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Stars
Summary: A salvaging run in Rigor Strand ends in the destruction of a pirate vessel.
Cast: Bri, Finch, Kestrel, Zuan
Air Date: 2009.2.15

Cargo Hold <Zero Gravitas> -


The cargo hold is not especially large, only slightly bigger than a racketball court. Eyelets are welded to the floor, walls, and ceiling to help secure cargo. A catwalk runs from the forward hatch, across the front wall and along the starboard side, and across the back wall to the engine room hatch. Midway along the starboard wall, stairs descend to the floor of the cargo hold. On the port wall, the outlines of the two massive cargo doors make up much of the wall's surface. In the aft port corner, a ten-meter cyndrilical assembly rises to the top of the bay. Pipes sprout from its surface, disappearing through the aft wall. Just aft of the stairs, tucked underneath the catwalk, is the ship's airlock.



"Figyah we migh' end up depreshurizin' d'cahgo bye an' tehnin' off d'gravi'y if d'casino's too bea' up," the mechanic says, turning to face Zuan. "Someone did teww y'wo' we's goin' tonigh', righ'?" Both Finch and Zuan are standing in the bay. Everything that was sitting loose on the deck is now strapped down.

Zuan shrugs and flicks his tail. "Iz waz maybe told... Anywayz, Iz ready to go now." The Lotorian looks at the ladderwell, then back to Finch. "What'z the plan?"

There's the sound of boots running on deck plating before Kestrel practically skids into the cargo bay from the airlock, coming to a stop just inside. She just grins and offers a breathless, "'Ey."

"Righ' on time," Finch says, glancing over at Kes before tilting his head at Zuan. "We go in, we poke 'round, an' if we find anyfin' wehf tikin' we bring i' wif us. Oh, an' if anyone tries t'shoo' a' us, we run awye. Questions?"

"No queztionz. Juzt poke around and hope wez get lucky." Zuan nods firmly and stuffs his paws into his pockets. "That'z the zame way Iz uzed to date."

Kestrel grins. "I like yer plan, cept fer th'not shootin' back part," she comments, making her way further into the cargo bay. She blinks at Zuan then, shaking her head slowly after a few moments. "Not... gonna... ask. Phew."

Bri comes in from the ladderwell, "Evening," she offers to everybody there, a smile coming to her lips as she takes note of all assembled.

"Righ'," Finch says, flashing a grin at Zuan. "S'pose da's why y'ended up wif us, wo'? Fings ough'a be aww wohmed up. Go on up t'd'cockpi', an' le's ge' dis show onna road."

Alastair limps through the airlock, swaying as if he's a little tipsy. The doctor yawns, glances at the people assembled in the cargo bay, and proceeds to ignore them and start towards the stairs.

Zuan flicks his tail contemptuously and walks away. "Juzt hold on to your buttz, humanz." The Lotorian climbs the stairs and exits into the ladderwell.

Kestrel snickers. "Too bad fer me I ain't got one'a 'em ta hang onta," she comments, shaking her head and looking after the pilot. "But I do gotta killer sense'a balance, so mebbies I might jest be alright after all, 'ey?"

Bri looks between those gathered, "What's the plan then?" she asks, "Besides getting stuff and getting out."

The thrusters fire as the Gravitas comes free from Comorro's docking hub. The PA system buzzes through the cargo hold. "Learn to zpeak Hekayan, at leazt, youz..." the rest is lost in untranslated Lotorez. The rumble of the engines grows louder and after a moment, the FTL drives fire. A while later, the ship arrives at its destination. The engines rev down.

The Zero Gravitas drops out of FTL on the outskirts of the broad nebular asteroid field known as Rigor Strand. Sensors are a bit sketchy, phasing in and out of reception thanks to interference from dust and energy pulses, but when they work, they show a few other small cargo vessels darting in and out of the field. Apparently, other salvagers are moving amongst the debris. Many ships seem to have died in the drifting rubble within the Strand. The twisted, gutted wreck of the Stars and Garters casino is just one of the newer additions. No other vessels appear interested in the casino just now, though.

