This is the beginning of Season 2 of the WARPED Mothership campaign. See the full saga on the Warped archive.
As they fly away from the Iblis’s Crown station, the crew watches the flashes of small arms and explosions below. The station has erupted into war as Imogen Jacquet’s Sol Military Contracts forces attempt to take down Ben Rashid. On the bridge, Sonia reports that SMC corvettes are tailing and escorting AKMC mining ships, and that two unknown ships, not broadcasting identification, have arrived and are moving towards them.
Khalas “Can” Rashid
William Henry Harrison
Galactic Red Notice: akin to today’s Interpol Red Notice, a Galactic Red Notice is issued by the Confederated Colonial Criminal Authority at the request of an entity with jurisdiction over a sector of space who has reason to believe that someone who has committed a crime there has fled to another sector. It serves as a request to local law enforcement to arrest and extradite the criminal in question, but it also allows law enforcement from the originating sector to enter sectors in which they do not normally have jurisdiction, provided they can credibly demonstrate they are in pursuit of the criminal. These entities are frequently not governments, but corporations, as in this case.
The crew hails the Crown’s traffic control, now under SMC control, and finds out that the ships are the Vehement, a corvette, and the Black Haste, a personnel shuttle, both Tannhäuser ships. Normally there would be no Tannhäuser ships operating in Anders-Klimt Mining Company space, but they claim to be here under the auspices of a galactic Red Notice, and are searching for fugitives. They are approaching the Grasshopper.
Consulting the Grasshopper’s nav data, J. determines they need to escape the gravity well of the nearby planet so they can jump to Vesper’s Rocks, the next system on their route to Prospero’s Dream. They make evasive maneuvers as the ships approach. J. calls up Franklin, the renegade scrapper crew leader whose life she saved when salvaging on the Iblis, asking if there’s anything he can do to help them evade the Tannhäuser ships. True to his word, he sends two of his small scrapper ships to intercept their trajectory and knock them off their tail for long enough to give them a window to make the jump.
Hardcastle makes a shipwide announcement that the crew — and any possible stowaways — should head to cryo immediately for the jump. Can Rashid, still hiding in the vents, crawls her way towards the cryo chamber and drops down behind J and Olivia, following them in and managing to secret herself in a cryopod without anyone noticing. She pauses for a moment, seeing that one of the pods has another teenager in it, a handsome boy in a jumpsuit. She almost takes her little homemade droid DJ Screw in the pod with her but thinks better of it and leaves it outside. When Sasha enters the chamber he sees her in the pod and gives instructions to WHH to wake her last. The human crew enter their pods and drift into cryosleep.
When everyone has gone under, WHH becomes the acting captain, and counts down to the jump with Sonia on the bridge. She initiates the jump and the starfield in front of him seems to refract and fold in on itself forming an infinitely intricate mandala of stars. Time and space stretch and slow as Sonia begins shaking in her tank and various objects in the room begin floating up off the terminals of their own accord and begin flying around the room. A mug begins flying directly towards WHH and, for a seemingly infinite amount of time, it hangs in the air in front of his face, the porcelain catching the terminal lights of the bridge in a sparkling, shimmering display. As it turns in slow motion, WHH reads “#2 Mom” emblazoned across it. Suddenly, it smashes into his face. He figures now would be a good time to leave the Bridge.
WHH sees a small, clumsy robot in the hallway — Can’s bot DJ Screw — bumping itself into the wall and beeping plaintively. Curious, he approaches it and tries to communicate, but he can’t figure out what’s wrong with it or where it came from. It seems harmless enough, and he puts it back down, and it starts following him as he explores the ship.
WHH encounters Yu Yin, once again looking whole, as she rides the elevator up from the research deck. She offers a playing card to WHH but then looks confused and disappointed when he doesn’t understand its significance. She then sees DJ Screw and bends down to pet it, but hesitates.
WHH says go for it, it’s safe. She pets the little robot and looks up to WHH and smiles, but right then her face turns into a skull, just for a moment. WHH figures his sensors are acting up because of hyperspace.
She gestures to her stomach — she’s hungry. As they walk together to the galley, she shows him the card again — an Ace of Spades. He doesn’t know what to make of it. Once in the galley, she starts making bowls of cereal and eating them voraciously.
WHH’s starting trinket was a Tarot deck.
Figuring she likes cards, WHH pulls out his Tarot deck and starts shuffling it and laying out cards — the first card is Death. The second card is also Death. The third, Death. Fourth, fifth, Death and Death. Confused, he looks up and sees that Yu Yin has become like the figure of Death, a skeleton with a grinning skull. Her flesh reappears, warping and twisting around her bones, organs filling her up, then it all begins disappearing again, over and over. She drops her bowl and flees the room and WHH freezes in place, just staring as she leaves. They have left hyperspace.
WHH wakes up the crew — all except Can. As they recover from cryosickness, WHH and J. discuss what to do about her. J. volunteers to wake her up and give her the tour after everyone has left the room, so as to not overwhelm her. WHH heads back out, and DJ Screw follows.
J. activates the wakeup sequence on Can’s cryopod, waking her up from a nightmare in which she is chasing after children in a field, their rabbit masks falling off their faces. This must not happen. She must get them back home, but she stumbles and wakes. She immediately looks for DJ Screw, but it’s not there. She looks up to see J.’s face and immediately pukes on her. J., unfazed, says it’s time to take the tour of the ship. But first, they’ll get changed. They head to the barracks and find some jumpsuits.
Meanwhile, Hardcastle has Sonia scan the new sector. True to its name, the Vesper’s Rocks system is mostly asteroids orbiting a huge white star. There’s one mining station here with an AKMC callsign: Ypsilon-14. They contact the station and get a confused person asking them why they’re so early.
After some discussion, they work out that the station was expecting a resupply shipment in a couple weeks, and they hardly get any other ships coming through the sector. They say the crew on the station would be happy to host some visitors, and that if they have any good booze, food, or medical supplies, the station would happily buy some from them. The crew is, fortunately, in possession of all three.
As Sonia docks the ship to the Ypsilon-14 base, Olivia makes breakfast for everyone. J. leads Can into the room, and Can, perhaps to stifle her embarrassment, takes control of the situation and pulls out a bottle of Solarian sacrament — Vodka — and pours shots for everyone, “to bless their voyage.” As they hold up their glasses, Hardcastle makes a toast to Sonia. Can, confused, asks who that is.
“Oh yeah you should probably know — she’s the teenage girl who’s bonded to our ship’s computer!”
To be continued…