(Written by Kokuten; posted March 28 and April 3, 2007)
This was apparently a Fleet action - someone had managed to herd enough Boskonians together in one place to make it worthwhile. I wasn't sure if the constant sniping and ambushing was going in our favor, but I was pretty confident that we'd come out clearly on top in any actual engagement.
It still puzzled me. I ate up space war novels - Honorverse, March, Council Wars, Barryar, etc, etc. I loved military scifi, and I had no real clue when it came to the real thing.
I'd gotten the hang of this part, though. V was in full stealth mode and sloping towards a misshapen vessel that appeared to be five greyhound busses grafted, tires down, to a massively oversized fuel tank. I put eyes on the ship and snapped a picture, the optical sensors slaved to my viewpoint collecting a few handy megapixels of data and storing it locally. We cruised nearer, doing our best to imitate a hole in space.
I reached into the passenger seat and lifted the helm to my space suit. Snapping it into place, I keyed a test into my vambrace computer. It immediately failed, and I groped at the front of my helmet, the rough fabric of my glove catching on my beard. Cursing, I unlatched the helmet and stuffed the errant facial hair back into my suit. This time, the test passed, and I punched the go-button on V's console. She whirred as she pumped the air out, and I felt the suit stiffening and expanding as vacuum reigned.
The canned air of the suit was cold and crisp, and Hermes had finally isolated the scent-cues from the samples at my parent's place, and the clean fresh Alaskan air rolled into my helm, with the faintest hint of woodsmoke.
I could feel my blood pressure and heartrate drop. Let noone underestimate the importance of scent cues to Homo Sapiens. I flipped open the panel on the vambrace computer, and tapped a quick message to V.
remind me, when we get home, to figure out a ranged delivery method for these damn things.
LOL will do, Boss. We're almost there, you ready to dance?
Yes, you have some points picked out for me?
Yessir. Go smooth, we'll be home for dinner.
I flipped the vambrace computer closed and V doused the cabin lights, and popped the door. I released the harness and pushed myself out into the black, with a stout satchel clipped to my belt.
I had managed to keep the spin down to manageable levels on this launch, and I slid silently across the void to the Boskonian carrier. As I neared, I bent my feet around underneath me, and the magsoles on my boots landed onto the hull of one of the greyhounds, and slipped out from under me.
My butt hit the bus, jarring me hard enough to 'tok!' my jaws together, and I was barely able to rip a particular ring out of my wrist, and slap the freshly exposed adhesive palm of my glove to the aluminum surface. I hung silently for a few seconds, the rebound momentum from my impact soaked in the emergency adhesive, wavering between cursing the reavers, and blessing The Jason, who had been part of the late-night nacho-fuelled brainstorming session that had included that little feature.
As I stabilized on my one gripping point, I checked my surroundings, and noted a housing of some sort protruding from the hull, fore of my current position and slightly to the left. I slowly pushed myself away from it and closer to the hull, then pulled as hard as I could, and ripped the adhesive off with the non-stickied hand.
My vector was good enough that I could grab onto the protrusion, which I couldn't tell the function of, without using any suitjets. I wasn't sure what the Reavers inside this could see, but there was no sense making more visibility than I could.
The protrusion was far enough fore that I could stretch out from it and peer over the front of the bus, which I did. I was glad my radios were off, then, because the sound of a dwarf cackling gleefully isn't something that should be shared..
I rummaged in the myriad pockets of the suit, and came up with the 'emergency nonferrous surface manuevering assistant', a five dollar title that had gotten shortened to 'gecko feet'. Unlike the actual gecko feet, this wasn't a nanotechnological fibrous pad that relied on atomic adhesion to provide grip. Instead, it was a simple device that squirted water onto the surface in question, forming an ice lump, around a threaded shaft. This provided grip, as the water immediately froze to most surfaces. The shaft then could back out, quite quickly, to allow replacement.
The water came from my suit supplies, so I didn't have that much available, but I had enough to position myself at the foremost edge of the bus, and enough grip to leverage another tool from the suit's million pockets. I gripped the spring-punch firmly in one fist, then punched my arm straight sideways, and slammed it into the massive windshield at the front of the bus.
The explosion of atmosphere and debris almost ripped me off my perch. I waited until the chaos had stopped, stowed my gecko feet, and clung to the edge of the bus for a moment, then pulled myself over and into the bus.
