was tempted to go over and try to talk to Mar, but she was afraid she'd just make things worse. A couple more drinks and a few more broody thoughts, and then seemingly out of nowhere, she slapped herself hard with her empty right hand. Since when did you start worrying about making an ass of yourself? A small smile crept across her face and she chuckled. Pocketing the nearly depleted flask she got up and moved over to the ex-racer, dropping into an empty seat beside her.

"Hey tall stuff," She said quietly. "What's eating you? Or not as the case may be."

While they had sent out the call to Mar for their little test challenge, a message had popped up on their machine. Grace handled it on another console so that Elliot could talk with the Shree uninterrupted. It was from Captain Williams, which meant that it was important. He reported that not only was the news about their previous mission hot, but it was also being swept under the rug. Still, he promised information, and Grace silently read it as Mar responded in the positive to them. They were just about to get underway, when...

-This is Walker, everyone meet up in the briefing room within probably thirty minutes. If you need me, just message me.-

Elliot groaned.

"Walker, not now."

Cockpit-blocked was the best way to put it. Mar replied again, stating that half an hour would never be enough time to test her ship.

"I agree. We'll report to the meeting room to chew the Captain out about it."

He signed off, and then noticed something on scanners.


"Yes, Elliot?"

"You're not gonna like this, either."

The white-haired merc paused in her reading, then sighed, guessing what it was about.

"What did she do, this time?"

"Looks like she fastened an oversized cannon to a shuttle, then wretched it something fierce after firing it. You can guess what that did to the hardware."

There was a decided THUMP from the other console, followed by a soft groan. Right now, the two of them felt... Well, you see, there's this ship enthusiast show with a well-known presenter who was...admittedly kind of an ass, but was also entertaining and fun. And whenever one of his co-presenters were a problem, he'd make remarks like 'Every bone in his crotch. That's what I'm going to break.'. This was the sentiment that those two felt about Walker and Irina, right about now.

So! They were headed off to the meeting, and they were discussing the information they'd received from Captain Williams. This was definitely starting to have all the hallmarks of an evil mastermind trying to pull things in the background, all sneaky-like. What'd they call it? A Xanatos Gambit? Sounded about right. They arrived at the place with several people still unaccounted for, such as Walker and Pitt. Pitt would, of course, be busy. So, if he showed up at all, it was to tell Walker he was busy, which Elliot kind of wished he could tell him now. They were just walking in as Mary spoke to Mar.

"I'll tell you what. We were going to help her test out her ship with our own, something to unwind with and put her craft through some trials, and Walker interrupts out of the blue, like nothing can wait. We all know Pitt's going over the Sweet Child with a fine-toothed comb right now, so this would be the exact wrong time to get her moving."


Pitt watch as the stupid cyborg...mech..WHATEVER walk away as he huff in annoyance. Mumbling to himself in angry as he didn't know he was still mad about the hack job these fools did to his ship or from Velka little 'chat.' He felt like he needed a hard drink but since they were probably going to go out soon, that would be a bad idea. Looking at the time as he sighs and heads towards the briefing room. Not paying attention to anyone there as he went to a chair and sat down. Wondering where Walker was since he should have been here by now.


Walker was halfway towards the Prisoner holding area as he stops and looks at the clock. He had about fifteen more minutes to chat but felt like it would take to long and he didn't want to appear late to his crew. 'Another time..' He said to himself as he heads towards the meeting room. Which he would arrive after everyone else. Going to the main chair and sitting down. "Alright everyone, I hope I didn't keep you waiting long. Now I want to apologize for keeping us here for so long. That wasn't part of the plan but Mr.Watts so gracefully did a..improvement to the ship on his request. Finding our ship a bit lackluster in defense for his shipment we are delivering."

Walker then hit a button on the table in front of everyone and an image pop up. "For starters, we got a new 'Offical' ID for the ship so we won't be harassed when we have to go into TGR controlled worlds, Sensors were also upgraded, we also got Electronic Warfare capabilities, and some point defense lasers..though they aren't the best, they are better then what we normally had," Walker said as he then hit the next button. "If anyone has questions or want more details about our upgrades "I can send an official list of what we got. Now that we got that out of the way, we now have our next mission."