Finch has made his way forward from the engine room by the time the ship drops out of FTL, and now occupies the right seat in the cockpit. He doesn't look away from the sensor panel, tapping it once or twice and muttering, "Bloody fing," in Standard before trying Hekayan: "It look busily." His vocabulary is clearly improving, but his grammar is just as clearly not all that great.

Zuan scoffs at Finch and waves a paw. "Lotorianz." He hits the main engine throttle and starts the ship into the asteroid field. Despite the significant thrust at his disposal, he approaches the casino at a cautious pace.

Kestrel is also crammed into the cockpit, looking curiously at the front view. "Huh," she says, peering down at the wreck of the casino. "S'a 'Kari-cursed mess, 'at is," she comments to nobody in particular, wrinkling her nose.

As Zuan maneuvers the Zero Gravitas through the field on approach to the casino, sensors continue to be fickle, flickering on and off for a few seconds at a time. One of the visual displays before Finch offers a glimpse of a breach in the casino's hull that might serve as a decent point of entry.

Bri stands in the hatchway, watching quietly for now, her eyes taking in the sight of the space debris of which the casino has become. And when they approach the casino itself, her eyes go wide, "Nice. Think there's much still left inside?" she asks.

"There," Finch says, still in Hekayan. "Uh, on the, uh, drawback." He frowns at himself, holds his hand up, and points at the bottom. "Left side of that. Dunno, Bri, bu' I 'ope so. Ovvahwise I'm ou' d'fuew cos', wo'?" This last, of course, is back in Standard.

Zuan seems to have slipped into a trance of sorts. His paws move of their own will, between throttle to thrusters. The Gravitas arcs between asteroids and around debris of a more manufactured nature. Zuan is not in so deep a reverie that he misses Finch's comment. The Lotorian glances over at him, nods, and aims the ship towards the indicated openning.

"Yeeeeee..." Kes squeaks, flinching back reflexively at a close pass to an asteroid. "S'prised 'ere's anythin' left 'a 'er," she mumbles to herself.

The Gravitas is too large to enter the breach and it cannot support a docking tube or airlock mating at this location. However, it would be possible for a team in atmosphere suits to go EVA into the wreckage.

Zuan cuts off the main engines, using thrusters to finish the approach. He brings the Gravitas up alongside the breach, then turns to look at Finch and back to the others. One of his furry eyebrows arches inquisitively.

"Righ', den," Finch says, looking out the viewscreen and switching to Hekayan. "The ship will be safe here?" he asks, getting to his feet and stretching. "I fink we's gonna 'ave t' go across in sui's."

Bri too raises a brow, "Interesting," she says softly, and looks between everybody, "Right," she says to Finch and heading further back into the ship for her equipment. A small asteroid scrapes along the hull of the Gravitas - sparks and shatters into even smaller chunks that spread away into the Strand.

Kestrel, for her part, turns on her heel and heads for the cargo bay, pausing only to ask, "...What was 'at? Huh..." She shakes her head, then continues after Bri.

Zuan's whiskers twitch. "Not zafe," he says in Hekayan, rolling his eyes. "Youz go. I ztay. Make zzip zafe." The Lotorian turns his attention back to the controls. "Be fazt."

Finch winces, shaking his head and fiddling with the comms panel. "Sounds like a plan," he replies. "Call if things to go bad." He heads aft.

Bri stops, looking back toward the cockpit, "Um..but your better at salvage than any of us. We kind of need you out there." She bites at her lower lip as she says this, but when Finch goes she follows and heads to open a locker with her suit in it.

"...I dunno nothin' 'bout salvage," Kes agrees with Bri, frowning. She too gets into a locker, though, and starts digging her suit out. "Guess we'll hafta, y'know, learn real fast."

"Yezyez. /Go/." Zuan calls back down the hallway. He flicks a paw back across one ear, as though dismissing an insect. Refocusing on the controls, he taps the thrusters lightly.

Finch retrieves his suit from the airlock, and begins to suit up in the cargo bay. As the others arrive, he says, "'ow 'ahd can i' be? Fings wo' look like dey migh' wehk we keep. Puww d' 'atch shu' up deh--we's gonna depreshurize d'bye. Easiah t'ge' fings abohd, wo'?" He settles his helmet onto his head and locks it in place.

Bri nods, "Right," she says to Finch, and looks to Kes with a soft sight as she pulls her gear on, "Ready then?"

