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Ken/Yonkers: The Prize

Posted on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 @ 1:24am by Client The Narrator & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Passenger Emma Yonkers

Mission: A Knife In The Darkness
Location: Private Security Corvette 'Athame'
Timeline: Just after Patchamama's Misguided Children

The Pink Water merc with the suit gash up his arm was dead. Maybe it had been air loss, exposure to vacuum, or the unnatural angle of his head within its broken helmet from where it had bounced off of the deck. His lifeless body slowly drifted out of the open airlock door, a booted foot catching at the last minute to put him in a lazy eternal tumble in the dark.

And then he was gone, dropping away like a stone as thrust gravity kicked in. There was no time to look back at the 'Tross, to see what damage had been wrought on her.

With the barrel of her weapon pointed forward she covered Ken as they moved forward. She wasn't going to mention it to anyone, especially not Ken, oh that Earther would never let her live it down, but when the PDC fired up, she peed a little into her suit. Shaking her head she kept on eye on the lifeless body, until the G's pushed her into the deck and the body vanished. "Oh shit... did we just leave the 'Tross?" Emma grunted out as her grip tighten on her weapon, Now they were really in Enemy territory.

As if to answer that question an object flew through the air. It landed on the deck, rolling with all the nonchalance of some street garbage caught in the gust of a air handling vent. It rolled steadily towards the two of them, and surely would have nodded in passing as it slipped past them and then...out of the airlock, dropping away like a stone. The grenade went off harmlessly in space, maiming no one save the pride of its user.

"We're on their boat. We need to make it our boat if we ever want to get home." Ken said over their private link as he saw grenade fly away. "I'm on point. Engineering first, from there we can work up to their bridge." His heart was beating double time. Ken had done some crazy shit in his days, but this might be one of the most dangerous situations he was in.

Ken approached the airlock inner door. He spun the barrels of his minigun for comfort and was hating the lack of anything more lethal in his kit. He was geared for defence, not a counter-boarding op. "Going right, you go left."

Rounds spanked off of the deck and bulkhead with the sort of precision that came from looking the other way when you were pulling the trigger. A gun floated at the curve of the corridor, and barked off two more shots before it and the hand that had been holding it retreated.
"Rodger Left." Yonkers grunted out and brought her weapon up and ready. This was just another boarding op from her days back in the Marines. though now she dind't have four other Martians in power armor watching her back, and she only had limited rounds.

Ken looked at the now-silent pistol. It looked both ominous and innocent as it was left unmanned. "Right, on three." Ken braced himself at an angle to the small hallway, heading right towards the free-floating firearm. "One. Two. Three." and the powered armour accelerated Ken on the diagonal at speed. Ken's armoured shoulder crashed into the thin metal wall, cushioned by it. The cold air jet pushed him towards the further corner. His right arm was up and the barrels spinning.

She pushed out toward the left at the same moment, barrel hunting corners and doors. They always loved hiding in the smaller places.

In the moment caught in the sights of guns and gods alike, the scene thus is set.

A small Op's deck, three acceleration couches aimed inwards towards a ladder well that ran up into the bulkhead and down into the deck, cockpit and engineering sections respectfully. On the outside, the Athame might have looked like a Belter salvage tug, but under it's hazard stripes and fading paint were signs of serious upkeep. Modern volumetric holographic controls, the blue tones of a warfighters general quarters. A patrol skiff, something new or custom made to fit the role of 'Lucky Belter'.

And standing on the far side of the couches, crouched down behind one of them, was one of the Pink Water mercenaries. Unlike the other's there wasn't any armour plate affixed to his suit, just the unfortunate 'salmon red' pressure suit. Behind the faceplate a young face resided, eyes bright with terror.

And held above his suited head, like a talisman to the gods above, was a small multi-tool hooked up by an extension cord to one of the terminals. A terminal Ken's tailored eye would read as 'Reactor Control'.

"Yonkers, don't shoot anyone. We have a kid with his thumb on the self-destruct." Ken called through the radio before switching to the external speakers. While Ken's stomach fluttered in nerves and fear, his voice was calm and collected. "Well kid, you're holding quite the bomb there."

"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!" Yonkers almost turned to start chewing out the kid with the 'kill switch'. "That is soooo fucking lame you stupid little shit." She rolled her eyes as she let her barrel pane back and forth towards potential targets. "Want me to talk them down? Wouldn't be my first idiot with a [i]dip[/i] switch."

The kid's lips were rapidly moving behind his faceplate, before he held up his other hand and then eye blinked his way through his comm menu.

"Are they all dead?" he asked, his voice chopped with the blocky functional consonants and hard R's of one of the Russian O'niel stations. He didn't wait for an answer. "Please help! Big boss, he rig up fusion to drop if I drop! Stop me from stopping them! Kill switch for-"

He jiggled the deadman's switch.

"-kill switch is in reactor room! I cannot go without dropping it! Please believe I am not them! Am new hire from Hypatia Station! Arkasha! Am not Pink Water! I was not hired by the Yaga's man! Am bottle tech! University of Near Minsk Station!!" he stuttered and spat.

"Hang on for a moment kid." Ken toggled his comms to the one he shared with Yonkers. "Get up here. Kid says the deactivation is in the reactor room. I'll need to go down and I need someone to pay attention to the kid." Two eyeclicks later his external speakers were back on. "Alright kid, how many people on this crew?"

