Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast.   Posted by The Force.Group: 0
The Force
 GM, 705 posts
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 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 15 Feb 2016
at 19:19
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
With everybody changed into the tech uniforms, and You-Why fitted with his dummy restraining bolt, there is little left to do, beyond grabbing a final meal before arrival, checking the supplies again, and waiting...

"Orakanin coming up in ten minutes!" Jalt calls out from the cockpit, "Places everybody.  And hang on tight."

And right on time, Dancing Bantha exits hyperspace.  Though "exits" probably isn't quite right.  "Lurches nauseatingly out of" feels more appropriate.  For the passengers, shut into the smuggling compartments, it's impossible to tell exactly what's going on.  It feels as if the ship is spinning, out of control, around all three axes, while the engines howl frantically (or that could be Juragga).

Somewhere, something hits the deck with a loud bang.

And then there is silence.  And darkness.  And the smell of burned insulation...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 917 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 16 Feb 2016
at 06:37
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans sat in silence for a few moments.  He may have been listening for further sounds of calamity...it was equally likely he was just waiting for his stomach to resume an even keel.  "Well...that could have gone worse," he quipped tersely.  They really had nothing they could but sit and wait.

He hated waiting...
Shard
 player, 964 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 16 Feb 2016
at 14:06
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Crammed in, her feet pressed up against Rhijans', Shard huddles in the darkness.  The closed-in space sets her teeth on edge; it's too close to the mines, bringing back memories of shackles, endless work, and the stale scent of despair.  Bile slicks her throat, thanks mostly due to the violent lurching.  And she left her cursed flask back at the base.

Deliberately.

"I hope everyone is all right," she whispers.  And that Jalt isn't dying on the deck now, with nobody able to assist.  She wants to ask what happened.  What is happening.  But too much discussion could attract attention.  Instead, she struggles to wiggle into a slightly more comfortable position - impossible to achieve anything better - and slowly begins to relax.

Find the center.  Seek the balance point between fear and emptiness.  Stand upon that fulcrum.

Reach out.

This message was last edited by the player at 14:07, Tue 16 Feb 2016.

Juragga
 player, 459 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Wed 17 Feb 2016
at 03:17
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
"Raaarrrn," Juragga moaned, wanting it to be over.
The Force
 GM, 707 posts
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 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 18 Feb 2016
at 20:23
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Moments tick by in silence, with no indication of any Imperial presence in the vicinity.  Not too surprising, considering the size of space.  It would have been far more surprising if they'd dropped out of hyperspace close enough to an Imperial ship to be picked up this quickly.

Surprising, and more than a little suspicious.

So it's a matter of waiting...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 918 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Fri 19 Feb 2016
at 06:22
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans continued sitting in silence, his eyes fixed on some indeterminate point in space, rarely blinking, breathing slow and regular, trying to keep his surface thoughts calm or even blank.  The back of his mind raced, however, picking a scenario, playing it out mentally, going back and repeating the process with a different choice made here or there, both on his part and the part of the Empire, trying to build a catalog of threat responses and their likely results.

He didn't enjoy waiting...but he was good at it.  And he'd learned to make the most of the opportunities it presented.
Shard
 player, 966 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 22 Feb 2016
at 16:48
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Void.

Normally she'd be ecstatic at getting closer to the goal, but that goal being Imperial ships who vastly outclass their little freighter doesn't leave Shard too sanguine.  And so cursed many!

Rhijans, of course, is silent and immobile...and she has no idea what he's thinking.  Par for the course with Rhijans, mind - to say he's guarded would be understating the issue - but made worse due to them sitting in pitch blackness.  Waiting.

He'll figure things out, about her and Haarmon.  Sooner or later.  And then?  It'll be harder to explain.  Best to lay groundwork now.

"Rhi..."  Her mouth is too dry, the cramped space working on her nerves.  Shard swallows once, tries again. "Rhijans.  I guess Jalt's putting on a show for whomever is watching.  Want to bet on what he's found?"  Her small laugh is nervous - the dark, the enclosed space, and now this subject. "I figure three Star Destroyers, a cruiser, and a handful of frigates.  You?"
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 919 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Mon 22 Feb 2016
at 20:06
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans gave the quiet snort that passed for a chuckle from him.  "Of course he's putting on a show.  That was the whole idea...come out if hyperspace looking damaged, gives us an innocuous reason to be here and we're no threat.  If the Empire had any idea, for even the slightest moment, that we presented any threat at all, they'd just vaporize us and be done with it...they've got multiple high-profile prisoners, they can afford to be a little extra callous.  As it is, we're relying heavily on their overblown sense of superior force, because who would know if they just blew us up instead of investigating our arrival?"

