A.D.F. Time: Day 55, 1534
Visibility: Limited to natural Arismal nightvision or technological vision; 10' otherwise
Distance to Vikelter: 20 miles (will make contact with field in 1 melee)
Distance to Small Craft: 15 miles and closing rapidly (will make contact with field in moments, and then with Grifter in less than 1 melee)
Location: Chandrakant II, Temperate Region (day side), 50 miles out from I.S.S. Vikelter
Niall calls out, "I've got a bogey - just a small craft. By it's profile I'd guess it's an interceptor. Just the one, so they likely think we're debris. So, if that pilot's eyeballing us, we might be able to plot a trajectory that looks like drift. Maybe as he gets close, give us a little spin? And while we're pretending to be an asteroid, maybe we can pretend to be a radioactive one, and jam his comms. Lemme do a little checking here."
The first SOG's log entries only indicated one previous, brief, encounter with small craft of this design. Which only revealed that the interceptors pack a sizeable punch for their size, are squirrelly to target, and are limited to light (short-range) weapons. So far as replicating radiation from exotic bodies, Niall knows it's theoretically possible to mimic certain EM signatures, but that most radioactive signatures aren't going to be quickly replicable, if at all feasible, by an Albatross on short notice. The radioactive asteroid idea being a dud, Niall inputs some a drift trajectory that gets the Grifter
close to the Atorian ship, and feeds it to the pilots and EWO.
Cairo adds, "...looks like it was launched to meet our course. Got a couple options. Can try and beat the force field and land on the hull, or Nova--can you drop an anchor point here if we put a bit of burn in, set down back on the dark side of the planet?"
"We have intercept people,"
he reminds the others, prepping the ship to move back on to its main flight system if they come under attack, "it will figure out that we are are not debris the second it has visual on us. Either we break through, circumvent etc. through this field or we abort, and use option two of the portal. It will take us a while to travel to the ship though, but picking us up is a lot less likely. If we do break through, we need to provide a distraction that we can use in order to hide us on that behemoth."
Corrigon executes Niall's drift trajectory and smiles as the thrusters change the facing of the Grifter abit, cause it to slowly rotate on its longitudinal axis, and change the trajectory enough, gradually enough, to bring them within what he calculates to be a hundred yards of the big ship's secondary hull.
Cairo gets a sudden case of potentially useful diarrhea of the mouth. "Can't break through the field--we don't have the firepower. Hey, Brainiac, what are the odds we can clone that thing's transponder and you can break its comms? Anyone have a good line-of-sight on its gun or missile armaments? If we break out in a blitz when that thing gets in weapons-range, we might be able to neutralize it quickly and masquerade our way back through the field using their own codes. Then Backlash can pop out and give a simulated explosion as if the Interceptor succumbed to wounds dealt in destroying us. Nova can you drop an anchor point here just outside the field, in case we need it? Our range on lasers is six miles, railguns two miles. If we can lure them inside two miles we should have a good shot, but we may have to keep at playing dead and just grit through a couple of initial shots until they get close enough. Crash, keep your eye out in case we have to fire chaffe.”
CJ trains his eye on the interceptor trying to see if he can figure out what kind of heat it's packing as the small dot in the viewscreen is backlit by engine burn and begins to rapidly grow larger in his field of vision. No dice. It's all in shadow.
Ryden replies, "Can I? Sure. Won't be easy, but I can probably pull it off. Problem isn't me, but them seeing non-atorian weapons fire. It's going to be tough to avoid unpleasant questions or sneak past their shield. Best bet is to feign comm damage as well, and signal we are heading back to base. I'll crank up sensitivity on my sensors though, see if I can't eke out some of their conversations. But if you want to make us harder to detect, I suggest Crash looking at what he can do with his station to modify emissions on weapons and engines."
Nova pipes up loudly, "On it!"
and sets a point in space as a gateway for himself. Once done, he leans forward at his gunner's station.