"There are seven. Pilot is only one left-" Arkasha began to say, before a spattering of gun shots rippled across his suit's chest plate. He crumpled inwards, hugging the kill switch to his body as the shooters aim moved to add divots to Ken's armour suit. The deck hatch into the cockpit was open, and a pilot in a rust coloured jumpsuit leaned out and fired again at Ken.

Ken's arm swung up, the rotary gun whirred, the pilot's torso liquefied, the whirring sound dissipated again. "So, Yonkers, the kid's dead. Pilot shot him, I shot the pilot. The crew should all be dead now." The mechanic took two quick steps and grabbed the control box as the Arkasha's body began to move slightly away from the box by left-over inertia. "Can you get up here and hold the dead man's switch while I go below and unfuck the boom?"

"Yeah heading up." Yonkers turned slowly still keeping her weapon up and at the ready, you know just in case. As she made her way back to the cockpit, she comm just before she rounded the last hatch, "Hey it's me, coming in, don't shoot." giving Ken a full second to absorb what she just said, Emma stepped out and made her way to Ken.

"Looks like this folks were just looking for death." Emma spoke as she reached out for the control box.

Ken gestured where to hold the box before speaking. "They weren't prepared to repel boarders. Let alone a couple marines in armour." He looked at the jury-rigged control box and shook his head inside his helmet. "Fucking idiots would've killed themselves if the kid there didn't have nerves of steel." Ken pushed away further from the box. "I'll head down and see if I can figure out just how they rigged it. You don't let go or we'll die, roger?"

"Right hold the button, I think that is in my skill range." Good thing ken couldn't see her sticking her tounge out at him while she stood there with the control box in hand, her thumb stabbed down hard on the button. "Guess we got them good." she fell silent for a few moments before a brightened voice of hers pipped up. "Does this mean you and I get the salvage rights?"

Ken flicked his eyes to the atmosphere monitor and verified the reasonably clean air before popping his seals and climbing out of the suit. Of course he had first secured it magnetically. "Fuck yes. Though I doubt we'll make a profit off of this, considering how they shot up the 'Tross." And with those words an anxiety over his friends and his home flooded through Ken. "Let's hope we don't also have to pay funerary costs for anyone." was added quieter.

"why would we? They were pirates, and attacked us, screw them and their funerary costs... hell, arn't we just going to push them out the airlocK?" Emma asked, not realizing Ken was speaking of the 'Tross's crew. She was going to continue bitching about paying for the pirate's last rites, before looking down at the kid who kept them all alive in the end. "well maybe this kid, he should be sent back to his people..."

Climbing down into the bowels of the small ship took only a few moments. Ken felt naked without the armour but he would struggle to fit down the hatch, and the suit's fingers wouldn't be dextrous enough to manipulate any of the fine wiring. "Yonkers, I wasn't talking about these bastards." Ken finally said when he could get a word in edgewise. He arrived at the small engineering section. In it floated about a dozen fuses, capacitors, and lengths of wires. He wiped them away gently as he approached the open access port.

"Well fuck." Ken muttered quietly as he saw what was done. The entire core drop system was ripped out. The port out of the ship was there, but any of the systems that would allow the hatch to open were cut off. The bottle could be turned off, and the super-hot fusion material would make contact with the reactor and lead to a catastrophic series of explosions. "This is going to take some time." Ken communicated to the flight deck.

"oh...? OH! Right..." Emma felt like a idiot all of the sudden with the thought that she forgot that the 'Tross and the crew could have met with a far worse fate then her and Ken. "What was that? What's wrong?" She asked frustrated that she had to be just standing there with a button in her hand.

"Fuckers made it nearly impossible to drop core." Ken answered as he straigthened and looked around the workshop to find any length of wiring. He started rummaging through drawers and in several lockers before finding a nearly empty spool of small gauge wire. With a pair of cutters he sliced some of it off and stripped a length. With his hand terminal in one hand, wiring in the other Ken returned to the reactor. The terminal leads were snipped flat with the housing, but light reflected leads.

Ken simply pushed one end of the stripped wiring into the terminal, applying enough pressure that the terminal lead and the wire should make a connection. The other end Ken had fitted with a Universal Data Bus connector. Wulf had loaded his terminal with a lot of engineering software. Most of it Ken never used, but the kid had provided him with his favourite app. The favourite app? The Edevane Universal Error Reporter. Plugging the UDB connector in his hand terminal pulled up the Error Reporter and allowed Ken to force the power plant to spill its error logs. Another neat feature Wulf had put in the app was a rudimentary automated hacking tool. It would probe the system it was plugged in to find any openings.

"Reactor Control System: Access Granted." This made Ken smile. He looked through the system. The UI was as simple as it could be on an old shitbox like this. ASCII menus were certainly not a forgotten art, though it should've been. One of the diagnostic tools the reactor had was to run a hard test of the core dump procedure. Ken mentally flagged that and looked through just about every other menu. Ten minutes later he had found no better option. And he couldn't go back in his suit and cut a hole in the hull to drop core either. "Well, fuck it. Either it works or it isn't our problem." And pressed the button that was never meant to be pressed with an actual hot core present.

In nanoseconds the tug turned gunship's drive plume distorted, ballooning outwards in a rapidly dissipating cloud of cooling plasma. With its thrust gone the tug went immediately onto the float, keeping a steady course and bearing thanks to Newton's laws. But on the inside the rapid chittering of circuit breakers going off, along with the loud cannon-like bangs of the superconductive magnets discharging all t once, it felt like the core had exploded.

"Reactor containment vessel: evacuated. Note to operator: this has voided your warranty on your Hibatchi Hydrothermaldynamic Fusion Core Model TG67. Please read your owners manual for further information."


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