Kestrel nods, pulling her suit on as well. The Later shrugs then. "A'ight, but ain't my fault if'n we don' find nothin'," she replies, grinning cheekily. After that, her helmet's pulled on, and locked down.

"Comms good?" Finch says in Hekayan, waiting a moment for Zuan's reply before asking, "You two 'ave sui' preshah? An' can 'eah me, too, I guess. We good? Okye." He fiddles with a panel on the wall by the cargo loading doors, and there is a noisy hissing as the ship pumps the air from the cargo bay into storage tanks. Gravity lightens and then disappears entirely a moment later, and Finch toggles the bay doors open, revealing a five- or ten-meter gap over to the casino.

Zuan gives another little nudge to the thrusters. He tries to hold the ship as steady as he can. His voice comes crackling over the radio. "Commz good. Be fazt, humanz."

Bri watches as the door opens, awe on her face as she takes a look outside, eyes going wide as she gets a look at the gap, "Oooo.." is all that seems willing to come out of her mouth at this point.

"Hoo boy, 'ere we go," Kes mumbles. With a shrug, she pushes off toward the bay doors.

The Zero Gravitas EVA team makes it across the gap between the ship and the dead hulk of the casino without incident.

Bri follows after Finch, taking her cues from him as she makes her way in a little further, turning her head slowly this way and that to get a good look around with her lights on.

Once the EVA team is free from the Gravitas, it fires thrusters and drifts away from the breach a bit, leaving it more room to maneuver.

As she enters the hull of the Stars and Garters ahead of Bri and Finch, Kestrel finds her suit lights glinting off twirling circles of colored plastic - poker chips floating in the vacuum like a school of fake fish. But her eye is also drawn to a bulbous metal and plastic device that seems to have recently been attached just inside the bulkhead from the torn metal of the breach. The device is about a foot tall and cylindrical.

Kestrel bounces to a slightly-uneasy stop/pause in the middle of the cloud of poker chips. She seems to be ignoring them, really, which just makes them scatter in her wake, flitting lazily away. "Whazzat?" she asks over the comm after a few moments, now moving toward that cylinder of metal and plastic.

Finch frowns at the device, reaching into his toolbag and pulling out a density scanner. He waves it at the cylinder, keeping a foot or so of distance, and examines the colored diagram that shows up on the scanner's screen. "Don' ge' too close untiw I 'ave a be'ah idea," Finch suggests, head tilted.

Bri heads toward Kes at the question, "Don't know.." she says tilting her head to get a look at it, but staying back as Finch warned.

The scanner Finch carries is having trouble functioning efficiently in this environment. However, it does work well enough to show that the device is fairly well-shielded against the nebula interference and is outputting a bubble of unseen energy - the perimeter of the bubble is just a foot or so from Finch. Penetrating the bubble might trigger some sort of proximity response. The scanner doesn't detect any explosives, though.

"A'ight," Kes replies, not proceeding any closer to the object once Finch tells her to stay back. "What is it?" As if she hadn't just asked that, right?

Meanwhile, back in the cockpit of the Zero Gravitas, Zuan catches a glimpse of something unpleasant on sensors: A rather large chunk of rock on a collision course with the piece of wreckage now occupied by the EVA team. Collision is likely to occur within the next 10 minutes.

"Fink I'm gonna sye sty awye," Finch decides, pushing away from the device and turning to move further into the station. "S'probly someone's caww-me-if-peop'w-show-up gadge'. An' I'd ravvah no' know wo' dey was plannin' when peop'w did show up, wo'?"

The thrusters aboard the Gravitas fire, pushing the ship closer to the Stars and Garters. At the same time, the comms come to life. Zuan's voice comes through enthusiastically. He keeps the Hekayan vocabulary simple: "Danger! Bad! Come back!"

Bri seems about to say something, when Zuan's voice stops her, she looks back toward the hole they cam through reflexively, "What is it?" she asks, carefully starting in that direction.

Another impressive chunk of rock is incoming - this time on a beeline for the Gravitas, from the opposite direction of the one headed for the casino. Time to impact: About 30 seconds.

