Episode 214: Salisbury Agendas

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Elsewhere in the Verse..

Episode 214.0 Salisbury Agendas -- 03 Nov 2009
Present: Jay, Maer, Terri, Bobby, Tony - One Year Anniversary Show

Maddox - Mustang Class Light Freighter - En route to Beaumonde from Ita
00:23hrs, ship’s time

The pilot was playing games on the bridge again. Not that anyone cared at this hour or this stage of the journey. No one was awake to be inconvenienced by the sound effects issuing from the speakers and there were no spacecraft outside to see and avoid. Just a whole lot of empty and nothing to fill it.

Except for another 100,000 kills and a bonus round.

Yes! The pilot pumps his fist in the air. Killmaster Supreme. If only his mother could see him now, pilot of a bona fide spaceship, the master of all he surveyed. Well all right, the master of the bridge controls, at least. The ship also had a bona fide captain. An uptight stickler of a former military officer, but she was all right when she wasn’t acting all Captain-y.

Was Captain-y a real word?

Meh, no matter. The pilot keyed in the bonus round and started playing….and everything on the bridge went black.

Mako: Oh, man! Not cool, man. So not cool!

The ship has dropped out of pulse and left adrift in the black. The Captain hits the general alarm button which also activates a distress signal.

Kay: Bridge, what's going on?
Valentine: I don't know what's going on, that's your job to tell me. We've stopped find out why!

El, and Mako haul to their stations to figure out what is going on. Mako looks at his canceled game with dispair.

Mako: No! I was saving that! That was the best game in my life!
Valentine: You are about to get the ass kicking of your life. Get in here and tell me what is happening!
Mako: Dude chill.

Valentine thinks to herself, ~I used to command a battle cruiser, now this..~

Frank goes back to the engine room with that familiar sinking feeling. It was turning out to be such a nice uneventful trip too. He find Kay in the Engine-room staring at a row of blinking lights like a doe in the headlights.

Wells: What did you do in here?
Kay: I didn't do anything!

Nothing seems broken, the engine just appeared to turn off.

Wells: Did you notice anything before we dropped out of pulse? Did it seem normal?
Kay: Yeah?


Back on the bridge, Mako works to restore the avionics and control systems, but to know avail. No signs of damage, they just turned off. In engineering, Wells discovers everything is normal, but there is a strange black box attached to the wall in Engineering. It doesn't appear to serve an obvious purpose.

Valentine: Status reports?
Wells: Well, there is no damage to report, it just looks like the engine turned off. I can't explain it.
El: No damage visible anywhere on the ship.
Valentine: That is consistent what with happened on the bridge no sign of damage, just things shutting off.
Wells: I will say the one thing. Looking through the systems, there is a 'box.' A black box on the wall connected to the system that I have never seen before.
Kay: What is this connected here?

She is pointing to the conduit leading from the black box to the primary engine control computer.

Valentine: I'm coming down. (To Mako) Make sure we don't drift into anything...
El: How will she do that?
Mako: I'll just flap my arms.
Valentine: Think of something, it's your job.

Valentine heads down to engineering and meets up with Wells and Kay looking over the black box. Wells thinks he may have invented something this once, but the idea was stolen. Kay seems uncertain what he is looking at.

Valentine: Where is this box?
Wells: Right here.
Velentine: Is it open?
Wells: No, it's welded shut. It runs into the main engine control systems and it also goes into a conduit to the bridge.
Valentine: Can we bypass it? Run circuits around it? But before you do any of this, let's all meet and talk about it.

The crew assembles in the lounge. As they walk to the lounge they notice a subtle difference. The bulkhead iris valve doors throughout the ship (saving airlocks) are locked in the open position. Usually they stay closed until opened.

Valentine: Does anyone on the ship have demolitions experience? My worry is that this box is sabotage. Kay: Why would someone want to sabotage us? We're just running a ship.
Valentine: The reason why doesn't matter. The fact that we are not moving, and there is a box that doesn't belong here, does. So, let's take a moment to assess the situation. Our steering is down, the engines are offline, the controls are not working, and the only thing that will keep us alive, the doors, are locked in the open position.
El: Are there vac-suits?
Valentine: You tell me, Bosun.

El goes and looks, what she finds is disturbing. The five vac-suits are there, but they are in considerable disrepair, in fact, they appear to have crusty O-rings, thin fabric, and leaky valves. The Maddox has one shuttle but no escape pods. She reports all ths back to the rest of the crew.

El: It seems odd that we have all this shiny gear on board, but such old and broken vacc suits.
Mako: What is this about: insurance fraud, piracy?
Valentine: The who doesn't matter, the why doesn't matter.What matters now is staying alive.

There is general agreement on that issue.

Valentine: See if the shuttle's working.
Wells: Alright.

