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Confirming The Hit And Settling Down

missile fire exploding      After Aiden's announcement, things calmed down as the crew waited for him to confirm his sensor readings.  Ryddoth joined him on the bridge, and began moving the ship to an intercept course with the object.  After some work, Aiden said he could only be certain there was an object that "could" be the hulk they wanted.  Factionalization was still an issue as the crew settled down, but things scaled back from open conflict.  While the others were concerned about Brian and his pranks, Brian had other things he needed to do since they'd actually found the ship.  Stepozhevaci Councilor Saamsen was disappointed to have learned so little about the contact, but Aiden managed to politely explain the facts of space to him.

Eventually, the course was set and they found they were just more than twenty hours out from the object.  Aiden remained on the bridge as Ryddoth and the others went back to sleep.  Ryddoth would relieve him in eight hours and they'd swap on and off until they learned more.  Aiden guessed he wouldn't get better sensor readings for at least another five or more hours.  During the approach, Councilor Saamsen insisted they set up a schedule of hacking practice, to be ready.  Brian wasn't happy about this because he wanted to play with the stolen hand-comp's computer hacking software more.  He'd figured the basics out and wanted to understand it better.  But Brian made a public play at the practice for the Councilor's sake because the hand-computer needed to remain a secret.


Closing In For Verification

     As the crew woke and grabbed breakfast, those not practicing hacking exercises watched vids or discussed their roles in exploring the ship.  As the talk picked up steam, it was decided Sir Brian had to lead the teams crossing to the wreck, to explore and evaluate it.  Not that this made Brian very happy as he said, "Not happening guys.  You can carry cameras and I can watch from over here until we know what happened."  This started a fight, until Councilor Saamsen said, "You are the chief engineer and you will be needed to actually see things, so no mistakes are made."  While Brian tried to fight that, the Councilor was backed by the rest of the crew this time.  Some, like Aiden, who was likely staying with the Dawnstar Horizon even voted against Brian, just because he pissed them off so much with his pranks.  Once that was decided, Dame Mikah and Sir Zimzod also pushed to be included on the first boarding party.  Ms. Vik was happy to let them have it as was Scout Radetsky.

Ryddoth said he should go as well, and Emkir had few skills that would help with the initial exploration.  As they also talked in staterooms, they decided Emkir would keep the Councilor out of the way until they knew what the situation was.  If they couldn't recover the ship, they'd bring him over and explain the facts to him.  They'd have to decide what they'd do if they could, given what the existence of this hulk meant to the rest of the Imperium.  Emkir accepted his mission as he'd accepted learning he was the last to be told what most of the crew knew throughout the jump.  Still, there were more than 12 hours of flight to be logged before the Horizon could get close to the hulk and the only things they knew were coming from Aiden and the sensors.

After breakfast, the former Scout relieved Ryddoth, returning to the bridge to start working on enhancing what they knew of the contact.  After briefly working the systems, even short enough that Ryddoth stayed awake, Aiden could confirm the contact was a ship that appeared to be a 1,000 dTon wreck.  This matched what the Stepozhevaci had told them.  Readings off the long-range vis-light sensors had been computer refined and suggested the reflective surfaces matched a "Fer d'Lance" class destroyer.  But he couldn't confirm that and had what he said were "odd readings" from the densometer.  Aiden did say he'd know more before the end of his current bridge shift.  Ryddoth said he'd only take a six-hour break so they could both be as fresh as possible as the closed on the wreck.

Sir Brian also "played nice", though he'd actually managed to figure out the hacking software the night before.  He'd claimed to not be feeling well and disappeared into the stateroom he shared with Sir Zimzod early.  While the other knight had stepped in early, to mess with Brian during his illness, Zimzod realized what Brian was up to and returned to the lounge.  There, Inger and Mikah were scaring the Councilor with a marathon viewing of "Hiver- K'kree Wars".  The destructive warfare frightened the Councilor, more so because of his own slightly xenophobic attitudes.  After hours had passed, Aiden confirmed the drifting wreck was in fact a Fer d'Lance class destroyer.  Despite the demands he spewed, the Councilor had to be happy with that as Aiden proved that was all he could provide at the moment.  The rest of the crew knew there would likely be harder decisions for them soon enough.


