Everyone is in position as Miishakaal exits jumpspace. Even Gvarokh
has shown up for his next shift an hour early. The transition back to normal
space goes smoothly.
The first thing the bridge crew, the gunners, and anyone else patched in to the sensor feed, notices is that Theton is a busy place. There's alot of traffic and most of it is centered around a large, spherical facility (1.7 km diameter) in orbit above Theton. The computer immediately identifies it as Limii Orbital City. Other orbital cities pop up on the screen: Yocom, Thallon, and Calison. A multitude of naval vessels of all sizes move in and out and to and from them. Of course there's an equivalent amount of commercial vessels as well.
As you begin your approach to Limii, a pair of 400 ton system defense boats (SDB) swing into an intercept course with your ship. Sensors indicate that their power output is at maximum, telling you that their weapons are powered up and ready to go. They hail you, "Attention Miishakaal, this is lieutenant Barur of the Theton Defense Force. Please maintain your flight path to Limii."
Shiraamer replies, "Acknowledged."
One SDB pulls in front of Miishakaal while the other one takes position behind you. Like a couple of shepherds, they herd Miishakaal to join the rest of the flock. Shiraamer feels a bit claustrophobic flying in this formation but she soon adjusts.
As the trio of ships approaches the queue to enter Limii, the SDBs peel off.
Finally able to relax, Shiraamer passes the controls over to Gvarokh but remains
seated. Her work shift ended a couple hours ago but she felt that she should
see Miisha in.
Starport Traffic Control (STC) hails the ship and provides flight plan data to Miishakaal's navigation computer. The flight plan shows up on the main screen as a series of circles that Gvarokh must fly through. He has no problem flying Miisha through the course.
Miishakaal flies into the central access corridor along the route dictated by STC. Text appears on the main viewer designating what sections you're passing. Auxiliary Ports Alpha and Beta go past. And while they look more than adequate for ships your size, they pale in comparison compared to the Main Starport Bay. The doorway alone is 60 meters high and 100 meters wide. Once inside, instrument readings declare that there's a 130 meter clearance from floor to ceiling. Much of the light pouring into the bay enters through gigantic sections of the outer hull which have been rendered transparent.
The ship lands in the designated spot without a hitch.
"I'll thaw the popsicles," Chuck announces over the comm.
An automated voice suddenly broadcasts itself over the ship's comm, apparently STC rerouted communications without telling you. "Welcome to Limii Orbital Starport. A starport warden will be with you shortly. In the meantime, you can access passenger and cargo gantry arms via this voice menu or through a datalink with Starport Operations. You may also use this menu to order fuel, life support, waste management, or emergency assistance. You may even use this menu to schedule starship maintenance or repairs. Simply state 'Starport Operations Menu' at any time. Thank you and enjoy your stay at Limii Orbital Starport."
NPC: Chuck, Deputy Warden Warnette
Location: Miishakaal, docked at the Limii Starport
The captain and crew have gone off to bed. Chuck is still up though. He's
defrosting the low berth passengers and telling them what happened while they
slept. Fortunately, they didn't bring along much in the way of possessions. They
were so desperate to leave Sardia that all they have are their bank cards and
the clothes on their backs.
Gvarokh is about to get to work on ship tasks when his comm chimes.
"Hello, this is Deputy Warden Warnette. I'm here to do the inspection. May I come aboard?"
Gvarokh answers the comm link and says with a smirk, "Unless I read local time wrong, isn't it a bit late to be running inspections?"
"Not at all. Limii starport operates round the clock. Besides, it's standard procedure to inspect a ship as soon as it lands. What you do after that is your business."
Since he didn't take the hint, Gvarokh continues, "I will endeavor to get one of the gangways moved over to our airlock."
"I'll do it for you. Starboard or port?"
"Starboard it is."
The starboard gantry arm connects with the ship. As it does so, the automated voice returns, "Starboard gantry arm engaged." Once it connects the same voice announces the obvious.
While the arm is moving into position, Gvarokh sends a text message to the captain notifying her of what happened. He sets it to be delivered when her alarm clock goes off.
