Characters: Slade & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal crew lounge, parked at the Limii Starport
The meeting has just ended. Chuck informs Gvarokh that he's on his way out to
buy some gear. Gvarokh joins him. Vlad asks
Vincent for help with gathering intel on the prison camp and the two depart,
presumably towards Vincent's room. Lakir heads up the
lift alone. Slade and Simrii resume the discussion about building a secret
storage compartment in the cargo hold.
Slade states, "On further consideration, a standard laser measure and a comparison with the freely-available deck plan for this ship type is going to raise flags, but for those curious people who don't have access to that, we'd probably want to adjust our own internal blueprints and goof the timestamp and digital certificate of the file to make it look like it came from the factory that way, some kind of weird custom deckplan. We can mark the ship length shorter, or make the adjacent rooms look longer than they are by a cumulative amount. I'm not experienced at this. So anybody here with a drafting background would be handy, and then maybe we hack the filesystem.
"I'm no expert but I think any competent pirate will be onto it in microseconds, and it might not stand more than a cursory inspection from a smart official. This trick is from the days when ships were made out of wood, sealed against leaks with pitch, and floated on oceans. It probably started with wooden wagons.
"If we do it, we should order all the raw plate from one place, any welding/finishing supplies from another, and the hinges/locking fixtures from a third place. Gotta figure out where the access should be, too. Making a large top secret inviso-door right from the hold, no cracks visible, might be out of our expertise and beyond our tooling. Especially if you want it pressure-tight. Doing it from a closet or locker adjacent to the hold is easier to conceal, but it makes the access hole much smaller.
"In short, I'm not sure I continue to like this idea."
Simrii mulls over what Slade says then counters, "I'm just a ground pounder and I don't claim to know much about starships but it occurs to me that there are plenty of places you could hide some cargo without altering anything in a major way." He says with a smile.
"Plus, your average pirate isn't going to be bringing a laser level and volumetric calculator with them for a simple smash and grab. Now a dedicated inspection from the Imps or Ziru might be another story but even there we've got ways to work about them."
The tall man rubs his chin and points towards the cargo hold. "We're adding in a collapsible fuel bladder, are we going to go with a moving wall system against the aft wall? Something that keeps the bladder behind a solid surface that slides in and out on rails to keep our area cargo area as clean as possible or are we going with a big ziploc bag of fuel we're going to lay on the floor here? If we're going with a collapsible wall, hide the hold behind the fuel bladder and make the entrance from engineering. Alternatively," Simrii bangs on the rear bulkhead of the lounge, "no one's going to miss four or five tons of fuel tankage. Particularly, if we make the bladder just that little extra bit larger to compensate for a cargo hold hidden in the fuel tank."
Slade replies, "I'm primarily an engine man myself, but squeezing a bladder between sliding walls not only sounds complicated, it sounds like we might get pinching problems and all kinds of stuff, unless the bladder was made to do that. Synchronizing the four rails would be difficult without specialized stepper actuators and a system to monitor all four for binding. Also, monitoring the bladder space to adjust it would be a bitch, because it'd be dark in there with no room for sticking your head in. Cameras might work.
"That said, the bladder does need to be secured. I suspect that's normally done with G-rated semi-flexible support netting.
"My guess is putting the access to the hidden cargo area behind a hinged wall storage unit in an adjacent cubicle, and sealing the cargo side up shiptight is probably the easiest and most sturdy from a tamper point of view.
"My only point was that hiding crap in hidden compartments, including the fuel tanks, is as old as time. Finding these things is not rocket science, cargo inspectors do it every day. It might serve to protect against a smash and grab, but I don't have a good feel for how well it'd do for our day-to-day. Plus even if we're not running contraband, if it gets spotted we're gonna get red-flagged just for running it empty. There's regulations about this stuff, no?
"It's not my call. I don't have the expertise in running contraband. I'll do my best to cooperate in drawing up a materials list when we decide what to do. I'm out of my league here, really."
