To The Black

Act Ten
Farewell Campaign?

After rolling up a new character, the surviving crew of the Lexi Belle refused to hire the good captain’s replacement. Said replacement was content to go back to being a gardener and the entire game derailed… I do not expect this game to rekindle.

I am open to the idea, but just as happy to move on. The cast accomplished all of their personal goals, eliminated all of their personal enemies and believe the Drake threat is no longer a problem with the knowledge that radiation kills them (big shock there, it kills just about everything… except cockroaches)

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Act Nine
Farewell Good Captain

Coming out of the emergency jump, the fleet found itself in dead space. No fuel to be had within a full warp’s radius, which led to every private ship that was warp-capable to search for gas giants, scattering in every direction.

The good captain and the crew of the Lexi Belle chose a patch of space like everyone else and was rewarded by finding a frozen moon orbiting a barren rocky planet. While they refueled using the ice world Captain Rong claimed as his own, going so far as to plant a flag on the frozen surface, a comm bubble soared through the fleet broadcasting an S.O.S. from fleet five.

Unable to answer the call for lack of fuel, fleet six limped toward the icy moon at sub-light speeds; weeks away from refueling.

The brave crew of the Lexi Belle took it upon themselves to answer the call and sped through warp-space for over three weeks, stopping only to refuel themselves along the way, in order to save their sister fleet from codename: Mythic… only upon arrival did they realize that mythic was the military designation for a drake hive!

They came out of warp-space to a vision of carnage. Numerous traders, yachts, darts and javelins littered a battlefield with far too few drake corpses. Among the wreckage lay several of fleet five’s utility ships: the water processing plant, three factory ships and the U.S.O. ship remained attached to the also-left-behind starboard umbilical dock of Voyager Five.

Searching the debris for signs of life, they found only one: ironically a lesser thug of the Kang Family who saved himself by hiding in a low berth. Captain Rong woke him long enough to tell him why he was going to die anyway, and immediately spaced him out the airlock.

Three of the wrecks contained dangerous levels of radiation from damaged power plants, which gave the crew an idea. They towed these three ships together and launched them toward the drake hive… once clear of the blast, the Lexi Belle opened fire on the derelicts causing all three cored to explode in makeshift nuclear blasts. While the fireballs were insignificant, the massive radiation put out by the blast all but decimated the hive, leaving the drakes to die… some quicker than others.

Alas, tragedy struck the crew at this point. The blast of radiation hit the Lexi Belle hard, sending all the inhabitants to their knees as radiation burns, nausea and hair loss crippled the heroes.

Unable to face what he saw as the end, the good captain confessed his many illegitimate dealing to his fellow crew-mates, signed and sealed his will then shot himself in the airlock. And so ends the story of the good captain. Rest in peace, Li Lie Rong.

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Victory...in space.
Captain Rong was finally able to get revenge on the man that ruined his "Flying into the void of space on a grand adventure of noble intent" experience.

Kang, the man responsible for kidnapping innocent girls, selling drugs, and starting a low class and pretty brutal prostitution ring, was killed by one of his own men during a fire fight.

At some point, tired of having to keep thwarting Captain Rong, Kang required his men to carry shotguns. His intention was to take advantage of Rong’s reliance on armor that protected him from lasers and not much else.

He forgot to take into account the grace and style that Rong can bring to the dance of death!

When Rong managed to arrange a deal with Kang, through a mutual contact, it all went poorly. Sort of. When Rong showed up, he simply started blasting Kang’s henchmen in the face with a laser pistol. The down side to Kang’s shotgun snafu was that if Rong stood in the middle of the room, Kang’s men would shoot each other in a deadly crossfire.

It almost worked. In the end, Rong had to be rescued from where he regained his senses chained to a boiler pipe in the basement.

Not to be dissuaded, Rong created a living will, and then simply tracked Kang down to his next hideout and once more, waded into the den of thieves and villains, blasting first and not bothering to ask any questions.

After stunning the goons, Rong engaged Kang in an epic, brutal knife/gun/2×4 battle. After long moments and close calls, the two took to grappling on the floor. It was, in the end, Captain Rong’s skill and dedication to removing Kang from the fleet he had grown to love and cherish that saw him through.