I was attempting to curvette into the bus and end up standing, in the very front, facing backwards and ready to rock. I ended up bouncing off the dashboard, catching myself on the steering wheel, and slamming face first into the divider behind it.
Not one of my better moments.
The bus, fortunately, had no-one spaceworthy in it, and I hadn't seen anyone wearing a suit get blown out. Unfortunately, there was a largish hatch, about 3 feet square, in the floor, and it was sealed and locked. Locked from the other side.
I reached up absently, to scratch my head in thought, and thunked myself on the helm of my suit. I grinned at that, then took a closer look at the interior of the bus.
A long central aisle stretched in front of me, with a door in the rear, and a hatch on the floor at the approximate midpoint. There were some electronics, displays and controls, kludged into the dashboard area, and about half of the seats were missing. The remaining seats had been made into dens, apparently. The cheap vinyl used by the grayhound bus line was holding up surprisingly well in vacuum.
I floated down the center of the bus, towards the back door - I thought it was a restroom, originally, but wasn't sure. I pulled the door open, with my sidearm in the other hand, and it was a restroom, and empty. I pulled myself back to the front of the Greyhound, and floated my way over to the next bus.
The central core of this thing was a featureless, dark red floor as I clung to the front wheel well of the next bus in line. I tried to figure out what it was, as I readied my spring punch and popped the windshield. The expected torrent of bodies and debris came boiling out, and I shook my head at the stupidity of the builders of this vessel.
The next two buses were more of the same, pop the windshield, vent the atmo and the Reavers, and clear the interior. I slammed down the punch on the windshield of the last bus, and it blew out... and no atmo pushed its way into vacuum.
I groped in my satchel hurriedly and pulled out a fragmentation grenade, which went into the gaping maw where the window was. Two Reavers in pressure suits boiled out of the windshield, some sort of rifle in their hands sweeping agressively around the front of the ship.
They never saw it coming. I wedged my left arm in the wheel well and drew, aiming one-handed. The tiny, almost unnoticeable recoil I experienced on the shooting range or dirtside was magnified by the environment, and the .22 Ruger shoved me against my bracing arm as I put a Battle Steel jacketed round on target.
The target, in this case, was a Reaver wearing a pressure suit. The round passed in a perfect linear trajectory, given the microgravity environment, past the Reaver's shoulder without touching him.
Cursing inside my helm, I aimed again, and the bus vibrated gently, a flash of light drawing the Reaver's attention behind them. I put the bead on one head, pulled the trigger, and the body spasmed, blood and air fountaining out of a hole in his helm. The other Reaver spun himself around on a burst of jets and pushed off of the front of the bus, heading towards the front of the central core. He got several bullets in the butt and legs, and started spasming as well.
I pulled myself up to the front of the last bus, and looked inside. Bits of Reaver and chunks of frozen biologicals floated in a disgusting mess inside, and I was hard-pressed to keep my gorge down.
I made my way back to the previous bus, and dug into my satchel once again. A block of grey plastic explosive came to hand, and I began working it, rolling it against the stiff resistance of the cold explosive material. I laid thick lines of the stuff around the hatch in the floor, and made an X between the corners of the lines. Pushing a pair of electrodes into the goo, I unrolled the spool of wire attached to them, working slowly out of the front of the bus and down underneath the bumper.
I snipped the wire off the spool with cutters from another suit pocket, and clipped them into the spring terminals of a detonator.
I took a deep breath of simulated home, and pushed the button.
The explosion squirted me out from under the front bumper like a melon seed from a straw, and I barely managed to grab onto the bumper itself on the way out. I could feel the cat whiskers sensation of air flowing against the back of my hands, and as the blast wave and gushing atmosphere faded, I peered under the bus.
The hatch had blown, but it had also blown the collar connecting it to the central core of the reaver vessel. I made my way back into the bus and to the hatch.
Activating some floodlights on my suit, I examined the wreckage. The hatch itself was just gone, as was the frame surrounding it. A jagged hole was in the floor of the bus now, with a blossoming hole in the corresponding section of core. I figured the diameter of the smaller core wall section to be about three feet.