The First Exploration Of The Quasar Viper Wreck

     Ryddoth woke to Aiden's increasing confirmations and they discussed the coming schedule.  They agreed Aiden would sleep the next four hours, to have him up and awake for their final approach to the wreck.  While it would be a long day for Ryddoth, he'd had many of those before.  Aiden's most recent work had been to refine the densometer readings and explain why they'd appeared odd before.  From what he could tell, the ship was likely voided internally.  She appeared to have suffered significant damage to her ventral hull as well as her spherical forward section.  This appeared to include her bridge, so the teams boarding her first would need to be in vacc suits.  Adding to that, there were no detectable power sources at all.  It also appeared the ship's boat, a shuttle normally housed in the destroyer's hanger deck, was not present.  Aiden was also able to verify the ship's external ID as the INS "Quasar Viper".

Despite the import of this news, Councilor Saamsen was surprised at how well the crew took the information.  Worried he might have had to force the crew to carry on, he was honestly not sure if he should be impressed or worried?  Most of the crew spent their time preparing gear to use in exploring the wreck or taking naps, as everyone knew there were some long days ahead at the very least.  Soon, Aiden was awake again and everyone was working as hard as they could to help on the bridge or prepare for their arrival and investigation of the wreck.  Emkir was preparing for his role, babysitting the Councilor and keeping him out of the way.  The Councilor became more and more vocal about being given a spare vacc suit and help to suit up to cross over to the ship.  And the more issues he raised, the more Mikah wanted to help him cross over.  Just not to the destroyer wreck.

As they closed with the drifting wreck, major hull damage was obvious.  It seemed the most significant ventral damage may have been caused by collisions with other drifting debris.  A large section of the ship's belly had been punctured and that area was punched in several decks across an area easily 20 meters in diameter!  So that was evidence of a significant impact.  And while other hull damage was apparent, there was no sign of any attempted repair work by survivors.  So as they came along side and matched their vectors to the drift of the destroyer, they now knew everything they could learn without boarding.  Despite the Councilor's almost frantic demands, Mikah was adamant he would not board until they knew more.  The crew took one last break, to nap and prepare for what was going to be a very long day.  Once it was time, Brian, Mikah, Zimzod and Ryddoth were the "first team".

The initial job was to EVA over to the wreck and complete a deck by deck, compartment by compartment search.  They wanted to confirm the conditions of key ship stations, such as the engineering compartments and the bridge.  In the meantime, Aiden would work with the densometer to determine how much of the destroyer's fuel tankage remained intact.  Despite the lack of Zero-G combat training some had, all members of the team had spent a career in space.  As the others donned their vacc suits, the Councilor had a minor hissy fit when Zimzod insisted on wearing his battledress.  But there was no way the Councilor could win that fight, so he eventually gave up.  The EVA went off well as they transited to the dorsal hull near the hanger bay hatch.  This had been apparently left open when survivors appeared to have attempted to flee the ship in its missing shuttle.

That made entry into the destroyer easy.  A quick survey of the hanger compartment showed light hull damage, which would be easy to patch once they got power to the ship.  The lack of power presented an issue as they move forward to reach access points with the lower decks.  All three forward access points from the hanger passed through a bulkhead and were unpowered IRIS valves.  So they were delayed as Zimzod tried to force each valve before backing off and Brian worked on one.  Lucky for them, Brian brought a hand-battery just for this use, and was able to bypass the wiring enough to get the valves to open.  Another good turn of events was that none of the valves they tried had been secured when they were powered up, or they'd have remained locked even after so long without power.

