Betrayals

 

The Crew began setting the Ghost to right with Willis taking the lead. The first road block was finding a replacement power coupler, a requirement to fix the flow inverter. Marsh had set down near one of the atmospheric processors, so Chan, Xavier, and Willis walked over to the automated facility to see if a substitute part could be located as the rest of the Crew worked on the more minor repairs to the Ghost.

 

On reaching the processor, Xavier easily bypassed the security on the facility and just as easily picked the lock on the door. She accessed the station’s computer, again with ease, and deleted all trace of their arrival, entry, and removal of property from the installation. Chan located a suitable part and Willis removed the part without disrupting the operation of the processor. Returning to the ship, Willis was able to begin modifying the processor part for use in the Ghost’s engine, something that would take several hours to complete.

 

As repairs were nearing completion, Marsh ran a quick sweep of the scanners in preparation for their upcoming departure only to be stunned to detect a ship entering atmo and heading their way. Marsh called out a warning, but Willis reported that he needed another hour before repairs would be completed. Trapped, Chan ordered everyone to prepare for battle, to include breaking out their only missile.

 

Marsh made a more focused scan and was able to detect that the approaching ship was an old Alliance armored fast transport, better known during the U-War as a Horsefly. This was very bad news as the ship was not only armed, it was heavily armored, and was fast, faster than the Ghost was at Hard Burn.

 

The ship broadcast that it was the Neo-Browncoat vessel Justice’s Hammer and that they didn’t want a fight or to harm anyone on board. Cindy arrived on the bridge ready for a fight, but made a sincere case to Chan to stand down. Chan listened, but chose to try and hold off the rebels long enough for Willis to finish repairing the Ghost. Not having much time, Chan cunningly positioned the Crew to defend for as long as possible.

 

Cindy and Marsh would defend the bridge, Xavier and William would cover the dining area access to engineering where Willis was feverishly trying to complete the repairs, leaving Chan and Li Ming to protect the cargo bay. Chan had Marsh stall the rebels as she rigged a couple grenade booby traps, but the Neo-Browncoat leader, a Stephen Montag was not buying the tactic.

 

Marsh could see armed men dismount the Horsefly as it flared briefly, then shifted to covering the Ghost with both missile launchers trained on the Ghost. Regardless of Montag not falling for the stalling tactic, Chan had time to emplace two booby traps. Two squads of Neo-Browncoats advanced on the Ghost leapfrogging and using the limited cover to reach the Ghost’s airlock.

 

Chan knew leaving the ramp closed would result in crippling damage during a breeching operation, so she left the ramp down and te entry open. As the ground force closed, the Horsefly darted forward, fired a missile, then fired a second with the second missile intercepting the first, causing a brilliant flash as the two kinetic warheads destroyed each other and igniting the their remaining fuel.

 

Marsh dove for cover, figuring his life was over. When he looked out the cockpit, he saw the Horsefly hovering directly overhead. One squad of troops rushed the boarding ramp, pausing to throw objects in front of them. Chan and Li Ming took cover as the optical bombs detonated and avoided being blinded. A squad of eight rebels rushed aboard the ramp with four taking up covering positions on either side of the hatch. The remaining four split up with two heading aft and two heading for the starboard side stairs.

 

The two heading upward tripped one of Chan’s booby traps, surviving the blast thanks to their armor, but completely out of the fight due to shock. The explosion was Chan’s and Li Ming’s cue to fire on the two boarders in the cargo bay. Li Ming’s burst stitched her target hard enough to knock him out from massive shock, while Chan’s target was staggered, but still on his feet. The four covering boarders fired on the two women, missing both, but pinning both down.

 

Up near the bridge, both Marsh and Cindy heard the rebels on the hull and this forced Cindy to make a move she didn’t want to make. She lashed out with a solid chop to the back of the pilot’s neck, catching him completely by surprise, and knocking him out cold.

 

William and Xavier had also heard the movements on top of the ship and were so focused on covering the mid-ship airlock that they failed to see Cindy’s attack. Cindy then crept into the dining room undetected and gathered herself to seal the hatch that William and Xavier were behind.

 

The two women in the cargo bay exchanged fire with the boarders to no effect for either side. Chan and Li Ming continued to exchange fire as the two of the boarders began closing in on their position. Cindy made her move and successfully surprised William and Xavier to close and lock the aft dining room hatch to seal off access to the bridge. In addition, the boarders on top of the ship finally managed to get the hatch open. William commed Chan on what had happened as he and Xavier raced fo the catwalk to ger around the sealed hatch.

 

As Neo-Browncoats entered the Ghost, Cindy made contact and directed the rebels to the engine room. Chan, Li Ming, William, and Xavier were at the rear of the cargo bay as the Neo-Browncoats seized the bridge and Willis in the engine room. Cindy then used the intercom to announce they ship was taken, Chan was furious beyond words, but had no choice but to accept defeat.

 

The Crew surrendered and were quickly disarmed, searched, and rounded up. After being gathered in the cargo bay, Stephen Montag arrived and made a pitch for the Crew to join the Neo-Browncoat movement.

 

Marsh snarled at Cindy “Why?”

 

Cindy’s uncomfortably replied “That this was the time and the place to make a stand.”

 

The Crew was placed in three of the passenger cabins with Chan and Li Ming in one, William and Marsh in another, leaving Willis and Xavier in a third. Unknown to the Neo-Browncoats, both Xavier and William had managed to hide their lockpicks from the searchers. The Crew noted the heavy guard that covered the make shift cells so escape seemed unlikely even if they could get out of their cabins. The discipline of their captors never waivered and no opportunities to escape presented themselves during the three days of their journey to reach their unknown destination.

 

On arrival, the Crew was forced to work as stevedores and unload their own ship of Killian’s water desalinization equipment as at the backwater landing field used by the rebels had precious little cargo loading gear, forcing the Crew to work as nearly slave labor. Despite the long hours, the Neo-Browncoats were unfailingly polite to all the prisoners, some recognized as being crews of other ships in the convoy that seemed so long ago.

 

At the end of every backbreaking shift, Montag or another of the Neo-Browncoat leaders would press the prisoners to join the movement. Crews were told they’d get their ships back and how the rebellion was growing in strength, that it was time to throw off the shackles of a government that could cause thirty million on Miranda to die and creating the Reavers in the process.

 

After two days of unloading, Chan gives the word to the others to try and fool Montag that they have seen the light and wish to join the Neo-Browncoats. One by one each member of the Crew tried to fool Montag, but only March managed to be placed on a probationary status by claiming that if his lady could be a rebel, so could he. While Marsh was released from the manual labor detail, he could not go aboard the Ghost’s bridge on engine room without an escort.

 

On the following day, 21 November 2518, the Crew finished unloading Killian’s cargo. They were loaded back into the Ghost with Chan, Xavier, and Li Ming in one cabin with William ane Willis in another. Cindy claimed to be too busy to have time for Marsh, so the pilot moved into his own cabin, but at least he wasn’t under guard. Marsh caught a glimpse of the Neo-Browncoat soldiers being bunked in the ghost’s cargo bay and as they lifted, Montag broadcast that the “Fleet” was going into battle.