Ok, ok, we did it, OK.
I hate keeping TigerTiger out of the loop but I really needed to make sure that his sub-neural connection to THE BOARD had genuinely been severed. And even though he has made good I cant exactly ignore that we are here due to him.
But fairs fair, he came through for me.
Ok its not his fault either that MR STILES indeed didn't come alone, but Simione was expecting that, I was downright banking on it. I didn't buy all these expensive rare goods for nothing, and by Jehoshaphat were they worth it. I was especially happy with the Borasetani Pathogenetics, sometimes called the 'Lab In A Bag'. A particularly nasty tiny insect that in large amounts is considered a rare commodity and weapon, banned in countless systems. I had heard stories and so was suitable cautious, but Simione he was in love, played with them like toys, reveled in watching what they could breakdown and how.
A description I found on Galnet;
These tiny crawling creatures have been called a lab in a bag. They exude tailored biological agents that adapt and mutate to overcome the defenses of their enemies. When deployed in large numbers they resemble a viscous yellow goo that slowly crawls over their victim devouring them completely. When there are no further nutrients to absorb the insects become dormant and can be recovered by specially trained teams to be used again.
That night I had a nightmare of what might happen if they were released into a zero G environment on my ship.
I was horrified when I saw him place a small mammal in the isolation chamber with them, but was to late to actually stop him. I was still screaming at him when they began their work on the poor creature. I couldn't look away but Simione had his (can I call it a nose) pressed up against the glass, his hands a blur over his data pad taking notes as the creature essentially melted. Once it was over and he began tidying away we had a talk and he promised on more tests on animals, I reminded him were he came from. (Its times like these I'm reminded he really is not like us.). Anyway that was all the information he needed and he soon began designing our Surprise!
It seems MR STILES also had a plan.
His Federal Gunship was more than met the eye. If scanned it would show an array of gimballed weapons, both thermal and kinetic, with 1 large seeker missile rack. An A rated assortment of core internals, and all military optional slots housing reinforcements. There was your basic disco scanner, a small limpet controller, a size 6 shield generator, a size 6 depressurized cargo rack for none organic cargo and a size 5 something.
Our scanners were having trouble with two of his components, the shield generator and the size 5 whatever it was. The shield generator was kicking out some very high readings, off the scales of my scanners, beyond prismatics. The size 5 component, that was beaucoup strange. It was scanning sort of like another FSD but not (I'm making sense right), some times the scanner was reading corrupted input, others FSD other times nothing there, but its energy consumption was through the roof. What had been going on while I was out of the game? Was this more of that Guardian tech I had heard about.
Anyway MrEMan, our fountain of knowledge out here in the black (and unofficial 4th amigo) had let us know how the board had been sneaking people around. The cargo rack was actually a stealth passenger compartment. Using a new material, Meta Alloy, the cargo rack was partially scanner shielded, retrofitted with the minimum of life support IE some breathing tubes, some restraint belts and Frame Shift stabilizers. These additions coupled with an environmental suit meant some very uncomfortable but very invisible human transport over short distances. This is were his small team of Spec Ops Commandos were hidden.
Getting MR STILES here was actually easy. Tiger made contact and spun him a tale which we made sure had proof and records to back it up. He told STILES how after he kicked us out I wouldn't wake up. So we had found an outcast doctor from Utopia who would try anything interesting that payed. They had taken part of the implant from Tigers arm and placed it in my spinal coulomb. How it had begun to work, how I had woken up, how I wouldn't go back to sleep, how my mind had broken, how I had changed physically and then died horribly. Tiger sent him a sample of Simiones and my blood mixed together with some additions to perk his interest. The reply was quick, the meeting was set.
I told Tiger all he had to do was make sure one of the 3 canisters with my supposed remains got onto STILES's ship, told him we could track him from there. He worked for hours on his pitch, how he wanted to get on with his life, put all this behind him. How giving them my body should wipe the slate clean. Tiger was going to get STILES on my ship so he could see it was empty and he would relax, they would negotiate and do the trade.
TigerTiger knew a lot, definitely knew more stuff than me and his words were like magic. He could talk himself into and out of almost anything and negotiation was his specialty, but i knew 2 things he didn't. Firstly STILES could not afford him to live, there would be no negotiation, If I had been STILES, Tiger would already be gone. Not dead, not buried, GONE, as in no molecular residue left.
The other was that after letting Simione play with his own batch of Meta Alloys, once you stepped onto my ship, unless you were jacked into the main communications array, no signals in or out.
Me and Simione each sat in our Tiapan fighters about 3 Clicks away firmly pressed to the sides of two huge spinning blocks in this Ice ring, with silent running on we were invisible, all we had to do was keep ourselves warm. Simione had become quite the pilot. We just watched and made sure we didn't actively scan any ships and draw attention. We saw STILES jump in and scan the area, we saw him initiate evasive maneuvers when Tiger fired up my ships engines and just seemed to appear on his scanners. We listened on tender hooks ask Tiger began to spin his magic with words, he convinced STILES to come aboard and check the merchandise. They were both so good I honestly didn't know who was playing who. Was Tiger convincing STILES, or was STILES convincingly playing along. It didn't matter as long as nobody found out I was playing everyone.
We watched STILES leave his ship in a tiny piloted escape capsule and cross the gap between them. As he slowly flew over we heard him tell Tiger how his ship had a new automated defense program that would open fire if he didn't return in 10 mins. Just then his hard points deployed and locked on. An impressive trick if you didn't know he had other people on board.
His pod docked with my ship, all we needed now was for him to confirm the cargo, which me and Simione had sacrificed alot of blood for. And then the horror would start.
The only thing that worried me at all was, if it worked out, I could see TigerTiger never wanting to fly with me again. Or he could be cool about it, I don't know I guess i could have told him what to expect.
It was then I had a niggling in the back of my mind, a memory of how I used to deal with these feelings. Then it dawned on me, how long had it been since I last took a hit of any chems?