Gvarokh makes his way to the starboard personnel air lock and opens it for Deputy Warden Warnette. He's wearing a turquoise jumpsuit with a Ziru Sirkaa logo over the left side of his chest and his name tag stitched in on the right. He's also wearing a cap and comm set. He's carrying an electronic clipboard. Once through the air lock, Warnette smiles politely and shakes Gvarokh's paw. Gvarokh notices that his mustache is well trimmed, though some of the hair has gone gray. His keen sense of smell picks up the human's aftershave, cool ocean breeze.
"Welcome to Limii Starport. May I see your ship's log and cargo manifest, please."
Gvarokh whips out his hand comp and broadcasts them over to Deputy Warnette. He frowns. "Can we go to your cargo hold please." Gvarokh leads him to the cargo hold.
The frown is still there.
"Where's the rest of the cargo?"
"Okay. Got a police report to back that up?"
"Yes." Gvarokh sends him the police report.
After reading the report for a couple minutes, the frown leaves Warnette's face. He exhales a sigh, "Rotten run of luck. Inspector Khiikurshasekha certainly has his hands full over in Sardia."
Chuck passes by with the low passengers at this point. "They all check out, sir."
Gvarokh nods his acknowledgement and Chuck leads them out of the hold and to the air lock.
Warnette gestures towards Chuck and his group. "Passengers?"
"Ahhhh." He pauses, "Well, everything checks out." Warnette collects the docking fee. "Since this is your first visit to Limii, do you need any help with anything? Fuel? Repairs?"
Gvarokh says, "I don't think we need any repairs, but fuel would be good."
He watches as Warnette taps at his clipboard.
"Life support refurbishment?"
"Surrrrre. Also, they stole most of our supplies, parts, and toolkits. Can you recommend a good source for replacements?"
"I'm forbidden by policy to make recommendations. However, here's a list of the four equipment suppliers that have facilities here at the starport. Each of them is subject to an annual audit by the Starport Authority. If the SA feels that they're not conducting good business practices, they cancel their lease and someone on the waiting list gets a turn."
Gvarokh's hand comp registers receipt of the list. Gvarokh scans the names: Limii City Outfitters, Makhidkarun Equipment, Kilumuguum Enterprises, and Kunsinan Supply House.
"The fuel and life support tankers should be by in a short while. Is there anything else?"
"No. That should do it. Thank you."
"Ok then. Good drandir!" He smiles and departs through the airlock.
Gvarokh lets out a sigh and says, "Well, that went betterrrr than expected." He returns to the bridge to continue his tasks.
Once there, Gvarokh calls up the cargo recipients and, as expected since it's the sleep shift, gets answering machines. He leaves the appropriate messages and moves on.
On a whim, he decides to check the news feeds for "xenophobia", "offworlders" and "crime". He doesn't find too many instances of xenophobia. Obviously the local news media don't see Thetons as being xenophobic. TNS and TAS don't rate Theton as anything to be concerned about regarding xenophobia. Gvarokh compares this to the ratings for other worlds along their route. It seems that Sardia had an above average rating (harsher punishments for offworlders) and a high rating for Gishinridu (xenophobic religious cult).
The fuel truck shows up at this point and Gvarokh gives them the go ahead to fill Miishakaal's tanks. He cringes when he sees the price: 500 credits/ton for unrefined. Five times the going rate. Gvarokh's own paranoia stirs him to watch the refueling procedure through the ship's external monitors. The refueling guy doesn't do anything suspicious.
Normally, Slade monitors the fuel purification process. Gvarokh wouldn't know what to look for. He instructs the FPP to process at 10% of normal rate and to shut down if any errors come up. This will at least get the ball rolling and save some time, just in case the crew needs it.
Gvarokh decides that he should check the legal code. Sure the law level is rated at 3, but maybe that isn't the whole story. Sure enough, the penalties for criminal convictions are high. Most penalties are of a monetary nature. Pay a steep fine and you're ok. The death penalty is a common punishment for violent and political crimes (rape, murder, treason), but "hard labor at work camp" comes up for lesser crimes like "resisting arrest", "assaulting a police officer or government official", "bribery", and "espionage." Gvarokh isn't surprised to see that the crime rate is low.
