Between Planets 3.5

Brass Jester

Rune Priest

Captain.’ It was Bobrikov. ‘I will go to the hospital to check on Mekhrev and bring back Dr Chandradatti.’

‘Look – we have no quarrel with you. We are just a spacer crew on a routine delivery here.’

‘No, no,’ said Agbaje. ‘The contract was delivery to the spaceport on Nevermind; 1600 tons of power generation equipment.’

Agbaje was holding up something in his hand – it was a party popper.

2226 – 08.26, Konventa Hotel, Cheban

‘I don’t believe it.’ Peshkova angrily slammed her Red Dragon down on the table. ‘Bobrikov has been on this crew for two years; he joined with me. Why would he want to kill Mekhrev?’

‘Nevertheless, he has been acting strangely of late.’ Agbaje thought back to the conversation about the privacy of staterooms – Deep Space crews were a closed and exceptional bunch – there was little privacy, so what little there was, was respected. You just wouldn’t go into someone’s room without a good reason. So why had Bobrikov raised the issue? He shook his head.

‘Pesh, go check out Bobrikov’s room. You’re the XO; use your emergency key override if you have to get in. See if anything’s out of the ordinary. Tetsushi – get us transport to the hospital. I’m going to call the hospital and see if they have any security that will stop him getting in.

‘I am Lieutenant Vigon, Security. Who am I speaking to please?’ The voice was female, and she sounded tense.

‘My name is Chinedu Agbaje, I am captain of the CSV “Macao Champion.” You have one of my crew hospitalised there – I have reason to believe that their life is in danger.’

‘I see. Who is this person and what proof do you have, Captain?’

‘His name is Vasili Mekhrev, and he is the son of the owner of my ship. One attempt has already been made on his life and I believe a further one is imminent. The assassin is called Petr Bobrikov, also a member of my crew.’

(Silence) ‘You have a strange crew, Captain Agbaje. Very well – I will set a guard. Is your assassin armed?’ *

‘Not to my knowledge. He must not be killed – I need some answers.’

The reply was cold. ‘There is a lot happening here on Nevermind, Captain, that we would all like answers to.’

“Macao Champion”, Bobrikov’s stateroom

The door was locked and Peshkova had to use her override key. What greeted her made her stop and gasp. As she opened the door a spray of white fluid hit her in the face. She staggered back, wiping at her stinging eyes. The fluid had a clinical, antiseptic smell – android circulatory fluid! When her eyes had cleared she looked closer – the booby trap had been made from a condom rigged up to the hinge of the door.

Inside, everything had been pushed to one side to make room for an android docking station and a supply of nutrient fluids.

‘Captain. We have a problem. Bobrikov is a fucking android. f**k knows what he … it’s capable of.’

‘Noted Pesh. We’re nearly there.’

Hospital, Cheban

The tractor ground to a halt and Agbaje and Tetsushi jumped and ran into the hospital, then up to the first-floor wards.

‘Oh shit!’

A torn body, clad in bloodstained military fatigues lay on the floor. There were blood splatters up the walls. A second trooper lay against the wall, a third person was binding several gunshot wounds on them. She looked up and scowled.

‘Captain Agbaje I presume? I am Lieutenant Vigon. You did not see fit to inform me that your assassin was an android. It just tore Henders apart, grabbed her rifle and opened fire on us.’

‘Where is Bobrikov now? Did it get to Mekhrev? And what about Dr Chandradatti?’

‘Mekhrev is safe.’ Chandradatti stood in the door to the ward. She held a flask containing dregs of a blue solution. ‘Lieutenant Vigon warned me, and I prepared this – it is a flesh-dissolving molecular acid used in reconstructive surgery. When Bobrikov burst in, he got it full in the face. He made a hurried escape through the emergency exit.’

‘Will it stop him?’

‘To a degree. Androids use synthetic skin and Bobrikov is obviously a top of the range model – he fooled us.’

‘And he’s out there armed with an automatic rifle.’ Agbaje pulled his commlink. ‘Pesh. Lock down the ship. Do not let anyone on board for any reason unless I give the words Release the Open. Prep for immediate take-off.’

‘Chandra. Can Mekhrev be moved? We need to get off-planet stat. Bobrikov is out there and gunning for him.’

‘Masefield. What’s the situation with the reactor?’

‘It’s fixed, but we could do with a full overhaul asap. Some of the cooling ventrals are clogged and it’s a shipyard job to fix them.’

‘Power up. We are lifting as soon as we are all back aboard.’

Macao Champion, Nevermind Low Orbit

‘Reaching orbit in five minutes, all boards green.’ Peshkova scanned the multiple screens round the pilot station, then glanced, first at the comms station, then at the navigators station, then finally at Agbaje.

‘I’ve been on this crew for two years with very few incidents. Our previous captain, Harrison, was a regular guy – we did the job and got paid. But since you replaced him, half of the time the crew is hospitalised. So, what gives?’

‘It’s just bad luck …’

‘BULLSHIT!’ yelled Peshkova. ‘There is no luck. You are pushing us into situations we can’t cope with. Why?’

Agbaje sighed – this was inevitable.

‘Put us into a long transit back to the HSP to Hiroshima, then call a crew meeting in the lounge.’

Macao Champion, Crew lounge

‘We are a trouble shooter operation for Voroncovo. There is a corporate war going on between Leyland-Okuda, Erebus and Voroncovo. We are sent in to test the situation and to report back to Voroncovo Main at Rostov Orbital.’

Agbaje raised his hand. ‘Before you say anything – I’m just an employee like the rest of you and your contracts do allow for this – read the small print.’

Peshkova glared at him across the table. ‘So, did you know about Bobrikov? Was this just TESTING THE FUCKING SITUATION? ‘

Agbaje shook his head. ‘Look, I did not know about Bobrikov, and I don’t understand. Obviously he was here to kill Vasili Mekhrev, but why here and now is a mystery.

Masefield raised his hand. ‘ My question is – where are we going and is it safe to go back into the freezers? Could Bobrikov be on board? Hyperspace won’t affect him; he could kill all of us.’

Chandradatti entered the lounge and slumped down in a seat.

‘Mekhrev will survive physically – I can’t vouch for his mental state. Cook and Becker will be out in an hour.’ She reached for a drink, her hands shaking.

‘Are you …’, Peshkova started to say, then glanced up at an alert on the overhead screens. Her face went pale. The others looked at her, then glanced up at the screens.

‘Oh shit. Oh, fucking shit.’

The ship’s scanners were showing an expanding fireball where Cheban and the spaceport were.

‘The fucking fusion plant’s gone critical.’

To be continued …


GM notes

* Critical success!

This ties in with my published scenarios of Prelude to Freedom and Price of Freedom ( and soon – to- be published Cost of Freedom) and Zozer Games Colony Wars. I ran the whole scenario using SOLO rules (despite knowing what was really going on.) There are no spoilers – each scenario has multiple outcomes

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Something I'd missed in the Game - Chandradatti threw the molecular acid in Bobrikov's face BEFORE she knew he was an android! She really is screwed up!!