Dark Frontier

At the Scene
4th August 2159: 8.05 am

Officer Gabrielli escorted the group to the scene of Chief Hardie’s murder. The area was under tight security. The energy flow regulation system was located in a remote corner of the engine room between two of the transit drive mains. Franz offered Laura the technical details as she surveyed the scene.

“Stand back” said Laura, as she surveyed the scene. Gabrielli said nothing, her face giving nothing away. Curious, Rackham stood behind Laura, noting the blood splatter patterns and small chunks of flesh on the surrounding equipment .

“I’d say he was struck from behind with something heavy,” he suggested. Laura tensed.

“Thank you Rackham. " she remarked curtly. “I’ll make my own judgements, based on qualifications and experience.” Seeing Gabrielli stare Rackham bit his tongue.

“Always happy to be dominated by you Laura Dear,” said Rackham. As she started to turn he smiled at Gabrielli.

“Could you point me in the direction of the Little Boy’s Room please Officer Gabrielli? Need to Go.” One of the other crew pointed Rackham down the corridor, and he exited. Laura frowned and resumed her examination. Minutes later she stood up and sighed.

“Dents and cracking in the actual flow control unit do suggest a well-placed assault by a heavy blunt instrument, as well as on the victim.” she opined.

“Also, sabotage of the flow control unit happened before the murder. Engine alarm logs indicate that the flow control unit went off line at 01:32 am EST.” Nobody voiced the implications of this. Rackham returned, pretending to look distracted. Laura ignored him.

“A suspicious figure was caught on surveillance cameras in a passageway not far from one of the hatches to the engine room” said Gabrieli. “It’s in the report. The figure can be seen running in a dark cloak – physical characteristics hard to identify.”

“What about the sub engineer?” asked Franz.

“Miyamoto was interviewed shortly after the murder, but he was too emotionally unstable to provide anything useful.” replied Gabrielli.

“There’s another thing” she continued. “There’s a UWC political delegation onboard, headed by Helen Falk. They’ve taken a strong interest in the details of this case and are constantly chewing over the Captain about it. Background colour.”

“What was the Chief like?” asked Laura.

“Pretty old school when it came to maintaining “his ship”. " said Gabrielli. "Pretty good though – one of the best in the fleet. "


“Short of time and gruff in demeanor, unless you were his superior. " responded Gabrielli.

“And recently?” persisted Laura. “Anything odd?”

“Hmm” she thought. “During the ship’s initial cruise party the Chief was arguing with a few people – most notably a Doctor Sebastian Wells and Helen Falk. Check with the Cruise Director Presta Mendoza.”

“Fine.” Laura nodded.

Dead in Space
4th August 2159: 7.50 am

Captain Andre Martel was a tall, good-humored Frenchman. His manner was such that it would be easy to imagine him as an amiable and generous host to his passengers. However, it’s clear that he had other matters on his mind.

“Ms. Chen, Captain.” said Gabrielli. The Captain turned to them with a tired smile.

" A pleasure Madame." he said smoothly. Laura nodded politely.

“I apologise for my directness madame,” he continued. “But you confirm that have licensed Investigator credentials with Marlowe Dynamics?”

“I do,” replied Laura. “Though I am now Freelance: Dakai yanjing Investigations.” Helpfully, Rackham bowed and produced a card.

“I am in need of your expertise madame. We have something of an emergency.” the Captain explained. "We have been helpless and adrift now for three days, after we found that the transit drive had been sabotaged. "

“Sabotaged?” said Laura.

“Yes: transit drive alarm panels lit up like a Broadway musical and the system went offline. I ordered my Chief Engineering Officer Hardie to investigate the problem and report back immediately. "

“So what had happened?” asked Rackham.

“There were only two messages from the engine room. The first was from Engineering Officer Miyamoto to report the status of the transit drive energy flow regulator. The second was several minutes later when Officer Miyamoto informed me that Chief Hardie was dead.”

“So why not call the wardens?”

“I have – but hey won’t be here for eleven days at the earliest. That is a long time with a saboteur and murderer on board. I have to think of the safety of three thousand passengers..”

“But what about your own security team?” asked Rackham. “Ms Gabrielli seems competent.”

“My small team is overstretched managing passenger issues ,” explained the Captain. " The fact remains that a killer is still at large we nee to find him. Right now you are my best shot at doing so.."

“We will need access to all of the ship.” said Laura.

“Of course.”

“And access to small arms,” said Rackham. “We may be putting ourselves at risk.”

“Agreed.” said the Captain. “Ms. Gabrielli will act as your liaison. Please act quickly: I fear the situation will only get worse.”

Premature Awakening
4th August 2159: 7.32 am

“She’s coming round!” Bright lights and voices. Reflex kicked in and Laura sat bolt upright, spewing the vile transit gel from her lungs. She was helped into a paper gown, and stumbled over to a proferred shower. Around her she was dimly aware of other sleepers coming too.

