This was to date the largest convoy of all SCUL missions: thirty one ships present at launch. Not all would return safely. The Halloween Ride was the last official Level D mission of 1998, and was promoted in The Ride (link) magazine. All were either in costume, piloting a chopper, or both.
Prepare for Launch!
Some traveled from 10 light years on fighters to attend. A valiant motion, indeed!
We departed Fort Francis late, due to the massive attendance, and due to final assembly of the newest ship to join the SCUL fleet, SDV Fall From Grace, constructed by Commander Megaseth. Also new to the fleet was the USB Trez Bonz, the third incarnation of the BonzBik. Now outfitted with a rideable set of forks, the Trez Bonz was also equipped with a dry ice chamber for smoke, that seemed to ineffective in the vastness space. Also of note was the Vamp Bike, piloted by Joe Marshall, which was NTY CurbBurner in costume!
Most amazing of all was NTY U.F.O, with Nate at the bridge. A tiny ship surrounded by a protective hull of sturdy cardboard, squirming around all over the road like a tiny fish swimming around at the bottom of the tank in search of tasty flakes.
NTY UFO, equipped with egg-shields.
Off we went, the huge mass of ghoulish riders into the night. Almost instantly we were attacked by launchers of poulty - oviary grenades. A miss! "Nice Shot!" Fuel Injector cried. Was there some kind of supernatural force field in place, or did the attackers decide mid-throw that it wasn't such a wise idea to egg thirty some-odd bicycle gang members? Studies are currently underway.
Thirty one riders fall into loose line formation.
Chaos seeped into our efforts. Despite the Navigator System being explained at the start of the ride, many rookies decided to increase the pace beyond some of the more heavily armed ship's capabilities. Also the massive attendance made keeping track of the convoy near impossible.
Screaming through the Davis and Porter Constellations, the mass of ships fared well in space traffic indeed. Ray was particularly helpful in blocking traffic and whooshing us along safely.
USB Pig Champion along side of SDV Fall From Grace.
In a short time we reached our first checkpoint. A thriving colony at Space Station Miller in the Somerville System was well underway. Lots of food and awaited us, beverages were present, and much fun was being had by all.
But something was amiss: Commander Seth noted that Mia was missing. After further roll call we realized that Nails was missing as well. Both pilots were by no means recruits. Apparently due to the quick pace of the fleet, we lost two ships, USB Fluffy the Destroyer of Worlds and USB CSI-1. Despite a scout mission by Seth and Ray, Lani or Mia did not rejoin the convoy for the remainder of the mission.
SCUL does not make the same mistake twice. New NAV-TAIL protocols are being developed, new procedures have been set and new technology has been installed to assure that no one gets lost during a mission again (unless they try).
We tried to not let our friend's being lost ruin the mission. There was much to do still. We stayed at Space Station Miller for a few Earth hours, eating and drinking and being merry. We could have stayed all night, but the call to duty was still present. Some people decided to stay, some decided to join up, but most of us continued on.
All dressed up and ready to go.
Due to the experimental nature of NTY UFO, a minor structural breach was detected. The fleet dropped out of hyperspace to make repairs. We were in the Cambridge System, at Harvard Stadium, so we pulled into the lot, a strategically advantageous position for a fleet with a damaged ship.
No sooner than repairs began to take place when the Empire arrived. We assured them that Harvard Stadium was not under attack by SCUL, for if it were it would not be standing. They agreed and bud us farewell.
An encounter with the Empire.
On we rode and rode. Over bridges, through parking lots and parks. Party to Party. None seemed to compare to Space Station Miller. Civilians everywhere where cheering us all on, what a thrill! We even encountered the other bicycle gang of Boston, Hell's Bells, which we hailed a friendly hello to. We made our way towards the center of the Boston Constellation, specifically Chinatown Sector.
VampBike in action!
We arrived at another colony, five floors up in a loft space. Andrew scald the stairs, waited in line for ten minutes, paid five earth credits, then waited another five minutes just to use their bathroom. The colony was entirely overpopulated and was soon to run out of breathable oxygen. We decided to head back towards base, but in a zig zag fashion. Into the Public Gardens we went: to the Particle Accelerator.
Ghouls in the Particle Accelerator
The Particle Accelerator is a fountain were you can get a ship winging around the inside of pretty fast. NTY UFO's hull was crushed beyond repair. Luckily Nate was able to eject before it exploded. We repaired the inner ship and went on our way.
We all returned from the long mission to our respective origins without further incident.