As they began to actually explore of the ship's interior spaces, they located and documented a number of crew bodies.  Each of those seemed to have died in some horrible fashion, suggesting the warped physics of jump space had penetrated parts of the ship.  Moving on, the explorers suffered their first significant disappointment when they found the bridge access both closed and secured.  As Zimzod stepped up to try to force the access, Mikah could only watch from where she floated in zero-g and comment on how Zimzod had lost his touch.  She shook her head and said he needed to practice more.  Even after Brian tried to use his battery, they could not get either valve to budge, so they were likely secured by the ship's computer before power-loss.  After leaving the bridge to be dealt with later, the team headed aft towards the engineering section.

This was the most dangerous part of the exploration as a hole crushed into the ship's belly penetrated through this space.  The team were forced to each make untethered jumps across a 15 meter hole which was exposed to open space and lined with razor-sharp torn metal.  None of them had thruster packs or other mobile manned devices.  Anyone lost would need saving by someone with the proper skills, or by moving the Horizon.  And such a rescue wasn't guaranteed or even safe.  And that didn't count all the nice sharp edges that could tear at vacc suits.  Despite the hazards, they all made the crossing and decided to set up crossing cables to work in the ship.  Still, nothing they'd encountered yet prepared them for what they found in the engineering section.

Of the Viper's bodies there, one was in a condition the crew would remember the rest of their lives.  An apparently female crewmember had appeared to have taken a hand axe to part of the drive's power conduits.  The result was that she was fried by the sudden release of power, though Brian couldn't tell immediately if this caused the misjump or not.  The other bodies showed no signs of combat injuries, so there didn't seem to have been a fight in that compartment.  But the discovery was very unsettling none the less.  Having explored the key sites, except for the bridge, Brian had one more mission to complete and wanted to get it done quickly, and get back to the Horizon.  So, as the other teams followed him, the engineer went to the Chief Engineer's position, a small office on this class vessel.  There, he quickly found the ship's engineering computer and tried to activate or access it. The entire system was a solid-state complex of electronics and non-removable crystalline storage.

When that failed, as expected, and his hand-held battery proved much too weak to handle the needed load, it was time for Brian and Ryddoth to return to the Horizon.  There, they reported to the Councilor and decided on a plan of investigation.  As the two men returned to the Horizon, Zimzod and Mikah decided to remain aboard and do a more detailed exploration.  Mikah's first interest was to return to the compartments around the bridge and see if there were other hatches they'd missed.  After that, she moved to the ship's locker, but found that had been raided long ago.  There were spare TL A vacc suits, obviously not needed by a crew killed by jump physics, and some other minor items.  But nothing she could use to force her way into a compartment.  Zimzod went exploring through the crew spaces looking for the captain's quarters.  During his jaunt, he noticed a number of quite valuable items secured in some rooms, but eventually found the one thing he was looking for.  And as Mikah talked with Aiden on the ship, via comms, about mating the Horizon's lock to the Viper's to not have to EVA across, Zimzod found the captain's safe.

The lockbox he saw was a standard unit, never meant to withstand serious assault.  It was expected a commanding officer would destroy anything sensitive if the vessel were threatened with boarding.  So Zimzod spent some time smashing it with what he could rip free from the stateroom's structure.  Finally, he got the door off the device.  And while he ignored the valuables floating free, Zimzod reached for what he expected, a locked document case with specific markings.  Sealing the stateroom, Zimzod grabbed the captain's unused vacc suit PLSS and ripped the valves, releasing all the stored air into the compartment.  While that would bleed out very quickly, the room was pressurized long enough for him to rip open the document container and find the infamous warrant Duke Norris of Regina claimed to have used to take command of Imperial forces during the war!  Knowing full well the devastation the document could cause if brought to light, he sealed it in a leg mounted ammo container in his battledress and secured that compartment with a personal code.


