Orange Alert

The huge crowd continues down the road, now unobstructed by the pirate security forces, at least for now.

Doc continues shouting into the megaphone, which carries through the ship's PA system.

"The whole ship is run by pirates! Admiral Spaaz is leading them! They want to enslave you! You must fight for your lives! Only if we band together can we defeat them! Don't trust any crew member! They are ALL pirates! Rise up! Attack your oppressors! It is our only chance! Head for the bridge and engineering sections. Don't take the elevators. Use crew member badges to move on. I don't know how much longer I can speak to you, but don't stop until the ship is ours! Crew members, lay down your arms and surrender. Don't slay innocent people! You will be treated fairly if you help defeat the evil Admiral Spaaz!"

The last sentence trails off as the PA system is finally disconnected.

Veronica comes online. "You've managed to rile up almost a quarter of the ship. Good work. Spaaz is bumping to Orange Alert. All police and regular security forces have been mobilized. Elite units have been dispatched to your location. I don't have a clear number on those. You better get off the deck you're on, though."

"Affirmative," Doc replies. "Alright boys, we're officially number one on Spaaz's shit list. We've got to make ourselves scarce."

Yellow Alert Pt 5

The Time Operatives rejoin behind a pack of raving wild rioters in the middle of the outdoor road inside a six-kilometer long space ship headed for Alpha Centauri at two hundred times the speed of light.

"Hey, Thunderhorse! " calls Captain Mark Daniels of the Michigan Territorial Militia as they approach each other. "Lift me up!"

"What?" asks Thunderhorse, the long-haired Norse warrior.

"Lift me on your shoulders! I wanna good shot at that guy! I can't see him over the crowd."

Thunderhorse complies. He lifts the man; a mid-19th century wool coat and cap clad soldier on top of a wood-ax and rail-gun assault rifle wielding viking in chain-laden Hot Topic pants, a Manowar shirt, and a goat-skull helmet.

Dr. Lucas Shaw of the Smithsonian Institute's Temporalonautic Research Division shouts into a megaphone, egging the crowd on down the hall. His voice echoes down the hall on the ship-wide PA system. People who were hesitant before take inspiration from his words and confidence from their victories and join the crowd.

The echo suddenly stops.

"Damnit!" Calls Dr. Steve Ritenrong, quantum temporal physicist and inventor of the Q-TIP, the time device by which the Operatives find themselves in this situation. "They cut us off the PA system. I'll try to re-establish the connection before they regain total control!"

Too late, apparently, as a new voice echoes through the PA system.

"This is Admiral Spaaz to the passengers of the IDS Marseille Marriott. Please remain calm and remain in your quarters, or seek shelter in the nearest convenient shopping center. Pirates have boarded and are attempting to incite a riot in order to gain control of the ship. Do not listen to them. Please discontinue your rampage and return to your cabins. Security forces have been dispatched to deal with the problem. Anyone who interferes with our security forces will be considered a pirate and dealt with as one. Please return to your cabins where you will be safe. Message repeat..."

Many of the rioters do not hear the announcement, but a few of them do. A handful secretly slink out of the crowd and into the shops along the street, where they wait quietly, hoping no one will notice them.

The rest of the security forces in this area of the deck find themselves swamped by rioters. Surrounded, their guns are useless. They switch to knives and shock maces, a more violent and deadly version of the shock mace used by the riot cops. One of these weapons is stolen by the crowd before it can be swung. The rest find a mark somewhere in the mass of bodies, incapacitating a few more of the rioters.

Mark levels his assault rifle at the Captain, taking careful aim. His balance is steady, his gun is straight. Thunderhorse, however, is not. Just before Mark pulls the trigger, Thunderhorse wobbles and drops Mark on his face.

"Fuck!" He says as he gets back up. "What the hell is wrong with you?!"

"You are fat!" Thunderhorse yells back. "Lose some weight!"

"You're the fat one, you drunk bastard! Shit! That hurt, you dick."

Doc continues cajoling the crowd with the microphone, trying to undo the damage Spaaz has already done to the cause. "Don't listen to him! He's the pirate who's kidnapping you! Stand up against him! They'll kill us all!" The people who ran off before start to come back out from their hiding places, joined by a few others as well.

