Just Past the Edge of the Empire

The crew managed to restore Ox from a week-old backup, and discovered that the Nav system had been wiped. Unfortunately, when Ox powered on, his Identify-Friend-Foe (IFF) system glitched and he opened fire on everyone on the bridge. Quick shots by the quick-witted disabled the worrisome systems of his hover-drone temporarily.

A visit from the authorities introduced MJR Allysa Barth of the Imperial Patrol. She seemed oddly unsurprised at the notion of a rogue team of Imperial Navy Troopers covertly raiding a civilian vessel. After confirming that the crew did not intend to pursue charges against the (still unidentified) commando team — and incidentally clarifying the Empire’s stance on AI citizenship in allowing for the possibility of a civil suit against CuriKhan Viccybasters in the matter of a physical assault — and making a brief survey of the possibly contraband animal cargo, she let the matter drop and left the crew to their own devices.

Shortly after purchasing and downloading a new set of maps over the Stick System Extranet (StSy-ExN), the Oxcart lifted off, setting course for Stick System Solar Mass Gamma (StSy/SoMaGa), intending to use the known Slipknot connection to Saligua System Solar Mass Alpha (SaSy/SoMaAl). Contact with StSy/Slip Station Rnonipan included a request for a ship’s personnel roster and cargo manifest.

Ox’s monitoring of radio chatter suggested that the station personnel’s follow-up request for permission to board on the claim they scanned additional lifeforms beyond the listed personnel was most likely harassment by bored Patrol personnel. This seemed to be backed up by requests to activate Code I79-83G/Gamma — the structuring of the otherwise null code is designed to allow personnel to covertly request assistance in a hostage situation. Unfortunately, the crew’s strategy of faking communications trouble as they zoomed past the station and dived for the Slipknot encouraged this notion.

The station Interceptor was dispatched, but the Oxcart had a huge accumulated velocity advantage and managed the Slipknot before the Interceptor. However, while inbound for the Saliguan System Planetary Mass Aquos, Ox intercepted a message from the Interceptor, ostensibly beamed for a station SaSy/PlMaAq/Station Zeist that addressed Commander Reginald Lambert, informing him that CCS Oxcart was in system. Ox determined this to be a bluff, however, as no station was detected in orbit.

The ship made landing in a moderately deep portion of the world-spanning ocean, and the crew popped the hatch to view beautiful blue skies with just a hint of dark clouds on the distant horizon. The sun was just rising, and it looked to be a good day.

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ben_marlin

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