A Surprise As Large As The Open Sky

     Zimzod and Mikah finally returned to the Quasar Viper, this time through a docking tunnel between the Horizon's and Viper's air locks.  At the time, dinner was being prepared as Brian discussed what he and Ryddoth saw aboard the wreck.  Aiden was on the bridge locking things down because they didn't expect to be going anywhere.  But as he worked, his sensors board lit up like a forming jump point.  With a sharp "Frack!", Aiden went to work on the board as he hit the all-ship and told the crew they had company!  As everyone rushed the bridge for answers, Aiden said "someone" had just arrived in their neighborhood from jump space.  And since they were adrift in deep space, this was not likely a coincidence.  Zimzod was the first to act on assumptions, asking Ryddoth, "This is a detached Scout ship.  So what weapons are in the turret?"  Ryddoth said that, while these 100 dTon models mounted a turret in active service, detached ships like the Horizon were generally demobilized.  This got a look of disgust from the Knight and the comment, "Great.  Go back to being useless."

Ignoring the knight's attitude, Ryddoth worked with Aiden to lock down what they could, which was precious little.  Like when they had first spotted the Viper, this ship was a distant contact.  The only reason Aiden knew it was a ship had been the tachyon burst the ship gave off as it emerged from jump.  That unmistakable signature was obvious to anyone who'd ever operated sensors at all.  What disturbed Ryddoth and Mikah was that the contact was just over 20 hours out, like they had been when they jumped in.  This was a second piece of information which was too close to be a coincidence.  So without a weapons mount on the Horizon, it was time to kick work on the Viper into high gear before the new neighbors showed up to introduce themselves.  Having set their various suits to recharge once they came back aboard the scout ship, everyone who could was told to suit up and head over to the Viper to search for anything of use in a defensive action.  That assumed the new arrivals didn't just stand off and blast them into space dust.  At the same time, Sir Brian began working to create some items he felt he'd need to make some headway restoring power to the destroyer.

Thanks to Aiden, they knew the ship had significant amounts of fuel in her still-intact tanks.  Based on the math, the ship could even do a one parsec jump if they could get the engineering and computers on-line.  But Brian needed to understand the power flow of the ship better, and know what happened in the engineering spaces?  All Mikah and Zimzod wanted to know was if they could somehow activate the Viper's weapon systems?  As the crew moved into high gear, it didn't take long for the new comers to introduce themselves.  Despite the significant lag in communications over the distance, Aiden soon reported they'd received a message from the new arrival and broadcast it to their suit comms.  And everyone was in a suit, including the Councilor, who's pre-programmed frequencies would not allow him to hear the crew.  The message they received said, "Attention unknown vessel investigating this Imperial Naval Hulk.  I am Lady Katherine hault-Evers, and you are in violation if Imperial law.  Stand off the wreck and be prepared to be boarded or fired on when we arrive."

Despite her threat, the message showed the speaker was standing on the bridge of an obviously civilian vessel and was wearing civilian gear as were those around her.  Lady Katherine had also made no claims to rank, and was not on a warship.  As the crew argued over what to do next, it was decided that Emkir, as an Admiral, should deal with the situation and see if he could get Lady Katherine to cooperate.  But since he was babysitting the Councilor, he needed someone to relieve him and that turned out to be Ms. Vik.  In her vacc suit, in case she was needed, Ms. Vik went to the Councilor, who'd been pestering everyone to let him visit the wreck.  She told him she was there to guide him across to the wreck and help him explore the ship.  Pleased with that, the Councilor followed Ms. Vik as Emkir hit the bridge to begin sweet talking the neighbors.  No matter what happened, they all knew they had almost a day before it arrived and things got bad.  And even less time, since they only needed to get close enough to scan and identify the Viper to start a civil war.