"Mr.Watts has asked us to deliver something for him. While he didn't go into much detail about what it is, at the request of the client. He did reassure me that it is not illegal to carry. We are to go to the drop off point. Ask the code once the client shows up and once he gives it. Drop off the cargo with a beacon and let them pick it up while we leave. Then we are free from Mr.Watts and be on our way. Now any questions or comments?"

The Orion Files | Tortuga | Sweet Child of Mine |
<Time skip!> And suddenly they were in a briefing...
Irina Rostikova | Edward Aubergine

The face palm was not an expression widely used by members of the Catican Hegemony, nor were most members of the Catican Hegemony aware of the expression, since there was little call for its use. It was a widely known fact that all conversations between Caticans, barring those of the Casteless, involved deeply thought out ideas and facts, eliminating the chance of one of the parties looking unintelligent. Irina, by virtue of her repeated exposure to Terran culture, was well aware of this physical expression and promptly placed her forehead in the palm of her right hand, shaking her head as she did.

"Now any questions or comments?"

Just to be clear Mechani-Cat... well the one that had a fleshy body and didn't go by the name Shani... would have commented regardless if she'd had the Captain's permission or not because to put it in plain and simple terms...

"This is stupid..." The Imperfect Pilot pointed out, "no offense, Captain, but you really think that it's a smart idea to be doing a transport run without knowing exactly what we're carrying? I mean it could be a load of genetically pure Terran steer or it could be an ancient relic that reanimates dead flesh..."

"That exists?" A suddenly concerned Cat-Ship-Trooper asked quite suddenly.

"No... that doesn't exist...but that's besides the point," Irina commented before maneuvering the conversation back on topic, "I'm sure the crew would be fine with hauling anything if the pay was right but we still have to take precautions in case the principal client is setting us up or to avoid destroying whatever we're supposed to be carrying... and remember that just because it's not illegal to carry something doesn't mean that it's legal either."

It was pretty clear that Irina was not at all happy with the mission that they'd been assigned. She had considered that this was the Captain's idea of a Milk Run designed to revive the crew's ailing morale after the last failure of a mission but they still needed to be safe. With the crew of the Sweet Child of Mine being blamed for the destruction of Sayseria, the last place that the ship should have been was TGR space.

"Captain, I'm not opposed to this mission, but I think we should make sure all our ducks, whatever those are, are in a row before we tip toe into TGR space...

Brian walked somewhat detached through the station as he returned to the ship. The trip to the Red Market was a fruitful one as their products swimmed carefully through his bloodstream.

The NKT derived Kolokol buzzed happily through his system, bypassing all of his immuno responses, and left him with a mild cottony feeling in his mouth. A feeling he was happy to enjoy, set apart from everything else, and he'd enjoy to enjoy at his whim having bought rights to manufacturing instructions- as well as instructions to a more refined synthetic NKT.

The nanites he ignored the work of as they went through his system, silently adjusting the various implants throughout his overworked body and installing new venari tracker modules into his nervous and optic systems. The injection sites having healed over within a moment and the blindness by the time he'd left the clinic.

These "four" services long ago payed for and only now finished and claimed, diagnostics and adjustments being a constant necessity of the work done on his body and the others being things ordered or designated by him as wants when he'd heard of the projects developing them. There were hundreds already designated by him. Funded over his life by his work, and what he'd kept from black budgets across various accounts hidden and laundered between them. Most never saw results. That was the nature of the market.

Hours or days passed as he walked through the station, he wasn't sure, and eventually he returned to the ship. And then to the bridge after he'd set himself up again.

After the brief briefing he asked something simple, "How large is the cargo?"

<<< Mar >>>
Sweet Child of Mine | Tortuga Shipyard | Meeting Room
"This reeks of bad business."

Mar watched as Mary made her way over out of the corner of her eye, and part of her wondered what exactly the ex-pirate had planned. Especially since they left things on an awkward note after their one-night-stand. But when she asked what was bothering her, the Shree merely exhaled a half-laugh, half-sigh. Before she could answer, Elliot did her the honor.

"I'll tell you what. We were going to help her test out her ship with out own, something to unwind with and put her craft through some trials, and Walker interrupts out of the blue, like nothing can wait. We all know Pitt's going over the Sweet Child with a fine-toothed comb right now, so this would be the exact wrong time to get her moving."