I wondered at the sharpness of the blast-cut edges, and was thinking about rummaging around in my satchel for something to cut, maybe some more C4, when I realized I was dwadling. I shut off my lights, slapped a fresh clip into my Ruger and pushed off of the bus roof into the hole.
I slammed into a flat surface inside the bus, in total darkness. As I soaked the momentum of the landing into bent knees and a sort-of half-assed dive forward, I smashed into a wall.
Reeling from the impact, I started floating back out the hole I had come in. I extended my arms on either side of me, and one hand flailed in vacuum. The other, fortunately, found a ladder. I grabbed on and pulled myself back to the floor, then pushed the button for a flash.
The flashbulb burst from my main suit lights was enough to gather data for my HUD, which then painted a picture of the room I was in. Approximately 4 foot square, with some crinkling near the top, and a dogged hatch to my left.
I was in an airlock, and it was intact.
I cursed again, digging into my satchel hastily. I got another brick of C4 out, and skipped the molding part, hammering it onto the hatch as fast and hard as I could. Once I had a fair sized blob stuck to the hatch, about a foot in diameter with a big hump in the middle, I stuck the detonator wires into it and lashed them off to the ladder. I jumped out of the hole and back into the bus.
I wedged myself between two rows of seats a few seats aft of the hatch, clipped-and-stripped the detonator wire into my detonator, and pushed the button again.
Nothing happened, which made sense when a space suited figure came hurtling out of the hole in the floor of the bus. I panicked, grabbing for my pistol in its holster, and tugged myself towards the hole in the floor with the detonator wire clipped into my forearm. As I flew across the floor, I saw three bullet holes appear in the seat I had just been occupying, and my adrenaline rose to levels I had not believed possible as I grabbed the wires trailing from my left wrist with my right hand, ripped them out, and slammed my left hand into the holster, as my right hand grabbed a seat leg, turning me over and bringing my torso up as my left hand came up and I pumped the entire clip into the poor dumb bastard.
He started twitching, and I have to admit, I sat there for a few seconds pointing the gun and pulling the trigger repeatedly, before I snapped out of it and reloaded. I waited a few more minutes, so my hands could stop shaking, and pulled myself forward to look into the hole.
The detonator cable floated loose, pulled out of the C4. The hatch was ajar, so that worked out just fine. I pushed off against the ceiling again, and floated into the airlock. Coming to a much more manageable stop this time, and with my suitlights on and my gun in my hand, I pushed the hatch all the way open.
And that, really, was the end of that. The last dude to come out the hatch really was the last dude manning the vessel, which our best guess designates as a simple troop delivery vehicle. It explains why it was behind the 'assault waves', anyway. There really wasn't any technological benefit to the theft of this vessel, but there is a certain morale benefit 'for the fleet', and the AI Group says that they should be able to extract some good data from the ship's (nonsentient) computer core, once they've broken the encryption.
I ended up unharmed, though through nothing but sheer dumb luck, it seems. I've been trying to find a way to stop Reaver ships remotely, and this is the third one I've boarded. The first one was nearly destroyed before I got to it, the second one was taken out by a hardsuiter, and some imbecile brought it into a dock before cleaning it. I'm pretty damn stoic, but I can't get any real good information out of a ship that literally runs bloody chunks out its scuppers.
And, all three ships were totally different. Like their namesake, these Reavers don't use mass production ships. Even if they did, they use an incredibly durable blend of automation and manual controls/backups, lots of hydraulic/fluidic and optical systems.
In conclusion, there's no simple way to disarm or disable a Reaver ship. Overvoltages may blow power plants or short command wiring, which may cause a ship to become unpilotable. May. EM Pulse may kill computers that may disable control or navigation or weapons.
Flame, Acid, Kinetics, Beam, Concussion, Grav... None of the commonly available weapons are going to have the same effect on any two Reaver ships. Common Knowledge supports this, with a pencil-laser strike penetrating one Reaver ship and causing it to detonate. This detonation slabbed off a big enough chunk with enough momentum behind it to strike one of its cohort with destructive force, nearly cleaving it in two. The afflicted vessel was seen to have worked itself apart, in the way that someone will bend the lid off a soup can, and both parts fought on.
Sorry to file such a negative report, but the facts speak for themselves on this one. I'm doing alright, though I request a few weeks of downtime to let the nightmares subside a little before I get sent back out.
WG, Combat Intel.