"Oh, y'r bloody kiddin' me," Finch says, sighing. "Sumfin' bad's 'appenin'." He shakes his head inside his helmet and in Hekayan says, "On our way when you have the ship still."

Kestrel turns to go after Finch, keeping an eye out and sweeping the area with her suit light. "A'ight," she replies again. "...What's Zuan on 'bout, though? Oh. But we ain't found nothin' yet..."

The Gravitas's engines suddenly flare. Not the thrusters, but the main engines. It darts away from the casino and arches around it quickly, out of the EVA team's view. Zuan's voice buzzes over the radio, "Bad! Bad! Bad! I come back."

Bri stops, "What?" she asks, her brow furrowing in concern and she turns to get a look at the other two.

"Oi!" Finch says, a few moments away from launching himself toward the cargo bay. "What kind of problem? Rock?" he says, as the asteroid passes a few dozen meters in front of him. "Rock for you. Rock for us? How long? Will it break the all station?"

"...I think our ride jest left," Kes says, stopping not far behind Finch and staring after the ship. "Uhm. Uhhmmm... Well, 'at ain't good."

The Gravitas angles alongside the closer of the two deadly rocks, bumping it with the shielded hull. There's a nasty wrenching of the ship as the hull gets snagged a couple of times, but ultimately the asteroid is sent off on another course that takes it away from the casino. The name on the starboard side of the ship now reads: ZERO GRAVI, with the rest smudged and scarred.

Zuan's voice sounds somewhat strained when it comes back over the intercom. "All okay. Rockz. Keep going. Be fazt." The Gravitas flies by the breach outside, looking a little scraped. Rather than stopping at the breach, it heads out into the belt, another incoming asteroid in its perverbial sights.

Finch rubs at his helmet with a glove as he watches the pinprick of light that is the ship out among the rocks, shakes his head, and turns again to head deeper in. "Wew, le's find some stuff befoh 'e knocks d'ship apah'," he says, pushing past Kes and Bri.

This time, Zuan seems to know what he's doing: The very edge of the ship's navigational shields brushes along the asteroid, a kiss of crackling static that nudges the asteroid on a new trajectory away from one that might end up killing the EVA team. For now, the coast seems clear.

Bri nods, "Aye, Kes, got my eyes open," she says looking around with concern, "Just..what the hell was that?" she asks indicating outside the hole.

Kestrel is turning to follow Finch when something else catches her eye back near the breach. A very small chunk of rock, about the size of a human fist, rolling toward the opening on the side where that cylindrical device is outputting a proximity field. It'll cross the bubble in about 30 seconds.

The Gravitas's pilot seems to be a bit keyed up. Rather than returning to wait at the breach, the Gravitas goes on asteroid combat patrol. He slowly orbits the casino at a range of about a hundred yards.

"Oh, fer th'love'a Kanter," Kes grumbles. Instead of following after Finch, she clomps after that rock, trying to catch it in her hand and therefore keep it from activating whatever that field may be.

Kestrel successfully intercepts the rock and prevents it from activating the proximity device.

"What's going on out there, Zuan?" Bri asks into her comm, "We staying or going?" she asks, her tone is rather neutral and no nonsense.

"S'ahd t'ge' used to, bu' 'e don' speak no Standahd ye'," Finch says, pausing to get his bearings as he moves a few meters further into the casino. "You two was gonna rob dis plice, so I'm guessin' y' 'ad some idear've wheh fings weh. Wheh r'we now?"

Kestrel moves to catch up to Finch now. "Rock was gonna set off 'at wossname back 'ere," she offers. "Anyhows..." She peers from side to side, movements somewhat more ponderous than usual in the suit. "Whatcha think, kid, 'is look like where th'slots was, mebbies?"

The Gravitas floats past the breach, making another pass around the casino. It seems to have slowed down somewhat, but it doesn't stop just yet.

Sensors show another asteroid inbound for the casino chunk, this time from the relative underside of the hull wreckage. Collision ETA: Five minutes.

Bri looks about, "Aye, had a map of the place..." she looks around carefully, "Looks like it might've been where the table games were," she replies. "Minus the tables now of course." she moves further in, following after Finch.

