Just another hull in the intrigue-ridden seas of Micras.
|Type||Coastal Merchant Vessel|
|Place of origin||Jingdao|
previously Los Liberados
|Operator||Octavian Import-Export Corporation (suspected)|
|Crew||Unknown - reports state between 10-15|
|Propulsion||3x All-Garden Pyroenergetics Complex turbo biodiesels|
|Speed||Unknown - believed in excess of 25 knots|
- 4x laser optics dazzlers
The MV Jolly Froyalaner was a small merchant vessel of some 100 displaced tons operating in the seas between Benacia and Apollonia; a rake-bowed coaster most often seen in the Captive Sea and later, the Eastern shores of the Guttuli Protectorate. The owners, operators, flag states and allegiances of the vessel - which was subject to numerous modifications - were often unknown and subject to change.
The original hull and superstructure of the Jolly Froyalaner resembled a Jingdaoese fishing vessel of the type prevalent in Carama Bay, presumably spending its early life in that capacity. The manner in which it passed out of Jingdaoese usage is unclear; whether wrecked, sold, deposited in one of the many ship-breaking yards of the Raynor Sea or some combination thereof, its first confirmed sighting was in Los Liberados in 1669 as a beached hulk on the foreshore near Puerto Arcadio, attended upon by a gang of Liberadosan labourers under the apparent guidance of skilled fabricators with heavy Nova English accents. Over the course of the year the hull was repaired and repainted, followed by a removal of the uppermost superstructure including the wheelhouse. In its place was added a telescopic mast topped with a multi-lensed, free-training optical device alongside a forest of radio antennae.
During this period the vessel was refloated and moved to a dedicated berth in Puerto Arcadio proper where it remained for several weeks before disappearing, eventually re-emerging in the Liberadosan colony of Corcovado where it was particularly active during the Haifan Civil War; thereafter it plied an irregular route between Corcovado, Los Liberados proper and indeterminate destinations in Western Eura. According to those few stevedores who could present a credible story of having dealt with the vessel, its main cargoes during that time were high-value items sought by the Octavian Import-Export Corporation, particularly rare-micras metals, for safe delivery to the Iron Company shipping hub at Puerto Arcadio.
In late 1674 the vessel made an abrupt and unexpected passage westwards from Los Libarados. After some weeks it appeared at Torpentus Creek in the Eastern Guttuli Protectorate, on the tidal wharf of a fishing village where it appeared visibly battered by its 15,000km voyage. Its crew, to the delight of the local population, offered substantial amounts of Kalgarrand bullion coinage for materials to repair the vessel and duly attracted some measure of 'protection' from local authorities.
In 1677, rumours of the Jolly Froyalaner's engagement in arms smuggling to the Guttuli Protectorate were confirmed after its interception by a Ransenari corvette enforcing Raspur Pact blockade. The intercept was, in fact, part of a ruse in which these arms supplies were diverted to Lunatic insurgents instead of the Guttuli regime whose genocidal attitude toward the Lunatics and their failure to honour assurances of moderation as a condition of trade had gravely upset the Froyalaner's sponsors in moral and commercial terms alike. After several such diversions of arms in collusion with the Navy of Ransenar, the Jolly Froyalaner approached the port of Svalbarh on the pretext of negotiating Guttulinese naval escorts after another supposedly-failed arms delivery. The vessel was met by the local pilot boat and after a short conversation about the present arrangement of the shifting mudflats ahead, the pilot was abruptly shot dead along with the coxswain of his boat. The Froyalaner then accelerated to full speed, launching its complement of four container-housed S-2 Standard missiles on a trajectory aimed at Svalbarh's Temple of Morsva. Upon reaching the port it drew sharply alongside the largest Guttulinese merchant vessel it could find and secured itself with grappling lines over the latter's gunwales, laying down heavy small arms fire in all directions to suppress resistance. Timers were then set in the Froyalaner's explosives-packed hold with barely sufficient delay for its crew to launch an outboard-powered pinnace and get clear of the blast zone, making thence for an escape toward the open sea.
Initially thought to be registered in Stormark on account of its name and its flying of the Storish flag, the Jolly Froyalaner was later spotted using the flags of other states such as Alrig, Phinbella, almost all of the Vulture States and even Çeridgul. The vessel's movements in and out of port were rarely seen by the casual observer as they usually occurred in middle of the night during times of inclement or even violent weather - mariners in Corcovado during the Jolly Froyalaner's time there spoke variously with admiration or disdain for the vessel's crew and their habit of putting to sea in such conditions, as a mark of either masterful seamanship or foolish recklessness.
Of the Jolly Froyalaner's crew themselves, little was known except that they came from a multitude of nations; accents as varied as Liberadosan, Nova English, Constancian, Raspurid, Batavian, Norestrian and even the unlikely strains of the landlocked Kalgachi were heard from them. Although seen to socialise among themselves in public venues, these men revealed nothing about their work and tended not to fraternise with others unless engaged in trade deals. The few occasions when they were pressed on their business invariably resulted in a display of military grade hand-to-hand combat skill which caused most casual challengers to leave them alone. The profusion of optical and electronic fittings on the vessel, along with an exhaust plume diffuser of the type used to reduce infrared signature and a better-than-average hull condition overall, provoked suggestions from more educated quarters that one or more 'state actors' had an interest in its operation.
Ships sailing in close proximity to the Jolly Froyalaner occasionally experienced anomalous behaviour from their radio and radar equipment. The Jolly Froyalaner rarely used an AIS transponder and when it does, the resulting telemetry often diverged considerably from the vessel's actual status. Reports of "teleporting supertankers" and other shape-shifting contacts on regional VTS systems were roughly correlated with periods when the Jolly Froyalaner was known to be at sea. It was even suggested that multiple, identical Jolly Froyalaners were in opreation; while this would explain the vessel's regular re-appearance in port despite the claims of regional powers to have sunk it, the phenomenon may have been little more than the self-spoofing of a single vessel to surrounding sensor systems.