Jump to content

Low Orbit


Recommended Posts



Approaching the Gas Giant Kapler-7, Lor Republic, outer rim...


Kapler 7 was a mighty planet around a bright red giant star. Layers and layers of beautiful azure gas, thousands of miles down, from the thinnest of vapours slowly blown of by solar winds, to the lowest and crushing densities of high gravity down below. 


And orbiting the gas giant was the giant cruise ship, Varis, too big to be called a yacht, it was a sleek unarmed vessel carrying a couple of dozen tourists and a crew of six. Varis took citizens of the Lor on a tour of the finest sights in the galaxy. 


On board was the wanted criminal, Photonic.


"Take no chances" was the warning delivered by Captain Grenn. A purple skinned human, Grenn was piloting three of the finest bounty hunters in the galaxy to the Varis, in a small Lor vessel. 


"We are the only ones this far out. The Lor would handle this themselves, but right now, you were the closest. And Photonic is dangerous. Very dangerous. We believe he has developed a lethal bioweapon..."


That didn't sound good. 


On board the Lor Superslicer (the fastest ship available), was a squat dog like man in heavy space armour, all brute force and determination, calling himself Grunt, and a thin, red haired, red eyed woman who had an elven face, calling herself Bleed, carrying a blaster pistol strapped to a leg and giving Roulette a smile and a wink. 


The view was spectacular, as Grenn swung the ship through the outer layers of the gas giant, and towards the cruiser Varis, as a storm of azure blew around them. With a slow clunk, the ship docked...

Link to comment

A year ago Roulette would have been on the run from the likes of Grunt and Bleed.  With the Captain using his excellent piloting to hound him instead.  Now, he was one of very few people born in the Stellar Khanate to ride a Lor vessel whilst not being a prisoner.  He responded to Bleed's smile and wink with a simple nod of affirmation. 


"Bioweapon, huh.  I'm sure he'll just hand that right over."  The grey skinned humanoid sighed. His life was less forfeit when running from lawmen and other criminals than it is actually chasing after criminals.  The gas giant may have been beautiful from the outside looking in.  But they weren't there to sightsee much to Roulette's chagrin.


He readied himself for the danger at every turn.  That was the life of a bounty hunter after all.

Link to comment



A little later...


Lor Superslicer docked with the Cruise Ship Varis...


Grunt, Bleed and Roulette slipped through the Airlock into the Varis. As Luxury ships go, this was good, but not top of the the range. First Class, but not like the personal Yachts hired out by the very rich. 


Twelve tourists, all confined to the observation lounge. 


Six Crewmembers, of whom two met the three bounty hunters. Captain Gellis and Steward Vam, both Lor humans with slightly odd color skins and distinctive facial features. Gellis was a broad, muscular fellow, with the looks of an ex-military man, who had armed himself with a stun pistol. Vam was tall, worried, and with an intelligent forehead and clever eyes. 


"Welcome aboard the Varis" said Captain Gellis, in an unwelcoming manner. He deactivated the alarms that went of as Grunt (whose Space armour packed inbuilt weapons) and Bleed (who carried a funky looking energy pistol) passed into the Varis. Weapons were not allowed. But Varis deactivated the alarm. 


"Can't say I like blasters on board" he sniffed. "But then, I suppose I like weapons of mass destruction on board even less. Just my Grecking luck to be transporting Photon. I heard of him, back when I was in the military. Didn't ever see him, though. What a Grecking mess" he said, almost spitting the words out. 


"We have the passengers isolated in the Observation Deck...its just that..." he looked uneasy. 


"One of them has been murdered..."

Link to comment

Cruise ships were often expectedly filled by the rich and affluent.  As a former conman, every crewmember and potential tourist read off like a mark.  There were plenty of things that would have otherwise served to take advantage of.  For example, on initial impression Roulette felt that Captain Gellis held his reputation or that of his ship in high regard.  Hence his trepidation with the appearance of three roguish looking bounty hunters, and the weaponry two carried aboard on them.  As it were, jumping to such conclusions wouldn't serve him for tracking down a man he knew little to nothing about.
"Can't say the customers like being a risk of murder.  So how and did the passenger get murdered?" Roulette snarkily asked, his first statement holding more derision for the captain then pity for the tourists.  The killer likely went without question. But knowing the method of execution might give them a way to track him down.


"It's amazing we were able to inquire Photonic was even aboard this vessel.  Such a finely upheld operation.  Well, lead the way."  Roulette rudely added.  Seeking to get a bit of a rise of the crewmembers to see how they would react.