"Which pu' d'docking bye da'awye, righ'?" Finch says, pointing and moving that way. Zuan's voice crackles over the comm. "Rockz!" he says in Hekayan. "Many rockz. Be fazt or bad bad bad bad..." He trails off as the Gravitas turns away from the casino. The Gravitas flies out to intercept the incoming asteroid. <Shades> Like A Duck Finch says, "Something that doesn't rely on powder burning would work okay."

"Think so, yup," the little Later replies, moving along after Finch. Still, Kes is looking around warily. Gee, maybe it's that weird proximity sensor thing that did it for her.

The Gravitas gives another shield smooch to the shadowy underside of the asteroid, causing it to wobble and roll in a new direction. Unbeknownst to Zuan, however, the shadow of the asteroid leaks through the shield and clings briefly to the brightly lit upper side of the ship's hull. The shadow then slithers along the hull plates, back toward the Gravitas cargo hold, and then into the ship itself. It nestles in amidst cargo lockers, innocuous and unimposing.

Bri nods to Finch, "Aye, I think that's right," she says, "The doors out should be in that direction...if they're still there that is."

"Go' me a plasma cu'ah in 'eah," Finch remarks, pointing to his bag as he moves toward where the landing bay doors may still be. "We mike'r own dohs, y'see." The way to the docking bay now opens onto a very scenic view of Rigor Strand - lots of rocks and debris. A shattered glass framed poster, illuminated in better times, hangs at an angle next to the jagged gap. The poster reads: "LADIES' NIGHT - EVERYONE'S A WINNER."

The Gravitas turns away from its latest astrogeological conquest. It heads back to the casino and resumes its patrol.

Kestrel eyes the poster briefly and keeps going. "I went ta ladies night 'ere once," she comments absently. "Was 'is one Timmie what could... uh. Never you mind." The Later just stares out into where the docking bay used to be. "Uh. You sure 'is was where th'dockin' bay was, kid? Cause like... it looks like we might'a, y'know, misplaced 'er."

Bri stops short of the docking bay and it's now absent doors, "Aye, this was it..." she says looking completely stricken, "Plan B then?" she asks looking between Kes and Finch.

"Things good?" Finch asks into the comm in Hekayan. "Docking bay is gone. We look around in several more minutes." Switching back to standard, he turns. "Wew. I s'pose we jus' 'ave a look 'roun' d'giming area, an' see if we can' find anyfin' wo' migh' mike dis a li'w less've a wash, wo'."

"I gotta rock," Kes offers, shrugging. She giggles at that, seemingly entertained with it for -some- reason, and turns back around to start across the gaming floor in a slightly different direction.

"No rockz now, but go fazt." Zuan buzzes over the radio. The Gravitas flies past the second hull breach, where the docking bay used to be.

Bri nods and starts back after Kes, heading in the direction that the hotel used to be, "Wonder if my stuff is still in my room?" she ponders, then adds, "Wonder if there's still booze at the bar, that might be worth something..."

Finch nods and combs the floor for anything with an electronic kind of look to it.

The hotel is pretty much swiss-cheesed to pieces, but the bar is still relatively intact - although it is also thoroughly scorched. Luckily, the best liquor was stored in fireproof/vacuum-safe lockers. If anyone knows or can hack the electronic codes to open the lockers, they'll have something to call a haul.

"...Nothin' over 'is way," Kes says, stopping near the entrance to the offices and looking around. "Kanter's mercy. M'gonna think pretty damn hard next time I chuck a rock at someone, tell ya what. Either'a you find anythin'?"

"Lockers!" Bri calls out, "Behind the bar even. It looks bad in here, but...this looks fireproof. You wanna have a go at it, or see if we can't cut this loose and haul it out?" she asks into the comm.

"Probly be bes' t'try an' cu' 'em free--wo' wif Zuan syin' 'go fas' an' aww," Finch says, heading quickly over to the bar and giving the lockers a once-over. "Den d'r'ain' no rush t'ge' 'em open."

Maybe it's paranoia, well-founded, but Kestrel happens to be giving a scan of the entry breach when she spies another chunk of rock - about the size of a human head - tumbling toward the bubble around the proximity device. If she's VERY lucky, she might be able to intercept.