Kang went limp. He had finally succumbed to the multiple stun gun blasts to his face from three inches away.

Pulling himself together, the Captain woke Kang up long enough to tell him that he was sending him to hell. Then blasted him in the face with both barrels of a shotgun looted from one of the men laying stunned nearby.

He framed the unfortunate goon for killing Kang, rescued Miss Mao, who he invited to join his crew, and then went home to sleep away the stress and trauma that he had been suffering since he first dedicated himself to ridding Fleet 6 of the Kang brothers.

Finally, the fleet would be free of Kang’s brutal, low class brothels. The way was now open for the somewhat-good captain to begin building his stable, and preparing to open his own, very classy and high end whore house.

In the meantime, Mr. Huang is free to continue working on keeping his casino open. The Lexi Belle is in good standing with the Fleet authorities, and her reputation as a ship of good fortune is bringing in both casino customers and business opportunities. He finally disposed of the last bit of the crack he had hoarded away, and had Huang kick the ship’s prostitute out of her place in the cargo hold.

What more could a ship’s captain ask for?

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Act Eight
(Still) To Be Determined.

Due to a serious case of no-attention-span and too-much-laptop-at-the-table, act eight has been delayed once again. We ended up playing with the Artemis Simulator all night instead. This post will be updated next week with the actual Act Eight entry.

Until then, here’s a depiction of the six fleets launch from Earth, August 13, 2061.

Colony Fleets
(image credit: Macross 7 anime series)

Also, I have adjusted all current wiki pages to point to locally hosted images, rather than uploading them to my personal website and linking them. The only new images I have added can be found here, here and here. They are schematics and size comparisons of the three military ship classes (image credits: Voyager Six and UED Prowess images are from Macross, Dart and Javelin images are from the Silent Death board game).

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Act Seven
Honors and Awards.

Following the wake of rumors buzzing through the ship about the recent battle, the crew of the Lexi Belle was invited to a meet & greet with the Fleet Commander. There, they were praised for their efforts to save the Javelin co-pilot, Tarnish, and assist Misfit in the killing of the Drakes.

The next morning, Mr. Huang represented the crew at a press conference where they were presented with the first ever UED Civilian Action Award. Misfit was promoted to Commander of the Air Group and assigned to squad leader of the Tapestry Squadron. Tarnish was given the UED Commendation Decoration.

Now that the gag order had been lifted, the crew immediately sat down with Braille to patent and copyright as many likenesses of the Drakes as possible, hoping to corner the market on as many products (such as breakfast cereal and tee shirts) as possible.

Two days later an Aesh battleship arrived and after a brief exchange with the UED Prowess, the combined fleet jumped into a region of space unoccupied by Drakes.

During the seven days in jump-space, the Lexi Belle Casino held its grand opening. While the profit margin was not quite what the crew was hoping for, it did provide some additional income and notoriety while in jump-space… time they rarely profited from in the past.

The battleship spent some time conducting live fire exercises with the fleet’s defense force. Afterward, it transmitted design improvements for the Dart which were developed by Fleet Five and left. It was not until it had been gone for some time before the disappearance of several Aesh individuals was noticed.

Why they left with the battleship is as yet unknown.

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Act Six
To The Black.

Coming out of their tenth jump, Commander Wo Xian of the UED Prowess, Fleet Six’s spacecraft carrier, addressed the city ship. The fleet would remain in this star system for ten days while scouts were sent out to find a suitable course into the unknown regions of space beyond the Aesh-provided star maps.

While effectively rooted in place, the crew of the Lexi Belle negotiated a private deal with a mining crew, settling on a generous 35% cut, and set out to do their own speculative exploration and mining adventure.

After the scouts returned, the fleet excitedly jumped into the black for the first time and took up orbit around a water world where scans indicated microbial life. Always eager to make a quick credit, the crew hired a xenobiologist and took samples of their own on the surface of the planet.