And now the life support truck is here. Gvarokh decides to top off with that as well. "Might as well. If we have to run, we can always get fuel from a gas giant. Clean air, food, and water aren't as easy." These costs are higher too, but only by 12.5%. Gvarokh watches them as well as is relieved to see that nothing suspicious happens.
That takes care of everything. Normally Gvarokh would start looking for cargo but he wonders if he should even bother. "Might need to make a quick getaway and who knows if we should even go back the way we came."
Instead, he decides to take a nap at his post on the bridge. He sets all of the sensors, anti-hijack alarms, proximity alerts, and comms to "audible". He knows he won't sleep soundly, but any rest he can get now will mean less sleep he'll need later.
Location: Miishakaal bridge
Shiraamer fields two comm calls. Both are from the cargo recipients. She
routes the calls to Vlad and Simrii.
She then turns her attention to CargoNet. It's pretty active. There's cargo available for any possible destination in the surrounding area. So she decides to plan a route back to Larkarda first. She considers heading trailward along the coreward border of the Ziru Sirkaa and Lucan's Imperium, but it strikes her as too risky. The 17th Disjuncture and Voekhaeb Society are vargr states which invaded rimward at the outset of the war. She worries that Miisha will be attacked. She's not so sure that her luck will hold out in a second corsair attack.
Instead, she chooses to head spinward and then rimward before heading back trailward towards Larkarda. This will take them a little deeper into the Ziru Sirkaa, but Shiraamer would rather take her chances with bureaucrats than pirates.
She scans the library database for info on Akkunat, Shishaldin, Goobsfol, Naalkin, Kalanuu, and Vakada.
As Shiraamer finishes reading up on the last world, an email comes in from Lakir
addressed to the whole ship. It contains maps as well as three different
roundtrip routes to the bar and back. A brief note states, "Somethin' to
consider when we go meet Oda."
She briefly reviews the material, intending to study it further later. She also leaves a note for Gvarokh to meet with her to discuss the route back when he wakes up.
Shiraamer then writes out an email to the crew asking them for a list of recommendations for ship upgrades. "Hey guys. When you get a chance please send me a list of upgrades that you think Miisha could use. Thanks!"
She turns her attention to CargoNet, looking to see what cargoes are available to haul to Akkunat and Shishaldin.
|15 tons of raw crystals
15 tons of protective gear
15 tons of liquid nitrogen
14 tons of non-ferrous ore
10 tons of non-metallic ore
9 tons of steel
7 tons of electronic parts
6 tons of bank records
|16 tons of non-metallic ore
15 tons of steel
13 tons of liquid nitrogen
13 tons of protective gear
12 tons of clothing
11 tons of robots
11 tons of raw crystals
11 tons of aluminum
9 tons of radioactive isotopes
7 tons of electronic parts
5 tons of data crystals (mining data)
5 tons of data crystals (government records)
4 ton sculpture
3 tons of data crystals (financial records)
1 ton of robotics software
1 ton of financial software
Location: Lakir's stateroom on the Miishakaal
Lakir bolts awake with the sound of his alarm clock. The ship's computer
informs him that he has two messages. "Play first message," he orders.
It's from Gvarokh and the time stamp is from a couple hours ago, "Lakir, don't worry about the cargo. I've got Vlad and Simrii on it. I understand from the captain that you've got other things planned for today. Good luck."
The second message is from the captain. Although the time stamp is older, it was set to be delivered for now. "Lakir, the name of the bar is Igakhum's. With a name like that, it's obviously a Vilani bar. Let me know what you find out."
After a quick shower and some rations warmed up in the galley, Lakir gets to work on his "to do" list. He uses his PDA turned hand comp to connect with the city's infonet.