The Second Exploration of The Quasar Viper

     As the crew now scrounged through every space they could find on the ship, they encountered a surprisingly large number of what appeared to be financially valuable items.  But little of combat value beyond the crew's small arms.  Brian concentrated on his newly rigged hand-battery.  He'd been annoyed at not getting access to the engineering computer the first time over, and now his life depended on some level of success.  So he was 'properly motivated'.  As a result, he moved directly to the engineering computer and spent minutes bridging the computer power feeds to the new battery pack before activating the system.  And when he threw the switch to the low-draw flat surface display, he got that background lightening that was a computer's version of the color black.  Satisfied, he'd rigged what he needed, Brian activated the engineering computers main power.  The unit was a small workstation, and Brian was pleased to see it begin to power up.  Because it was a small station for the engineer to in-put his log and connect to other systems, the core unit did not take much power without its detached storage.

Having done the math beforehand, Brian knew he only had about two hours of power on that temporary solution as he reported his early success.  When many of the crew asked about using the computer to activate the weapons, Brian scaled their expectations back.  He explained, "This is the separate station the chief would use to contact all the other computer systems and test them.  It's where they kept their log's and test results but nothing else."  When Zimzod demanded, "So what damn good is it and why are you wasting time?" Brian shot back, "It will tell me what happened so I know where to start fixing things.  So shut the fuck up."  That got one or two giggles, which were mostly nerves, thanks to their situation.  Still, the unit soon finished its power-up and Brian was hunting for the logs that would explain what had happened?  He also called for anyone with the electronics training to jury-rig a wiring cable from the Horizon before his hand-battery unit died on him.  When she heard that, Mikah grabbed a few people and got to work.

Each time the Councilor, who moved very slowly for lack of skill and Ms. Vik to help him, saw crew racing around and started demanding what was happening?  He was told the crew were working to see if the ship could be activated because they wanted to get back to civilized space.  This satisfied him enough he was content to continue to play tourist as Emkir continued trying to sweet talk Lady Katherine.  But try as they might, the early victories were limited to running power cables to the engineering computer and learning the story the logs contained.  It appeared the ship had misjumped and become "stuck" in jump.  Trapped in jump, one of the crew made a desperate choice.  She opened the access panel to one of the main jump power conduits and severed it with the hand axe found floating by her body.

The sudden discharge of power fried the woman instantly.  It also scorched and burnt panels for upto two meters up and down the space, including the lights and grav plates in the area.  There was evidence, some small fires had started on surfaces which were too flame-retardant to spread.  This had caused the ship to suddenly drop out of jump space and the sudden collapse of the ship's jump bubble allowed the distorting effects of jump space into the ship.  That caused many in the crew to die horribly as the physics twisted around them.  A last entry said that the two surviving crew members had taken the ship's shuttle, hoping to find rescue as the ship's life support was dead.  Brian did find he could possibly spark the ship's main power plant to restart from that system, if all the connections were in place.  So, with time running short, Brian began all the diagnostic routines he could run and went back to the Horizon with the others.

Aboard the Horizon, things had been sliding from bad to worse.  As the crew searched, or worked on projects like sealing small holes in the hull or forcing access to the Viper's bridge, a message came from Lady Katherine's ship ordering the crew to abandon the wreck in the name of the Grand Duchess Delphine!  In addition, as a counter to Emkir's claim to be an Admiral rendering assistance to a dying Imperial Navy ship, Lady Katherine produced an Imperial Navy Captain named "Mevers", who demanded to speak to the Captain of the ship Emkir was helping.  The crew had a rushed conference, in the long delay, and decided there was no way Lady Katherine's sensors could see much of anything at that range.  So they were guessing or bluffing.  And in answer to the captain, they needed to come up with an Imperial Navy Captain of their own.  Knowing the on-coming ship had no real facts, and were making things up as they approached, the crew got one of the naval vacc suits from the Viper's stores and Mikah dressed up, as the destroyer's Captain.