"What he said," Mar told her with a jerk of her thumb toward Elliot, "I was really looking forward to her maiden flight, too!"

That was when Walker strode in, and she went quiet as he began to explain why exactly he had them all gathered there. Apparently, a Mr. Watts had decided to 'improve' the Sweet Child of Mine. And that improvement was meant to better defend a shipment for him. That alone caused Mar's brow ridges to wing up, and the corners of her mouth to curve downward in a suspicious frown.

He went on to say that those improvements included a new 'Official' ID for the Sweetie, point defense lasers, an Electronic Warfare suite, upgraded Sensors, and possibly more that he didn't mention. What the shipment itself was was apparently kept confidential, something that Mar figured was only a little suspicious, but the mention of it not being illegal made her wonder. The rest of what Walker described sounded like a largely standard hand-off. Go to these coordinates, confirm the buyer, then drop it off for them to pick up. Still, the whole deal raised red flags.

"Now any questions or comments?"

Irina was the first to speak up, and she voiced some of Mar's own concerns.

"I'm sure the crew would be fine with hauling anything if the pay was right but we still have to take precautions in case the principal client is setting us up or to avoid destroying whatever we're supposed to be carrying... and remember that just because it's not illegal to carry something doesn't mean that it's legal either. Captain, I'm not opposed to this mission, but I think we should make sure all our ducks, whatever those are, are in a row before we tip toe into TGR space..."

"I agree with Irina. We may need the money, but I think we shouldn't dig ourselves even deeper into trouble. As a former smuggler, I think I can safely say that a job like this would be right in my wheelhouse. And this feels wrong." she cautioned.

But she was a little startled when she heard Brian's voice as he asked about the size of the cargo. When had he come in? And where exactly had he been? Shaking her head a little bit as she shoved that question to the back of her mind, she shrugged.

"Well, in my experience, modular tramp freighter's like the Sweetie should be able to handle all but the biggest and heaviest of cargo. So unless this Mr. Watts wants us to haul something classified as, I don't know... Ultra-heavy? We should be able to haul it. The real question is if we really want to haul unknown cargo for an employer whose reputation I'm certainly not at all familiar with, while we're also on the run from the TGR, among others, for war crimes we didn't actually commit." Mar explained.

When Elliot came over and spoke up, she could help but glare at him briefly; partially because she was still annoyed about Grace and him following the two of them, and partially because she'd been hoping to talk the Mar alone. You could have gotten off your ass and talked to her at any point you know...

Taking her own mental chastisement with a flicker of a grimace, she then offered Mar a sympathetic smile. "Ouch, I can relate. I got some work done on my ship and was really looking forward to testing it when those three busted their rental and needed to be saved." As she spoke she waved a hand towards Irina, Ed and Shanoa's holo avatar. "Fucking cockpit blockers..."

Sitting back in her seat, she listened to Walker give a rundown of what'd been done to Sweety and a quick overview of the job in hand; as several of the others expressed concerns about said job, she found herself raising a hand to get everyone's attention.

"If I may, Boss?" After Walker gave her a little 'go ahead' nod, she sat up and looked about. "To those of you with doubts about accepting this job, all I have to say is...we don't have a much of a choice. Mister Watts is also known as 'The Shipbreaker' or 'The guy who owns this dock and who's people have been installing our new gear'. This job is our way of starting to pay off the debt we owe...and if anyone is worried about him trying to double cross us, don't be. He needs reliable carriers that aren't known pirates, so we are far more useful as we are right now, and if he gained a reputation for trying to indenture crews to him, he'd run out of friends really fast."

Sitting back once more, Mary pulled out her flask and took a swig before smiling. "Plus he likes me; I've been good for business over the years."

Shanoa snickered to her self a little at Mary's jab. "Sorry, can't hear you over the sound of my sweet new/old rifle." she snarked, her avatar switching to the image of her mechanical body, rifle mounted on the back and all, though the size of a remote controlled toy, and 'pew pew'ed at Mary a couple times, before switching back the the more adorable avatar she had.