Their scientific discoveries were unfortunately not unique. Other scientists had come to the same conclusions about the microscopic life; that it was highly dangerous to humans as they had no immunity to infection of this alien germ. This gave Captain Rong an idea…

Back in the city, the not-so-good captain decided to ensure Jinsu Kang‘s death, assuming he had returned to the fleet during the 10-day delay, by smashing a mason jar of water containing the alien microbes through the Kang hideout’s window.

Again, the fleet jumped. This time into a red dwarf star system with a pair of gas giants to refuel from and a nice asteroid belt to mine. As is always the case, however, seven ships chose to investigate a nearby asteroid cluster rather than the closer belt, and were attacked by Sky-Hive Drakes.

Following the Combat Air Patrol to the rescue, the Lexi Belle bared her teeth for the first time. Three Javelins and four Darts squared off against a pair of Drakes. By the time the crew arrived in the combat bubble one of the Javelins was already wreckage and they witnessed one of the darts reduced to ruins before they got their first shot off.

It was a glorious fight for the intrepid free trader and it’s crew. The first volley of pulse laser fire sheared off a Drake’s wing as it punctured the gas bladder in a wing-arm, igniting the hydrogen stored within.

The injured Drake swooped into and latched onto one of the remaining Javelins, causing micro explosions along it’s hull, damaging its rear turret and disabling the power plant. The second Drake destroyed another Dart almost effortlessly and turned to pursue the third.

Another volley of pulse bursts from the Lexi Belle resulted in additional wings being crippled, as well as a lucky neck shot in an attempt to rescue the crippled Javelin. Alas, this was not to be, as the Drake punched it’s head into the escort ship’s hydrogen storage tanks and thrashed it’s tail, piercing the canopy and causing an explosive decompression of the Javelin’s bridge. The two men inside were sucked out the breach, though only one was able to activate his emergency bubble.

Moving into position near the survivor, Xie Da Shuo bravely performed a space walk to rescue the man, bringing him on board just as the remaining Javelin focused it’s beam lasers on the injured Drake, accidentally igniting the now-leaking hydrogen tank, causing a massive but brief ball of fire, ending the Drake and the two remaining marines on the disabled Javelin at the same time.

Meanwhile, the two remaining Darts waged an impressive dogfight with the second Drake. Unfortunately, one of the fighter jocks fell to the space dragon’s terrible hydrogen wingtips, but the fourth jock, call sign Bù Chènzhí, proved to be an ace pilot. He evaded repeated attacked while peppering the beast with pulse laser fire, tearing great holes in the armored carapace along it’s chest and tail.

With one down, the crew came to aid of the brave fighter pilot. With a mixture of incredible luck and no small amount of gunnery skill on Mr. Huang‘s part, a series of three quick shots pierced the Drake’s right eye and put two separate blasts through it’s exposed chest into it’s heart.

After the battle, Captain Rong was allowed to salvage four destroyed free traders and one of the darts while the Javelin and Bù Chènzhí looked the other way. In all, the spoils of their little war included a spare warp drive, a mostly intact triple turret, a second pulse laser and a slightly damaged beam laser.

Upon returning to the city ship, Captain Rong’s day was further brightened by the news of the Kang residence being ‘thermally cleansed’ by a bio-hazard containment crew. He is hopeful that Jinsu was inside at the time.

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Act Five
The Revelation.

The crew escorted the four remaining girls home, but detoured en route to investigate a massive stationary warp bubble. Inside, they found dozens of javelins and darts conducting live fire exercises with an Aesh battleship. Unfortunately, before they could figure out what was happening, UED officers ordered them out of the bubble.

Once in fleet 5, they met with the mother of the last American girl, collecting the 1,000,000 credit reward. On their way back to the Lexi Belle, they were attacked by Kang thugs. After defeating them, the crew issued a challenge over one of the thugs’ comms.

They waited at the ship for an hour before 4 more thugs came to call. One planted a bomb on their ship, prompting the good captain to exit via one of the airlocks to deal with it. After taking one of the saboteurs down and alerting the authorities, the others fled. A brief interrogation of the defeated bomber provided the crew with the knowledge that that Jinsu went back to fleet 6.