Link to comment



"Bounty hunters...we don't need that scum..." whispered Steward Van not very under his breadth, whilst the Captain just bristled.  


"Murdered by strangulation, as it happens..." he said. "My dear Steward, Van, he knows a bit about medicine. But we don't have a doctor on board, so if any of you Scu...per people know forensic medicine, please be my guest..." he smiled through gritted teeth. 


"Not my style, buddy" grunted Grunt, cracking his thick canine knuckled again. 


"I can take a look. Seen more than a few dead bodies..." shrugged Bleed, twirling her pistol and looking unenthusiastic about any detective work. She was always tapping and shuffling, unable to keep still. This clearly applied to her mind as well as her body. 


After being lead on...to the Observation Deck...


The Magnificent view of Kapler 7 was somewhat marred by the dead body in front of them. She was a perfectly average woman, just with six fingers and no hair. Her neck was clearly bruised and marked, and she was clearly quite dead. 


Around the body huddled the remaining eleven guests, and the remaining four crew members - a copilot, and engineer, and two more stewards. Everyone looked shocked and tired. On a reflex one of the strewards offered the three Bounty hunters a drink of Vexis Wine, an aromatic beverage full of stimulants and borderline legal. Grunt took one with a grin, Bleed took one with an eyebrow, just sipping it. Captain Gellis just sighed. 

Link to comment

Roulette also took one raising the glass slightly before taking his first sip.  "That's a dead body if I ever did see one.  Nasty piece of business.  Yet, I have to ask.  How'd she get choked out without anyone hearing whatever struggle took place?"  This question wasn't accusatory.  But, there was a whole heap of difference in dealing with a maniac holding a weapon of mass destruction who couldn't blend in with one who couldn't.
Well this was a might bit brutish. She doesn't look like anything special. Crime of passion? Thievery gone amuck? Neither really scream call in three bounty hunters because this guy's such a threat. Could it be unrelated to the bounty. Roulette waited patiently to see what Bleed would find herself able to exhume from the corpse in front of them.

Link to comment



"Looks like strangulation to me" said Bleed after a cursory check. "Not my way of doing things, but still..."


Steward Van sighed. He was no expert either, but he didn't pretend to me. He rubbed his eyes painfully. 


"The body was found here. The Varis is a big ship" he explained, truthfully. "The crew can't be everywhere at once. And neither cam the passengers. We have two observation decks, private quarters, the bar, the restaurant, the gym, the pool..."


It seemed the Varis had everything except a disco and a sauna. 


"And the sauna, of course" he finished. 


"I found the body here, still warm" he explained. "We had just had the tip off that Photon was on board, and..." he explained. "...and I was trying to lock the place down. That's when I came across the body. A Mr. Turin, computer engineer, age 52, divorced, two kids, no medical history. Completely regular guy" he said, reading the passenger manifest. 


"Then, we heard you...people...were coming. So I gathered everyone here. Thing is, not everyone came..." he explained, finger running down the passenger manifest. 


"A Mr. Scure. Not here. Can't find him, but to be honest, I think it would be dangerous too. Surely this is Photon? A single man, aged 35, no given profession, no given medical conditions" he explained. 


"Mr. Scure, or Photon, must be hiding somewhere on this ship. Presumably ready to strangle anyone else who finds out who he is..." he said bleakly. "Poor Mr. Tunn, he must have been the first...."


His tone of course did little to calm the anxiety of the passengers, or the crew, who muttered to themselves. A few scattered demands to the captain and the Bounty hunters came through the mumbling. 


"Who are these guys?"


"I thought guns weren't allowed on the ship!"


"I demand to see my lawyer!"


"Lets get the escape pods before its too late!"

Link to comment

"Now people I understand the desire to throttle our fine steward here.  He has a very throtable face. But, an escape pod will hardly go far enough to reach habitable space.  A lawyer would only serve the executor of your estate in such dire circumstances.  Luckily, no more  murders shall occur."  Roulette was reaching at this point.  He couldn't honestly guarantee that no one else would be harmed.  But, he wasn't a very honest man to begin with so that worked out.


Moving from comfort, the Zultasian bounty hunter planned on getting the passengers to focus single mindedly on the task of having their little friend captured.  Ultimately it served everyone's best interest to have the entirety of those involved focused on Photonic in some way.  The passengers were less likely to riot if they were thinking only of when will this guy get caught as opposed to when will he kill us?.  The crew not worrying about their reputation would serve as better tools.  And his hired allies would have a serviceable role in the job as long as they kept their minds on being paid.