Simrii replies, "I don't think the captain really wants us to have a proper contraband hold, if she did I think we'd be looking at something we can't get into while the ship is in flight. Something in hidden on the outer surface, in hollows in the structure, or under the power plant and engines. We're just looking for something that, in a pinch, we can turf one or five tons of really valuable cargo into if we're about to get boarded again."
He thinks a moment, "As for the regulations, you'd have to look those up but as long as there's nothing in the hold there's nothing an inspector can do about it."
Slade nods his head, "Ok, then."
The conversation is over. Slade gets up, grabs some coffee and comms Gvarokh.
Simrii heads back to his room.
Characters: Vincent and Vladgorkfeg
The meeting has just concluded, the captain storming off to the bridge. Vincent was about to listen to Slade and Simrii debate the procurement of the fuel bladder and the secret compartment, when he's approached by Vlad.
"Vincent," Vlad barks, "I need your help with some silicon recon."
It takes a moment for Vincent to figure out what Vlad's talking about. "Oh, sure! Let's go to my room."
Once there, Vlad asks Vincent, "Now that we're away from the rest of the chatterrrring monkeys, tell me what you found."
"I found this on the Makhidkarun Intelligence Agency's internal network."
Vincent turns his laptop screen around for Vlad to see.
As Vlad reads it, Vincent continues, "I found the coordinates of the prison camp that Dyce's family is being held at, but there wasn't any other info on this part of Makhidkarun's network. I tried hacking the prison's network but I couldn't get in. I'm going to do some cryptography research later and see if I can give it another shot."
"Do you know anything else about the prison camp?"
"Well, it's a secret prison. Makhidkarun doesn't want people to know about it. It's on an island in the middle of a corrosive sea and Theton's atmosphere requires people to wear vacc suits if they want to go outside. So, it's not exactly a vacation spot."
Vlad growls, "What I wouldn't give for some combat armor."
Vincent replies, "Once I try getting blueprints to the prison, I'll keep you updated as quickly as possible. Do you have a handheld device that I can upload maps in case I find any that might help on the mission?"
"Yes!" Vlad waves his PDA.
"I'm going to try and hack the camera security grid again to see if I can get a view of the prison. If not, then we'll be blind going in. Any thoughts as to how the rescue operation is going to take place?"
"I was thinking of having 2 teams on this. One would create a diversion and the other would attempt the rescue. I originally wanted to do this at the same time as the meeting, just in case our contact is being followed, which at this point I'd like to assume. I am just a little nervous when it comes to messing around with a government. They tend not to be nice guys if you piss them off. It's going to be nearly impossible to rescue them if the government is on to us. Anyway, if we can make some homemade explosive devices, we can have one team create a diversion while the other goes in and tries to rescue them. I was thinking we could raid the local stores for components that make up explosives, like agricultural chemicals or whatever. What were your thoughts on the rescue?"
"I'm trying not to think about it. When you get me maps of the prison, then I'll think about it. No maps. No rescue." He pauses, "One question, is there any legit reason a non-citizen might go to this island?"
"Not that I can think of. The prison is the only thing on the island."
Vlad's comm buzzes, indicating that he has an email. He routes it to his PDA. It's from Lakir:
"Couple of items to consider for the strike, if we do it. You can maximize the ship's firepower, with Vincent doin' target acquisition for Simrii in the turrets, slaved if we can. I ain't a trained FOO, but I been there before.
The ground team will have to watch the timings, whether we go slow and stealthy, or hot and fast. That corrosive atmo is goin' ta be brutal on us and the kit, the longer we're exposed. None of us left for the surface component have all that much experience with the Suit's, so that's goin' ta slow us down even more, we go that route.
If the Capn' wants ta' run a snatch op, we gotta get a pattern happen' ta cross the starport line, else we ain't goin' ta get her onta' the ship without a fuss. We got no idea what movin back and forth cross their Line is like he, so we better start movin' on a pattern, if that's the way we want to go.