Kestrel is just headed over to take a look at the lockers, light sweeping. "Cut 'em-ROCK." Her voice goes from calm to panicked in that one word. She takes two steps, then goes -flying- back in the general direction of the proximity detector, hands outstretched to grab that small asteroid. She doesn't grab it, though -- she sort of bobbles it off into another direction. And oh, yeah. Then there's inertia, and does it ever catch up with her. The Later fetches up -hard- against the wall, scrabbling for purchase right at the edge of the rent in the casino's hull.

Another successful defense of the proximity bubble! That's a good thing, right? It should be, yes? Well, then, why is the cylinder starting to pulsate with a reddish-gold glow? Why is there a voice coming out of it in guttural chains of Hekayan?

"Proximity monitor expected debris field interception," the voice is growling. "No interception detected within past ten minutes. Stalker alerted."

"Oi! Bri, bring 'eh back 'eah," Finch says, kneeling to cut one of the liquor lockers away from the bar. He switches to Hekayan as he does so. "Zuan. We may be leaving quick. Little box sounded mad. Come to docking bay. What is a stalker? It was alerted," he says, repeating the word the proximity monitor used.

The Gravitas, on the far side of the casino from the entry breach, suddenly leaps forward. It darts around to the entry breach and comes to an abrupt stop; its thrusters straining. A short message comes over the comms. "Medlidikke! We go now!" Bri nods, "Aye, Finch!" she calls out, then, "Kes! We're getting out of here, come help with the locker, we're takin' it with us!" She gets down near Finch ready to pull the locker out as soon as he's done with the torch.

"What's it -sayin'-?" Kes asks, pushing back carefully - oh so carefully - from the gaping hole in the hull of the Stars and Garters. "...By th'sweet sweet guns'a Newm, not -'em- assholes again," she grumbles, finally getting back far enough that she can move away, back toward the bar to help with the locker. Apparently the one word she understands in Hekayan is arguably a very important one.

Finch shuts the plasma cutter off as the locker comes free. He tucks the tool away and lifts with Bri and Kes, and says, "Time t'go?"

Sensors aboard the Gravitas start pinging as they detect - briefly - a craft emerging from FTL on a course for the wreckage of the Stars and Garters. The profile of the vessel would be familiar to the Lotorian: Medlidikke, a menacing gunboat bristling with weapons. ETA: Five minutes.

The Gravitas carefully maneuvers over to the breach and holds there. Zuan's panicked voice comes over the comms, "Bad bad ship here. Go NOW!"

Bri helps as best she can with the locker, "Off we go!" she calls out and takes off, hopefully with the other two following.

Kestrel takes hold of the locker as well, lifting and starting to move off with the other two. "Zuan sounds awful torqued 'bout somethin'," she observes. "Bettin' it ain't kittens an' rainbows, neither. Less git outta 'ere."

Finch, Kes, and Bri reach the edge of the station, and the mechanic takes the whole cabinet himself, disengaging his boot magnets and jumping for Zero Gravitas's open cargo hold doors.

While Zuan awaits the EVA team's secure arrival in the cargo hold of the Gravitas, he might notice a certain pattern to the asteroids moving about in the Strand around him just now. The Medlidikke stalker, like the Gravitas, is having to cautiously negotiate the rocks. Zuan could conceivably strike two rocks at just the right angle to create a crushing vise for the Medlidikke that couldn't be avoided without slamming into a couple of other big rocks.

Lotorians aren't particularly known for playing it safe. Maybe that's why they don't have a planet of their own anymore. At any rate, Zuan takes the riskier choice. Once he's sure that the EVA team is onboard, he fires up the engines and heads into the asteroid field. He tries to nudge the asteroids at his malevolent Hekayan pursuers.

Bri lands in the cargo hold and even though she lands safely, she finds herself tumbling into a bulkhead as Zuan takes off, a little cry escaping her, and her breath knocked from her as she hits.

The stalker pilot might be very good. He could be quite excellent, in fact. But there's little he can do when it becomes apparent that the Outverser ship has used superior shield technology to bounce asteroids hither and yon. Still, he's a Medlidikke. They simply don't give up. Thrusters fire, the stalker jerks hard to port, and it very nearly boosts its way out of the trap. Nearly isn't enough, though. The hull crumples and implodes in an exhalation of atmosphere and metallic debris.

