Ships In The Night

As you're passing by, you come upon a group of people arguing. An elderly man is getting quite agitated while a young woman tries to calm him, and a tall Belter shakes her head at him.

Level: 10
Start: Mehreen Rana, Ship Breaking, Yards of Gadani

Introduction

As you enter one of the domes on the asteroid's surface that look out upon the ship breaking yards, you come upon a chaotic scene. An elderly man is shaking his cane at an impassive Belter who stands with her long arms crossed in front of her. The woman shakes her head, which seems to infuriate the man even more. A young woman with strikingly similar features to the elderly man tries to calm the him down.

  • Get closer.

You draw closer so that you can hear.

The man says: She's my ship, and you WILL let me board her!

The Belter shakes her head again, a slight frown on her face.

She says: I'm sorry Mr. —-

The man says: Captain!

  • Stay to hear the captain's tale.
  • This doesn't concern me.

Leave:

Whatever that old geezer is upset about doesn't concern you. You wander off to check out the ships being torn apart on the ship breaking yards.

Listen:

The Belter rolls her eyes and gives the man a forced smile.

She says: I'm sorry, CAPTAIN Piccone. But all pre-Catastrophe ships in that sector are finders keepers. You shouldn't have left her out there if you didn't want for someone else to come and scoop her up.

Captain Piccone says: Left her? LEFT HER!?

The man shakes with fury, seems about to say something, calms himself, turns on his heel, wobbles slightly, then starts to stalk away.

The young woman says: Nonno, please! Perhaps it's time to let this go.

The captain snaps his head around with to glare at her. As he does so, he loses his balance and starts to fall!

You have accepted the "Ships in the Night" mission.

  • Steady him!
  • Catch him!
  • Let him fall.

Steady:
(Strength check)

Frail though he may be, he's still a stocky-set man and you're unable to right him. He falls to the ground, but not quite as heavily as he might have.

The young woman says: Nonno! Are you alright?!

With a surprisingly forceful shove for one his age, he pushes the both of you away from him.

He says: I'm fine, Gemma, I'm fine. I guess I would have been worse if this person hadn't tried to help me. At least SOMEONE is trying to do so.

Gemma says: Thank you, ser. I appreciate you trying to help.

  • "No problem."
  • "You're welcome."

No problem:

Me: No problem. I'm glad you weren't hurt. Sorry for my slippery fingers.

Mehreen says: Anyhow. I'm sorry I couldn't help you, Mr. —- Captain Piccone.

The captain mutters and starts to leave again, beckoning for you to follow.

Gemma says: Nonno, where are you going?

He says: I owe this kind stranger a drink for saving me from what was probably another broken hip. Come on, kind stranger. I need a drink. And you, Gemma, until you get my ship back, I don't want to talk to you!

  • The captain stomps off …

The captain stomps off, a quivering storm on unsteady legs. He casts a glance over his shoulder at you.

He says: Better hurry it up. Who knows how much time a relic like me has left.

Gemma says: Thank you again. It seems my grandfather will only allow your company right now. I feel so bad asking, but would you please accompany him? I will compensate you for your time. I'll be along shortly. I do need to talk with the forewoman, and it usually takes a segment or two for my nonno to calm down.

  • "Sure I can help"
  • "Free booze? I'm in!"
  • "No thanks, I don't want to babysit some old geezer."

Sure I can help:

She says: Thank you. I will be along shortly.

Meet Antonio Piccone at the bar

Next NPC: Antonio Piccone, Bar, Yards of Gadani

  • Talk to Captain Piccone.

The scent of spiced, grilling bio-meat washes over you as you push open the door of the bar. Laughter from a nearby table spills out onto the floor and a serving bot floats by you bearing a tray full of frothy pints of amber colored beers. You find Captain Piccone at the main bar, nursing a short tumbler. He nods when he sees you and kicks the stool next to him, sliding it out slightly.

He says: What's your poison?

  • "Water. Botswana ice."
  • "Moissan Whiskey."
  • "Nothing for me. I'm just here for company."
  • "Beer would be great."

Beer:

He nods and motions to the bartender, who brings you your drink.

  • "You were a captain?"
  • "What this about a ship?"
  • Sit in companionable silence.

Silence:

The two of you sit in companionable silence until Gemma shows up.

She says: Thank you for keeping him company. Please, let me compensate you for your time. Okay, nonno, it's time to go.

He says: Did you get my ship back or what?

Gemma says: I'm afraid not. It's time to let her go, nonno.

He cries: Never!

  • Offer to help.
  • Take your compensation and go.

Help:

Me: Maybe I can help. You said you were the captain of a ship?