Spaaz's voice suddenly cuts out and is replaced by Doc's again.

"You're back online!" Steve calls into the com. "I don't know how long you've got before they just cut the system off altogether."

The pirate security forces try to fight off the oppressive, crushing crowd, but in the end are utterly swamped. Their captain is knocked out, and the rest follow. The Lieutenant is the last to fall, his arm raising helplessly as the sea of mob finally overwhelms him.

Yellow Alert Pt 4

Mark fires again at the Lieutenant running towards the crowd. The guard sees him raise his gun, and instinctively ducks before he fires. The bolt just barely misses him.

Doc fires at him from his doorway as well. Strangely, the weapon's overheating indicator turns yellow, even though he's only shot it once in the last minute or so. Doc remebers what Steve told him about the power pack's volatility and is very concerned until the light cools back down. Everything seems to be okay. Just a simple misfire.

Forgetting that, Doc calls out with his megaphone and into the PA system. ""Keep moving people! We need to take the bridge and engineering quick before it they can mobilize!"

"Man, this guy is fast," Mark calls over the headset. "Try the automatic setting, Thunderhorse."

Thunderhorse does. The weapon belches out ten bolts in rapid succession, peppering the area with high velocity microbullets. One bolt tears through part of his leg.

"Good shot!"

Steve also tries to pin this guy down. He fires at him with the Pulse ION pistol. The beam cuts just barely in front of the man. He stops short briefly enough to avoid being partially disintegrated.

He's got some damn balls, though. Rather than seeking cover, he rushes towards the clothing store where Mark and Steve are bunkered, firing at them. Mark ducks behind the store's wall. The first shot misses, but the next shot hits him in the upper arm. The bullet does not penetrate his reactive gel armor, but if the force at which he spins back is any indication, he just got a really nasty bruise. Mark clutches his wound and yelps.

"Cock sucking mother fucker!"

Meanwhile, the other armed guards continue firing into the crowd with no regard to human life. The stunned guards recover, including the shotgun weilding captain. They drop nearly twenty people.

Mark pissed. He switches to autofire and opens up on the lieutenant. The guard does an amazing power slide underneath the spray of fire with a catlike return to his feet once the death storm ends.

"Son of a bitch!" Mark calls over the com.

"Shoot that sonofabitch!" yells Doc.

Doc shoots at that sonofabitch. Thunderhorse opens automatic fire on him. The sonofabitch dodges Doc's laserbeam, but winds up absorbing nearly every single blast from Thunderhorse's assault rifle. The fucker is torn to shreds.

"Doc, they're at it again," Steve says over the com. "They're trying to disconnect the PA system altogether. I'll try to hold on to it."

The crowd continues to beat the hell out of the armed guards as it surges forward, enveloping them like an amoeba. One of the Sergeants falls beneath their wailing fists and is sumarily trampled. The Captain takes a hell of a beating as well, but manages to stay standing, for now.

Yellow Alert, Pt 3

Across the street from Doc and Thunderhorse, Mark and Steve bunker down. A blast of blue-white energy smashes through the clothing store window at the lieutenant. The shattering glass disperses the pulse of micro bullets, flinging them harmlessly in random directions.

"Doc," Steve calls, "someone's trying to disconnect you from the PA system. I'll try to maintain the connection."

Doc continues rallying support for their cause as he stands against the wall next to the door of the sporting goods store. No one else joins the fight. It seems that everyone willing to rise up is already entering the melee, at least on this deck. He leans out the door and takes aim at the running lieutenant. He fails to lead him properly and misses.

Thunderhorse fires at the same guard through the window. Again, the shattering glass disperses the pulse.

Steve calls Doc back. "The PA system is still yours, Doc. I trashed their terminal. Whoever's on the other end is gonna have to find a new computer. That might not be long, though. I'll keep on it."

In the meantime, the crowd envelops and beats its attackers. Another riot guard is trampled as the other is pounded. One of the armed guards is immediately trampled while his counterpart runs away from the dog pile. Their sergeant is punched in the face. The man with the shotgun takes a hit from a stolen sonic blaster, incapacitating him for the time being.