He goes to check it out. Mako joins him. The shuttle is operational but it has no fuel. Normally, the fuel should automatically transfer from the main ship to the shuttle (and back in time of emergency). But for some reason, now it is not. In theory they could override the system and get the fuel into the shuttle. Assuming they have adequate reserves.

Valentine: I want fuel in the shuttle!
Wells: Do you want us to that first, or try to work around that box?
Valentine: Honest opinion?
Wells: My only concern is that if one of us has to go EVA, and something happens out there, especially with these ratty vacc-suits, (a) if that is me, that is not so good for me and (b) that is not so good for you, since I won't be able to fix the engines on either ship.
El: Let me see if I can do something about these suits.
Valentine: (to Wells) You check out the box. (to Kay) You find a way to refuel the shuttle without going outside. (to Mako) You find a way to boost that distress signal.
El: I think I can cobble together one working suit from all these together.
Valentine: We need a working shuttle!
Wells: So the blackbox is heavily shielded and based on looking at it, I can't tell if it is booby trapped or not. It will be possible to bypass it, but we'll need to scavenge pieces from across the ship to do it.
El: What does it do?
Wells: I can't tell you what it does.
Valentine: Each of our cargo compartments contains numerous controls allowing them to go from a greenhouse to a freezer. That must require a lot of control conduit. Start scavenging parts from there first. They are the least critical systems.

The teams go to work on their various tasks. Mako notices that the ship is in a sort of Emergency Mode, perhaps caused by hitting the general alarm. In this mode, it is conserving energy, switching the communications to short range high frequency alerts (as opposed to the general cortex traffic) limiting the ability of the ship to communicate anything other than distress call. There activity on some of the systems. He can't control it, but they are active. Navigational systems and sensors are operational, just locked out from the bridge controls.

Four hours pass while the crew works to figure out what is wrong, or find a way off the ship.

The black box was taken apart, and it didn't explode - a big plus. But trying to ascertain what it is doing is more difficult. And Wells hasn't been able to bypass the box yet. On the bridge Mako notices a ping on the long range sensors! Hurray, it must be a rescue vessel attracted by the Maddox's distress call.

Mako: Captain, we got a ping!
Valentine: What do we got?
Mako: Long range... it looks like a ship a little smaller than the Maddox, moving slowly, consistent with an unshielded engine.
Valentine: Are those sensors telling me what I think they're telling me?
Mako: That we're humped?
Valentine: Ladies and gentlemen, we have one hour before we are boarded by Reavers. I suggest you find a way to get us out of here.


Kay: Reavers in Kalidasa?
Valentine: Get to work, one hour!

Checking the weapons locker El find two shotguns. The ammo boxes next to the shotguns are empty.

Valentine: (turns to Wells) If you can't get this working in 15 minutes, work on the shuttle. It doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to work.

El goes to work on refueling the shuttle.

45 minutes later...

Wells: Can we maybe hide in the freezer, wait them out?
Valentine: They will come aboard, search, scavenge the ship for parts, then scavenge us for parts. There is no hiding.

On the bridge Mako detects a couple more pings at extreme long range, moving faster than the Reaver Ship. But at the current rates, the Reaver Ship should be getting to the Maddox with a few minutes to spare. The captain recognizes the large ship as a Quan Fu (patrol vessel) and an escort of fighters.

Wells: Can we get in the shuttle and disconnect it, just drift away and hope we have enough time for those navy ships to arrive?
Valentine: If they see the shuttle it won't matter, either they board us or blow us up. Can we seal the cargo compartments?
Wells: Yes. Well, we should be able to make some kind of barricade at least.
Valentine: Someone wanted this to happen. Think about it. The ship has stopped, we can't close the doors and seal off a section. Shuttle's out of fuel.
Wells: Okay, I'll get to work on it.

The team works to do their best to get one of the cargo compartments to lock from the inside. Everyone joins Wells in there, working on the doors and trying to boobytrap the hall outside the compartment. The cargo doors cannot be locked from the inside, but they might be able to disable them from the inside, and hope that it renders the door unable to open them. They can hope the rescuers will be able to rescue them when the Reavers are gone. Mako rushes to send one last signal to the Navy telling them of their plan and hoping that they will be able to get it in time to save them . They are all jarred to feel a metallic clang as something has hit the side of the ship, probably a magnetic grapple. As Mako turns to run to the safety of the cargo hold, he sees the sensors out of the corner of his eye. He sees that the Naval vessels have slowed down a little so that they are just at the edge of sensor contact not getting any closer. He blinks in disbelief and joins his crew in the cargo area. Wells gets the door to slam shut sealing them in. He disables the controls and hopes the weight of the door will hold them back. Valentine draws her weapons and eyes up the crew vowing to kill them all rather than let the Reavers have them.

Kay breaks down in a panic.

Key: I'm not even a real engineer!

The other crew don't seem affected by his confession. As the camera pans back we see the grim faces awaiting their fates...

Meanwhile back with Summer's Gift.

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