Unfortunately, the "pirates" who happened to be in the area was a squadron of ESU ships seeking to aggressively disrupt shipping to NAC colonies in any way, shape, or form, picked up the distress call. Their intelligence briefing indicated that there were quite possibly NSL spies on board that vessel who had eluded the enforcement authorities on Nova Moskva and escaped with state secrets. This liner could not be allowed to reach Thoria. So, like a small pack of wolves, moved in quickly, hoping to beat the NAC to the starliner.
As it turned out, the two forces arrived at almost the same time. And when the ESU wouldn't back off from the NAC presence, things heated up.
# of players: 2
The map is floating.
The NAC battle group must move to rendezvous with the starliner. Once they have gotten to the starliner, the battleship may not move more than 12 mu away from it unless battle damage forces it to withdraw or fall behind.
The ESU may not fire on the starliner until the NAC battleship has been driven off or destroyed.
Any time a ship has damage to its third row of hull boxes, it will withdraw from battle on a roll of '5-6' on a d6. If it has damage to the last row of hull boxes, it must withdraw immediately, moving away from the battle as best and fast as possible (these are not suicide missions, you know).
For the NAC: destroy or drive off the ESU, preserving the starliner (the spies the ESU intel thinks are aboard might just be - plus there are all those innocent passengers to consider...). Losing the battleship would be a serious blow, though, and force a draw even if the ESU are driven off or destroyed.
The ESU must drive off or destroy the NAC ships, capturing the starliner if at
all possible (need to root out those NSL spies!), destroying it otherwise.