"Rest assure your captain has seen fit to hire the finest hands in the black to clear up this matter.  You'll be back on course for massages and Ilaxian brew before you know it.  But, to this we all have to come as one.  Please, if you would, inform us of any unusual circumstances today.  I could be something as simple as a chair out of place.  Your obscure details could help to capture a dangerous murderer and avenge a death.  Anything is helpful in bringing down the miscreant who committed this atrocity."

Link to comment



The mutters, if anything, just grew and multiplied, like a virus feeding on anxiety. 


One small elderly lady, all human bar her four eyes, piped up meekly. 


"I...I think I saw Mr. Scure...heading towards the engine rooms" she said, wringing her purse with anxiety, all four eyes blinking. "I may be old, but I can still see straight. More than straight, actually" she explained, pointing to her glittering purple eyes. One could only imagine her peripheral vision would be excellent. 


"I...I didn't say anything. But...if you are thinking Mr. Scure is this awful Gentleman, Mr. Photon, well...surely something nefarious is up?" she asked shyly. 


The virus spread further. 


"He is going to sink the ship!"


"No! He is going to blow the ship up!"


"Quick! to the escape pods!"

Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

Oh frak.  Roulette considered the unruly but rightfully worried crowd's suggestion.  Mulling them over for all of half a microsecond.  If they were going to play the communicator game in transferring information, he would just have to manipulate the flow from the source.  "I don't think he's going to try anything nefarious from the engine room.  Remember, he wants to try and get out of this alive himself.  Messing with the engines would all but kill that chance.  This Mr. Scure is probably hiding there, regardless, of whether he's the criminal or not remaining hidden would be in one's best interest."


He actually didn't know if Photon and Scure were one or the same.  Let alone if Photon planned on making it out of this alive.  But it would serve no purpose to sow discord amongst the passengers.  They were already doing a fine enough job of freaking out on their own.  Hence Roulette's push to make sure their perception was colored by what they overheard him telling the four eyed woman.

Link to comment



Grunt brought up his gun and...well, grunted. 


"The jobs in the Engine room then. Time to take him down" barked the heavy set dog-man, his eyes cool, his forehead curled in the slightest furrows of...enjoyment. Grunt lived for the job, and like a blunt instrument, paced off to the Engine rooms


Blood span her pistol into its holster and gave a slight smile, her lips a deep and pure red, like her eyes and hair. 


"Yeah, engine room, we really want your bazooka firing in there..." she said, giving a 'knowing' smiled to Roullette. 


"Are you coming or you grabbing an escape pod?" she asked as she went to follow Grunt. Everything about her was ambigious - was she mocking? laughing? serious? or everything at once?

Link to comment

They were an odd pair.  Blood was more docile than the vigilant Grunt.  But her examination of the corpse showed a level of skill to be certain.  Not that Roulette was one to talk about odd companions.  His captain was an Earthling of all the ridiculous things.  Some backwater planet that housed Star Khan's infamous foe.


Well at least infamous back home.  The Zultasian trickster smiled before walking after the pair.  "Didn't think this bounty would be such an easy grab.  Won't hear me complain if we can drop him off at the closest waystation.  Have some plans on what to spend with this take.  One of those quaint sized personal cruisers."

Link to comment



A few short moments later...


The Engine rooms were sleek, silent, efficient. The Varis was an unarmed cruise vessel. It was not built for war or weapons, it was built for luxury. Whilst not the fastest ship in the galaxy, it was fast enough, its space devoted to luxury and grace. 


The Quantum-11 drives hummed faintly, as the three bounty hunters made their way into the depths of the engines. Power cables, lights, wires, they all webbed their way through the deck, with large magnetic chambers pulsing silently. 


"How do we split the bounty?" asked Blood, directing her attention to Roulette more than Grunt, who, predictably, just grunted. 


"How about winner takes all?" she posed, eyes excited. Her pistol as in her hand, a high tech number, and her feet virtually silent on the slick metal surface. 

Link to comment

"Free ride and all the bounty.  Might just take a lap around the rings of Cassini if my luck is on such an upstream."  Roulette wasn't superstitious enough to believe in the concept of luck.  It was a layer of falsehood for the credit of his fellow bounty hunters.  He relied on the same measures when interacting with his proper teammates as well.  Going to show how short the leash on openness was with him.  A trait that he felt was being shared by Blood.  As far as her holding something back from the rest of the group.