The extract from the system could be problematic, if we leave under fire, you saw how fast they were onto us when we hit system, we ain't got the legs, and we sure as hell ain't got the firepower, to make a hot run for it.
If we go hot on the Camp, Vincent better make sure he can take down comms from the locale, else we ain't gettin far. Same as if we do a snatchn' run, Oda starts screamin' we're toast before we can launch."
Vlad growls, "Do we really need to do this? We're just asking to get ourselves killed here."
Vincent attempts to placate Vlad, "I can understand your aversion to the whole rescue operation, but the whole reason we're out here is to pick up our contact. If that means we have to rescue her family because she's involved in some sort of governmental espionage... then I guess we'll have to."
Vlad's expression of disapproval hasn't changed.
Vincent continues, "We should concentrate on how to knock out their communications and try and get some blue prints of the facility. This is an ugly situation, granted but I think we are battle hardened and this should be no different than any other type of operation we've done. My thoughts are, 1) knock out communication, 2) create a diversion on the island that draws attention away from the rescue team and 3) get the family and get the hell outta here... we've flown underwater before... we just need to get everything in order before it starts... cause once it does I don't think we'll even have time to pee."
Vlad grunts. "You're delusional pinkie. This group," he gestures wildly with his arms, "isn't 'battle hardened.' They've never seen battle as a group, and a couple members haven't experienced anything other than a couple shootouts. And this group has NEVER done any sort of 'operation' whatsoever. Lakir, Simrii, and I are the only ones with any sort of heavy ground combat experience this operation will require."
He continues, baring his teeth, "We certainly don't have the speed or firepower necessary to just blast our way in and out, which only leaves stealth. Which means we must disable all the comm equipment and any gunships that may be there as well. It's only going to take one functional comm unit to bring down all hell on us and we lack the engines to make a good run for it. We'll be easy prey."
He heads towards the door, "Let me know when you've got some information about the prison camp. I'll be in my room." And he leaves.
Vincent shrugs it off. "Better get that bladder install set up."
He contacts the Starport Authority through his laptop and maneuvers his way to Services and then to New Installations. He then connects with a representative who asks him what he's looking for. He explains that his captain wants a 40-ton fuel bladder and that the ship is an unmodified Garu class far trader.
The CSR comes back with a price of 60,000 credits (as expected) and that includes installation, which can happen as soon as the next work shift (12 1/2 hours from now) if that's ok.
Vincent lets them know it's ok, then forwards the information on to the captain. He then turns his attention towards his cryptography studies to come up with a new approach for the prison on the planet.
Location: Limii Starport
The meeting has just concluded, the captain storming off to the bridge. Gvarokh decides that he wants to be anywhere but there right now.
Chuck approaches him. "Hey Gvarokh. If you don't mind, I'm gonna disembark and see if I can scare up a new medkit and a shotgun."
Sensing an opportunity to get away from the ship for a while, Gvarokh pounces. "I'll go with you. I've got a list of equipment that needs replacing and my legs need some stretching."
Simrii and Slade have begun debating fuel bladders and secret compartments.
Chuck tilts his head towards the pair, "Don't you want to stay and hear what these guys come up with?"
Gvarokh glances at them. "Rrrrr, I'll get the Cliff Notes' version laterrr."
Chuck smiles, "Yes, sir."
The two leave the ship.
"Where to first?" Chuck asks.
Gvarokh glances at his handcomp. "Let's try Kunsinan Supply House. Since we're looking for supplies, that one sounds more fun than the others and a little more generic too. Hey, when all you got is a name to go on, have fun with it." He smiles.
Chuck returns it. "Lead on, sir."
Since the supply house is in walking distance, the two stick to the main public corridors.