"As for the job it self, meh, it's better then doing nothing, and besides getting in on the local Shipwrights good side would be to our benefit in the long term, for numerous reasons, that I'm sure you all can come up with on your own." Shanoa adding her two cents to the debate on the mission. "Besides, a quick nothing job like this will give me time to work on a few things, Speaking of." Shanoa's avatar turning back toward Mary.

"Mary, come see me later, I have something you might be able to save me some time on."

Velka waited for Shanoa to finish her contribution before speaking. "Whilst some of us may have issues working for an individual such as Mister Watts, given that, to many of us, he is an unknown; as Mary has so eloquently put it, we don't exactly have many other alternatives if we want to pay off the retrofit fees, well, pay them off in a, legal manner at the very least," She stated, playing something akin to a devil's advocate in the current situation.

"Mary, would I be right in assuming that, given his level of authority, Mister Watts has the means to extract payment from us, should we either refuse to do the job or bail entirely?" She asked the pirate, mercenary, whatever it was that she labelled herself as; who responded by giving a half-nod of confirmation, commenting that; "Whilst all I've heard are just rumours of what he can do to ya, it's those rumours that keep people from doing anything stupid."

"And right now, given our current situation, I doubt any of us wants to do something stupid right?" Velka asked rhetorically with her hands crossed and resting on the table.

"That aside, I do have a question Captain. Did Mister Watts make mention of anyone who might come after this cargo, whatever it is? Might we be expecting trouble?"

Why was he not surprised? Why did it just not surprise him to find out the that reason Walker wanted them all for discussion was about a job that they weren't ready for AND that it was dubious by half? Elliot leaned back in his chair and let the drama unfold. First, after the brief and thoroughly understandable pre-meeting Walker grumble, in comes Rick himself with the job in question. A little cargo run, with the client speaking on behalf of the real client, and little to no real details to go on. It was a pick-up and drop-off with 'the greatest assurance' that the cargo which they were not being informed on the contents of wasn't illegal to carry. In Elliot's mind, this last part was either a half-truth or a complete lie, and either case left them in hot water - hotter than they were already in - if they were caught. Now, it was good that they didn't know what the cargo was, in that they could deny knowledge truthfully, but it was bad in that it could be potentially dangerous, or even that an interested party might not care whether they knew or not.

Quite a conundrum.

Now, naturally, when Walker asked for questions and comments, the others were saying all the right things. They were concerned about the cargo, whether any inch of this could be trusted, if they were even in any shape to do this, and - of course - how much of a necessity this was to them, right now, rather than chilling for a while. The answers were - in order - they weren't being told what the cargo was and only where it goes and how to drop it, probably none of it at all, they could technically perform the task that was requested, and that they owed Mr. Watts a fair deal because of his services. Elliot didn't like it, and if HE didn't like it, Grace's even greater unwillingness to throw herself to the wolves made her not like it either. Objectively, it stank, and they all knew it. Even with the knowledge that it stank, it still stank. They didn't know who this was for or what it was about, the man they were dealing with was their benefactor and - let's just face it - a pirate, and it was starting to become clear why Pitt was so worried.

So, with the others having spoken up, Elliot pulled out a cigarette, lit it, took a drag, and opened up on the subject.

"I don't shoot blind on missions, Walker. People get hurt. I mean, on the first part, our client's helped us, but our client is also a pirate. On the off chance that we're to be sacrificed for his lucrative benefit, I'd prefer to treat him as a hostile client."

That's like a hostile witness in a court case, but the client. Meaning, you back him into corners and give him no wiggle room, or you work around him even if it's on the sly, so you stay ahead of the knife. Elliot glanced Mary's way with a smirk.

"No offense, mind you. It's just that if the money were really good for some reason, he'd leap for it and expect you to understand because you've both been in the same sort of business, in a sort of 'You'd do the same in my boots' kind of way."

Now, back to facing Walker and the general assembly of crew.

"If we're being given little or no option, I say that we skew it heavily in our favor and get all the information that he's not telling us. We don't do something stupid like upset the cargo, since they'll check for that, but the nature of this thing says that someone will want to pry it from our cold, dead hands...regardless of whether or not we'd give it freely. So, we get him to confide or we determine what it is ourselves. The secret will be that we know, not that we don't know. It'll have to be done carefully, though, which reminds me..."