He says: Once a captain, always a captain. I don't want to talk about it.

  • Convince him to talk.
  • Act angry on his behalf.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: Maybe I can help.

He sighs and finishes his drink, then lifts his hand to signal for another.

He says: It's a bit of a long story.

Me: I'll make the time.

He looks at you in surprise, his scowl softening.

He says: Where to start …

  • "You were … are a captain?"
  • "Tell me about your ship."
  • "Why are you here?"

You're a captain?:

Me: You were … are a captain?

He says: Captain Antonio Piccone of the thirty-second Task Force, Gaule Protectorate Navy.

He holds out his hand and you introduce yourself as you shake.

  • "Tell me about your ship."
  • "Why are you here?"

Why here?:

Me: Why are you here? It sounds like you want your old ship back?

His face grows troubled again and he glares into his drink.

He says: They found my ship, floating out in the Black. I thought she'd been destroyed. I just want … I just want a chance to say goodbye to her. You know? To have one final walk around her decks before they rip her to shreds for scrap. My gorgeous girl, torn to pieces and sold to the highest bidder.

He shake his head, and his hand trembles as he takes another sip of his drink.

  • "Tell me about your ship."

Me: Tell me about your ship.

He sighs again, tipping his tumbler slightly so the round ice cube rolls around the inside of the glass.

He says: The Etna. Fast, sleek, and deadly, she was. I … we were forced to abandon ship during a battle with the Consortium. Stars, how long ago was that now. Before the Accords, when we were all still at each others' throats.

  • "You should have the chance to say goodbye."
  • "It's just a ship. It's time to let it go."

Say goodbye:

Me: You should have the chance to say goodbye.

He says: I agree, but the salvagers have the law on their side. It's finders keepers out there, and they don't want to give time to the babbled wishes of an old man. I'm over 300 cycles old. I don't have much time left. Just like my girl. Both of us might as well be scrap.

Gemma says: Oh nonno, don't be so dramatic.

  • Take your compensation and go
  • "I could talk to them for you."

Talk to them:

Me: I could talk to them for you.

He says: You … you would do that? I feel like you're the first person who's taken me seriously since I got on this gravity starved rock.

Me: Can't hurt to try.

He says: I would really appreciate any help you could give, <name>. Thank you.

His face has lit up slightly, with hesitant hope.

Gemma says: I'll meet you there.

Talk to Mehreen at the ship breaking yards.

Next NPC: Mehreen Rana, Ship Breaking, Yards of Gadani

  • Talk to Mehreen.

Gemma is speaking with Mehreen when you arrive, and nods when she sees you. She motions toward Mehreen with a sweep of her arm.

Gemma says: Be my guest. Maybe you'll have more luck.

You turn to Mehreen who's regarding you with an arched eyebrow.

Mehreen says: You won't have more luck. My crew found that ship and salvage rights belong to us.

  • Threaten her into letting the captain on board one last time.
  • Offer her 100 credits to allow him on board.
  • Convince her to let the captain walk his ship one last time.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: Look, the guy is ancient. All he wants to do is walk the decks of his old ship one last time. I know it'll set you back a bit time-wise, but let's give this gentleman a half segment to say goodbye.

Mehreen frowns, crossing her arms over her chest.

Gemma says: See? I told you. That's all he wants. Just a chance to say goodbye to the Etna.

Mehreen says: Fine, okay. One segment, and that's all. We have work to do, and I've already wasted too much time talking about this.

  • "Thanks, Mehreen."

Me: Thank you. I think this will mean a lot to him.

Gemma says: Yes, thank you, Forewoman Rana. Excuse me a moment while I connect with my grandfather.

Gemma blinks, and you see her eyes take on that familiar CORETECHS shine. After a few moments of waving her hands through the air and typing on a keyboard only she can see, she swipes through the air and the light fades.

Gemma says: Of course he wouldn't answer, the grumpy brat. Ah, he's just sent me a message that he's on his way.

  • Wait for the captain.

The three of you wait while Antonio makes his slow way back. Finally he arrives, his face lit up with a beaming smile.

He says: Gemma! <name>! You did it! Thank you so much! And thank you as well, forewoman Rana. You'll never know how much I appreciate this.

Mehreen gives him an indulgently lopsided frown.

She says: Come on, then. Let's gets this over with so we can get on to the recycling.

She stands up from behind her desk and walks to her office's door.

Captain Piccone says: You're coming too, right, <name>? I want you to see Etna. My beautiful ship.

  • "No. I think I've done enough here."
  • "Sure, I can come along."