Gvarokh notes that the space station smells well maintained. Some space stations, like starships, can build up a real onerous monkey stink. He's relieved that Limii doesn't smell that way. He hasn't had an opportunity to breathe fresh air in a while and Limii is the closest thing to it. His one complaint is a bit of ammonia lingering in the air. "Probably the main cleaner they use around here," he thinks.
A comm call comes in from Slade. "Go ahead, Slade."
"Hey Gvarokh. In order for me to figure out what we're gonna need for that secret cargo compartment, I need to know what the dimensions are going to be, where the door's going to go, how big it should be, and if it should be totally concealed. I don't want to dick with the chain of command so I figured I'd relay this to you."
"Slade, you've been on the ship almost as long as me. It's perfectly fine for you to go straight to the captain on this one. This way you can keep at the captain until all of your questions are answered. I do appreciate you conferring with me first though."
Slade sighs. "Ok, Gvarokh. Thanks." Though Gvarokh thinks he doesn't mean it.
The duo arrive at Kunsinan Supply House. Gvarokh uses his handcomp to interface with the store's map. He barks, "medkits", and a highlighted path appears on his screen, guiding him to the section.
Once there, Chuck sighs, "Well, I'd rather have had something a couple tech levels higher but I guess we gotta make do with what's available. How much do you think the captain's willing to spend on a med kit? Do you think she'd pop for a scanner too?"
Gvarokh takes a look at the prices. The medkits range from $1000 for the basic kit up to $5000 for the deluxe pack. Scanners are pricier, ranging from $5,000 up to $40,000.
"Offpaw, I'm not sure. What are we looking at for contents of those kits? And what's up with the big price range on the med scanners?"
"Well, the basic kit's got what you'd find in a first aid kit plus, syringes, surgical supplies, a few basic diagnostic tools: thermometer, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, sphygmomanometer..."
"Sorry, blood pressure gauge. But you get the idea. Basic tools of the trade. There's also a limited complement of drugs: antitoxins, antibiotics, radiation sickness, medical slow, burn ointments. You get the idea. The other kits just have more drugs and a couple other tools, like an ultrasound scanner.
"As for the med scanners, they're just all-in-one diagnostic tools. The more expensive models have diagnostic software that takes the person's vitals and tells the user what's the patient's got: syphilis, pneumonia, dendric plague, or whatever."
"Ok, let me see how the other places are on price." Gvarokh does a price check at the other stores and discovers it's a wash. Makhidkarun Equipment runs 3% more on everything. Limii City Outfitters is 2% cheaper on the kits but 2% more on the scanners. Kilumuguum Enterprises is 2% more on the kits and 2% cheaper on the scanners. After a frown, he asks Chuck, "Wouldn't you prefer higher tech level equipment?"
"On the scanners, definitely. These are overpriced. It's not a big deal. I can wait. On the medkits, the price isn't gonna vary much no matter what world you're on."
"Do we need two kits? I'm concerned that we might use up the medicine."
"Nah. Just get a bigger medkit. We can always buy medicine separately as we need it."
"OK, I got the idea now. Let's get a decent sized kit. We need make sure we can patch the crew up if necessary," Gvarokh says with a smirk. "And, while I agree getting a higher tech scanner is a good idea, the TL 11 stuff will have to do for now. If you think having a scanner will help for the next few jumps, let's go ahead and get a lower end one, then replace it if we get the chance later."
"It'll help. Especially if we get into a situation where my hands are full."
"Ok. Let's me run it by the captain and then check for the other stuff before buying anything."
Location: Miishakaal bridge, parked at the Limii Starport
Shiraamer has a seat and leans back in her chair while the ship's computer interfaces with CargoNet. She directs her attention to lots for sale.
