Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey 2019-02-05 18:18:03
Angel had spent the better part of the day or so either attempting to nap, or attempting to read. The annoying addition of "attempting to" to his normal pre-mission routine is mostly due to continued worries about the logistics of trans-shipping between Faxom-Io on a half-dozen friendly Gateports and Kesh Holdings on Narsai, costing issues for Imperial goods to Narsai'i currency, and the effort of standing up an eight-figure private military corporation - and the fact that all of this is from Business Angel's side of the mental house only compounds the annoyance. Despite expectations, Angel can't quite just switch off his attachment to his other, non-shooting-people responsibilities, and it was with an equal measure of annoyance and bemusement that he recognized this. Not now, killing to do.

FTE, on the other hand, simply kept its shell powered down and mounted to the gear rack on the roof of the Manta. Between Tidying Up, Grand Designs, and Nailed It, it had plenty to watch. It could have tried consuming it all in fast-forward, but it would just sound and look weird and then all FTE would have to do is stare at the walls, and that would suck way more than just enjoying its Netflix fork in real-time.
punkey 2019-02-05 19:30:04
Netflix and napping take a backseat, though, as Luis and Zaef guide the Manta through the narrow pathway outlined on the HUD and in Luis' ocular implants. The center of the ring bristles with containers docked to cargo ports, Mantas, and the antennae and sensors for the ring itself, and it's not just for security's sake that the pathway Luis is navigating is barely wide enough to admit the Manta.
Standing between Luis and Zaef is Arketta, her vox the one looped into the traffic control feed. "Eye Control, this is Manta Aleh-Zero-Two-Ptah-Nine. We're on a tight schedule for the Gateway in Section Seven-Seven-Daleh, munitions inspection team on short time scale for the other side. If you could put us as close to that as you can?"
"Copy, Manta Aleh-Zero-Two-Ptah-Nine, I can put you right there - all the docking locks are empty," Eye Control replies, and in a blink the path changes course to point to a conspicuously empty set of cargo docks.

The area looks like a standard row of cargo docks for a storage section in the inner ring - five docks in a row, double-height space above them for racking inside. Usually, these bays are for secure sorting of cargo to be transferred onto Needleships or elsewhere in the Eye and are some of the busiest parts of the worldship with all the cargo coming and going - but this one has all five docks completely empty. Luis could spin the Manta around its long axis and never come close to another object as it clunks into place against the dock.
"Docked securely, Eye Control," Arketta says.
"Enjoy your destination," Eye Control replies. "Bring back something interesting."
"Will do, Control," Arketta replies. "Aleh-Zero-Two-Ptah-Nine out."

"So, how much of an open secret is this?" Hale asks. "Control seems to know where we're going."
"Word travels fast on a worldship," Ngawai replies. "Don't know why some random Turai would care about some arms smuggling..."
Hale just shakes his head. "Recruits these days."
The docking mechanism's bang-bang-bang of seals locking into place interrupts them as the green light for hard-seal turns on. "All right everyone," Garrett says, sealing his helm on. "Game time."
e of pi 2019-02-07 04:15:15
Luis runs through the checklist on locking down and securing the Manta. "Anyone not like that they have all this docking space open? If this is open season and they're moving a bunch of gear, why so much available space? I know they're making a lot of it here on the Eye, but this still seems quieter than I'd expect."
punkey 2019-02-09 09:05:36
"We'll find out in a moment," Garrett says, and slaps the button to open the rear hatch.

The halves of the hatch slide open to reveal a bored looking Rav-Turai, his helm off as he looks at the holo on his wrist. "Samal Phest? The munitions review team to Narsai?"
"Munitions review team, reporting as ordered," Arketta replies. "Don't really know what we're going to look at, but we're here to take samples and document whatever beamers do to Narsai'i."
"You didn't hear?" the Rav-Turai says. "Rah'pah went loud on Narsai - something about hitting some Narsai'i Turai push and shooting down rockets carrying fusion-based munitions." He smirks. "Whatever you heard, you've got one hell of a job now. We've gone from two weeks of cataloging supplies and sitting on our asses to spinning up a dozen quads just to get this shit out the door fast enough. Gateways are down to your right. Good luck."

Behind the Rav-Turai, you see the beamer transport crates, pods of beamer rods, and other small munitions as expected - as well as what must be a couple hundred thousand square feet of further warehouse space, all filled with giant shelves reaching to the ceiling and all crammed full of everything an interstellar empire would need for a planetary invasion. Hab preforms of all shapes, gun pieces the size of skimmers, even broken-down Mantas are waiting for transport to Narsai. Protein vats and crates labeled for maintenance and construction sit in a line leading off to the right, presumably towards the Gateways - plural - that were mentioned by the Rav-Turai, now wandered off to direct the quad operating lifters to rack hab preforms, or maybe that other quad documenting a shipment of spearbomb containers, or another trin leading a lifter loaded with half a Manta towards the Gateway.

"Vidas fucking Lam," Hale hisses. "This isn't some five-lat arms smuggling, it's a a full-scale invasion. No wonder the docks were empty - they're not trans-shipping anything, it's all going through the Gateways."