The Later reengages her boot magnets as soon as she's safely inside the cargo bay, luckily for her, though Kestrel still sways on her feet at the piloting maneuver. "'Kari's sword, what's 'e -doin'-? You a'ight, kid?"

The cargo doors slide shut, the gravity returns by degrees, and there is a roar as the pressure returns. Finch pulls his helmet off and mounts the stairs three at a time to head aft to the engine room as if the ship moving in unusual ways beneath him is nothing new. In the engine room, he slaps the intercom panel and says, "Things good? Remember, engines to half power before FTL."

The ship banks hard as it turns to an escape vector. Zuan takes no time to revel in his victory. Instead, he points the ship towards the nearest edge of the field. Still, this is asteroid field navigation. He keeps the throttle in check. Zuan replies to Finch with just two words: "Medlidikke dead."

Bri scrambles to get her helmet off, breath finally being pulled in as she does and she nods to Kes, "Aye," she replies after a moment, "Lets get up to the cockpit and see what the hell is going on."

Kestrel pulls her helmet off as well, taking a gasp of nice, fresh recycled ship air. "Damn," is all she can say, the Later grinning. "A'ight. But, uh... d'you unnerstand a word 'e says?" she asks, one brow raising.

The engines suddenly roar to life. One might assume that the Gravitas is now free of the asteroid field. A moment later, the engines rev down and the FTL drive fires. The ride isn't as smooth as it was on the way over. Dents have a way of messing up a ship's tachyondynamics, after all. Zuan comes over the intercomm, still speaking Hekayan. "Wez all zafe."

"We's aww sife," Finch calls from the engine room, heading forward and pulling off his suit. "An' I'm gonna go 'ave a li'w bi' 've a si'-down, wo'? Don' teww d'doctah 'bou' d'booze unless 'e's go' money in 'and."

Bri snickers at Finch as she gets her own suit off and there's only a little moment when she lurches from the thrust into FTL flight, "Can't understand a damned word of it," she admits.

"Still gotta git 'er open," Kes points out, shrugging her way out of her suit. "Could do 'at now if'n ya like, 'en stash it real good." She snickers then. "An' no way'm I tellin' Doc Hall 'bout it, 'e'll drink it all an' 'en we'll hafta sell -'im-."

A smile comes to Bri's lips, "Should we tell him?" she asks curiously to Kes. She nods at the question though, "Aye, lets pop it open and get a look at what we got."

"Leave i' closed--akshully, pu' i' up inna engine room," Finch says, shaking his head and pausing before he heads forward. "We open i' tomorrow, an' den we close i' again reaw quick, an' /den/ we find a buyah befoh too many peop'w know wo' i' is we found."

Zuan bursts in from the ladderwell. He looks a little stressed, his fur ruffled. He leans over the railing and looks down into the hold. "Zo?" he asks impatiently. "What did wez get?"

Kestrel points at the locker. "'At," she replies, grinning. "Gotta be somethin' good inside, 'ey?" She tilts her head at the Lotorian. "So what was 'at, y'know, fancy pilotin' ya did earlier? Ya said somethin' 'bout Medlidikke, but I didn't catch th'rest."

Bri looks up at Zuan at his question, "Got stuff to sell," she says, "Think it might be some nice alcohol, but we won't know til we open it," she explains.

Zuan grins, showing off his fangs, and struts across the catwalk and down the stairs. "Iz glad we got zomething out of that." he says, smoothing out the fur on his face. "Whatever youz did on that cazino, it zent a Medlidikke gunzzip after uz. Thankfully, youz have a zuperb pilot. Iz hit him with an azteroid and he exzploded, but more would have come."

"You two wanna grab on? I can't lift 'is thing by m'self, not in full grav," Kes says, crouching down by the locker. "Gotta stash it inna engine. An' do NOT tell Doc Hall 'bout it. Period." She pauses. "Or Shep. Or T'mila. Hells, jest don' tell anyone what didn't go, 'ey? 'Ey wanna know, 'ey kin go risk 'eir necks next time."

"Iz juzt zaved your livez. Now youz making me lift thingz?" Zuan buzzes with irritation, but he smiles as he steps forward to help Bri and Kes lift the safe. "Iz not telling anyone about thiz. Not until Iz get my cut, at leazt."

