February 24th, UC 79 - Space near L4 - Zanzibar class Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus
"So... Now what?" Vladimir Dragovich asked. His commander did not answer immediately, looking out the window of the Zanzibar Cruiser's bridge. Matthias Cromwell's single eye was focused intently on the starry diorama.
"The same thing we always did Vlad. We hunt." he said finally. He turned to the bridge crew floating around him.
"We know the trade routes right? Plot a course to the ones between Axis and Earth. Let's get some supplies first." Matthias said.
"Are you insane? We're going to turn to piracy?! Attack the Jupiter Fleet?!" Jean Leclerc said. The junior grade Lieutenant was hanging onto his command chair to stop himself from spinning off.
"Unless there's a lot of food stashed away under that peaked cap of yours we will run out of food in around three weeks, and that's with strict rationing. If you have any better ideas I'm all open for 'em." Matthias countered.
"The federation might..." Jean muttered, looking at the floor.
"The feddies might what? Not after operation British clusterfuck mate." Phillip Stoker commented.
"Face it, we were all counting on Side 6, well, waiting with open arms would be the wrong term, but at least be a little accommodating to a ship full of refugees." Matthias stepped in.
"Well, what with Zanzibar's being about the most expensive ships in the fleet you have to admit Zeon has a damn good reason to be pissed with us. On top of us being Spacenoids who don't fit into their little 'Spacenoid Superiority' propaganda bullshit." Vladimir added.
"We're drifting off topic. Jean has a point though, the federation is our only other option but frankly I think it will lead to a long stay in a dark dungeon. I hate to say it but I vote piracy." Matthias said.
"Agreed." Phillips said.
"Arr, I vote aye!" Vladimir said.
"Well, someone has to keep the ship safe while you're all off gallivanting through space. I'm in." Jean said with a sigh, shading his eyes with his peaked cap.
"Our captain has an eyepatch. This cannot possibly go wrong." Oriko said. The female MS pilot had been silently observing throughout the meeting, only now drifting to the fore. Silence drifted across the command deck for a moment.
"... You know, I hadn't even realised that. Now we just gotta get you a parrot and a hat. One of those really fancy big ones. With a feather in it." Vladimir said with a grin. Matthias shrugged.
"Whatever you say. Meeting over, let's go get grub."
March 3rd, UC 79 - Mars 01 trade route - Space
Their opposition consisted of two Salamis class cruisers, a Magellan class battleship and a cargo ship. Obviously a federation convoy. Not that Matthias cared that much, but it felt slightly less repulsive to perform their first heist on a former enemy transport. The plan was relatively simple, drift in close under the cover of an asteroid and then overwhelm the convoy with their Zaku's. Due to the diplomatic immunity of the Jupiter fleet the vessels were only lightly guarded, making them easy pickings. Theoretically anyway.
"Thar she blows! Fasten eyepatches and secure yar parrots, it's time to pillage!" Vladimir said enthusiastically.
"Hornet two, ready." Oriko reported in simply. Matthias took a deep breath.
"You two focus on the Salamis first. The Magellan is mine. Then we go after the carrier. Let's go." he ordered.
The trio of Zaku's kicked off the asteroid simultaneously. The cruisers responded first, turning to face the incoming suits while the Magellan dallied behind, staying alongside the transport. A static-filled broadcast came in over the radio.
"Zeon forc@#$%tand&^*wn, you˘#re violating the@!#$§•@$!% treaty. Repeat, stand-"
"Oh, choke on a sock!" Vladimir interrupted, punctuating his statement with his machinegun. Armour buckled under the onslaught, and a fire broke out on the unfortunate cruiser. Immediately space began to fill with anti-aircraft fire as the Federation forces responded. Matthias carefully began to weave through the barrage. Duck right, barrel roll around incoming fire, apply just a touch of thrust to come out over the firing line of another turret. Aces like the Red Comet made it seem so easy. Twist, target the engine block, were they seriously trying to shoot him with their mega-particle cannons? A bright glowing beam shot went wide, even as his own attack struck home. The secondary explosions caused by the ship's thrusters cooking off took care of the rest.
Magellan dealt with, Matthias looked over to the pair of Salamis. Vladimir's had been reduced to an expanding cloud of debris, while Oriko's target was dead in the water but still mostly in one piece. Decent enough for salvage later, Matthias noted. The trio sped off to intercept the transport ship, by now engaging in a full emergency burn to try and get away. The lumbering vessel had nothing on their much more manoeuvrable Zakus though. Heat hawk drawn, Matthias landed in front of the ship's bridge.
"Federation transport vessel this is Captain-" Matthias halted, did he really want to announce himself by his own name? He decided he did not, and said the first name he could come up with.
"Skyraider, you are surrounded and outgunned, surrender now." he ordered.