The words were detached, clinical...he might as well be discussing the proper way to insert a fresh power pack in a blaster, for all the concern that was discernible.  He took a deep breath, and let it out in an extended sigh of...boredom?  resignation?  it was impossible to know for certain.

"As for what we've encountered, I'd warrant that we initially had one of the smaller picket ships detect us tumbling out of hyperspace...assuming they're on high alert and have pretty much the entire system under active sensor surveillance.  Fly-by of two or three fighters to visually confirm that we are, in fact, a ship out of control, rather than an anomalous piece of debris.  Picket ship intercepts us, Jalt gives them his story, that captain isn't sure how to proceed because his orders only concern dealing with attacking Rebel ships, so he sends word up the line.  A larger ship...likely a frigate...moves to verify the story--better sensors, more experienced crew.  His ship likely isn't equipped to take in damaged vessels this size, so he sends the call up the line..."

He shrugged, even though no one could see it.  "The fact that we're still talking about it is a good sign...if they were going to shoot us out of hand, we'd already be dead, unless we miraculously popped out in a sensor-free zone and they haven't seen us yet...in which case, there's a chance that when they do find us, they'll shoot first because they find our presence suspicious."  Again, the words were coldly analytical.  "Our chances improve if Jalt dropped out of hyperspace with a distress beacon going...I assume he did, he'd already thought of enough other factors that the beacon would be too obvious to overlook."

Again, the invisible shrug.  "Who's looking us over is largely academic.  The important thing is that they're looking, and presumably talking, rather than just opening fire."  Any note of hopeful optimism that might have been present in that statement vanished in his pragmatic addition--"Until we're on board one of the Imperial ships, though, anything is possible."

For whatever reason, he sounded oblivious to the fact that he'd probably said more at one time, in that quiet little dark hiding hole, than he'd said aloud at once in the entire time their team had been working together.  Whether it was familiarity and trust, or boredom, or just feeling safely anonymous in the blackness was impossible to say.
The Force
 GM, 708 posts
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 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 22 Feb 2016
at 20:08
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Sitting in the cramped smuggling compartments isn't pleasant.

They're dark, and poorly ventilated, and filled with noises... odd little creaks, groans, and rattles.  Which sound as if the Bantha is about to fall apart at any moment.

Worse, though, are the noises which sound organic.  As if the compartments are filled with insects or other vermin, scuttling about.

Then there is a sudden lurch, which exacerbates the noises...
Shard
 player, 967 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 23 Feb 2016
at 13:04
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans doesn't seem to be up for talking, despite his lengthily explanations.  At least, that's the first impression.  With Rhijans, Shard has come to understand, first impressions are nearly always wrong.

Nearly always, of course; he's a tricky one.

She dives deeper into her memories of the man, considering how he would actually answer if he were truly disinterested.  Does it match up with their current situation?

"Want to bet on what he's found?"

"No."


Well, he's not disinterested, so that's something.  In fact, it's a great deal more than she has heard from Rhijans except possibly while working out strategy during mission briefings.  A heartening sign, Shard decides.

"Logical, and well-thought out," she returns, just above a whisper.  Even with the creaking of the ship, she's quite sure he can hear. "And I like the positive nature of still being alive, yes.  But...I'm still going with my guess."  There comes another of those accursed scuttling noises, and Shard has to fight not to brush at herself.  The darkness, the suffocating still air, the sounds...it's getting to her.

It has gotten to her.

The ship shifts violently this time, and Shard tenses.  Bantha.  I'm in the Bantha.  It's fine.  Her breathing quickens, rushing in and out for many fast heartbeats before she gets it under control. "Star Destroyer," the older woman mutters.  "They're tractoring us in, so bang-on about them just looking us over.  Wish it WAS a picket ship or a frigate; this one might have better security, excitable enough to actually do a thorough sweep of the ship."

Trapped in the dark.  Things here.  Her throat burns for a drink, and Shard silently curses herself. Look what you've done to yourself, you fool.  Just hold on.  You're not alone, even if he seems cold as a Zidran summer.

That's just his way.


Why, Shard has no idea.  Race?  Culture?  Or is it Rhijans, himself?  Bounty-hunter.  Not the best of professions, and certainly not good for a person thick with emotions.  Had he scoured them away himself, or had some experience ground them from his spirit?