He looked over at Shanoa's avatar now, as well as Irina's.

"Because I don't trust Mr. Watts, would you two do me the great favor of giving everything his people installed a once-over? I imagine Pitt would be doing the same out of habit, and right now I think that's probably for best. It'd probably be done quicker if there were some scans performed."

"That's assuming Irina can pilot the drones without crashing them."

That was...well, she had that coming. Lastly, Elliot looked over at Rick.

"Walker, we need to talk to you after the meeting in private."

Walker let Mary talk and explain most of what he was going to say. He really didn't like this mission all that much as well due to a lot of what ifs and things being kept from them. Though Mister Watts was gracious enough to do more then what was asked from Walker. After Mary finish explaining, some others wanted more questions which Walker was happy to provide.

"That aside, I do have a question Captain. Did Mister Watts make mention of anyone who might come after this cargo, whatever it is? Might we be expecting trouble?"

"From what Mister Watts said, no. There 'shouldn't' be any trouble at all. Though that doesn't mean unforeseen shit could hit the fan."After this, Elliot spoke up and Walker let him have the floor. A lot of what he said Walker knew made sense but could they do it without anyone knowing?

As Walker thought about it, he heard Elliot say, "Walker, we need to talk to you after the meeting in private." Walker snapped out of his thoughts and return focus to Elliot.

"Understood and to say a few things about your idea Elliot. Its good but can we make sure no one finds out about our little snooping? While I loved to find out more about what we are carrying and who the client is, I rather not upset the boat too much that it causes all of us to go overboard..." Walker wonders if the non-human crew got that metaphor but he pressed on. "Second, before we even leave I was going to have our tech experts work on seeing if they rigged anything on the Sweety. Even some of stuff they didn't refit just to be extra safe."

The Orion Files | Tortuga | Sweet Child of Mine | Briefing Room
Where's the beef pilot?
Irina Rostikova | Edward Aubergine

Is he would have in his previous life as a soldier, Edward Aubergine remained silent for the majority of the briefing. Regardless of how he felt, it was not his place to question the Captain's choice of missions nor was it his place to object to what could have been perceived as a critical lack of intelligence. As long as he and Irina were members of Orion Company, where ever Captain Walker pointed, the Former Shock Trooper would deploy. Besides, he had been assigned missions with even less to go on.

To summarize the mission, the Sweet Child of Mine was being contracted by a man known as Mister Watt, a merchant of some influence who had assisted in retrofitting the freighter with upgraded weapons and equipment. The mission was to deliver a cargo container whose contents was unknown but, as Mister Watt had assured Captain Walker, completely legal. Once the cargo had been delivered to the rendezvous, which was likely within the Terran Grand Republic due to the fact that Mister Watt had outfitted the Sweet Child of Mine with a false ship registry, they were to jettison the cargo with a beacon and leave the area while the client moved to recover the cargo.

The mission in itself was rather simple and would require very little participation from Edward since it was unlikely that they would be boarding an enemy vessel or dropping down on a planet. Between jumps, it was likely that Irina would be patrolling the surrounding area with her drones...

"That's assuming Irina can pilot the drones without crashing them." Grace muttered, her contents of her words teased a bit of curiosity from the Catastrophic Killer Kitty. It was almost as if she had read Edward's mind and made a comment about his strategy. While he would have liked to inquire about her telepathic potential, there was something more important to tend, a something named Irina, who was at that moment bristling in response to Grace's comment and was probably contemplating gouging the woman's eyes out with a sharpened set of claws.

A reassuring hand placed on his partner's should caused her to calm down long enough for the Giant Gun Toting Titan to intervene on her behalf.

"I assure you, Grace, that Irina's skills with her drones are unparalleled. She will be able to not only complete the ship and cargo scans, she can patrol the area around the Sweet Child of Mine between jumps so that we aren't forced to send our pilots out on CAP." Edward said evenly, his eyes glancing at Mary and Mar as he mentioned that Irina would spare them the boredom of flying in formation with the freighter between jumps. He paused for a moment as he realized that he had only looked at two of the three pilots. Glancing over to the Captain he made an inquiry, "Have you seen Resha?"