Kestrel grins. "Ya did save 'em!" she replies, nodding. "We got us a good pilot, 'at's what m'thinkin'." She blinks, and lifts as well, then starts shuffling toward the engine room. "So ya really killed one'a 'em Medlidikke with a damn asteroid? Hells, oughta give ya a damn medal."

Bri giggles, "Aye, we should have a big celebration after this. I got me some good credits, you wanna go party it up at the bar?" she asks as she helps along with the locker.

Zuan scoots along with the safe in his paws. He glances away from Kes and Bri for a moment. "Well," he mutters, "Iz rubbed up againzt an azteroid out there. Muzt've dented up the zide of the zzip. Zo Iz think Iz get to work on that."

"Rather jest... oof," Kes starts to say, grunting with effort as she tries to keep from dropping her side of the locker. "Jest stay in, I reckon. Jest, y'know... rest." She nods toward a corner of the engine room. "Over 'ere. Ain't nobody comes back in 'ere anyways 'ceptin' Mister Finch."

Bri nods and follows, her face showing the strain of carrying the heavy locker, her arms starting to shake.

Zuan, likewise, is not the beefiest of Lotorians. Approaching the corner, he seems to decide that they've gotten close enough. He lets go of the safe and takes a step back, brushing his hands off. "Iz glad that youz both ztill alive. Iz wazn't zzure that all of you were back in before Iz left."

Kestrel lets go of the locker at the same time as the rest, wincing as it hits the deckplates with a resounding 'thump'. She pauses to listen. "...Didn't hear no glass breakin'," she observes. "'At's a good sign." The Later nods, and proceeds out of the engine room, standing off to the side of the hatch. "S'too bad we couldn't git more," she says, frowning. "Was more lockers, wasn't 'ere?"

Bri nods, "Aye, was a few of 'em back there. Hopefully this is enough to fix the ship and all though, with a little profit left afterward."

Zuan thinks for a moment, then shrugs. "Waz a good ztory, anyway." He turns and wanders off towards the airlock. Leaving the engine room, he waves over his shoulder. "Keztrel, Zabrina. Zzzzzt." And with that, he steps out of sight.

"Night, Zuan," Kes calls to the Lotorian, then purses her lips at Bri. "...Wonder if'n we could go back," she replies, shrugging a bit. She closes the engine room hatch behind them, then proceeds back over to where she carelessly shucked her spaceesuit, starting to pick the thing back up. "'Is 'Kari-cursed thing's heavy," she grumbles.

Bri does the same, picking up her own suit and preparing it to go back into the locker, "After taking a spacewalk, hell yeah it is. But then...we weighed nothing for a while there," she snickers, "Was kind of cool."

Kestrel chuckles. "We kin do 'at in 'ere, kid," she replies. "Kin turn th'gravity off, thoughtcha knew 'at." She's patting down the suit for something, evidently. Eventually, one of the external pockets gets opened, and the Later holds her prize aloft -- a fist-sized chunk of asteroid. "Damn straight."

Bri watches Kes curiously, "Aye, I know, but..it isn't as thrilling as out there in the big blackness," she states. And when the rock is produced she giggles, "Nice."

"Gonna keep 'is rock," Kes says, nodding. "Wish I knew what set 'at damn thing off, though." She shakes her head. "...Mebbie Finch'll know. 'E's learnin' 'at H'kayan." The Later gives a slight shrug, tossing the rock up and catching it easily a couple of times. "As fer space... dunno, kid, I come awful close ta seein' a whole lot more'a it 'en I'm entirely comfterble with." At that, she offers a dry chuckle.

Bri nods, eyes going wide, "Aye..we coulda all been gonners out there," she states. "Not something I would want to be doing everyday." she starts to head toward the exit, "Gonna have me a couple of drinks, you want some too?" she asks.

Kestrel purses her lips a bit. "...Was thinkin' 'bout headin' ta bed, but... ehh. I'll have a drink 'r two with ya, kid," she says then, nodding. She grins, and puts on a burst of speed. "Last one 'ere's gotta serve."

Bri laughs, "Aww..I never win," she says taking off after Kestrel.

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