Sure:

You follow Mehreen out of her office and into the main dome. She leads you all through a long corridor, whose glass roof arches above you. Beyond the glass above you, the stars twinkle, and here and there, a large ship floats by or sits silent in space, waiting to be brought aground the asteroid. To either side of you, the ship breaking yards extend for hundreds of kilometers.

Mehreen stops before a door and taps at the wall panel next to it. Outside, you see a metal arm swing through space, a long tube-like tunnel dangling from it by thick metal cords. The tunnel stops outside of the door and locks into place. With a whooshing sound, the door opens and you all enter the tunnel.

Like the corridor, the tunnel also has a glass-domed roof which extends halfway down the wall. You can see the ship now, through the side windows. Captain Piccone stops momentarily, his eyes wet with sudden emotion.

**He breathes: There she is.

  • Examine Captain Piccone.
  • Examine the Etna.

Captain:

The captain is standing as tall as he can, peering up at the ancient starship. He removes his sailor's cap and presses it to his heart momentarily, before returning it to his head.

  • Continue toward the ship.
  • Examine the Etna.

Etna:

Your first sight of the Etna isn't too impressive. A hulking black ship with obvious damage to her, she sits strapped down to the outer hull of the station with thick tethers. Scaffolding has already been erected around her, and from this, powerful lights shine down onto the ship.

  • Continue toward the ship.

The tunnel ends in a staircase which leads up to the ship. Captain Piccone stops and pats Gemma on the shoulder.

He says: Why don't you stay here, cara mia. I … I … you know I hate crying in front of you.

Gemma sighs, looking up at the ship and then back at her grandfather. His eyes shine with unshed tears.

Gemma says: Very well. But you are taking <name> with you.

  • "Let's go, Captain."
  • "No. I actually think I've done enough here."

Let's go:

Me: Let's go, Captain.

He looks at you for a long moment, then nods curtly and turns back to the ship. Mehreen opens a wide cabinet set into the wall and pulls out a few bundles of cloth. She hands you both suits to pull on over your clothing, as well as helmets.

Mehreen says: The ship took heavy damage and there's no atmosphere on board. Right. Let's get this done, shall we?

  • Enter the ship.

You enter the ship through its docking hatch. As you step on board, Mehreen touches a wall panel and lights flicker on. Mehreen begins to speak, her voice tinny through the coms in your helmet.

She says: We've managed to restore power to the ship to make it easier to explore before we take her apart. Everything has to be accessed manually, though, since the ship's computer seems to have been destroyed.

The captain reaches out and touches the wall next to him. His gnarled fingers curling his suit's gloves, lingering there, he stands for a moment with his head bowed.

He says: Come, the bridge is this way.

  • Follow the captain.

He leads you down fire scorched hallways. In some places walls are caved in or ceilings collapsed, showing you the stars beyond. Your boots lock you down to the ship, though the going is slow. the captain struggles, and you're forced to assist him as you all move along. Luckily, he's light, given the zero-G, but through his helmet's face plate you see him grimace with frustration each time he causes a delay.

He says: We were out on a surveying mission. Deep in unclaimed space. There was a strange signal coming from that sector and we were tasked to check it out. We got there and there was nothing but a destroyed Consortium ship. Unluckily for us, a Consortium destroyer reached the location just after we did. They were convinced that we'd destroyed the ship and opened fire on us.

  • "Go on."

Me: Go on …

As he walks down the hallway of his onetime ship, the captain seems to stand a little taller. His steps, more sure, as he goes, as though being on this ship has brought him back to his younger days. He starts needing your assistance less and less.

He says: We fired back, and damaged the Consortium ship. They limped away, but the Etna was left dead in the water. I had to make the hard choice to leave her. We boarded her emergency pods and were picked up a day later by a shipping transport. We had all intentions of coming back for the Etna, but … but then the Catastrophe struck, and we were all too busy just trying to survive. I should have never left her out there. A captain goes down with his ship.

  • Say nothing.
  • "You should have gone down with her."
  • "You were right to leave."

Right to leave:

Me: You were right to leave. You've lead a full life since then, it seems.

He sighs, saying: Perhaps you are right. I would have never had my son, who in turn gave me Gemma, the light of my life. Well, here we are. The bridge.

  • Examine the bridge.

Captain Piccone stops in a wide doorway, and looks out onto a dimly lit starship bridge. There are topped seats here and there, and scorch marks throughout. The large, clear viewing port has two huge cracks in it, and the various computer stations all bear signs of damage.

He says: If you don't mind, I'd like a moment alone.

He turns to you, his eyes watery again.

  • "Sure, no problem."
  • "It might not be safe. I should come with you."

Come with:

Me: It might not be safe. I should come with you.

Mehreen impatiently sighs next to you.

