A Briefing on the TTF

Characters: All
NPC: Captain Nokh Khoen, First Officer Gunderson, and crew
Location: The Seeker of Prime Hunting Grounds (Aengkfaertoezthuedou)
System: Jumpspace between Llaedh and Guekha

1202.16.2 - 18:30 IST

Now that everyone has had a chance to review the reports on Unarsukhgnargvo and Korstsouth, Nokh has called a meeting to discuss them and the Tsougak Trade Federation.

"Before I begin," Nokh says, "does anyone have any questions about the reports?"

Mazun jumps at the chance. "Yes, I do." He rubs his forehead, then continues, "I'm still fuzzy about who signed the 'simple treaty' with us in Korstsouth. There are 14 independent islands. Did this 'welcoming party' speak for all of them? Does that mean that there is a world government in place? Honestly, it seems to me there might be an awful lot of tech and mineral resources for the Pack here, and we should not back off so easily. What is to prevent us from finding some 'friendly nations' and establishing a presence in the world to compete with the TTF?"

Nokh chuckles. "I expected Darrurz to play that angle." He pauses before answering. "The welcoming party was just that: a welcoming party. They were made up of some defense personnel. There is no world government. The survey team asked each of the 14 nations if they would meet to negotiate that opening treaty. Fortunately, there's a framework in place for just such a thing so each nation sent a delegation to the starport. It took a couple of days to put together, but in the end, it got done.

"If there are other nations present, they're either mangy curs gnawing on the bones of their dead cities, or they're on some submersible mining platform hiding from the others. Both will take a great investment of time which will only be possible if the 14 in charge allow us to stay.

"So don't think of it as backing off. We have our paw in the door. Pack Security will see about getting that door to open a bit wider, but they'll need our help.

"Our mission has changed from simple recon and contact to full on intelligence gathering. This ship will assess the strength of the TTF and gauge their attitude towards outsiders.

"If they're weak and hostile, the Pack will take an aggressive approach.

"If they're weak but friendly, the Pack will look to annex them. But the Pack will make it a sweet deal.

"If they're strong and friendly, the Pack will seek an alliance.

"If they're strong and hostile, then it's best the Pack knows that sooner rather than later.

"Regardless, the Pack Security leadership on Llaedh dispatched a courier to Igodosakfell informing them of what's been learned. Anticipating their reaction, the Pack will be annexing the three abandoned worlds of Ourrgkhuzugh, Guekha, and Khugz. Ships will be forwarded there to affirm our position. Reinforcements will establish bases of operation. Strategically, they'll be buffer worlds between the TTF and proper Pack worlds. Pack Security will also be place listening posts in both the Unarsukhgnargvo and Korstsouth systems.

"Any questions?"

There aren't any, so Nokh continues, "Based on the reports we have from Unarsukhgnargvo and Korstsouth, we're taking the approach that they'll be non-hostile. Regardless, we'll need to know how they stack up.

"Darrurz, as our mercantile specialist, I'd like you to prepare an argument outlining the benefits of trade with the Pack. I'll be relying on you to provide an honest assessment of Tsougak's economy and see where we can gain leverage.

"Arthur, whether or not they're friendly, I'd like you to assess their defenses. Get help from your crewmates if you hit any stumbling blocks like unfamiliar weapons or language.

"Mazun, I'd like you to scrutinize their tech. Obviously, we're all capable of recognizing what our eyes see, but I'll need you to sniff out what we can't see. For instance, we might see a fully armed space station, but you might pick out that it's a junk heap held together with duct tape.

"Joe," Nokh pauses before continuing, "if you notice or sense the presence of any Vakh, let us know."

Joe taps his head, then replies, "Assuredly."

"I realize we're two weeks out, but jumpspace travel is dull. You should all be familiar with the ship and its crew by now. It's time to prepare for your assignments. Use the ship's library. And if you need the assistance of any crewmembers, or even me, sniff us up.

"Any questions?"

Mazun asks, "Should we think about what we want them to see from us? I mean, probably the welcoming party will have a similar list of assignments for watching us. How do we want to appear, show off our best tech and weapons or keep some surprises up the sleeve? In any case, we might need to think over what we carry."

Without hesitation, Nokh says, "Strength. We vargr have a nasty habit of preying on weakness. But if you show off our best tech, it may inspire envy. You'll want to appear tough enough that anyone nipping at your tail is going to get bit. Once we have a snout to snout meeting, I hope to have more intel on just how strong we need to appear."

