NPC: Captain Nokh Khoen, First Officer Gunderson, and crew
Location: The Seeker of Prime Hunting Grounds (Aengkfaertoezthuedou) at the Igodosakfell Naval Base
The new recruits have returned to the ship, stowed their weapons in the armory,
and hauled their gear to their staterooms. Fortunately, everyone is entitled to
their own room at this time.
The captain has given the order to prepare the ship for departure. The gunners, including Joe and Arthur, are allowed to hang in the crew common area and watch the departure on the screen. Ordinarily, they'd be in their respective turrets, but departing Igodosakfell is an exception.
Arthur chuckles, getting the attention of the other three gunners. He says, "This sure makes a hell of a change of pace. Normally, I'd be boarding this mofo, not sailin' out on her. ALMOST like old home week."
Both vargr pause while they wait for the ship to translate. When it's done, they appreciate the irony and laugh.
Rrokoth says in Gvegh and the ship translates in Lakir's comm, "It is good for us! You are built of stone, and I would probably chip a tooth while biting your leg."
Both vargr burst out laughing.
Arthur throws his arms around them, gives them a squeeze, and laughs along with a big toothy grin.
Joe laughs with the Vargr, but keeps his eyes on the viewscreen until the station disappears from view.
Mazun is instructed to join Chief Engineer Onguk down in engineering. Mazun made it a point to memorize the deck plans for Ueknou class corsairs while in jump from Tagan to Igodosakfell. He is surprised to find Onguk not at the engineer's console but standing near the jump drive.
Mazun strolls decisively towards Onguk and greets him jovially.
Onguk barks an acknowledgement but doesn't move. His eyes are closed and his ears are up and alert.
Mazun looks at the jump drive, taking it in and trying to judge the general state of the installation, how old components are, etc. He's pleased to see that, while not new, the drive is in very good condition. It has been well maintained, you could say 'lovingly so', in a way that only a devoted engineer would. There are some new parts here and there, but overall it seems the drive is decades old. He's relieved that what he's seen of engineering so far indicates he's on a decent ship and not a rust bucket.
Onguk turns to Mazun and says, "I'm heading up to the maneuver drive. You can come along or stay here. It's up to you."
Mazun nods. "Oh, I'd love to see the M-drive. If it is as well maintained as the J-drive, I'll sleep well at night."
Onguk replies, "Then you'll sleep like a pup."
He follows Onguk, strolling next to him as far as possible, not behind him. Along the way, he comments, "Say, Onguk, the J-drive has seen as much action as we two have, but some parts like that induction retrobalancer are brand new. How much of a leeway do we have for getting parts? I always had to fight with the bureaucrats to get proper replacements."
Onguk sighs. "Then you'll be right at den. Each ship in the fleet has a maintenance budget so the captain gets all our requests and he decides where to spend his allotment. Fortunately for all of us, he recognizes the importance of what we do so we tend to get first priority. Still..." He shrugs. He perks up a bit, even wags his tail, and says, "But if there are good scroungers in one's pack, there's nothing preventing us from using what we find in the Wilds, provided it isn't Vakh infested."
"Hmmmmm.... that's good to hear. Seeing as I'm going to be in the away team every time, maybe you and me can work out a prioritized list of what the ship could use."
"Yes!" Onguk says with a slight smile. "You may prove to be useful after all." He ends it was a chuckle.
The pair arrive in the maneuver drive room. Onguk walks down the corridor between the two engines and stops midway. He places a paw on the housing for each drive and bows his head. Mazun keeps still and doesn't disturb him. He looks around at the drive and notes that it is similar to jump drive in maintenance and care.
After 30 seconds or so, Onguk continues on his way to the engineering station located between the two plasma collars.
Onguk turns to Mazun. "You can sit here if you like and monitor the readouts. I know that humans are very visual and rely on the sensors. I prefer to stand further back and rely on my own senses."
Mazun chuckles. "Yeah, we got clipped ears and dead noses. I'll stay by the station."
Darrurz is invited to the bridge. He's impressed that the place is clean. He reminds himself that, although this was a corsair's vessel back in his time, it now serves the Tagan Navy, and the military isn't slovenly like a pack of corsairs. He sniffs the air and catches the scents of Dathuel, Aru, Gunderson, and Captain Nokh—the latter being the most dominant.