Three sets of eyes are locked on the growing silhouette of the interceptor. Halko, Rosseyn, and Cairo are all watching it intently. Corrigon's eyes take in his surroundings, the minutia of inertial and vector information granted to him by his natural senses as he gently nudges the Grifter along its sequential series of thruster bursts to mimic the gravitational effect on an object's course. He considers the size of the ship they're approaching and realizes that it's entirely possible that this wouldn't even seem implausible to an observer. Simone grabs a headset for the radio and starts listening to whichever radio channel Ryden is currently subscribed.
Ryden is engaged in high level electronic warfare. He snoops the emissions of the interceptor as it closes in on them; it's targeting and tracking sensors lock onto the Grifter which gives him all the information he needs by reading such. It's squawking standard Imperial IFF, but he notices a change in the resonance of the hull as it approaches where his sensors tell him the force field to be. He suddenly realizes that the interceptor is polarizing its hull to a certain frequency. He shouts back to Niall to charge the hull to the same frequency, and patches the data into the crew chief station console. He then snoops the interceptor's comms traffic and quickly hacks the secure signal...but he hears absolutely no voices. The signal is pure data. It's audible, but the nature of the sound makes no sense to him. What's apparent is that the interceptor is receiving a continuous transmission from the ship.
Simone hears the audible data transmission and something bothers her. Sure, it's not voices, but the pattern is familiar. She's heard something like...she shouts out loud, "That's a telemetry signal!"
Now knowing that it's a the nature of the continuous transmission, Ryden quickly realizes that the interceptor is, in fact, a drone. From this he deduces that the drone is en route to destroy them as a dangerous rock. Someone on the ship has been directed to destroy this navigational hazard that's flying towards the big ship, and whoever is controlling the interceptor is carrying out the task. Ryden surmises that he should be able to spoof the interceptor's commands for a brief period if he dares to radiate.
Niall charges the hull by redirecting the power from the ship's power plant into the hull at a specifically modulated frequency as per Ryden's specifications. There's no big flash, or arcing electricity, or anything else sexy-looking. The polarity of the hull has been altered. That's all.
Ryden smiles as the Grifter
passes through the force field without a hint of resistance.
At five miles, the interceptor opens fire with a barrage a brilliant blue spears that stab through the black and score the top of the starboard nacelle. Rosseyn gets a little shaken up, but the ship's tough and he's seen much, much worse. Cairo attempts to use thrusters sparingly to dive the Grifter
to the shady far side of the spinning ring, but the interceptor fires again, and at just the wrong moment. The port side of the Imperial ship fills the forward windows of both foreward turrets and the cockpit. Ryden spikes the interceptor's command signal for a split second, causing it to cease fire long enough to fly right past them. Cairo and Corrigon do what they can and are amazingly able to correct the rotational drift and facing of the Grifter
. Corrigon and Cairo immediately kill all thrusters as they see what's inevitable. Rosseyn, too, sees what's about to happen from a terrifying vantage point and calls out "Brace for impact!"
Simone winces despite herself. Niall, always the one with the most precarious position aboard, seizes the two handholds on either side of his console and his family flashes before his eyes. Everyone seated at a station grips their harnesses and involuntarily grits their teeth. Halko just smiles.
Astrophysics is a harsh mistress. Instead of dipping beneath the ship, the Grifter
buries itself nose first into the gargantuan ship at a couple hundred miles per hour. The crew chief's station flashes in front of Niall's eyes briefly, and everyone onboard feels a sudden flickering in gravity. A deafening noise resounds throughout the inside of the Grifter, everything shakes for a moment, then all is still. There's no massive, jarring concussion, just a rattle and some shaking. From the cockpit Corrigon, Ryden, and Cairo see what looks like a large, mostly empty cargo bay. Rosseyn and Halko see only the surface of the secondary hull, a few feet from their ball turrets. Simone sees only space from her vantage, then, a second later the interceptor flies by some miles out from the ship heading aft. Niall sees a prompt in faint blue lettering on his console. Automatic boarding sequence safety program complete.
What are your intentions?