She glanced at a wall readout : 07:32 EST (Earth Standard Time) on 4th August – she had barely been in transit six days. Clearly, something was wrong.

The Mariner of the stars was a massive liner with over three thousand passengers. What it has been doing in the Belt Laura wasn’t sure, and in transit class she hadn’t really mixed with the awake passengers. Some sort of luxury cruise perhaps? The ship was certainly built for it: transit passengers like her were just a convenient way of defraying some of the operating expenses.

“Ms. Chen, of Dakai yanjing Investigations?” Laura turned to see a slim athletic woman, with short and well kept hair. Her demeanor was entirely professional, and she wore the smart uniform of the ship’s crew.

“Monica Gabrielli, Chief Security Officer.” she announced, “I’ve been ordered to escort you and your associates to the captain’s quarters. Please follow me.”

Arrangements have been Made
24th July 2159: 10.00 am

They had a plan of sorts. The Mariner of the Stars – a liner – was leaving Barbarella in three days time; a fast local transport could hopefully get them there with a day to spare. The Mariner could then get them to Venus within a couple of weeks.

This was another complication. Franz had managed to contact Anthea, but the Satis was currently on Mars delivering supplies, before taking a trip to Venus. She had agreed to do a run to Port Tian, and then an additional trip to the Station for a sum of Cr 10,000. She would likely be in port at Venus for a week or so, and so the best plan seemed to be to rendezvous there. All of this, and their transport fees, were to be reimbursed by Zola. In addition, if the outcome was successful, Zola had agreed to lease the ship, at a nominal cost, to the Partnership.

Now they just had to get there.

Out of the Doldrums
20th July 2159: 8.43 am

Potential business had been non existent. After the Hoffman Affair they has agreed to jointly submit for a Security License, for Dakai yanjing, to enable a widening in their capacity to take contracts: they needed more firepower. Rackham had done they paperwork, and they had submitted it. They were still waiting, now all formal partners.

Rackham seemed to have spent alot of time the gym, and they had pretty much all been about their own pursuits. After two months they were getting a little restless.

And her e they were: lunch at Castor’s. Zola was uncharacteristically late. They had started to order when she arrived, twenty minutes late. She seemed zoned out.

“Hello?” said Laura. “Anyone at home?” Rackham smiled languidly.

“Uh, ah. Chow Mien for me. And green tea.” said Zola, sitting down and frowning. She started playing with her wristcomp. They let her potter on for several minutes, and shrugged and continued eating.

“All right,” said Vic eventually. “What’s going on Zola?”. Zola looked up, and saw that everyone was staring at her. She put the wristcomp down.

“It’s like this,” she said. “I’ve been given a ship.”


“Given a ship. Inherited it. Form my Uncle Jax – not seen him in years, but a trader, of sorts. Don’t know much about him. But he’s left me a ship.” Zola explained.

“But……?” said Laura. “I feel a But coming.”

“Yes. Well. "said Zola. “It’s a bit out of the way. I’ve been trying to work out how to get there.”

“Out of the way?” asked Rackham.

“Yes. It’s all legal!” said Zola, seeing Rackhams expression. “I had hard copy papers delivered yesterday: the ship is called the Felicitas. But its parked at Shams Energy Facility.”

“Never heard of it.” said Vic.

“I’m not surprised” continued Zola. “It’s a vast solar array orbiting the sun. Constructed some forty years ago, and then damaged by a massive solar flare a couple decades back. Since then its been left derelict, with its legal status in limbo”

“What the fuck’s it doing there?” asked Laura. Zola shrugged.

“More to the point, how are you going to get there?” asked Rackham.

“And what condition will it be in?” added Franz.

“All good questions, and I’ve been racking my brains.” replied Zola. “Apart from taking passage to Port Tian I’m no nearer a solution. Have to charter a ship I suppose. Expense.”

“I could ask Anthea” said Franz. “There will still be a cost though, I’m sure.”

“Could you?” brightened Zola.

“This is all jolly nice, and I’m pleased for you.” smiled Rackham. “But what exactly would the rest of us get out of this? I’m assuming you want us to come. Crew. An engineer and so forth.”

Take the Money and Run
28th May 2159: 8.43 am

Back on Caikuang Station, they left Hopkirk without another word.

When they had returned they had been prepared, and five guns pointing at her had avoided any difficulties. She had of course denied any knowledge of a deception, but the threat of selling Hoffmann’s wristcomp had allowed then to quickly lever an immediate, and larger payment. On the return trip, Hoffman and her crew had found themselves virtual prisoners on their own craft.

“It hasn’t been a pleasure doing business with you” concluded Laura. “Don’t bother me again: your complicity in out little raid is easy to reveal.”

