The War has made life difficult for everyone, let alone independent adventurers such as yourselves. Merchanting has grown more speculative. Worlds can change hands so quickly, that a cargo originally worth a fortune can become worthless ballast practically overnight. Even when one happens upon the proverbial "sure thing", it's odds on that you'll run into some sort of trouble along the way. Between Lucan, the Vilani, and the Vargr, all of whom are shooting at each other, it's even money as to who is going to intercept your ship and confiscate your cargo as contraband. In fact you're bloody lucky if they don't seize your ship too, or vaporize it with you aboard.
NPC: Jum Tixem
Location: Larkarda Starport (Lishun 0712)
1125.6.4 - 15:00 / 13:30 local time (18 1/2 hr day)
You've just finished delivering a load of consumable goods to Larkarda. Unfortunately, the deal was less than satisfactory. After paying berthing costs, refueling, refurbishing your air supply, and stocking up on food and water the ship is down to 39,411 credits.
With morale low, Captain Shiraamer decides that the crew should get off ship for a while, "Ok everyone. Let's go grab a beer down at The Bridge and see if we can figure out where to go from here."
The Bridge is the name of a bar at the starport. It's a typical dive that the crew frequents regularly when on Larkarda. They know the bartender quite well.
Everyone but Slade and Vincent puts on their cloth armor. Lakir and Simrii also put on their utility vests.
The captain grabs a snub pistol loaded with tranq ammo.
Gvarokh grabs his hand comp.
Slade grabs his auto pistol and his ammo.
Vladgorkfeg grabs his sword, PDA, and comm.
Chuck grabs his shotgun and all his ammo. He puts a dagger in his boots and straps his 3 throwing knives to a belt behind his back.
Lakir straps on his Gauss pistol and holster along with 4 clips. He puts his plastic knife in the small of his back. He grabs a comm, his PDA, a microlight, his language translator, and his Intrusion Kit and places them all in his vest. He straps his pocket combo onto his belt. He looks rather bulky.
Simrii grabs a comm and a dagger.
Vincent puts on a smile.
The group walks through the busy starport passing several street and shop vendors along the way. A couple of them recognize you and wave. Except for this last delivery, things have generally gone well for you on Larkarda.
You enter The Bridge and notice your favorite bartender, Jum Tixem, is working. In fact, he always seems to be there. He waves from behind the bar and says, "I'll be right over."
You sit down at the bar's largest table, which holds eight. One person at each end and three a side. It's towards the back of the room and runs perpendicular to the bar. Shiraamer sits in the middle with her back to the bar. Gvarokh is on her right. Slade is on her left. Vlad sits at one end, with the bar on his left while Vincent takes the other end. Facing the bar, from left to right, are Chuck, Lakir, and Simrii.
No one else is in this section of the bar. The place is about 1/3 full with most people occupying the bar stools. Jum comes over with two pitchers of Larkarda Lager and 8 pint glasses.
Jum: "Ahhhhh the crew of the Miishakaal. How are you? Good? I'll start your tab."
Shiraamer: "Jum! It's always good to see you. Just unwinding after finishing up our last deliveries and before looking for another. How have you been?"
Jum: "Ahhh, the lovely Miss Siirkasaare," Jum takes Shiraamer's hand and kisses it quickly. It is nothing long and drawn out, merely a quick peck to appear gentlemanly. "I am good. What may I get you?"
Shiraamer: "Coffee please."
Jum: "Yes, right away."
Gvarokh: "Thank you Jum."
Jum: "You are most welcome Mr. Gvarokh."
Chuck: "So, Jum... anything interesting happening of late? DO you know of anyone needing transport or perhaps some cargo that needs moving from here to yonder..." and glances upwards.
Jum shrugs, "Sorry Mr. Strider but I do not." He returns to the bar.
Simrii is a tall and muscular man of obvious mixed heritage, Vilani and you're not really sure just what. His face is long and thin with a well defined jaw line and eerie pale grey eyes. He keeps his head shaved bare and the reason is fairly obvious, on the days he's let some stubble appear his forehead has advanced well beyond the top of his skull and is attempting an encircling maneuver on a small patch of hair near the front. Since baldness is curable at high enough tech levels, this is obviously a personal choice.
He is dressed in well worn grey and black camo'd cargo pants, clearly military issue; battered high top trainers that were probably white at one time, a black and grey duty jacket that at one time had unit and rank insignias on the shoulders and his utility vest. The black sheen of his cloth body armor is clearly visible underneath the jacket.
Simrii walks quietly up to the bar and sits down. He talks to Jum for a couple of minutes before returning.
After Simrii returns, Chuck leans across the table. He says in a low voice, "Cap'n, a bit disappointing about the ship's..ah.. financial status. I'm sure you'll pull us out of it!" He smiles.
She quickly replies, "Of course we'll pull out of it. We haven't made it this far to let one deal that wasn't as good as we hoped stop us. Keep your ears open for anything that might sound promising. But don't let it spoil your drink."
Jum returns with Shiiramer's coffee and tea for Simrii.
Shiiramer: "Thank you Jum."
He smiles and returns to the bar.
Shiiramer takes a drink from her coffee. After giving a sigh of pleasure she looks everybody in the eye and raise her cup to toast her crew, "The future is not ours to know, and it may never be, so let us live and give our best and give it lavishly! There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be. You're more than just a crew, you're my friends as well so I raise this toast to you, my crew, who makes it possible for me to carry out a promise and a dream. To the best crew Miisha and I've yet seen." She smiles and raises the glass and takes a long drink.
Chuck: "Here Here! To the best crew I've served with!"
Everyone takes a hearty swig from their glass.