The crowd presses hard against its oppressors. The last riot guard is pressed against the wall and beaten down. The armed guards all get pummelled as the rioters surround and beat them down. The stunned captain takes a few good whacks from scavenged weapons.

Veronica comes online. "Well, you're little trick with the PA worked. Disturbances reported on all decks. The current estimate is seven hundred rioters total. They're discussing whether to bump up to Orange alert. If that happens you're going to see much heavier resistance, possibly armored vehicles. You've got three units on your site, as I'm sure you're aware, and six more units dispatched. That's another 18 guards on their way. You better keep moving."

Yellow Alet, Pt 2

"Thunderhorse with me, Steve with Mark. Split up and take cover," Doc instructs the Time Operatives. "Steve, can you patch me into the ship's PA system?"

"I can try. Give me a few."

Mark and Steve head across the street towards an open clothing store. Steve seems to be staring at the floor as he runs, his lips moving like he's reading an invisible book.

Mark stops briefly to take a long shot at the guards approaching from behind. The shot ruptures the guard's helmet, slowing and spreading the pulse of bullets, causing his head to explode beneath his mask. His head is literally blown off.

"Easy as pointin' yer finger," Mark praises his new toy.

Doc heads towards the sporting goods store on the fore-bound side of the street. Thunderhorse stays behind a moment to fire at the guards as well. He manages to compensate for the recoil this time and the weapon stays true; a direct hit to the chest, killing the second guard. Thunderhorse joins Doc in the store.

Steve calls Doc. "Okay, you're in."

Doc tries it out. "Attention, passengers of the Indestructable Starship Marseille Marriott. This ship's crew are pirates, and you are all prisoners of Admiral Spaaz. If you want to survive this journey, grab whatever you can and storm the bridge! People, unite! We will not be made slaves or killed like sheep!"

His words echo down the vast corridor.

Something about the combination of Doc's words and the sight of armed guards running towards a mass of civilians stirs the docile to action. People in stores flood the street, screaming about their money and demanding revenge.

The three riot control guards are swarmed by the crowd. One is decked in the face, but the rioters trip over themselves trying to beat him further. Another manages to defend himself against the rioters until he's kicked squarely in the balls. Other rioters then entangle themselves trying to finish him off. The third is simply beaten senseless. The other two regain their footing and continue bashing heads with their shocksticks. Rioters fall to the ground, screaming in electric agony.

The stunned are the fortunate, as the armed guards close in fast. The remaining runner fires wildly into the crowd. The crowd is so close together the bullet wounds three people before stopping in someone's shoulder.

The hover carts come screeching to a stop. The six guards dismount and also start firing into the crowds, killing and wounding several more people. One of them, the highest ranking one, has a shotgun. It's loud, echoing blast cuts through the rioters like butter.

Yellow Alert

Veronica's voice enters Doc's head unannounced as the mob picks the weapons and armor off the remains of the defeated guards.

"I don't know what you just did but the alert level just skipped to yellow. Expect a lot of resistance ahead."

"Affirmative," Doc replies as if he's responding to his old CO. Seeing the carnage these strange weapons can create put his head right back into the old days; the bad days when remorse was suicide. "We're headed into the commercial strip for this deck."

The mob spills out of the capillary residential hallway into the arterial strip mall that runs the length of the ship. If it were not for the advertisements rolling electronically across the ceiling sky, Doc would think they just stepped outside. It is a lot like a long city block. The shops and offices do not rise the entire thirty stories to the top of the deck. There are green spaces between the buildings as well, giving the entire ship a grand sense of openness. The central road is mildly busy with hover cart traffic, most burdened with shoppers and their bags.

Doc continues to shout through the megaphone. "Rise up! Take arms! This ship is run by pirates and you're all in danger! Grab whatever you can! We're taking over this ship!"

The people enjoying coffee at a bistro stare blankly at the spectacle. Only a couple dozen out of the hundreds of shoppers here seem to respond to Doc's words, shouting out and joining the rest of the crowd.

Three riot guards are already on the scene, dismounted from their hover cart and brandishing their stun guns at the crowd.

"Security guards are coming," Steve says.

"I see them," says Doc.

"No, not the riot guards. I've got nine lethal weapons contacts: three behind us and six ahead of us."

