Ill-Gotten Gains

Back on the Eternal Veil, which moments earlier exited the atmosphere of Orion IV, Karim sends a burst of static to let Ferris, or whoever more likely will be sending to cords on the crime bosses behalf, know that he is off-world.

The Veil had been fully loaded and ready to go by the time Karim had got back to his ship. He’d been thankful for that even if the thought of completing this run without pay continues to irk him.

Still he hadn’t been faced with any of Ferris’ goons once he’d gotten into the sky shuttle that had brought him back to Marrec Port.

Suddenly a burst of data comes through the communications system of the Veil, much to Karim’s relief, who didn’t revel in the possibility that Ferris might just leave him to stew as some sort of recompense following their exchange at the crime overlords’ estate. Ferris can be petty like that, which is probably why the connection is severed as soon as the data is received by Karim. The smuggler isn’t surprised as he opens the data strain to review it. As soon as he does he curses loudly having found that the cords that Ferris promised aren’t cords at all but instead a tracking node. Karim knows he shouldn’t be surprised as few things are ever easy in his line of work, or when dealing with Ferris, but still this is a definite kick in the teeth.

As he reviews the node though he notes how it’s odd that there is no ID to accompany the node, which would only relate to a ship. That at least ruled out the possibility of delivering to a colony or moon, but still it doesn’t answer why there is no ID. Even his own ship has an ID and he’s a smuggler!

However, at that moment Karim’s luck goes from bad to worse as a USSA corvette drops out of slip a few hundred metres ahead of him. Karim wonders whether this is simply bad luck or further proof that perhaps Ferris is trying to get him killed. But as he contemplates the thought, while powering up his ship to make a jump, he is hailed by the corvette.

Karim accepts the hail hoping that the captains’ idle chit-chat will buy him enough time to make a slip that will get him away from the USSA ship.

“This is Captain Benedict Warner of the USSA corvette Present Resolve, power down your ship immediately and prepare for it to be impounded and searched.” The serious looking man in the dark blue military suit says as a hat sits atop his grey head, while his green eyes burn proudly.

“On what grounds is the search to be conducted captain?” Karim asks as he continues to spool up the slipspace drive in preparation for a jump. He just needs a couple minutes and then he can get out of here.

“We have reason to believe you are hauling stolen USSA weaponry. Now power down your ship systems. That is an order.” Captain Warner demands with a stern look on his face.

Karim doesn’t answer as he quickly bolts into the cargo hold of the Eternal Veil which is stacked high with unmarked crates, claiming a crate hook as he passes the tool rack next to the entrance of the wide rectangular space that makes up more than half of the ships overall length.

Karim knows he won’t be able to stay silent for too long and if he does then Captain Warner will likely fire on and disable his engines. The smuggler can’t afford for that to happen he knows as he goes at one of the lower crates that has nothing stacked atop it. It takes him only a few brief moments and a small amount of wrangling with the crate hook to get the sealed metal box open. As soon as he does he curses Ferris, loudly. But he doesn’t hang around as he hears the USSA Captain repeat himself for a second time. A third will likely, at least in his mind, result in weapons fire upon the Veil. That’s why Karim is relieved when he finds himself back in the flight seat of the Veil and just in the nick of time as the slip drive is now ready for initiation.

Karim is inclined to say nothing in response as he instead initiates the pre-jump routine. It’ll only take a few seconds to execute, but before it can complete the Present Resolve expels a jamming burst that knocks the slip drive offline.

“Shit!” Karim spits angrily as it is clear that his day really is going from bad to worse and seemingly without any letup. Especially as his only real option now is to engage the USSA corvette, which is something that he very much does not want to do, but sees no other real alternative to.

“Dammit Ferris I’ll get you for this.” Karim utters under his breath as he ignites the sub-light engines of the Veil and quickly bursts down and forward so he can take a dive under the Present Resolve, whose cannons along the underside all turn and attempt to target the Eternal Veil. However, Karim notes that they hesitate. He doubts that it is because there is a fear from the USSA corvette that they might destroy his ship and claim his life, but more likely they don’t want to risk damaging their precious stolen weapons. He can relate to that, but that doesn’t make it any less of a cold thing to do.

Still that gives Karim the opportunity to fire upon them with his own cannons. Unfortunately the peppering plasma shots do little against the might of the corvette which is thirty times the size of his own ships overall twenty metre length. The sharp sleek edges and angles of the Eternal Veil glisten and shimmer in the blue light that is cast by the systems star. While the matt finish of the corvette and its blocky shape simply absorb the same light frequency that makes the Veil shin brilliantly. Still none of that matters to Karim who now has to dart this way and that to evade the secondary, and much smaller, guns of the corvette. These if they hit the Veil won’t outright reduce it to slag but they will cause considerable damage. Enough to render the Veil immobile and make it easy prey for impounding, and with the cargo Karim has onboard it would result in him going away for a very long time. But the smuggler has no plans to go to any USSA prison of any kind as he makes another run on the rear section of the corvette. Most would think he’s making passes at this flank of the starship because of the engines, or part of some belief that the armour back here is thinner, so thus presents an easier target. But both assumptions would be wrong. Karim is taking passes at this section for no other reason than because this is where the lowest number of cannons can hit him. He has no real plan for how he’s going to get out of this as he makes a fourth run. The plasma from his own forward cannons, all four of them, pepper the thick armoured plating of the hull. Then suddenly there is a burst of light. It isn’t a detonation, Karim knows that, but whatever it is causes him alarm as a klaxon on the other end of the still open communications channel begins to blare loudly.

“Report?” Karim hears Captain Warner bellow over the klaxon, which impresses the smuggler as he continues to evade the secondary cannon fire that is still coming his way.

One volley narrowly missing a section on the right side of the bow of the Veil, which Karim had been unable to react in time to dodge clear of. Karim breathes a sigh of relief as he finds that he and his ship are both still, somehow, in one piece and without any damage.

“Slip disruption wave is down sir.” A young sounding woman shouts back after several others have given all clears that other major systems on the Present Resolve are still fully functional.

Karim is sure this has to be a trick. They must know the channel is still open. Nevertheless he checks his onboard systems and finds, much to his surprise, that his slip drive is operational again.

“Captain, the link is open!” Another voice, this one male, blurts with an alarmed voice.

“Cut it!” Captain Warner screams in the moments before the connection is severed. But it’s too late and Karim is already aware that he can make his bid for freedom, even as the Resolve continues to turn in hopes of getting a weapons lock on the Eternal Veil. A short time later the corvette does, but just as they get the lock and prepare to fire on Karim and his ship he initiates a slipspace jump that tears him out of local space.

Karim is relieved that he has not only escaped with his life but his freedom. Though he wonders what he’ll be faced with next as he throws his head back against the headrest of the flight seat and lets out a long loud sigh.

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