Simrii takes a drink of his tea and looks about at his companions, "Money isn't everything my friends," he takes another sip, "in this day and age it's the only thing."
He grins a little, raises his mug and says in a quite voice. "To the leaders of our glorious Imperium, may they all die hideous deaths for getting us into this bloody mess."
Chuck: "So cap'n, what type of coffee do you like? I ask because in my time in the service, I discovered it wasn't the Command Crew that ran the ship, it was how good the coffee was." He smiles, showing a bit too many teeth. "I assure you, once you start gettin' me coffee, it'll be a habit that will never tire." With a wink he adds, "Can't have the Cap'n half-awake when she's issuing orders."
Shiraamer replies, "I have a preference for good coffee each morning, which is not to say necessarily strong coffee. I also enjoy wine, silk, soft leather, and whipped cream. I usually looks for stuff on menus that I can put whipped cream on." She smiles saucily, "So if you are going to spoil me, just thought you should do it proper."
Chuck checks himself for his PDA, "Gotta keep it straight in me 'ead. I think I might have some ideas on what to put some whip cream on." He realizes he left it on the ship. "I'll...er.. make a list. I know this fellow that is friends with a purveyor of fine delicacies. I'll look him up next time we're there. They make the most heavenly cream that, once it reaches body temperature of Humans, it changes into...what did he call it... ah! a 'Rainbow of Flavours that rivals most other pleasures'" He smiles again, flashing his pearly whites.
Shiraamer's mouth opens and a small exhale escapes. Her eyes get larger for a bit as her mind races with the thought of whipped cream that rivals "most other pleasures." She recovers as quickly as she can but it's obvious that this certainly intrigues her.
Lakir hunkers down into his "bulk" as if trying to become invisible. He surveys the patrons at the bar over his raised pint glass, with a muttered "eye eye eye". A quick glance at Jum at the bar and return to a survey of the bar stool patrons. He makes a note of the back door to his left and back.
Seeing that he has the captain's attention, Chuck continues with his inquiry, hoping that he'll be able to remember this later. "Any preference on Wine? Red? White? The more aged the better, I presume. I know this other fella, that is cousins of someone who works in the Restaurant at a TAS. They have some of the better wines. I'll make a note to look him up, too."
Shiraamer just chuckles and sips her coffee while she looks around the room.
Vincent rolls his eyes and drinks his beer. Slade just drinks his beer.
Simrii shakes his head, "Chuck," he says taking another sip of his tea, "you have got to be the biggest kiss up I've ever seen. God bless you for restoring my faith in humanity and the chain of command." He laughs a moment, Simrii has always worked in a military style chain of command and there are times when doing things the civilian way seems incredibly humorous.
Gvarokh: "Coffee can make you a lap dog. Performance makes you a wolf."
Vladgorkfeg finishes off his current pint and doesn't quite slam it down on the table, "Yes!" He calls out to Jum, "Jum! A menu please! My shipmates are starting to look tasty!"
Gvarokh laughs heartily.
Jum waves from the bar to acknowledge Vladgorkfeg.
Simrii leans across the table, "I had a little chat with Jum, looks like three more of the locals have vanished in the last month or so, he couldn't recall the names of two of them but Always Monday was the other one."
Simrii shakes his head and takes a drink of his tea, "Corsairs are going wild in the Corridor, the Vilani and the Imps are losing merchant ships like mad and both sides are blaming the other, but neither is taking responsibility. It's a black time that's for sure."
Jum arrives at the table with menus for everyone, "Here you go sir."
Chuck waves Jum over to him, "I'd like to buy a few bottles of some nice wine – not the House stuff. Wrap them up and I'll pay with my bankcard. Take a few extra credits off the card for your troubles... Oh, and if you can find some 'whip cream', I’d be forever in your debt..."
Jum: "I'll see what I can do Mr. Strider." He heads back to the bar.
Chuck checks his shotgun – loads it with some Tranq rounds, but he keeps the pellets and the gas shells handy.
Jum calls out from the bar loud enough so that everyone in the place can hear, "Mr. Strider. While I allow my customers to carry their weapons in my bar, I would appreciate it if you kept your shotgun holstered. It makes everyone uneasy."
The entire bar is now looking at Chuck.
Gvarokh shakes his head with disapproval and says, "Sharpen your claws in your den, not in public. Are you looking for a fight?"
Simrii covers his eyes with a hand and shakes his head, "For crying out loud man did you leave your manners back on the ship? Just because it's legal to pack doesn't mean you have to."
Captain Shiaamer shakes her head and stares at Chuck. Speaking up so that everybody can hear her, she comments "And he wonders why people say he needs to work on his social skills more! JUM! The next round's on me and Chuck!"
"There is not enough beer on this planet Cap'n." Simrii just grins and shakes his head.
Chuck says low enough just so the table can hear him, Well, at least they know we're packing."
Vincent: "Relax... no need to advertise us packin.'"
Lakir gets up from the table and heads towards the bar.
Chuck then places his shotgun back in its holster across his back. In a loud voice he says, "Just the thought of the Emperor being killed - by a Noble! It makes my blood boil!"
"Oh ya, that'll make it all go away." Simrii chuckles a little. "Got what they bloody deserved if you ask me," Simrii says taking a sip of his tea, "shame they had to drag the rest of us down with them."
Slade stares long and hard at Chuck, as if he were a LIC in need of degaussing.
Chuck starts to scope the room while drinking his beer.
Private Threads: Gvarokh and Vladgorkfeg detect a musk, Tea at the Bar, Was That a Growl?, Over the Rim of the Pint Glass.
NEXT: Opportunity Knocks