"Darrurz," Captain Nokh says, "I know you were studying the Ueknou class in the flight simulator on our trip here. Do you wish to pilot the Aengkfaertoezthuedou out of the base and to the jump point?" He gestures to the seat, which has been vacated by Gunderson.
"Yes," Darrurz barks, and takes the pilot's chair.
He takes a moment to familiarize himself with the controls. They're apparently the same as the ones in the sim.
Gunderson says, "We've been given clearance to depart."
Nokh announces over the ship's comm, "We're leaving now."
Darrurz switches the main viewer to the overhead view and gently directs power to the thrusters. As the ship nears the airlock, it irises open to space. Darrurz deftly clears the opening and switches the main viewer to forward view. After checking the sensors for local traffic, he accelerates at 1G away from the base.
Gunderson and Nokh are talking with someone over the comm. Judging by their overlapping conversations, it's two separate people. Darrurz is too busy focusing on the task at hand to try and decipher them, but he suspects Gunderson is talking to Traffic Control. Nokh is definitely not.
Nokh finishes his conversation. Darrurz catches him saying, "Thank you, sir." Then he says, "Darrurz, we're headed to Gvunaeknun, which is the same size as Igodosakfell. Take us up to 3G until we're clear for safe jump distance, I don't want to be here all day. You'll still have two and a half hours to compute our jump there." He stands up. "And factor the jump for level two. I'll be in my quarters if anyone needs me." With that, he leaves the bridge.
Darrurz pulls up the details on Gvunaeknun and works the jump numbers for maximum velocity at safe jump distance factoring in the expected exit jump vector and velocity, and then he works them again, and then he works them again with the aid of the computer. He wants to make sure he's done the best he can.
Mazun stays aware of the engine performance readout during the trip out. He's pleased to see that the engines are performing as they should.
About 20 minutes before jump, Onguk informs him that he's going down-deck to monitor the jump drive.
"I'll join you. This time even I will be able to use my ears, nothing like the humming of a well-tuned J-drive."
"Then you'll appreciate this."
And Mazun does.
Safe jump distance
NPC: Captain Nokh Khoen, First Officer Gunderson, and crew
It's been a good week aboard Aengkfaertoezthuedou. The new crewmembers
have made inroads with the old crew.
Mazun appears to be winning over Onguk through his engineering knowledge and show of respect to the old dog. While he wouldn't mind getting to know the ship's doctor a bit more, the opportunity hasn't really presented itself. Arthur has been there to supervise Mazun's gun maintenance.
Arthur is picking up a few basic Gvegh words by hanging out with Joe and the gunners, Rrokoth and Doukhken. They seem to like having him around and often enlist him in space combat sim games. It helps him pick up combat chatter.
Joe has been sleeping well in jumpspace. He feels good being back among this crew. And the hum of this ship's engines puts him at ease.
Darrurz is adjusting. While Joe has been with this crew before and Mazun and Arthur are comrades in arms from his time period, Darrurz doesn't have the same connection as they do. Nokh takes meals with the crew but has kept to himself in his quarters. Aru and Dathuel are females and naturally pal around with one another. They're friendly to Darrurz, but haven't admitted him into their clique as of yet. Gunderson always checks in on Darrurz for a chat and makes sure that he doesn't dine alone. When he wakes from sleep, he often remembers a brief glimpse of running with a pack through fields with Llallaeknuez in the lead.
Nokh was pleased with Darrurz's piloting out from Igodosakfell, and so he's back at the helm. Gunderson has already cleared their approach with the local defense network so Darrurz has the engines decelerating at their maximum.
When Onguk calls up from Engineering to complain, Nokh answers, "A wolf needs to run from time to time. You would know that if you ever left your den." There's a glint in his eye that the Bridge crew can see, and they chuckle, knowing that Nokh is just having a little bit of fun with his Chief Engineer.
Everything on Darrurz's control panel indicates that Nokh is correct. He pushes the engines to maximum deceleration and they perform just fine.
Aengkfaertoezthuedou touches down at Gvunaeknun's starport. It's an open
landing field style downport—a rectangular block in the middle with two
concourse arms extending away in opposite directions. Each concourse has six
gates, marking the capacity at twelve ships. Two repair hangars extend in one
direction perpendicular to the concourses while a small vehicle parking lot and
a road to the capital city is in the opposite direction.