Fighting Liar With Liar

     They strategically covered any visible markings identifying the Viper.  Moving to the Captain's stateroom aboard the Viper, for realism, they activated a hand camera and Mikah responded to Captain Mever's demands saying, "I am both Captain of this ship and a medical doctor.  I have, and am, declaring this ship a plague ship, and will fire on any craft violating Imperial dictated safe limits to prevent spread of the disease."  She made some of those other comments she'd seen command officers make in grave circumstances during the war, but was really out of her element.  Still, it would give them something to chew on and consider as Brian worked with the rest of the crew to find a way to bring the ship back to life.

Aiden asked about running power from the Horizon's engineering systems to learn they didn't have enough of the proper materials to do that even if the Horizon could pump enough energy without activating the jump systems.  As they were forced to rest, and recharge their suits, the diagnostics Brian had run fed answers out, and the data looked like it was good enough.  Once the crew were back over to the destroyer, Brian found he could restart the destroyer's plant and identified two runs of power cable that needed to be run to reconnect the main power feeds to the forward section of the ship.  It appeared the plant shut down automatically, and the power grid was crippled, when the ship took the ventral hit from whatever collided with it.  As the others went scrounging power cables, Brian started isolating and restarting the power plant.  By the time, a few hours later, they got that done, they knew the inbound ship could see more than they were happy with.  They couldn't, even if they had military grade sensors, determine what class the ship was, but could start determining some details.  Aiden used the Horizon's OMS thrusters to keep the Horizon between the two ships to create further issues for the intruder's sensors.

This also brought out a slew of complaints from Lady Katherine and Captain Mevers, which were re-routed out the exhaust port for all Aiden cared.  Still, as things went from bad to worse, Captain Mevers knew the crew were not complying with his orders to back off the wreck until he could meet with their "Captain Kirlim".  So he issued a direct order for them to abandon the ship and back away or his ship would come in "weapons hot".  Their only response was a "thank you", from Sir Zimzod, who pointed out the captain had threatened them with deadly force, making it legitimate for them to respond in kind.  He didn't say they had no weapons to respond with or that it wouldn't matter if this even were investigated in court.  Still, this lit a fire pushing the crew to get a power line running as Ms. Vik did her best to keep Councilor Saamsen unaware and distracted.  Eventually, the Councilor had to return to the Horizon to recharge his vacc suit.  After leading him back to the ship, Ms. Vik told the obviously exhausted man to sleep and they'd wake him if anything important happened.  Taking her advice, the man let her set his suit up to recharge and went to sleep unaware, as Lady Katherine's ship bore down on them.


Snap, Crackle, Pop, You're Crispy

     Finally, with the crew on the edge of exhaustion and Lady Katherine and Captain Mevers spouting threat after threat, everyone aboard the Viper found themselves grabbing for something as the ship lurched!  Belatedly, Brian apologized to everyone as he said he'd brought some engineering systems back to life and shunted some power to the maneuver drives.  Aiden cursed at the engineer, reminding him they were still docked and he could have ripped the docking collar off the Horizon or even tore the hull.  Brian only responded, "Oh, Shut up you big baby.  You're too paranoid!"  At the same time, Mikah told Brian they'd finished running the replacement cables and asked if he could energize the rest of the ship?  Asking her to watch the grafted sections of cable from a safe distance, Brian started opening the switches.  And as he did, forward sections of the ship started coming to a limited version of life.  Rushing to the bridge access valves, Zimzod, who'd been working with Ms. Vik and Ryddoth on patch work, tried to open the valve and was rewarded as the iris cycled and exposed the control deck.

The bridge was open to space, due to hull damage, but many of the primary control panels were powering up.  Zimzod searched for the tactical station right off, with Mikah and Ms. Vik not far behind.  The idea was that, while they had not hacked the ship's computer, Zimzod was sure he could figure out how to manually operate the weapons if he could find them.  Of course, that was easier said than done, as Brian jacked in the stolen hand-comp and he started working on powering up the ship's main computer.  This process would take hours by itself, so he made it clear this was not an answer to their problems.  On the Horizon, bothering to even try to talk to Lady Katherine and her people no longer had any meaning, so they'd stopped bothering.  Aiden worked to guess at and counter what their sensors could see, because even a valid sensor picture of the situation could prove fatal.  Not to mention the personal outcomes if the Horizon were identified as being involved.

