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Chapter 19 - What Could Go Wrong[]

16 January 3041
Toten (Former Outworlds Alliance System)

Master Sergeant Harry Caldwell watched Chief Zuniga verify that the Mule was firmly docked with the JumpShip. He then verified that everyone was properly suited up and the Mule's cargo bay was sealed before opening the airlock. Inside his suit, Master Sergeant Caldwell cursed Captain Mitchell. He did not sign up for this kind of crap, he thought to himself. When Chief Zuniga signaled, Lieutenant Sanders led a squad into the wrecked Tramp Jumpship to sweep the ship. The moment the cargo bay was declared secure, Chief Zuniga led 3 additional engineer crew to first secure the bright orange box containing the circuit boards, but to drag a refuel hose to suck the Tramp's fuel tanks dry.

Tramp Class Jump Ship (CG)

Tramp Class JumpShip

Master Sergeant Caldwell slowly entered the cargo bay. The magnetic boots making clicking noises as they released and reattached to the cargo bay deck. They were rare and expensive, but he had shelled out the money when they were at Inner End. While he did not despise Zero G, he just felt better with his feet firmly attached to something solid. He walked among the stacks of crates, stopping he paused and wiped the residue from the crate. All he could see was "Manufacture Date 2764" and "Property of the Star League Defense Force". But it was enough to bring a smile to his face. He lovingly patted the crate, no clue what was inside, but there was something about touching or even finding something from the Star League era.

He felt more than heard the two loader mechs the Mule carried enter the cargo bay. He just pointed to all the crates and then pointed towards the dropship, clearly saying "Take everything." It took 30 minutes before he heard Lieutenant Sanders over the communications "The ship is secure. There are remains aboard, but they have been confined to one of the staterooms."

"Chief, care to join me on the bridge?" Master Sergeant Caldwell asked

"Right behind you." Chief Zuniga replied, taking the lead down the long corridor. When they reached the bridge, Chief Zuniga wasted no time in popping access panels open. The first he popped open he removed a data drive and handed it to Master Sergeant Caldwell saying "Ships log. Also contains all sensor readings and such. Could be important." He then moved to the ships navigational section, opening a panel he removed 2 more data drives and handed them back over his shoulder followed by a "Navigational drives. Should contain all the jumps with coordinates this ship made in the last 6 months before her death. The master drive was clearly destroyed by whatever hit this ship, that would have contained a complete jump history since the ship's activation. Other drive should have whatever version of Star Chart they were using at the time of death."

Not saying anything Master Sergeant Caldwell just placed all the drives in a small bag he was carrying attached to his belt. He knew Davis would go ape over these, but he was more focused on thinking about what kind of goodies were in the cargo bay.

It took 5 hours to unload the estimated 2,000 tons of cargo from the Tramp and get it secured inside the Mule's massive cargo bays. As Chief Zuniga exited the Tramp Jumpship, he patted the side and said softly "Sleep well, old girl, you have saved our lives." With that he closed the airlock and signaled the Mule's bridge "Airlock secure. You may detach at will and take us home."

18 January 3041

With 8 days of travel time to kill, Master Sergeant Caldwell and Chief Zuniga took the opportunity to check out some of the cargo recovered. The first crate was an obvious engine container, Master Sergeant Caldwell had seen plenty of those, and these containers were for Aerospace units. He had counted 18 of them during the transfer. He moved to where the largest cargo containers were. It took about ten minutes to clean up the container tag so it could be read.

"RPR-101 Complete, Wings Detached". Master Sergeant Caldwell had no clue what it meant except the wing meant Aero or an aircraft of some sort, but he had 18 of those sized containers stacked in the cargo bay. He had already located obvious weapons containers and even ammunition containers, but he left those alone. Not even bothering to check the labels, he was after unique stuff.

It was Chief Zuniga that identified the next item "Caldwell, we have 200 Marine Combat Environment Suit, still in the packing crates. The one I opened look just like the ones used today, maybe a little beefier, maybe a different armor, no clue."

"Well, those would have been nice to have earlier in this adventure." Caldwell replied, even as he thought to himself, like any of us know how to use the damned things.

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