Doc confirms this with his thermal sensors. The three behind them are approaching on foot and are two hundred feet away. The six ahead are on hover carts and are three hundred feet out.

"I guess yellow alert means they're not fucking around anymore."

The First Blow Struck

The hover cart comes to a screeching halt. The four guards leap off, wielding sonic blasters similar to those used by the OUE campus security. The open fire on the crowd before anyone can react. Three people immediately hit the ground, dizzied by the unbearable noise the device creates in their heads.

The leader of the pirate riot control forces recognizes Doc as the inciter of the riot, since he's the one with the megaphone. He aims his sonic blaster right at him. Doc doesn't have time to react before the most ear splitting noise he's ever heard skips right past his eardrums and screeches across the auditory center of his brain. Doc almost pukes as he doubles over, clutching his ears to no avail.

Mark reacts to the man aiming a gun to his leader and fires the railgun assault rifle at the Sergeant. The thing goes off with an incredible exploding, fwhoosh sound as a pulse of white hot bullets rip through the air, breaking the speed of sound and edging on the speed of light in this atmosphere, leaving a faint blue glow in its wake. The blast rips right through the sergeant's riot helmet and continues on down the hall, leaving a cauterized pinhole through the man's brain. The sergeant's gun slips from his hand and hits the floor moments before his knees, followed by his face.

"Holy shit!" cries Mark. "I love this gun!"

Thunderhorse gives it a try. Another white-blue streak precedes a booming blast as he pulls the trigger. Half the beam melts into the thick steel ceiling while the other half splashes and ricochets. No one is injured by it.

"Watch out for the recoil," warns Mark. Thunderhorse nods.

A violet line appears briefly between Dr. Ritenrong and the hover cart. The thing's fuel cells explode and smoke. Again, no one is injured, but the hover cart is now on fire.

"Sorry," apologizes Steve. "I'm not used to shooting these things."

The crowd surges forward, putting some distance between themselves and the firefight.

Mark drops another guard easily. His simply padded riot armor burns as he flies backwards into the wreckage of the hover cart.

His head finally clear, Doc is ready for action. He draws his ion pulse gun and fires. A pull of the trigger creates the violet line of burning death between him and his target. A cavernous chunk of his target's torso disintegrates, revealing blackened spine and ribs. Fat cells burn like a hotdog on a campfire.

"Yikes," is all Doc can mutter.

Thunderhorse levels his rifle and tries again. Again the blast goes wide, this time splashing against the wall, loudly but harmlessly.

Steve tries his luck again. This time the beam connects, disintegrating the man's upper arm and a portion of his torso dangerously near his heart. The bone slides sickly out of the cauterized remains of its socket and onto the floor. Someone watching from the crowd shrieks "Oh my God!"

The guard, not killed but mortally wounded, screams bloody murder and limps off for his life, crying for backup.

The crowd, having witnessed this disgusting spectacle, now feels empowerd by the ruthless and brutal forces on their side.

XP Values

Figure this needs thought out better and recorded for posterity. I've been ineffectively winging it so far. Deviations from previously used logic will not be retroactive, but this will be the model I will use from now on.

XP is awarded in three categories: Characterization, Skill checks, and Combat victories.

Characterization awards are XP bonuses granted at the DM's discretion for good ideas by players, well played roles, or significant goals accomplished.

Skill check awards are given for essentially every d20 roll. Success means the full DC of the challenge overcome is awarded. Failure awards 10% of the DC (rounded to the nearest whole) Critical Successes double the award, while critical failures negate it. Awarding failures even a small amount encourages attempts to be made.

Combat XP is awarded upon victory. The award equal to 100 times the combined level of the defeated group times the ratio of the victorious group's levels to the defeated's levels, minimum of 1. Special circumstances may modify the final value. Failure in combat is not rewarded so as to discourage hopeless engagements.
XP = Loser Levels * 100 * (Loser Levels / Winner Levels), Min 1.
A level 1 character must defeat 10 level 1 enemies to gain a level.
Example grid:


War Path

The riot is in full swing.