Returning to fleet 6, the Lexi Belle again stopped at the stationary warp bubble. This time they hailed the Aesh Battleship. Though the UED Javelins attempted to jam the signal, the Aesh happily told the crew about the Sky-Hive Drakes before realizing that secrecy was called for. The UED again ordered them out of the bubble and reiterated the gag order’s conditions.

Once back in their own fleet, the captain bribed a flight control officer to ground any ships recently returned from fleet 5. Captain Rong paid off the debt to Alicia for the sensors, ending their contract and immediately set about researching the home addresses of the two ship captains who had just come from their sister fleet. Unfortunately, they mistakenly attacked the wrong house, though after an appology Captain Rong paid for any damages.

The other pilot (an Indian man) told them Kang’s address after explaining his discontent with the Kang family’s unpaid use of his ship.

The brave crew decided to end thing with Jinsu once and for all, and attacked his home. Alas, they failed to surprise the hideout, and were consequently knocked unconscious by several stun grenades… a tactic the Kang gang learned from previous encounters with our brave heroes.

They woke up, naked but covered in bed sheets, in Braille’s house; she had rescued them, taking serious wounds in the process. With their weapons and equipment gone, they split up.
Rong went to the Indian captain and negotiated passage on his ship in order to ambush Jinsu there. Da Shuo took Braille to the hospital and Mr. Huang went back to the ship.

The next morning all three were arrested, charged with murder. Their weapons were used to frame them and left at the crime scene, where four civilians were gunned down in cold blood. After an exhausting effort to prove their innocence, they realized the Indian ship with Kang on board was already gone, having left days earlier than expected.

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Act Four
Intermission.

After the fleet dropped out of jump space, the Javelin and the Betty Page returned to the fleet. Each brought something to give the crew of the Lexi Belle

From Captain Bin Wu, as a token of appreciation for repairing his ship’s engineering room and sealing the hull breech, Huang Ao Nu was given two roulette tables to aid in the outfitting of his casino.

From the UED, the crew received Nondisclosure Agreements in return for a single pulse laser to defend their ship with. While they are not permitted to speak of the black ship that attacked them, they agreed to sign the gag orders so long as they were allowed to discuss the bomb and the kidnapped girls… both subjects the UED seemed to care very little about.

Now that they had a few tables, the crew decided it was time to finish outfitting their space-casino, investing several tens of thousands of credits into a secured cash office and several more tables for poker, blackjack, craps and slot machines.

In a purely selfless act, because obviously that’s all it could have been, Captain Rong spent a few thousand credits over the course of three days on prostitutes. He did this, of course, to track them back to their would-be brothels in the hopes of rescuing the four remaining American girls. While following them did very little, he successfully bribed one girl to give him the address of the safe house.

Once found, the crew purchased several stun grenades and assaulted the den of slavery. In an ingenious move, ten grenades were rigged to go off simultaneously and thrown into the building before the crew followed them in with weapons drawn. To the last man, all five guards, as well as all seven of the remaining girls (including all four Americans), were unconscious from the initial grenade volley.

After sending Mr Huang to the hospital with the girls and Xie Da Shuo back to the Lexi Belle with the weapons and confiscated drugs, Captain Rong saw to it that two of the captives were executed: a surviving corrupted MP from the first brothel raid and a corrupt MP who was warned to break away from the Family or he’d regret it. He was woken just long enough to do so before being shot in the face by a laser rifle.

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Act Three
The Plot Thickens.

After spending four days in the hospital, Captain Rong (Lars) was released the very day the fleet dropped out of jump space. After hearing that the girls’ return trip to fleet 5 would be made without military escort, the crew decided to inform the media, resulting in a public outcry for guards.

This effort was rewarded with a Javelin escort as well as two Dart fighters piggy-backing the Betty Page. In addition, the crew volunteered to accompany the women as guards. These acts proved invaluable when the ship was rocked by an explosion in the engineering room.

With the warp and maneuvering drives disabled, as well as a basketball sized hole in the hull venting atmosphere, the semi-heroic crew of the Lexi Belle quickly put on vacc suits and went to work sealing the engineering bay’s breech. Once done, Xie Da Shuo (Dustin) began patching together what remained of the warp drive, while the good captain looked into rebuilding parts of the m-drive.