Roulette crouched to the ground to confirm his suspicions on a more dire matter.  Power cells had been taken from the engine room.  The intention wasn't to merely hide in the engine room.  Whoever arrived before them had a plan in mind.  "This is very interesting."  Giving the same all too knowing tone of voice back to Blood. The back of his mind still questioning just how much she knew about his 'bazooka.'

Even if Roulette had no idea what was going on. He could at least play the part of the enlightened.

Link to comment



"There!" shouted Blood. 


It was photonic, no doubt about it. He looked like an average guy, in an average suit. A fit for Mr Scure from his face. Except the man also had patches of light crawling around his skin, forming, at times and places, little dots of pin prick brilliance. 


Blood was fast. Her lithe frame was probably not the sturdiest, she probably came from a low G world. But her reflexes where beyond human. In a flash, she whirled and fire her pistol in one fluid moment. A stun blast, which went just wide. 


Because Photonic was fast too. Looking up, startled, he blinked out of view. 




Blood was a good twenty feet from where he had been, but she fell forward as if something had slammed her in the back. Her head butted against a bank of energy cells. 


Grunt was slower, but not slow. Grunting a war cry, he let rip with his rifle, beams of energy scything through the engine room where Photonic had been. Sparks exploded, and there was a smell of smoke..and the lights above started flickering as the engines ground a most disturbing noise, followed by emergency red lighting bathing the rooms. 

Link to comment

"Now you've done it.  Gone and got the canine all wound up.  He's going to blow us all sky high.  And I don't even care.  You frakking fraud of a genius.  Guy can't even pick a better hiding spot than the place that powers his only chance of escaping this imprisonment. "  Roulette aimed at psychological warfare .  Preferring to not have to fire his optic blasts, least of all in a confined space, unless he had to.


The effulgent cracks of light were also worrisome.  Roulette loved the stuff as much as the next guy.  Moreso even.  But, he doubted it was just light coming from Photonic.  Either something was amiss.  Or the doctor's lethal bioweapon wasn't the only threat to watch out for.  By the looks of Bleed she would agree.


I assumed a bomb.  But what about some sort of drug?   Could he be doped up?

Link to comment



Photonic flickered for a moment, the invisibility shield fading, revealing the alien in all his uncloaked glory. Pin pricks of light on a hairless, bronzed and mottled humanoid, slender, with a wiry strength and deep set red eyes. A few key areas, glowing with light, indicated he had been operated on. A cyborg. 


"Fraud?" he said in a slick velvet mouth quite unlike the ugly alien features he presented with. 


"I..am a...no...no...." he answered, unsure of himself. 


"I..haven't got time for you..." he finished, trying to muster himself together. 


Then, he vanished...fizzled...gone...


The engines groaned, sparks flying. 


And then, a huge gust of wind hit the three bounty hunters. 




Roulette caught sight of Photonic, who had opened the airlock in the engine rooms. A functional, simple hatch for ships to click together. Outside, the outer layer of atmosphere from the gas giant they orbitted. 


And Photonic was holding something. A case. An ominous metal case. 


And then...he was sucked out of the ship, and tumbled down, down...to the deeper gas of the planet. 

Link to comment

"A frakking gas giant."  Roulette was of course referring to the planet they were currently over.  And no matter, how enticing its gravitational pull.  One did not just readily jump for joy in approaching such a thing.  At least not without the comfort of of being properly suited up.


The cyborg part of it all was not what he had expected.  Judging by the case in hand, Roulette was willing to bet Photonic's fleshy modifications were not there to store the bioweapon.  Whether that was a relief or not was another matter.  


This job doesn't pay nearly enough for this.  Roulette reacted quickly.  Grabbing onto a wheel handle on the engine room's venting system.  His body floating along as space threatened to swallow him up.

Link to comment



The air sucked out of the Engine room quickly, explosively, as the emergency automated doors to the room slammed shut. 


All of a sudden it was very cold, and the feeling of decompression kicked in, causing pain. There was an atmosphere - of sorts, in this low orbit around a small gas giant. But it was thin, so very very thin, and with little oxygen. An atmosphere of nitrogen and helium. 


The alarms flashed. They probably sounded, too, but with an atmosphere this thin, the sound conducted very poorly, like a memory of an echo. 