Not including Aengkfaertoezthuedou, the starport is half full. One ship is a Ueknou while the others are traders (1 Garu and 4 Ksodhu).
Nokh informs the crew that this is just a refueling stop. They'll have a slightly longer layover at their next stop, Llaedh. However, if anyone wants to disembark, they're free to wander the starport. Beyond that, they should clear it with either Gunderson or him.
Local weather conditions: sunny with mostly clear skies, but cold. Temperature: -8°C. Fortunately, one doesn't have to go outside to get into the starport.
Darrurz connects to the commercial network to see if there is any cargo or freight headed to Llaedh. After spotting some, he comms Nokh. "When I post the flight plan I'd like to ask the port Warden if we can help get anything to Llaedh for him. We've got space in the hold."
Nokh replies, "We're restricted in what we can carry, so don't be surprised if he says he's got nothing. But it's good that you thought about the needs of the Pack, Darrurz."
"Always. If we are on trade and diplomacy missions, what are we expected to trade with?"
"We have some things already, and we'll be picking up supplies at Llaedh. But remember, not everything tradeable fits in a cargo hold."
Meanwhile in Engineering, Mazun says to Onguk, "Onguk, care to see how the locals run the starport?"
Onguk grunts. "I've seen it. The cold makes my knees ache. I'm going to save my offship time for Llaedh. But, by all means go. It'll be good for you."
Mazun moves on to find someone else. He gets up to the crew lounge and finds Arthur and Joe there with the vargr gunners. "Joe! Arthur! Time to stretch!"
Joe looks up from his tablet. "Sure, I'll come. This will still be here when I get back."
"I'll go, too," Arthur says.
The vargr gunners aren't interested.
Mazun makes his way to the bridge. "Darrurz, interested in stretching your legs?"
"Yes!" Darrurz replies. "I have an errand to run to the port warden's office."
Something clicks in Mazun's head. "You know, I was thinking about getting a local coffee, but I realized that we still have no means to even pay for it? You'd think they would have given us an advance on first pay."
Gunderson, who is still on the bridge, can't help but overhear this and lets go of a sigh. He says to them, "We have your bank cards; they just haven't been activated yet. By the time we return from our mission, they'll be active. So I'll go with you and buy that coffee, ok?"
Mazun smiles. "I appreciate that! I would invite you to a coffee for that, if I could." He grins.
Gunderson returns the smile.
Gunderson comms Nokh to let him know that he'll be disembarking with the new recruits.
After grabbing coats and comms, the group leaves the ship.
NPC: First Officer Gunderson
Location: Gvunaeknun Downport
The main airlock is connected to a gantry arm thereby sparing the crew from
having to face the outside chill. The arm's access corridor is still chilly
though. Once they enter the downport terminal proper, they feel a rush of warm
The downport is in decent shape. There are a few spots where the decor is run down, not to mention a few cracks in the wall, but it's not in bad shape all things considered. The place is lightly crowded; the mix is 95% vargr - 5% human. They look like a mix of starship crews, downport personnel, and construction workers.
Gunderson leads the way towards the main terminal. Mazun is humming and grinning the whole time. At some point, as if remembering something, he catches hold of himself. Darrurz notes the place looks disheveled. He sniffs the air, taking in the scent of vargr and fresh plaster and lumber. Arthur looks around the place, still getting used to being on a vargr world in a non-adversarial role. Joe's looks like he's taking it all in.
Mazun has a look at the tech in an unobtrusive manner. He doesn't see any printouts and brochures lying around; it all appears to be electronic, as he would expect from a TL-A world. Most screens are working, a few show error messages or white noise. The construction workers are muscular, but not overweight. A few electricians can be spotted tending to wiring and embedded networks in the walls.
The first stop is at a coffee hut of some kind. Gunderson takes orders from his crew and gives them to the attendant. He pays for them and circulates the drinks around. The coffee is warm, a little strong, but not bad tasting.
"Gentlemen, welcome to Gvunaeknun," Gunderson says in Galactic. "It's not bad in the summer time, but the rest of the year, a bit too cold for me. But at least you can breathe the air."
Mazun says, "Thanks, and thanks for the coffee."
"Say, given the astrography I would have expected to see a bit more of traffic here. Are most ships making the Loudzaedze-Igodosakfell trip Jump-3?"