She says: Hurry it up, please, “captain.”

Captain Piccone looks at her for a long moment, then his face hardens and he takes a step backwards, away from you both, and onto the bridge. As he does, he closes his eyes. He stands that way for a moment, then opens his eyes, looking directly at you.

He says: I'm sorry for this. Computer! Resume operation. Authorization code Piccone IDKFA!

  • At his words, three things happen simultaneously …

At his words, three things happen simultaneously. The lights on the bridge flicker to life and bathe Antonio in a yellowish glow, a soft voices says, “Authorization code accepted. Computer operations resumed. Welcome aboard, Captain Piccone,” and the door in front of you slides shut so quickly you have to dodge out of the way to avoid losing a finger.

Next to you, Mehreen lets out a sound that's something between a strangled scream and a roar of frustration. She rushes to the terminal next to the door and taps through the screens.

She says: I don't believe it! The ship was just dormant this entire time! He's locked me out, though. Oh. Oh no. By the Black. He's initiating liftoff. We have to get out of here NOW! This ship won't survive trying to fly under its own power!

  • "We have to stop him!"
  • "That geezer's on his own! Let's get out of here!"

Stop him:

Me: We have to stop him! He'll be killed!

Mehreen says: You're crazy! This ship is going to come apart!

Me: How long do we have?

Mehreen says: Ah … uhm …. he has to go through a ton of checks and get the ship ready for liftoff. I don't know … a segment? Maybe two?

Me: How can we get onto the bridge?

She says: All right! Okay! … let me think. There are air vents and maintenance crawl ways above the bridge. You could try to hack this terminal; override the computer. These doors can sometimes be forced open, but good luck with that. Or … well, if you have any engineering skill, you could try to kill the engines themselves. Hope you have a clone gestating! I'm out of here.

  • "I can hack this terminal. No problem."
  • "You're right, this is crazy. Let's get out of here."
  • "That door doesn't look to hard to force open."
  • "I'm going to try the maintenance crawl way."
  • "I'm heading for the engines!"

Hack:

Me: I can hack this terminal. No problem.

She says:** You're crazy! Okay, look.

She taps the terminal and shows you how to access the computer.

She says: He's really focused on getting Etna ready for liftoff, and there are a lot of steps he needs to do. But your time is limited. I'm out of here. Good luck, <name>.

She shakes her head at you and takes off running down the corridor as fast as her grav boots will let her. You turn back to the terminal and get to work.

Next step: Ship Breaking, Yards of Gadani

  • Try to hack the terminal.
  • Try to force the door.

Hack:
(Intelligence check)

You manage to navigate your way past the ship's defenses and access the door's controls. The door starts to slide open, then suddenly slams shut again! The terminal's screen flashes and you get booted back to the general menus.

A sudden blinking on your CORETECHS shows that you have an incoming connection request from Mehreen.

  • Don't accept the request right now.
  • Accept the request.

Accept:

Me: Mehreen, did you make it out?

A small version of the forewoman appears in your CORETECHS display.

She says: Of course I did. Listen, I've got someone working out here to scramble the computer, but they can only buy you a little bit of time. Whatever you're going to do, hurry it up. I can only hold the Etna down for so long.

Me: Ah, it was you that shut down my attempt to get the door open.

She says: Oh frack. Sorry about that, <name>. Try it again. And hurry!

She vanishes and your CORETECHS display minimizes to its usual HUD. You turn back to the door and manage to navigate back to the screens. The door slides open, revealing a short hallway with another door at the end of it. A terminal next to that door is unlit and quiet. Closer inspection reveals that it isn't getting power.

  • Try to force open the door.
  • Try to fix the terminal.

Fix:
(Intelligence check)

You pull the display screen off the terminal and reveal the inner workings of it. Exploring these reveals that some of the mechanics melted. But if you just by pass this section and wire directly into that one … The terminal hums to life and lights up. You quickly replace the screen and start trying to get to the door controls.

A blinking on your CORETECHS signals that Mehreen is connecting with you again.

She says: Okay, <name>. I bought you some more time, but I don't know how much longer we can keep shutting him out of the system. Please tell me you've reached the bridge?

Me: Almost there. Just on the other side of this door I'm next to!

She says: Whatever you're going to do, hurry it up!

She cuts the connection and your HUD minimizes. You quickly navigate your way through the screens and the door slides open. The scene on the bridge is one of ancient chaos and destruction.

  • Try to sneak up on him.
  • Confront the captain.

Confront:

You pull open the vent and pull yourself through its opening, launching yourself at the floor with a shove. You land and activate your grav boots, feeling that lurching yank as they latch onto the bridge's floor.