Grunt was holding on without difficulty, his high gravity build possessed of exceptional strength. Blood was struggling, clinging on to a lever with both hands, her gun having tumbled out into the stratosphere of the planet. She was screaming, mouthing words that Roulette could barely hear. 

Link to comment

Roulette didn't know the science behind it.  But the rule was fifteen seconds and then the tongue burning began.  And that was supposed to be the high point of decompressing.  Especially outside of a proper airlock.  Well we're right carked at this rate.


Turning around as best he could while fighting being sucked out into the stratosphere.  Roulette didn't even have to think about the angle required for more than a half second.  Making the right adjustments he planted his feet against the walls.  Kicking off with his legs before shooting off like a missile towards the opening.


Just barely catching himself before being thrust outside of the ship.  Looking around he couldn't for the life of him understand where the closing mechanism was.  As such he settled for making a new one entirely on his own.  Stretching out his arm, Roulette attempted to push the opening closed.  Unlike his would be ally Bliss, he found he lacked the raw muscle power to accomplish the task.

Link to comment



The wind died down, leaving just the pale thin atmosphere of the Gas Giant, barely 10% of normal pressure at best. There was little or no oxygen - the little gasps one could take served no function. It was cold too, bitterly cold, cold to the bone and marrow. 


Below, Roulette could see Photonics body in freefall. And then...zip....he blurred for a moment, teleporting further down to the planet. He wasn't even trying to get back to the ship, but was falling and teleporting down, down to the thick atmosphere of the gas giant. 


Behind him, Blood coughed up a few specks of blood, on her knees, shivering and pained, struggling to hold her breath. Grunt fared much better, his thick armour extending a helmet over his head. It was effectively an armoured space suit he was wearing. 

Link to comment

Roulette narrowed his eyes as he saw Photonic break distance.  Reaching momentarily for his rebreather he considered diving down after the man.  And then Blood coughed out blood.  Roulette wasn't a saint by any means.  But, he wasn't cold blooded either.  He wasn't just going to throw away someone's life for his own ends.  Bearing his way through freezing cold Roulette's fingertips traced along the door.


Putting every ounce of strength he could muster into the act, Roulette tried to force it close once more.  The lack of oxygen in the environment made it so his body lost color quicker.  Not that it was easy to tell with his Zultasian skin tone.  The sound was muffled as the door scraped against the frame.  With Roulette barely managing to fully shut the door his body limped forward.


Turning around gasping for air, he'd raise his hands into a thumbs up motion.  It was an earthling gesture that Ruby had taught him.  One that he cared little for.  However, almost dying made one far more amenable to stupid gestures.

Link to comment



Blood convulsed in pain, the low pressure torturing her body. 


Grunt, in his armour, marched to the interior door. He was not fast, but he was strong. A strength born of a race adapted to a hugely high gravity world, and his own will to exert it. He gritted his canines, and almost wrenched the door off its hinges, his squat body explosively straining against the metal and plastic. 


A rush of air, real air, hit the three bounty hunters once more, a blast of sweet sweet oxygen. Blood was weeping blood, and then turned over to emit a huge wracking cough of blood, her lung tissue ripped from the expanding air she had been holding on to. 


"Gaaah! It hurts!" she moaned, clutching herself in pain, rolling left and right. 

Link to comment

Roulette did not know a lick of first aid.  Keeping that in mind it didn't take any dedicated to schooling, that red stuff (or whatever appropriate color for one's species) is normally meant to be worn on the inside.  And anything a change from that norm was not a good sign usually.  Wheezing he stepped forward to try and make his way over to Blood.


Grunt seemed to be the only one of them unperturbed by the events that just occurred.  Of course the big guy isn't the one to close the door.  Not that he could fully muster up a complaint.  Not entirely sure he could have made it to the opposite door on his own.  "I don't normally like to make with the pain.  But Photonic might need some roughing up."


A payday was still a payday.  Getting his helmet was next on the agenda so as to take chase without the environment being a worry.

Link to comment



The Captain rushed in, panting from exertion, a small blaster pistol in his hand. He was more a steward than a soldier, but still...decompression was a serious business. 


"What happened? What happened?"


Alarms were still ringing, audible now, with the pressure restored. 


The engine room was clearly damage. An acrid smoke poured to the new air, slowly poisoning it. A few small flame licked the engines, now that oxygen allowed combustion. 


"We have lost power, then a decompression....we can barely maintain orbit....our pilot thinks we will go down....we have sent a distress signal...." he panted, breathlessly. 

Link to comment
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...