Joe moves to one of the displays and pulls up the local starcharts. "Captain, I do have one suggestion. I assume your intent is to arrive in Guekha, refuel and jump to Tsougak." Joe updates the star charts showing two hops one to Guekha and a second to Tsougak.

Joe pauses giving everyone a chance to absorb his drawing.

"Actually, no. But please continue."

Joe erases his marks on the starcharts and starts talking as he begins drawing again. "My thoughts are that since we now know the conditions at Korstsouth, we can achieve a tactical advantage by jumping here, refueling, and arriving in Tsougak with still 50% of our jump fuel available." The starcharts now show three hops: one to Guekha, one to Korstsouth, and a third to Tsougak. "This gives us the option to leave without performing re-fueling in the Tsougak system, and allows for further intelligence gathering at Korstsouth, before we arrive in Tsougak. Depending on how long we spend in the Korstsouth system this shouldn't delay our mission to Tsougak by no more than two days."

Joe looks up from the displays and to the assembled crew. "What do you think?"

Nokh smiles with a measure of pride. "I think you saved me the trouble of explaining. I was going to wait until we got to Guekha to inform everyone of the plan, but there's no harm in knowing that now. Thank you, Joe.

"Since we're talking about it now, I'll go on to say that I intend to hit the gas giant at Korstsouth rather than deal with any potential negative encounters or too many questions at Korstsouth. If the TTF has a ship there, they might ask us why we're there and where we're headed. And they could spoil the surprise by running home to warn their pack before we arrive. I don't want that.

"Tsougak only has one gas giant. If at all possible, I'd like to refuel there before heading in to the mainworld. But if we do encounter more trouble than we can handle at the gas giant, we can slip away to let Pack Security know what they can expect.

"Are we all on board with that plan?"

Everyone nods their heads or barks their assent.


Characters: All
NPC: Captain Nokh Khoen, First Officer Gunderson, and crew
Location: The Seeker of Prime Hunting Grounds (Aengkfaertoezthuedou)
System: Guekha

1202.17.2 - 13:00 IST

The week in jump was routine. Darrurz ran through piloting sims. Arthur and Joe exercised and trained with Rrokoth and Doukhken. They mixed it up to avoid boredom: gunnery sims, hand to hand sparring, various calisthenics. During his time alone, Joe got to know his new sword (after getting the captain's permission): how it feels, a sense of its weight, the sound it makes cutting the air. Later, he asked Arthur to be a spotter and offer him suggestions on his technique. With his complexion returned to normal, and the scars faded and hidden by a few weeks of hair growth, he starts to grow a beard, but keeps it well-groomed.

Mazun worked on improving his portable sensors in an effort to bump up their tech level by a decimal point or two, or at the very least make sure they're as good as new. He enlisted Onguk's help, who was pleased to offer his familiarity with vargr tech to him. By the end of the week, he has them feeding directly to a HUD visor. He plans on spending the next jump calibrating them.

And now the ship has entered the Guekha system around the outermost gas giant. The main world was abandoned before the Vakh found their way here; its inhabitants resettled on Gvunaeknun. But Nokh has said that the system will be annexed by the Pack and resettled to serve as a buffer world between it and the Tsougak Trade Federation. Pack Security ships—Nokh doesn't say how many—lie hidden in the system. To let them know they're friendly, Nokh instructs Darrurz to execute two barrel rolls to starboard followed by one backwards somersault with the ship. While this seems odd to Darrurz, Nokh explains that it's safer than broadcasting their presence over the radio. Once completed, the ship begins decelerating.

16:00 IST

Aengkfaertoezthuedou has completed decelerating and is now headed into the gas giant to skim for fuel. Not having skimmed fuel from a gas giant in...ages, Darrurz takes a cautious approach. Gas giant fuel skimming simulations were never a proper substitution for the real thing. Not liking the readouts he received from the sensors, Darrurz passes on the first few opportunities. Although no one has said anything, Darrurz imagines that the captain and crew must be wondering what's taking him so long. He spots a pocket that seems like it might be ok.

It's a rough go at first. There's more turbulence than expected. Down in engineering, Onguk swears up a storm. But Darrurz manages to align the ship with the laminar flows and it's smooth sailing from there. The tanks are filled, Darrurz lifts the ship away from the gas giant. He mutters his thanks to Llallaeknuez.

1202.17.3 - 0:00 IST

Now that the fuel has been purified and the ship is at safe jump distance, Nokh gives the order to jump to Korstsouth's gas giant.

Next: Arrival in the Korstsouth System