Hopkirk did not look happy.

The Deception
23rd May 2159: 8.55 am

“Dead as the proverbial DoDo.” announced Rackham. “Franz near blew his head off.”

“Bang goes our payment” said Zola, “Some rescue.”

“This wasn’t a rescue,” said Laura. This was an extraction. We’ve been played."

“Come again?”

“It was all too easy. Hopkirk had just too much information.” explained Laura. “And Hoffman – you saw him. He was good. And well prepared. I don’t doubt he was a plant to orchestrate all the chaos..”

“Which makes us patsys.” said Rackham. “Hoffmann had this.” He handed over a sleek wristcomp.

“High Spec. " said Laura. “Spyware. No doubt there’s some interesting stuff on this.”

“You’re saying this was all some sort of Tradewar op?” asked Vic. Laura nodded.

“Radio into Hopkirk and tell her we have the package, but that he’s injured.” said Laura. “And we need to be ready when that airlock opens..”

Double Cross
23rd May 2159: 8.43 am

They pounded along badly lit corridors, and up metallic stairs. Occasional rage filled roars could be heard, and mangled bodies were ignord in their race for the docking bay.

And then they were on the far side of it: the Hopper could be seen across the open space. Some of the noises were closer now. Hoffman, clearly no micro gravity novice, glided straight across . Laura, being more cautions, signaled covering positions while the rest of them moved across. Hoffman reached the bay.

A yell from Zola brought them all to attention.


Hoffman had entered the Hopper bay, and activated the door control – even now it was sliding across. Laura cursed herself for not listening to her own suspicions. This had been all too easy. She pushed herself across the bay from a nearby crate, diving arrow straight towards the doors – hopefully before they closed. Zola and Franz followed suit, while the others fumbled behind.

Crouching behind a few crates, Hoffmann fired his pistol at Laura. Franz moved forward, and managed to catch him with a shotgun blast. Cursing he ran for it, activating the hopper airlock.

Zola reached it just after it closed, and opened it again. Hoffman was now inside, and sparks flew as he shot away the inner door lock.. Franz ripped the panel off with his new arm, and immediately starting fiddling with the wiring. Moments later Zola dived in behind a hull buttress. Hoffman spun round in the Pilot seat and winged her. But Franz fired again, and this time he fell like a stone.

Escape from the Underground
23rd May 2159: 8.35 am

Hoffmann was wearing a Guards Vacc Suit, and carried a couple of their pistols. He seemed in good shape, and was holed up in a small maintenance room with another door leding to the north. Introductions were briefly made, as Laura eyed him suspiciously.

“They sent you to rescue me?” said Hoffmann. “Unbelievable!”

“Just as well they did old boy” said Rakham. “Advantage of a wealthy family.”

“I’m not complaining.”

Hoffmann seemed rather vague about what had happened. One moment he was being supervised by a guard doing some minor maintenance, and the next the alarms went off, and they started to hear screams. Soon after they were attacked and he fled, coming across a couple of other bodies, which he looted. That was several hours ago.

“We’ve still really no idea what happened,” observed Kurt.

“Doesn’t matter” called Zola. “Visitors inbound.” She slid down fom the junction back into the small room, closing the door before she left. Soon after they heard gutteral cries and pounding.

“We can try to slip past through the other door. It opens further along the corridor.” said Hoffmann.

Boarding Axe in hand, Vic took the lead with Zola gliding along just ahead of her. They took up position on the far side of an intersection, and then they came, barrelling down a narrow corridor. There were a number of them, but their access was restricted.

“Caight like rats in a trap -us and them” said Zola. “Hope more don’t arrive.” Vic ignored her and winced as one of them landed a blow like a sledgehammer. SHe responded in ind, slicing across its midriff, and then a burst of autofire from Laura behind it nearly cut it in half.

This was the pattern. While Vic did her best to hold the line, Zola, Laura and Karl pumped shots into the crazies. She took a few blows, but her armour and skilled defence manage to fend off the worst of it. Appearing in the main corridor behind the crazies Rackham laughed harshly as he pumped twin pistol into one from behind, helped by Hoffmann.

“All clear!” he yelled. “Run for it!”

The Mark
23rd May 2159: 8.30 am

“This is it” said Zola. “He’s pretty close. Looks like those door are sealed.”

“A good sign,” said Rackham. “Comms?”

“Get a move on,” said Laura. They had come upon more evidence of destruction in the sub level, and three very mangled bodies.

“We should just try the internal comms frequency,” said Franz. “If he’s in a suit, he’ll be patched into it. If he’s not, the door comm will work.” He opened the panel and linked his own comm to the internal system.

“Hello.” is anyone there?" he asked. There was a pause. Then a response.

""Who is it. Is it safe now? came a response.



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