In no time at all, he finds Igakhum's bar. It's located in the "Startown" section of the city, only five levels up from the main starport bay that the ship is parked at. The place has a upper-middle class look to it judging by the photos on the netsite. The average review of the place is a 4.31 out of 5. They serve standard Vilani fare. No layout of the place is available, but one can infer that there's a service entrance judging by the street name listed ("Service Corridor B27-K56").
Getting to the place looks easy enough. One can drive their own vehicle along the main streets, provided that it's registered with the city (an annual fee of 100 credits), it meets the city's emissions standards, and doesn't fly. Grav vehicles aren't allowed outside of the hangar bays due to the narrow confines of the city's streets. Public transportation is available. Subway pods (small quasi-independent rail cars), buses, and elevators and plain old stairs can be used. There are also taxi services.
There are also electric vehicles for rent. 100 credits/day seems to be common. Cheaper if you forego insurance, you're a native, or you're a repeat customer in good standing. Drop off lots are at the starport.
Lakir plans three routes from the ship to the bar and back: one along the outer edge of the sphere, one direct, and one that heads towards the central access corridor. He's unable to find any public netcam views, but suspects that they're there. "Maybe something to get Vincent to look into," he says to himself.
The city map says that the adjacent buildings around Igakhum's are diverse. An office supply store and an interior redesign consultancy are it's neighbors. The building immediately behind it, which shares its service corridor is a restaurant.
Service Corridor B27-K56 runs from the central access corridor out to the outer wall. Like any old back alley in any city elsewhere, it is accessible from the streets which run perpendicular to it.
Lakir is sure to download the map to his supercharged PDA, though he makes it a point to memorize his access routes to make decisions quicker. He then puts the maps and routes to the bar into an email and sends it out to the captain and the crew. He adds a brief note, "Somethin' to consider when we go meet Oda."
A search in the news domain for "Oda Linnachre" comes up empty.
A search in the public directory for "Oda Linnachre" turns up a "general address" of one level below the bar. However, her exact block, building, and apartment number, along with her comm number, are "unlisted for privacy."
A search in the news and public directory for "Linnachre" turns up "Dyce and Anne Linnachre" in the public directory. Their general address is listed as "Level D4" in the Suburbs section of the city, but once again their exact block, building, and apartment number, along with their comm number, are "unlisted for privacy."
Unsatisfied with these results, he shoots off an email to Vincent to dig up more info on the Linnachre's. He also asks him if he can access the local 'cams, as well as a hack for the floor plan of Igakhum's establishment.
Vincent emails back, "Hell yeah! I'll do it."
A search for weapons regulations comes up the following:
Lakir searches further, specifically for his Strausse/Markam gauss pistol.
A search for crossing extraterritorial lines comes up with the following:
A search for "customs procedures for state and corporate secrets to cross extraterritorial borders" comes up with:
An email comes in from Vincent. "I've got the addresses and comm numbers.
I've also found a way into the security camera grid. There's a cam pretty close
to the bar that I can access when you guys go to meet Oda. Gonna snoop around
gov't sites to see what else I can dig up."
Lakir replies, "Thanks Vince. Just be careful around those gov sites. This RVE gives me the creeps. Any cams with a shot of our targets... er... contact's residence, or that alternate Linnachre residence, and any chance to get a sneak peek ahead of time, or is that tempting fate?"
Vincent replies, "Once I'm done with the gov'n search I'll see if I can locate their residence... but I want to leave that last just in case something happens and I get severed from the net..."
Lakir then plots three routes to both of the locations, using different 'level' access routes. He checks the building types to either side, across, and behind each location from the local street map base.
Dyce and Anne's apartment is nestled among clusters of other apartment buildings. Fire escapes face the street. There is no back alley.
Oda's apartment is in the midst of a block that's all apartments. The layout of the level her apartment is on is identical to that of Igakhum's. The service corridor that runs behind her apartment building is B28-K61.
Lakir puts together a quick brief for the Cap'n, with the info gained to date, and emails her it to her.
A quick check of the duty roster shows that he doesn't have any work assigned. So he heads to the galley to grab a quick bite.
Next: Vincent's Discovery