"No. Today is a bit slow—I'll grant you that—but there aren't all that many civilian ships, yet. And far fewer that have jump-3. The Pack has focused most of its efforts on Igodosakfell, even starships were used in-system and rarely left. Low population worlds like Gvunaeknun have been secondary. When you're talking about a world with a billion people versus one with six hundred thousand, it's no contest.
"The rebuilding to get Igodosakfell back to where we needed it to be has only been complete for a couple of years now. We've added seven worlds to the Pack over the last decade, and it's been a bit of a strain getting them the food, medicine, and infrastructure repairs they need. Security forces and relief agencies have the majority of the ships; there aren't many traders. But I expect Gunaeknun to become a major world as it's the last stop into—and first stop out of—Igodosakfell."
Joe asks, "How does the local population manage? Is there a lot of migration around the summer/winter cycle?"
Gunderson shrugs. "They seem to do just fine. It's 95% vargr. I have to imagine that all that fur keeps them warm to begin with. As for the human population, they just bundle up, I guess. I've heard that they eat a lot of meat. It provides them the fuel they need to stay warm."
Joe continues, "How badly has this world suffered from the Vakh?"
"Not bad at all. They're still tech level 10. It was really low pop before the Vakh, like less than a hundred people. Tight knit community of vargr and humans. When they heard about the Vakh and what it did, they shut down the starport and kept their EM signature as close to zero as possible. There's four gas giants in the system. I've been told that it was common for ships to bypass the starport and just skim them for fuel. We think the Vakh learned this behavior from their nav logs. So when we showed up, the place was intact, a bit run down," he gestures around, "but intact. What the Gvunaeknun needed from us was lots of temporary housing to accomodate all the refugees.
"Almost everyone you see around here now are refugees or their descendants. The people living here welcomed them in even though it meant that they would be vastly outnumbered. Didn't seem to care though. Newcomers seem to respect the original culture though. More worlds need to be like this one."
Darrurz pipes up, “Here is the place to start a merchant shipping line. It’s the head of a main, with the second highest tech level and a good starport. If Gvunaeknun can set up a manufacturing base it can sell into the lower tech systems down the main, and it can move freight down the main from Igodosakfell. It’s also better placed within the Pack from an astrology point on view. As low jump merchants get freed up from military service this is where I would base them.”
Gunderson nods. "I know the Pack wants that to happen." He takes a sip of his coffee. "The Captain's hoping that you'll put that nose for commerce to use on our forays into the Wilds." Once everyone has finished their coffee, Gunderson turns to Darrurz and says, "You mentioned that you have to go to the Warden's Office, right?"
"Ok, follow me." Gunderson leads the group to the administrative section. He flashes some military ID to a guard who waves the group on through. They proceed inside a lobby and have a seat while Gunderson talks to a receptionist. He gestures to Darrurz.
When he's done talking with her, he comes over to the group. "His office is too small for all of us. It'll just be me and Darrurz. You guys can wait here or walk around the downport or go back to the ship."
Mazun says, "OK, have fun. I'm gonna see if I can get to an observation platform. Joe, Arthur?"
Arthur replies, "Nah, I'm gonna stay here."
Joe replies, "Sure, I'll walk with you. I didn't leave the ship to sit on my butt here."
Mazun and Joe say goodbye to the others and leave the administrative section.
Characters: Darrurz and Arthur (Listening in with a translator on his
NPC: First Officer Gunderson, Starport Warden Uegallae
Location: Gvunaeknun Downport - Warden's Office
Gunderson and Darrurz enter the warden's office. He's an older wolf with lots of
gray in his coat. He sniffs the air as the pair approach.
Gunderson sniffs the air, more out of respect than ability to gauge scent. "Good morning, Warden Uegallae."
Warden Uegallae replies, "Good morning, Lieutenant Gunderson." He extends his paw for Gunderson to shake, which he does.
Gunderson says, "Allow me to introduce you to Darrurz. He's our new pilot and trader."
Warden Uegallae sniffs the air, "Well met, Darrurz."
Darrurz takes in the scent of the Warden and responds, "Well met."
As everyone takes a seat, Gunderson continues, "I'll turn the reason for our meeting over to Darrurz."
Darrurz says, "We're on our way to Llaedh and we've got space in the hold; do you need us to bring anything there for you?"