Or did he simply suppress them?
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 920 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Wed 24 Feb 2016
at 07:34
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
In the dark, the hint of a smile that crept to Rhijans' face couldn't be seen...though it could potentially be heard in his tone.  "We were banking on them making a thorough sweep of the ship," he replied.  "That's why we're down here, where they can't find us unless they actually start prying up floor panels."

The skittering sounds in the dark weren't menacing enough to concern him...he merely acknowledged they were there, even if he didn't know what they were.  He'd learned to do that with a great many things in his life...including, most recently, anything involving Jedi or the Force.  The things he'd seen Tfalta Dawl do when they rescued her...there was no logical explanation for many of them, and the most plausible illogical explanation was that there really was a Force, and Jedi weren't just some crowd of deluded zealots tricking their own minds into believing.  And the faith that both Juragga and Haarmon placed in Shard...

Rhijans knew himself to be a skeptic.  But he'd also seen two very competent and capable beings place an inordinate amount of faith in the woman in the compartment with him...and had seen her do things that, under normal circumstances, he wouldn't have believed possible.  Nothing as spectacular as Dawl...but enough.

So, he treated the noises like he did the Force...it was there, but he didn't know what it was.  And it was nothing to be afraid of, in and of itself.  Like almost any tool or weapon, it was only as dangerous as the person wielding it.

"A Star Destroyer is a better option for our purpose, anyway...fewer layers of security for Haarmon to bypass to get the information we need.  If we're exceptionally lucky, maybe even the exact ship we want to find.  And a large enough crew that three or four additional techs showing up won't be noticeable.  Four new faces in a crew of fifty?  Big flag.  Four new faces in a crew of a few thousand?  Hardly noteworthy."

Unless that crew has been working together for months on end and has gotten to the point where they recognize faces really well, even if they may not know names...

It was a risk, but unlikely.  Military vessels almost always had turnover in the crew...attrition due to combat, transfers to other posts, rank advancements and reassignment...the kind of crew cohesion that gnawed on the back corners of his worries would be the kind of thing built up by either a highly elite force, or by a group of renegades or survivors of a long-running war with little or no hope for replacements.  Last he'd heard, the Empire didn't have a super-elite Star Destroyer crew.  And they certainly didn't seem to be lacking for replacements.

His doubts settled, and he nodded to himself in the dark.  When he spoke, there was an almost preternatural sense of surety to his tone.  "This is all exactly what Jalt had planned.  We're right where we're supposed to be."  That much, he was, actually, quite certain of.

It was how things proceeded from here that got a little unclear.  But being in the right place with the right gear, and with no clear plan to follow, was what he did best.
The Force
 GM, 709 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 25 Feb 2016
at 17:56
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
More minutes pass, with only the occasional banging and clattering echoing through the ship to give any indication to those in the secret compartments that anything is happening beyond their small, dark world.

Finally there is a series of loud reports, and then an ear-popping change in air pressure and the sound of rapidly moving feet overhead.

A lot of feet.

And, eventually, after a long period of intense activity, almost total silence...
Shard
 player, 968 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Thu 25 Feb 2016
at 18:11
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
As always, Rhijans makes sense, and Shard clings to his words like a lifeline.  She's not entirely fearful of the Imperials discovering them, though that would mean the end of them.  What gnaws at her mind now is the confined space, the suffocating air, and the blank darkness before her eyes.

"Good to know that getting eaten by a Star Destroyer is part of the plan," she manages with a weak laugh, but falls silent as the sound of stressed metal continues.  It's too hard to talk, too hard to think, too hard to keep hold of her fraying nerves; better to fall back upon silence and struggle to relax.

It works.  Partly.  Then a change of sound.

Footsteps, and Shard's fingers wrap around the cold cylinder of metal.  If they're discovered...she might need to surrender, surrender to keep her companions alive.  No sense in getting them all killed.  But if they decide to fight?

Her teeth grate for an instant, then she relaxes, irrationally fearful of the Imperials hearing her through the floor.

And then silence.

"Don't move," she whispers, relaxing further.  Fear fills her.  Tension knots her shoulders.  Desperate anger tightens her jaw.  She accepts these without using them, finding her way between them to relaxation, to the safe place between the furnace and the glacier.  "A moment more..."
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 921 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Fri 26 Feb 2016
at 07:24
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
The darkness didn't allow it to be seen, but as the clatter of multiple pairs of booted feet passed overhead, Rhijans drew his blaster, eyes slightly angled overhead to watch for the first hint of light seeping in...it would be the first tell-tale, if they were discovered.