With the questions her medical safety coming to an inconclusive decision, she decided that attempting to come into contact with her people again was her best bet and sitting aboard a freighter and getting tied down to political events by the group. coming to a silent decision, she get her shit together and blasting "highway to hell" in the cockpit, tore off outside the ship, attempting to make way out of the system via hitching a jump underneath another ship. And like that, the strange girl and her ship were gone.

"From what Mister Watts said, no. There 'shouldn't' be any trouble at all. Though that doesn't mean unforeseen shit could hit the fan." Replied the Captain as the element of logic within his statement made sense. Do not safely assume that nothing was going to happen, it is better to have a plan in place and not need to resort to it; then need one and not have it. Elliot then put forward his two credits on the matter and then asked to have a private conversation with the Captain later.

"Understood and to say a few things about your idea Elliot. Its good but can we make sure no one finds out about our little snooping? While I loved to find out more about what we are carrying and who the client is, I rather not upset the boat too much that it causes all of us to go overboard..." Velka did admit that remark was unfamiliar to her, whilst she had certainly worked with and conversed with Terrans on a number of occasions in the past; this was one of the few instances where their rather 'unique terminology' had stumped her. Reshani vocabulary was more concise and straightforward by comparison.

After a brief search on similar phrases, Velka concluded that it was appropriate usage in their situation, after all, ORION Company was something in a tight spot after the disastrous mission and being potentially branded as outlaws, even if the evidence was roughshod at best. To cause complications after being given a figurative second chance, Velka did not like their chances.

"One last question Captain, would it be perhaps prudent that some of us provide overwatch during the transfer and drop off of the cargo? Just in case, you know, shit hits the fan?"

<<< Mar >>>
Sweet Child of Mine | Tortuga Shipyard | Meeting Room
"Beggars can't be choosers, but they really wish they could be."

Mar appreciated Mary's voiced sympathies. She returned a slightly pained smile of her own as she mentioned how she had her own issues regarding a test flight thanks to Shanoa, Irina and Ed, and even snickered a little as she used the term 'cockpit blocker' in the process.

"To those of you with doubts about accepting this job, all I have to say is...we don't have a much of a choice. Mister Watts is also known as 'The Shipbreaker' or 'The guy who owns this dock and who's people have been installing our new gear'. This job is our way of starting to pay off the debt we owe...and if anyone is worried about him trying to double cross us, don't be. He needs reliable carriers that aren't known pirates, so we are far more useful as we are right now, and if he gained a reputation for trying to indenture crews to him, he'd run out of friends really fast. Plus he likes me; I've been good for business over the years."

Those were good points, but not enough to truly allay Mar's fears of what could go wrong. There were still too many red flags for her to be comfortable with this, but given the fact that it was part of the conditions behind the Sweetie's refit... They didn't exactly have much of a choice.

The Shree sat back, arms crossed as the others voiced their own thoughts on the matter. Shanoa, for her part, didn't seem to mind the arrangement. Velka was concerned about Watts, or Shipbreaker, extracting payment of some other kind if they didn't do the job, or that someone may try to come and claim the cargo from their wreckage. Elliot brought up that point himself, as well as mentioning his own worries regarding the abundance of unknowns around this job. Mar found herself nodding as he spoke.

"If we're being given little or no option, I say that we skew it heavily in our favor and get all the information that he's not telling us. We don't do something stupid like upset the cargo, since they'll check for that, but the nature of this thing says that someone will want to pry it from our cold, dead hands...regardless of whether or not we'd give it freely. So, we get him to confide or we determine what it is ourselves. The secret will be that we know, not that we don't know. It'll have to be done carefully, though..."

Walker approved of both the information gathering, as well as double-checking everything added or otherwise messed with--along with quite a few of the important systems that weren't--during the refit, but told them to be careful. Irina had drone support taken care of for between-jumps as Ed pointed out, so that, along with Velka's suggestion for security during the loading of their cargo, covered at least some of their bases.

"I still feel uneasy about all of this," she said before she rolled her shoulders and cracked her knuckles for both pairs of hands, "But I can get us where we need to go. If we're lucky, this should be a fairly standard dead-drop smuggling operation. I've got experience with that."

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