Warden Uegallae checks his monitor. "Not much. Most of the military and relief supplies don't hang around; the ships refuel and go. I've got some tents that are bound for Irkoetae by a wolf who dropped them off here on his way to Ongael. Llaedh will get them closer to where they need to be."
“Well we’d be happy to help them on the way. How much have you got? And is there anything else? Message traffic, mail reports, data? I’m told we’re restricted in what we can take, but we are an armed Pack Security Ship so if we can help we would like to.”
"It's only 10 tons for the tents. But since you asked, I'll take you up on your offer to carry the mail. There's only a few tons of that. Plus, some of these." He gets up from his desk and places his paw on a wall safe. It opens with a noticeable ka-chunk. He reaches in and pulls out a small lockbox. It measures 30 cm by 13 cm by 10 cm. "Give this to your Captain. He'll know what to do with it."
Darrurz takes the crystaliron box. "Tagan Pack Security" is etched into its lid. The locking mechanism appears to be a touchpad sensor.
Darrurz takes the crystaliron box from the Warden “Will do. Get your guys to ask for me when they arrive with the tents and I’ll sort out the loading.”
With that, the trio return to the ship.
Characters: Mazun and Joe
Location: Gvunaeknun Downport
Mazun and Joe leave the administrative section and enter the main terminal. The
exit is easy enough to find and the pair make their way outside. The cold air
slaps them in the face (-3°C), but it's clean and refreshing. The sun is
shining. Traffic, in the form of electric ground cars and trucks, makes its way
Mazun looks around for high ground but doesn't find any on the downport grounds. The place looks like it has been artificially leveled. In the distance there are snow and forest covered hills, mountains further out to the south, running east and west. The downport access road, which looks recently widened, leads out to an intersection. A 4-lane divided road runs parallel to the downport. It too looks fairly new.
The road straight ahead leads into "Old Gvunaeknun Town" from what he can make out on the sign. The terrain on either side of the road consists of tiny, snow-covered hills (1-10 m). Several buildings, both permanent and temporary, are visible about a km away. The ocean lies near the horizon.
"Refugee Camp" leads off to the left.
"Uevakoenllenkaerru City" is off to the right. Many newly constructed buildings, as well as many more under construction, rise up from the low lying hills.
Mazun points to the buildings a km away to the right and asks Joe, "Fancy a walk until those buildings and back? Just to stretch our legs and see how it all looks like." Mazun is just thinking to take a swift stroll (to keep warm) until the buildings, get a good look, and get back. Just "sniffing out the place."
Joe looks at his chrono. "We have plenty of time before ship lifts, and it's good to have sky overhead rather than ship panels. But we better keep the pace up if we don't want to freeze."
As they start walking, Joe pulls out his comlink, lets it find and connect to the local net, then dials the ship, requesting the deck officer of the day (DOOD). "This is Joe, and Mazun. We're taking a little walk. Report back soon."
A female vargr replies, "Acknowledged, Joe."
The pair maintain a brisk pace to help their bodies ignore the cold. A wide, and still reasonably new, concrete sidewalk runs parallel to the road. A steady stream of traffic, mostly supply trucks/lorries and mass transit buses, runs along the roadway.
As they near the city, it becomes evident that all of the construction is new, as if someone decided to build a city overnight (OOC: think China these last few years). On the other side of the road, a grid of twenty-story apartment buildings lays before them; the finished ones are closest to the starport while newer construction is further back. The former appear occupied as window treatments can be seen. Cranes swing to and fro on the latter. On this side of the road a manufacturing zone follows a similar pattern of completion, but with much lower and wider buildings. Railroad tracks are visible running from the manufacturing zone to the starport.
A large sign reads, "Uellkong A Uevakoenllenkaerru." Translated: "Welcome to (the) place where our new friends will live and work."
Both of them take in the scene for several minutes. Mazun suddenly checks his chronometer. "We should probably head back." And so they do.
NPC: Captain Nokh Khoen, First Officer Gunderson, and crew
Location: The Seeker of Prime Hunting Grounds (Aengkfaertoezthuedou)
Darrurz, Arthur, and Gunderson return to the ship.
Cargo arrives and is loaded.
Mazun and Joe return from their walk.
Nokh gives the order to prepare for departure.
Permission granted to leave the planet. Nokh orders a jump course set for Llaedh.
Next: Arrival at Llaedh