Once the Court business and parties were done in the Regina System, the three Knights had been given the approval of Duke Sir Norris Aella Aledon, of Regina. Next, they booked luxury passage to Rhylanor and Duke Leonard Stephanos Kirgashii. Traveling in luxury, they even managed to party a bit in the lightly populated Yori system during their layover as the ship was prepared for the next jump and cargo was managed. From there, they jumped to the Inthe (Regina) system, and partied at the high port. Another layover, as their ship's business was handled, was a brief bump along the way to the Rhylanor system.
Soon enough, Dame Mikah, Sir Zimzod and Sir Brian were outward bound from the Inthe System highport after a few days of hard parties. But the parties moved back to the ship and they were outward bound. And then...
None of the three could remember exactly what happened. They woke without remembering the last party ending! They woke in straight back chairs, restrained by the hands and feet, in a sort of spartan metal compartment. They also had a sense they had been out for some time, and it was apparent that they were also being observed. They were soon joined by a man and woman in generic business clothes after they'd all woken. And the meeting that followed was short and hard.
They were aboard a ship bound for a system where insurgents were fighting a losing war against their planetary government. But the desperate insurgents had scored a double coup, getting hold of an agent identification(NOK) file and capturing a weapons researcher and his daughter. That meant none of their existing agents the government had could attempt a rescue without being identified. And many were being tracked in some way by partisans, so organizing a covert rescue was also an issue. So when the Traveller’s news Service( TAS ) said the Knights would be close enough to be of use, it was decided to ‘requisition their help’...
They'd touch down planetside, near where, as much as they dared, they believed the insurgent facility was. The Knights would be given what weapons the government could provide and coordinates of a point where they would find a comms device and could call for extraction once they had the scientist. His daughter was a "preferable recovery", but not mandatory. Then the two agents raised hand secured filters to their faces as some pellets were dropped on the deck and the Knights remembered no more.
They woke on the ground in high grasses, wearing light work clothes with some fairly basic rifles, gear and a map. Examining the map, Zimzod quickly saw they were a distance from the suspected insurgent base, and they agreed they needed transportation. So they searched, and found a small road to follow. After some time, they found a vehicle, pulled well off the road and into some brush. As they watched, it seemed to be "rocking slightly". Creeping up, the three saw that a young couple were in the throes of passion, and had obviously pulled behind the brush in hopes of being completely hidden. While the two were partly undressed, things had not proceeded to the point that interruption would be harsh, so Zimzod decided to do a favor for this couple’s parents. He stepped forward to pull the driver’s door open with the rifle raised..
The couple were caught completely by surprise and the young girl started screaming as Zimzod commenced a good old fashioned car-jacking. The boy was dumb enough to struggle while Zimzod half ordered, half forced him out of the car. Without his pants, and, more to Zimzod’s mind, without any thought of protecting his topless girlfriend, the kid took off. Zimzod considered their options. If he got to the authorities too early, he could start a hunt for the SUV and possibly get in the Knights way. That thought took all of the microseconds required to raise and aim the rifle he had. The young girl’s hysterical screaming increased in volume as the crack rang out and her fleeing paramour fell, shot through the chest.
Angry at Zimzod for acting unilaterally, the other two Knights did their best to control the situation and get the girl out of the vehicle. They drove away from the sight of the sobbing girl holding her blouse to cover her bare chest as she knelt over her dead lover’s body. Following that, it was nearly an hour or so’s drive to a place where they could cover the vehicle and make their way on foot. The “hideout” was more of a filled in quarry that had been tunneled into and the big question was, if they shot the entrance guard, how soon would someone notice? Since there were no other entrances, the only option was the angle of their attack.
Considering the pros and cons of trying to creep up close and possibly being discovered, they decided a sudden kill and hard rush forward was their best chance. That way, they could drop into cover and engage anyone who came out to investigate. So again, Zimzod steadied his weapon and drew down on the guard from the treeline. The crack of a single shot was followed by a mad dash as the three Knights rushed the entrance. Lucky for them, the insurgents were sloppy, and the Knights made the entrance without someone inside having heard the shot.
Zimzod quickly looted the body for anything of value, limited to a handgun and more ammo for their rifles. Then he propped the dead guard to stand against the entrance, before they slowly made their way into the maze of corridors. Taking their actions in the Hrunting system as a guide, and because Sir Brian was not interested in risking his life for so little a reward, the engineer was left to hold the entry to what turned out to be a descending opening to caverns.
It took less than 45 minutes for Mikah and Zimzod to make an armed exploration of the hideout and happen on an insurgent with a tray of food. After a very brief “interview”, the two made it to where the cell / lab was fitted, and liberated the inventor. Of course, he refused to cooperate unless the team rescued his daughter too. Their only luck was that he knew the way to her cell. At the same time, Brian had fortified his position and even scavenged, finding a flamethrower he liked very much. Working quietly, Brian set it up to be used should the need arise.
They had more luck when they found the girl’s rooms lightly guarded, making the Knights wonder seriously at the abilities of this group? So there was more of an alarm raised when the team threw stolen explosives to collapse tunnels and prevent pursuit than anything else. The most dramatic part of the rescue, after the “opening shot”, turned out to be a brief shootout with two insurgents who'd been out topside and found the body at the entrance. As they joined the party, Brian had a bit of excitement holding them off until Mikah and Zimzod joined him.
After that fight ended, the Knights set off explosives Brian had also found to collapse the caverns and prevent others following them. In the end, they got clear with both the weapons developer and his daughter, leaving many insurgent bodies behind. It was then less than an hour’s drive to the dust off point, where the Knights found the waiting signal device and sent a request for recovery. Very soon after that, the ground erupted in a smoke-filled gas and once more the Knights remembered nothing until waking aboard what was presumably the same ship they'd been aboard before.
Again secured wrist and ankle, the same agents thanked the Knights for their work and said they would be returned to their journey with all their gear. Despite Mikah's reasonable request to be paid for their work before calling it even, and as Brian demanded the flamethrower be returned to him, they were shut down. They were told that, while the government they represented was sorry for doing what had to be done, the Knights shouldn't ever try to return to the unidentified system. If they did, the testimony of the girl from the SUV would assure a swift and very blunt trial for intentional murder, followed by a very swift “execution” of the verdict. Then, again, the couple raised the hand-held filters and the gas spelled oblivion.
When the Knights awoke, they were each alone in their own high passage stateroom aboard the Tukera Long Liner Equus, bound for the Rhylanor system via the Porozlo system.
_________________________________________________________________________ Next: Arrival in Porozlo