"Well, what the hell, let's take over the ship. Mark, you're on point. Thunderhorse, you are behind him. Steve grab our stuff and stay behind me. Follow the crowd, but hang back a bit."

Doc distributes the weapons as he gives the orders.

"Yee-haw!" shouts Mark. "Good thing we got in some practice with these things in the arcade!"

"Yes," says Thunderhorse as he properly primes the firing pack and releases the safety. "Murderspree 2222 was a fun game."

"Let's be careful gentlemen," Doc warns them. "We don't want to screw this up and get killed, and I only got one pair of underwear on so don't scare me. Take out obstacles one at a time and work together. Steve, call Veronica and see if she can be of some help on her end. She wanted to help these people. Everybody ready and clear on the plan? Good! Let's go."

Doc gets on the bullhorn. "Ladies and Gentleman, grab the cards/badges off the crew! You will need them!"

The few remaining members of the crowd acknowledge the message. They strip the porter clean before stampeding out of the docking bay.

The party follows them.

Veronica's face suddenly appears, getting into his. "You did what?!" she shouts at him.

"We're taking over the ship," Doc tells her. "Are you going to help these people or what?"

"You said we were leaving!"

"It occurred to me that we can't fix a future that's broken in the present."

"But a riot? Thousands will die!"

"We have to stop Spaaz before he ruins the future. You were willing to sacrifice yourself and everyone on board to do that, weren't you? A lot less will die this way. Now what can you do to help?"

"FUCK! You men. I just- ugh!" Her face disappears as she goes offline.

Her voice comes back a moment later. "Security is alerted to the situation but there's no responders yet. They don't care if anyone throws themselves out an airlock, saves them trouble later. But if your crowd starts into the ship, you bet your ass you're gonna see armed guards, and they're not going to have any problem shooting you or anyone else. So you better get as big a crowd together as you can. Make your way towards the engineering decks. Don't use the elevators, they can eject you into space. There are emergency ramps between every deck. Look for the fire escape doors. Make your way to central engineering. Bring as big a crowd as possible as fast as possible. I will meet you there. Watch out for Security rovers."

"Security rovers? "

"Armored vehicles. They have machine guns and mortars. They'll be patrolling the transport corridors once the alert is up. I'll see what I can do from here. I'll keep you updated." She ends the transmission.

Doc gets back on the megaphone as the crowd pushes through the tight residential halls. People are knocking on doors and sometimes forcing them open, shouting about pirates and exciting more rioters. Doc shouts through the megaphone. "This ship is run by pirates! We're taking over before we're all robbed and killed! To arms! To arm!"

People standing in doorways are wide eyed and stunned at first, but are swept up in the fervor of the crowd. Very few become frightened and run away to hide. In short order, the crowd has doubled in size. Some are carrying weapons, pipes, bars, bottles, anything they can find or tear off a wall. Some of the stewards and stewardesses join in as well, at least those who are not first pummeled for being in a uniform.

The crowd leaves behind a wake of plastic flower petals as Hawaii Day is forever ruined for many a cruise director.

"Alert is up," Veronica's voice comes into his ear. "Blue signal. Riot control is on it's way. Watch your flanks."

Sure enough there's flashing blue lights on a hover cart approaching quickly from behind. Doc's infrared sensors identify four security guards with stun guns and batons.

Slug Throwers

Slug throwers are a lot like standard firearms but do not use gunpowder. They use ionized lead coated uranium bullets and fire with a combination of magnetic acceleration like a railgun and the release of highly compressed gas. This weapon is from an era where batteries do not yet have the energy density to power a fully magnetic accelerated weapon at the small arms scale.

The projectile from a slug thrower is very similar to a standard 9mm gunpowder round, but are smaller, denser, and faster. The advantage is that it has almost no mechanical parts, thus requires none of the grease that tends to boil away in a low pressure environment. Thus they are easier to maintain and can be operated in space. They are also very easy to mass produce and are therefore cheap without the usual pitfalls of being "cheap." The magnetic system also provides a very high spin, stabilizing the flight and increasing its accuracy over standard firearms.