All the while they were making these hasty repairs, the escort ships were engaged with a strange black ship. The battle, as described by Captain Wu, raged around their crippled free trader and ended when the Javelin destroyed the black ship. The skirmish cost the UED both Dart fighters… the Javelin took great care in bringing the now derelict black ship into their cargo bay, refusing to discuss the engagement.

Once the drives were in working order, albeit at greatly reduced efficiency and speed, the two remaining ships warped the rest of the way to fleet 5 where both ships were forced to remain for the duration of a full jump cycle for repairs.

While in the fleet 5 city ship, Captain Rong paid a visit to the Kang family manor. There he met with Yunjim Kang, Jinsu‘s older sister. While polite and seemingly very intelligent and reasonable, the audience with Lady Kang left no doubt that she would inform her brother of the crew’s involvement in Tai’s death, as well as their interference with the brothel; both facts being news to the Kangs as all surviving members of the family were currently on Voyager 5.

With this new knowledge, the crew opted to buy passage back to fleet 6 rather than wait for the Betty Page to be repaired. Once safely home, the captain took the opportunity to meet with a high ranking military official which sparked a new investigation into the bribed MPs.

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Act Two.
The Development.

Investigating the recent kidnapping of Fleet 5 girls, the crew of the Lexi Belle turned to the fleet net for answers. Xie Da Shuo (Dustin) searched through the missing girls’ SpaceBook pages for any linking clues and was rewarded with a single name in common: all twelve girls had an Officer Conolley in their friends lists. He also found that five of the missing girls knew each other and were planning to share a cab to the USO show.

Following that lead produced mixed results for him… while he did learn that the taxi driver also went missing that night, Braille’s snooping into his online habits produced a jealous rage from the Aesh woman, resulting in hundreds of text messages clogging his network connection and ultimately crippling his comms.

Captain Rong (Lars) took this information and went into the Korean side of town to spread Officer Conolley’s name around hoping for another lead. The MP station had no record of such a person, so he went to the bar scene to ask locals. Three men wearing military fatigues but with no insignia patches started a bar fight with the crew once Conolley’s name was mentioned, ending with all three men stunned unconscious on the floor. A brief search for identification led to the discovery of unmarked credit cards… illegal and untraceable. At this point, Da Shuo placed a wireless audio bug on one of the men and the crew fell back to listen in to their conversation once they awoke.

The three men discussed the captain, how he knew about the code-word, and whether they should report the incident to “the family”.

Intrigued by this exchange, the crew followed the three men back to the Fuel Storage Redundant Command Module, where they put together a plan to coax the men back out by speaking with the MPs guarding the door.

Alas, this plan went poorly, and the good captain was forced into a gun fight with the MPs after mentioning the unmarked credit cards. Da Shuo took the role of bad cop during the interrogation of the crooked MPs and immediately shot one of their feet, crippling him for life with the sheer extent of damage done. Learning nothing of value from the two captives, the captain executed the one with the mangled foot and pummeled the second captive into a coma, taking both of their unmarked credit cards as well as their standard-issue ACR’s.

The duo stormed the command module, taking down four more guards and Jinsu Kang’s younger brother, Tai Kang in the process. The fight with Tai, however, resulted in serious injuries to the captain.

Nevertheless, the duo rescued all but four of the captive women, as well as two men, who were being forcefully addicted to various drugs and subjected to nitrogen narcosis to reduce their inhibitions, concentration and making them the perfect docile dolls for prostitution training.

For good measure, the duo also caused an explosive decompression in the adjacent airlock, literally turning five more guards inside-out as their lungs were sucked out through their mouths. This act led to alarm klaxons going off, prompting the crew to take the freed women and run, fearing more corrupted soldiers arriving.

Braille and Huang Ao Nu (AC) then took the girls and the captain to the hospital for treatment, where several news reporters awaited interviews with the heroic crew. During one such interview, Captain Rong endorsed the Betty Page as the most appropriate ship to return the girls to fleet 5, sparking a new business relationship with the fellow Free Trader.

The crew now questions how far up the chain of command the Family was able to bribe…

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