Me: Captain Piccone, you have to stop this!

He turns to face you, a jerking motion as he struggles to lift his feet. Seeing you, his eyes go wide.

He says: You won't stop me! You can't! This must be done!

  • Ask why he's doing this.
  • Try to tackle him.

Ask:

Me: Why are you doing this? This ship won't survive liftoff!

He says: Don't you think I know that?! I don't have time to explain it to you! Oh, you should have fled while you could. It's too late for you now, <name>. I'm sorry, but you won't stop me.

  • Try to convince him to talk to you.
  • "You're crazy. I'm out of here."

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: Captain, if I'm going to die with you, I have every right to know why.

He freezes, his hand hovering over a screen. He turns to regard you, then sighs.

He says: A captain should go down with his ship. My life has been nothing but a steady stream of guilt ever since the moment I stepped into that evac pod.

He walks to the captain's chair, resting his hands on the back of it.

  • "Go on."

Me: Go on.

He says: What if … what if something out there caused the Catastrophe, and I could have stopped it? What if I would have stayed. Could I have gathered data from that wreck? Was the Consortium responsible, maybe someone on that ship, and I let them go? I could have stayed. I could have taken us both out, but … I ran. I ran and it could have all been my fault. This ship was everything to me. My wife is gone. My son is gone. I went on and made a life, but … by the Black, I am old and decrepit! I will die with my dignity intact and on my own terms.

  • "You're right. You should go down with this ship."
  • "If you kill yourself now, your death won't mean anything. There's no enemy to take out with you."
  • "The Catastrophe was not your fault."

Not your fault:

Me: The Catastrophe was not your fault. The Catastrophe was enormously wide-spread. Even if you had a few days' worth of warning, you couldn't have gotten the word out in time. There's nothing you could have done, even if you had found something. And the Catastrophe decimated Consortium stations just as much as Gaule ones.

He bows his head, then shakes it slightly.

He says: Maybe. Perhaps. But, I'll never know. I won't know because I abandoned my ship like a coward.

  • "You're right. You should go down with this ship."
  • "If you kill yourself now, your death won't mean anything. There's no enemy to take out with you."
  • Your CORETECHS pings. It's Mehreen again.

No enemy:

Me: If you kill yourself now, your death won't mean anything. There's no enemy to take out with you.

He says: I will be keeping this girl, my old friend, from falling into Consortium hands. I will fight them to the death for her.

  • "If you kill yourself now, your death won't mean anything. There's no enemy to take out with you."
  • Your CORETECHS pings. It's Mehreen again.

Mehreen:

Mehreen says: <name>! The Etna's computer is almost done unscrambling itself! You have GOT to get off that ship!

The captain says: Etna! Stand by to initiate lift off!

The Etna says: Standing by.

  • "You should be able to die with dignity."
  • Convince him he has things to live for.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: You have things to live for, captain. Your granddaughter, for one. She clearly adores you.

He turns to you, looking at you again. A war older than the Catastrophe wages across his face.

*Me:** The past is in the past. It's time to live in the now, captain. You have people who love you. Gemma will be devastated by losing you.

With a shuddering sigh, he hangs his head. The silence stretches on. Finally, he lifts his eyes to yours.

He says: I could never hurt that dear girl. Perhaps … perhaps in a way doing this was me trying to run away again. Who knows.

He turns away from you and is silent again for a long moment.

He says: Etna … cancel liftoff procedures.

The Etna says: Liftoff procedures canceled.

  • Lead the captain off the ship.

The captain powers down the Etna and puts her back into a dormant state.

He says: They might cannibalize her, but her secrets she'll take to her grave now.

Mehreen and Gemma meet you both in the tunnel where you put your suits on.

Gemma says: Nonno! By the Black, what were you thinking?!

Captain Piccone sighs and bows his head, refusing to speak. Gemma turns to you with tears shining in her eyes.

  • Talk to Gemma.

Gemma says: <name>. I can never thank you enough. I've forwarded compensation to your account, but as I said, nothing I can give you will ever be as great as what you've given me back.

Mehreen says: Get away from my ship and off my yards this instant before I call security.

Gemma nods her head, her face flushing. The captain meets your eyes one last time before he's led gently away. He looks haunted, and as he walks away, he looks back at his ship one last time.

Mehreen says: Well, well, <name>. It seems I owe you thanks as well. I've forwarded some compensation also. I owe you for rescuing this cursed ship for me. You did a good thing here today, and I appreciate it. You didn't give up even after I did. If you ever want a job salvaging ships, I could use someone with your guts. Thanks again.

You have received 550.00 credits.

You have completed the "Ships in the Night" mission.

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