All slug-throwers are semiautomatic. Some have autofire options. A standard clip contains ten rounds and enough power and gas to fire them all. When reloading a clip, it must also be recharged with both gas and electricity. This is usually accomplished with a base station, but there are fanny packs that cam do this. Simply insert a spent clip and retrieve a recharged and reloaded one. The spent clip is automatically loaded and charged. It is usually lighter to carry many extra clips, however.

Slug Thrower: 2d6 ballistic, 50ft range increments, Semiautomatic, 10 round magazine, Small, 2 lbs.

Panic Attack

Doc, Steve, Mark, and Thunderhorse approach the beleaguered porter..

"I'm sorry. We cannot stop the ship and let you off," he tells them without waiting for them to speak. "If you're feeling space sick, please visit the infirmary. If you simply cannot cope with it, please schedule an appointment with a therapist. We have several on staff."

"No, no," Steve answers him. "We're not here for that. We need our equipment back."

"Your equipment?"

"Yes. I'm Dr. Steven Ritenrong. We made a special arrangement to house our equipment."

"I'm sorry, sir. I cannot allow you to retrieve it until departure time."

Doc steps in. "If you'll just return our property from the storage locker, I think we can help you settle this crowd down before someone rips your head off. You better hurry 'cause they are about to turn on you!"

"I'm not about to allow you to fire weapons at my passengers."

"We have stun guns. Mark and Thunderhorse here are both professional body guards, and I am an expert in psychology." Doc extends his hand. "Dr. Lucas Shaw at your service."

The porter takes his hand. "Stun guns, you say? And you're a psychiatrist? Very well. Security is not responding to my calls, so I don't have much choice. If you can get these people under control, you can take your equipment. I guess Security isn't too interested in knowing anything that goes on down here. If they've got a problem with you, it's their problem, not mine. Just promise not to kill anyone?"


The porter disappears into a door behind the service desk. Doc takes a moment to analyze the crowd. He pinpoints one woman who seems especially frightened. Larger, older, and sweating profusely, the woman is quiet but shaking, as if withholding some highly energetic emotions. Doc connects to her mind.

She's a fairly easy read. She's a shut in. She's never really been far from home. She's been well kept most of her life, comfortable, no worries. She's got the sad despair of having a loved one pass away, her husband or father, someone who took care of her for most if not all her life. Doc concludes that someone must've suggested she take her inheritance and go on a long vacation, see the galaxy, meet someone new. And now she's here alone lightyears from Earth, having never been beyond the front yard before. Her quiet demeanor is only the as-yet unbroken surface tension of a raging tsunami of panic.

The porter returns with their gear. Doc digs out the stun batons and hand them to Mark and Thunderhorse. He and Steve still have their pain guns, plus the slugthrowers from the unfortunate cut-purses they met earlier.

The man with the megaphone is trying desperately to shout overtop the building clamor. Doc goes up to him and takes the megaphone from him. The man gives it up easily, as he sees no good reason not to allow someone else to get eaten alive instead of himself.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please!" Doc addresses the crowd. They seem willing to respond to someone new. "Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please! The whole ship is run by pirates!"

There is a sudden hush. The bellboys perk up in attention. Even the people trying to throw themselves overboard stop for a moment to listen. The porter's jaw is agape. Doc focuses his mind on his predetermined target.

"They are going to rob and enslave you! Your only hope is to subdue every crew member you can find and take over the ship! Arm yourselves with whatever you can find! Head for the command deck! Fight for your lives!"

Whatever walls were holding back her rage are disintegrated. The woman screams in absolute paniced terror. The rest of the crowd freaks out as well. In an instant the entire docking bay is a flurry of human motion and emotion. The thirty or so people gathered here descend upon everything in uniform. The man Doc took the bullhorn from is trampled. The porter can do nothing but duck behind the service desk before he's tackled and beaten. The bellhops are shoved out of the magnetic airlock.

Doc keeps his pain gun up and aimed at anything that approaches him. Mark and Thunderhorse keep everyone away from them with the stun batons. Steve practically hides behind Thunderhorse as the rioters crowd him on all sides. Thunderhorse is the only one who's leis are not ripped off during the melee.

The riotous crowd begins to spill out of the docking bay into the halls, yelling at the other passengers to rise up in arms against their kidnappers, and beating sensless anyone with a nametag.