He was, however, remarkably calm about it...though resigned, perhaps, would be a better word.  If they were found, he had no intentions of surrendering...and no illusions about their chances of escape.  But if he started firing fast enough, the Empire would respond with overwhelming force...and the team would be spared suffering through Imperial interrogation.

So, he watched, and waited, finger resting along the side of the blaster above the trigger guard.  He also knew that the light increasing would be the first sign that Jalt had gotten them aboard in the clear, though it might be the pilot or either of the droids that opened the compartment...so he kept his breathing carefully regimented, kept himself as relaxed as possible, and did his best to keep the quiet anxious gnawings stuffed in the back corners of his mind.

It wouldn't do to shoot Jalt, or the droids, because he let himself get too keyed up, after all...
The Force
 GM, 710 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 29 Feb 2016
at 17:07
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Shard closes her eyes.  Haarmon, even in the gloom of the hidden storage compartment, seems to be watching her attentively.  Finally she moves.
Shard
 player, 969 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 29 Feb 2016
at 19:14
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing at all, except some...really small things.  Void.  Going to need a word with Jalt - this ship must have fumigation.

Shard grins, a feral expression in the dark. "We're golden," she murmurs.  "Let's go, but keep your eyes out for security droids."  That said, she uncouples the bolts holding down their 'roof', and gingerly pushes up the flooring above them for a look.

The older woman really isn't expecting to see any sentries, but...habits.

OOC - Sorry, was under the impression we were stuffed in two separate compartments - Rhijans/Shard, Haarmon/Juragga.  :(
The Force
 GM, 711 posts
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 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 29 Feb 2016
at 19:48
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
The ship is deserted.  Moving quietly around the interior reveals nothing and nobody.  No guards, no Jalt, no droids.  It looks as though Jalt, his astromech droid, and You-Why might all have been taken off the ship for questioning, or whatever Imperials do to get information out of droids...

A careful look out of the cockpit viewport gives a nice view of the interior of a hangar, all in standard Imperial colours - greys and blacks for the most part - and a worrying number of stormtroopers moving about.  Most of those, though, are not near the Bantha.

There do, however, seem to be a handful of techs working on a Lambda class shuttle, which looks a little the worse for wear, and stands only about twenty metres from the Bantha...

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:54, Mon 29 Feb 2016.

Rhijans Thanus
 player, 922 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 1 Mar 2016
at 07:28
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans looked out at the group and sniffed.  "Of course we couldn't be in a deserted section of the hangar deck..."

Still watching out the cockpit...standing back, so as to remain nothing more than a vague shadow if anyone looked in...he mused, aloud, "Well, anyone have any brilliant ideas for getting out without anyone looking our way?  I think I've got a decent cover story if someone sees us, but I'd prefer not to use it, if at all possible..."
Haarmon Dak
 player, 513 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Tue 1 Mar 2016
at 13:53
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Haarmon had sat quietly all the way through the exit from hyperspace, the silence afterward, and the boarding, and the silence after that. He listened to Shard and Rhijans kinda-sorta banter and he did his best to calm his tapping feet and his twitching fingers and his ever-running tongue.

Quite successfully, although at no small cost.

And now that they were in it, truly, completely, all the way in it, he was somewhere between paralyzed with terror and ready to take down the whole Empire himself.

Which seemed to be about his default for these sorts of things.

He muttered a bit and puttered around the Bantha, and then logged into the nearest terminal and tapped a few keys. Just checking things out.

OOC: Are any of the access doors open? Is the Bantha (by some magical coincidence) already connected to the Imperial vessel?
Shard
 player, 970 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Thu 3 Mar 2016
at 12:33
Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
"Spectacular.  We're in."  Haarmon, now out, seems to be heading directly for the computers.  Well and good; let the specialist do his thing.  "We need to find Jalt," she reminds herself.  "Won't be much good for leaving without him."

Keeping low, she checks the hanger again then sidles back into the depths of their ship. "Stormtroopers everywhere, but we're not far from that shuttle," she confides in Rhijans and Juragga...and You-Why, if he's listening.  "Can't really mingle with them, but with techs in the hanger we won't look that far out of place.  If we wait long enough, we can probably just walk out of here - they WILL be sending techs sooner or later, it'll be expected.  Since there's no guards on the ship, people might just figure we got aboard it while they weren't looking."

The older woman shrugs. "We're supposed to fit in, after all.  Uniforms, right place right time...any thoughts?"