Even if a war didn't break out, they'd have no safe ports to return to in the Imperium and didn't have the jump power of fuel to get directly outside the empire's borders.  So it was lose-lose if they didn't pull an asteroid out of their cargo bay.  But that's what the folks on the Viper's bridge were working on as they eventually found the tactical system and weapons consoles.  From there on out, it was a race to figure out the computer interface and see what buttons did what?  And as Aiden reported on the reducing time before it was too late to stop them, Zimzod, Mikah and Ms. Vik raced through every permutation of switch setting they could find.  That was until Zimzod hit a stud and they all felt the Viper shudder.  Still, they were not sure of anything, as the stud went red, until Aiden urgently demanded, "What did you just do?!"  His echoed Sir Brian's demand of the same thing.

As the button went green again, Zimzod asked, "Why?  What did it look like I did?"  Aiden angrily and flatly snarled, "It looks like you just fired a salvo of missiles and barely missed the Horizon, Genius!"  Of course, the cheer he got back was not what the pilot expected.  And the knight didn't care what the pilot wanted, because they'd just found a way to defend themselves.  Knowing the basics of targeting, Zimzod did his best to put a plan into action.  He knew the on-coming ship had a crew better trained and able than he was.  And he knew that no weapons-fire at this range would prove meaningful at all.  But he also knew the Viper had been on a wartime mission.  And according to the doctrine of the time, she had been loaded up with nuclear tipped missiles.  So he did his best to figure out how to set the firing missiles for "proximity detonation".  Then, Zimzod aimed them in the direction Lady Katherine's ship was approaching from and began to giggle as he fired salvo after salvo.  Zimzod repeatedly slapped at the firing stud as soon as it turned green, indicating the missile launchers had been reloaded.

He laughed and giggled as he slapped the stud again and again, and his giggling was infectious as the ladies giggled with him.  They knew he was emptying the missile stores, and that he'd either save them or they'd die because of it.  Zimzod's methods also produced unwanted results as, soon after he created the "cloud" of outbound missiles, Captain Mevers was back on the comms.  He angrily demanded to know what the hell they were doing?  It was soon apparent that the pilot and bridge crew of Lady Katherine's ship had realized what was happening.  Zimzod had fired, and they had bearing down on them, a spreading minefield of nuclear missiles.  Still dumping speed after their mid-flight flip, the incoming ship, which Aiden believed he could identify now as a Far Trader, was coming at them "engineering section first".  While her guns were outboard enough to be used for point defense, Zimzod had dumped the entire store of the Viper's missiles at them.  As the crew of Lady Katherine's ship did their best, and Captain Mevers and Lady Katherine spewed curses at them over the comms, those of their crew who could, watched and acted as the cloud moved up.

They watched as a significant number of detonations were indicated on sensors and then no longer saw anything.  Soon, a sensor shadow appeared where her Ladyship's ship had been, despite the most disconcerting but briefly continuing barrage of verbal comms from the now destroyed ship.  Aiden worked to verify there was little to nothing left of the trader.  Then all on the Viper and the Horizon were suddenly celebrating except Zimzod, who left the Viper's bridge and returned to the Horizon.  The celebrating on the Horizon was loud enough to wake the Councilor, as Mikah and Ms. Vik wondered what was up, and followed Zimzod.  As the Councilor emerged from his stateroom to ask what happened, Zimzod was just arriving.  Heading right to the Councilor in his battledress, Zimzod used the enhanced strength to grab the man by his ship's suit, lift and pin him to the nearest bulkhead, bring up his .45 and fire a round that exploded the man's head.  As everyone in the compartment, and those suddenly looking through iris valves stared in silence, Zimzod carried the now dead and bloody body to an air lock and threw it out into space.

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Next: Getting The Quasar Viper Operational