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The Ballad of the Privateer Cookieduster

Privateering against the Slishii, as related to me by player Tim McGrady long after-the-fact; according to him, the ship was named after "a large, shaggy mustache."

The Cookieduster was a privateer out on the Fed Frontier; a strange two-in-one little ship, only a few hundred tons. According to my informant, they'd flanged it together from two other ships -- one, the "primary hull", was an SDB of 1-200 tons with no Jump drive but a big fire-control computer and as many weapons as the power plant could juice; besides the original turret, they must have jury-rigged half a dozen more in fixed forward mounts like a giant fighter. The "secondary hull" was about twice as large, and contained the Jump drive and main engines and amenities -- and its own overload of fixed-mount weapons besides it turrets. The two components could detach and function as separate ships as needed, the secondary acting as a Jump-tug for the primary when docked.

I have no idea who came up with this design, what shipyard built it out on the Frontier, or what sort of drugs the naval architect must have been on. It was probably the most bizarre one-of-a-kind ship in the history of the Foible Federation, and had a crew to match.

Apparently the Cookieduster had a spectacular career against Slishii raiders infesting this portion of the Frontier. From internal evidence, this was probably during the later stages of the Empire/Federation War, when the Navy was stretched thin, pirates and raiders ran wild, and privateers such as the Cookieduster were all that stood in their way.

Unfortunately, my informant only related three frankly-skeletal anecdotes about that career, all three centering on the ship's Captain. I can see where he'd be hard to forget -- a big hyperactive vodka-keg of a Slav who looked like he'd just come off a Cossack raid on the Russian steppes, with an enormous full beard that required a special helmet for his vacc suit. I think he even wore one of those little obchina pillbox fur hats.

Another (presumably the informant of my informant) was a Duck with black feathers and yellow neck-band who filled in as a fighter pilot when they carried fighters. I don't know for sure, because all three surviving anecdotes of the Cookieduster's exploits seemed to revolve around the Captain.

1. Dedicating the ship, which the Captain insisted had to be done just right.

"Nyet, nyet, is not just give ship name and fly off. Must christen properly -- bring in priest to bless everything, inside and out -- engines, Jump coils, bridge, each and every cabin, computer, weaponry, everything. Sprinkle holy water in each compartment and on all equipment, purify all compartments with incense, then install icon of ship's patron saint in proper place."

My informant showed me pictures of the occassion -- sketches of a Russian Orthodox priest in full vestments (and an even bigger beard than the captain), acolytes holding high the icons and swinging censers ricocheting off the bulkheads (the incense setting off fire alarms), almost stumbling over each other jammed into the cramped corridors of a starship.

2. One unique incident when the captain was trapped outside the ship when it emergency-jumped and found himself drifting in his vacc suit with about four hours of air, no rescue for several weeks, and a supply of Fast Drug (the stuff that really Slows you down). Figuring "What have I got to lose?", he ODed on the Fast Drug to stretch his air as long as possible, also stretching the time between clinical death and irreversible brain damage from three minutes to several weeks.

Player: "Was he Slowed?"

GM: "Yes, that's what killed him. He ODed -- Slowed too much."

Player: "Just how much was he Slowed?"

GM: "What does it matter? He's dead."

Player: "Remember the three-minute window after your heart stops? Just how much was he Slowed?"

GM: "Oooooo..."

Unfortunately, he had taken brain damage by the time the Cookieduster returned and rescued him, a little over three weeks later. Though still The Captain, he was captain in name only afterwards.

Brain damage dropped his Int and Edu by half and removed half his skills (randomly-selected).

3. And the end of the Cookieduster, with the brain-damaged Captain going out with a bang, riding the "primary hull" down into a Kamikaze attack on the main Slishii pirate base and destroying the Slishii presence in that subsector.