"Fuck you zeke!" was the eloquent reply. From the corner of his eye Matthias saw the ships meagre single AA-turret swing around. Contemptuously he dodged the shots, applying the heat hawk to the bridge in the same move. Oriko was on the turret before it could do anything else.
"Vladimir, go give Jean the all clear. Let's salvage these puppies." Matthias ordered, putting his heat hawk back in place.
April 24th, UC 79 - Asteroid Belt - Zanzibar class Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus
"You want me... to do what precisely?" Matthias said. The Zanzibar's spare MS hangars had been transformed into an impromptu salvage deck where all their loot was sifted through for usable items. Everyone helped out, even as leader of their group Matthias was no exception. Except that when his shift came around, he was approached by a nervous looking Oriko and her civilian boyfriend.
"Marry us." said the boyfriend again. Jake? Jerome? Something with J, Matthias mused, pretending to think deeply about the matter.
"Very well." he said, having had enough of letting the couple writhe under his stern gaze. "We'll get a proper party planned out of course. The last batch of loot contained a bottle of champagne, and I think we can squeeze everyone in the number four hangar if we sort this stuff out. Congratulations you two."
Oriko positively seemed to shine, while the boyfriend (Johann, that was his name!) struggled to hold back tears.
"Thank you sir!" the two said in unison.
"Ah no problem. Remember though, first got to get this batch sorted. Ensign, with me. Johann, I think Vladimir is trying to do something horrible to the MS' again, go stop him." Matthias said.
"Yes sir!" "Right away."
As soon as Matthias was alone with Oriko, he gave her a level look.
"Care to tell me what brought this on?" he asked. Oriko did not stop smiling, but her eyes immediately turned serious.
"There was talk of a riot. This ought to relieve some of the stress." she said.
"Plus this also happened to be something you really, really wanted." Matthias added for her. Spinning a crate around in the zero gravity, the asian woman nodded.
"Yep. Can you believe I had to be the one to ask the question?" she said, finding the crate's lock and opening it with ease.
"That's feminism for you. So who was instigating the riot talk then?" Matthias replied as he began working on a crate of his own.
"Bah, more like the death of chivalry. Instigating is too strong a word, people going stir crazy is a better term. We need a shore leave somewhere." Oriko said. "What the hell? A chainsaw?"
Matthias looked up in surprise.
"Why are they sending chainsaws to Jupiter?" he asked the obvious question. Oriko shrugged as she inspected the powertool.
"Must be. As for shore leave, well, I wish I could do something about it. I can't just clap my hands and make a planet appear you know." Matthias said, clapping his hands for emphasis.
With a tremendous cacaphony of collapsing crates, everything went black.
Date unknown - Location unknown - Zanzibar class Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus
Jean Leclerc awoke groggily, his head filled with wool. There was something very, very different. Slowly picking himself up from where he was draped over the captain's chair, he looked around first and foremost for his hat. The hat was important. Strangely enough, his limbs felt heavy, like lead. Almost like earth gravity he mused. In fact, everything looked like it was influenced by earth gravity. Funny, he distinctely remembered steering the Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus towards the strange anomaly near the asteroid belt instead of Earth. There shouldn't be gravity here. The force persisted in it's existence regardless.
Gods, did they have a party or something? He couldn't remember. Around him, the collapsed forms of his bridge crew stirred. Jean staggered over to the navigator.
"Did we have a party?" he asked the man. The petty officer blinked.
"I don't... I don't think so, sir." the man replied.
"Good. That would suck namely. Having a party and then forgetting all about it." Jean said. Idly, he looked out the window.
"Huh. Is that supposed to be there?" he asked no one in particular.
"The planet surface, the bright blue sky or that big... thing in the distance?" the communications officer replied. Jean thought long and hard about that and could say only one thing in reply.
"What the hell just happened?"
Down in MS bay five, Matthias was asking himself pretty much the same thing. He and Oriko were desperately trying to get to MS bay three, where they could hear the pained howls of their comrade Vladimir. What ever had happened had apparently moved them enough that their fainting spell and subsequent reintroduction to gravity would not hurt any crew, or at least so it seemed. The same could not be said however about the crates and equipment, which had pretty much fallen straight down, creating a tremendous mess that had pretty much locked them in. Also going by Vladimir's howls not everyone had been lucky enough to escape unscathed. Digging through another collapsed crate worth of powertools and magazines, Matthias finally spotted a way though.
"Vladimir? Vladimir hang on buddy, we're nearly there!" he called out through the hole he had made.
"Help me up." he told Oriko. With her assistance, he managed to fit through the space between two bulk containers. Landing head over heels in the other MS bay, he spotted Vladimir on his knees in a puddle of liquid. Matthias blinked as an alcoholic scent permeated his nostrils.
Sobbing, Vladimir picked up the lower half of a shattered bottle.
"The rum is gone." he half cried, and looked up at Matthias.
"Why is the rum gone?"