Space Madness

"Damn future! Nothing here is ever fucking simple or straight foward. I'd like to go get the guns because we are going to need them and I'd hate to risk them falling into the wrong hands. They only rotten thing is that neither one of these two are ready for combat. Hell, they can't hardly stand. I could give them some black coffee, soak their heads in ice water and give them a shot of B12, but I wouldn't wager any money on them being any help. Wait. Does this futuristic ship have a sobering booth like I used to read about in the SciFi books?"

"Well," Steve says, eager to relieve Doc of at least one source of tension and frustration, "there's no sobering booth but there are a number of remedies like ToxiGone and SoberAll. I'll whip them up some cocktails."

Within half an hour the team is awake, alert and ready. Mostly. Thunderhorse is still waking up, as he doesn't much like coffee, but he's more shuffling than stumbling.

Steve leads them down the now Hawaiian themed hallways. Cute cruise service attendance in grass skirts pass out lei them repeatedly as they walk towards the elevators.

The ride down to the entry hanger is somewhat long. Doc has to ask. "So what was with all the stuffed animals?"

Mark answers. "There was this ol' thing at the arcade, I think they called it a claw machine. Well, Thunderhorse saw some skirt yank a toy unicorn or some such thing out'a it, and he gets a bug up his ass to get one, too. Course the damn thing don't like Thunderhorse much, so he pushed it over and it smashed good. Me an' him an' a hunert other people loot the fucker and bust the hell outa there back to the room."

"And the wigs?"

"Some crazy old coot up at the bar was passin' them around havin some kinda crazy ass party. It was some wild shit, let me tell you. They had some weird purple lights and everybody was glowin' like fireflies. They gave us some damned wicked drinks, let me tell you what. Shit got reeeeal colorful after that. I ain't never seen shit like that in all my damn life, but boy howdy I felt fan-fucking-tastic. Don't remember much after that, except waking up feelin' miserable half-nekkid next to some genuinely frightening women. Green hair, ear rings in their nose and tounges, tatoos all over. Thought I was in a damn geek show."

"I felt those effects before," Thunderhorse adds. "Before a fierce battle when I was young, we painted our faces with woad and ate the magic mushrooms. It felt like that, but without the thrill of battle. Instead, there was lust. And there were many women in that magic place who would fulfill our desires. Strange, exotic women with spikes in their tongues and paint on their breasts."

"So you went to a rave, ate psychodelic drugs, and got laid?"

"Rave, yes. That is what the magic place was. Raven's Rave Haven. Where were you?"

"We broke into the command center, found out this entire ship is run by pirates intending to kidnap, rob, and enslave the entire population of passengers."

"Is that not the intention of every boat at sea?" Thunderhorse asks, having little experience with ships other than raiding longboats.

They all reflect upon the unintentional esoteric wisdom of his words as the elevator doors finally open, revealing the hanger from which they boarded the ship. There is a bit of a crowd, and they're acting rowdy. A man with a bullhorn is trying to calm them.

"Please, ladies and gentlemen, listen. StarScape is well aware that you may have trepedations about long space flights, but if you'll all just calm down and que up at the service desk, we will schedule each of you an appointment with a therapist..."

The crowd screams at him. "Let me off!" yells one woman. "I want to go home!" cries a man. "I can't stay on this ship. Gotta get off!" chants another.

"I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, there's no way off of this ship. We are currently going two hundred times the speed of light-" This news does not settle well with the more space-sick passengers. The comment and subsequent odor only serves to highten the others' fear and frustrations.

Meanwhile, a small troop of bellhops are pushing back a half dozen people fervently trying to throw themselves out of the magnetic airlock. Security forces are no where to be seen.

The porter who took their bags earlier is on the com, frantic and frustrated. "Well, at least bring us some bloody stun guns! What the hell are you doing that's so important you can't come and quell this? People are trying to kill themselves down here! What? You said that ten minutes ago! Look, if anyone dies down here it will not be blamed on me, do you hear? You send some bloody stun guns down here this instant. Your bloody well assured the Admiral will be hearing about this. What? What other kinds of problems could you possibly have?! Rob the what? Where could they possibly escape to, Miami?! I've practically got a riot down here! For the last fucking time: Help!"