Prices are for the whole lot.
|16 tons of Buddingtonite (unrefined ore: NH4AlSi3O8)||17,600|
|16 tons of Aluminum Alloy (7000 series)||30,920|
|15 tons of fertilizer||84,000|
|15 ton collection of Argan antiques||106,500|
|13 tons of refined Neodymium||1,384,500|
|13 tons of Zinc||39,161|
|11 tons of refined Ytterbium||937,200|
|10 tons of clothing (Vilani fashion)||71,000|
|10 tons of Aramid fibers (a synthetic textile)||497,000|
|10 tons of Tin||122,970|
|7 tons of liquid nitrogen||89,000|
|6 tons of Argan furniture||49,800|
|6 tons of electronic parts||47,400|
|4 tons of Sodium nitrate crystals||40,000|
She's interested in the Vilani clothing, assuming it isn't out of date. She
selects the lot from the list in order to get more information about it. She
peruses through the collection and recalls seeing a few of the outfits at the
city of Skien on Ashki.
The lot of "electronic parts" could also be worth her while. She clicks on that lot to learn more about it. There's a list of circuit boards, modems, capacitors, optical readers, wireless transmitters and receivers (for small gadgets), and so on. In essence, it a collection of components one would use to assemble electronic devices.
In the midst of her speculation, she gets a comm call from Slade. "Hi, Slade."
"Hi, Captain. In order for me to figure out what we're gonna need for that secret cargo compartment, I need to know what the dimensions are going to be, where the door's going to go, how big it should be, and if it should be totally concealed."
Shiraamer plays around with a design program on the ship's network. "Hmmmmm, I think it should be 2 meters by 6 meters. Assume the wall is 7.5 centimeters thick. The door should be as concealable as possible and can open anywhere in the hold."
Slade pauses before replying, as if working through the numbers she gave him. "That'll either make a noticeable little square pimple sticking off the back wall of the hold, or a mighty skinny storage compartment, Captain. I think we need to wall off the whole front wall of the hold, and I'd imagine to be practical it would need to be a meter thick, so people can get in there. Big or noticeable seem to be the choices."
Now it's Shiraamer's turn to pause before replying. Finally she answers him. "Use your best judgment and send me the specs and cost for it. Any idea on how long it will take to do? We've got that fuel bladder coming in also."
"I'll have to get back to you on that. Slade out."
To assist in her decision making process, she decides to look up Kilikiir and Breeden in the library database. But before she can read up on them, an email comes in from Vincent.
"40 ton bladder ordered for 60,000 cr. Installation is scheduled for the next work shift."
Shiraamer checks the chronometer. The next work shift is a little over 10 hours from now. She then forwards the email to Slade and Gvarokh.
Back to the library:
Shiraamer has just finished reading the library entries when she gets a comm
call from Gvarokh.
"Hi, Gvarokh. What's up?"
"I'm looking at med scanners with Chuck and, while I think we should get one, they're a bit pricey. I wanted you to sign off on it just to be sure."
"How much are they?"
"5,000 credits for the base model. It could come in handy if we get into a situation where Chuck is busy, if you catch my meaning. But it's only rated at tech level 11. Chuck says that it's not a problem if we wait for a higher tech model. They might even be cheaper."
"I'll go the 5,000 and we'll look for a less expensive, more advanced model elsewhere. I definitely want something now though."
Gvarokh replies, "OK. Thanks. Gvarokh out."
Returning to her work, Shiraamer decides that the Vilani clothing is too risky for now. The Aluminum Alloy and electronic parts lots seem to be the most practical. She contacts the owners of those lots, expressing her interest in buying them for the listed price. They each ask when they can deliver the merchandise and get paid.
She informs them that she'll contact them later for a delivery time.
Both reply that that's fine but without a deposit, they won't hold the merchandise.
Shiraamer asks how much for a deposit on it.
"Standard, non-refundable 20% to hold for 30 days," is the reply she gets from both.
Shiraamer asks them to do that and then checks her bank accounts for an update. She sees that Gvarokh has just charged 11,930 credits to the ship account for equipment. She factors in the fuel bladder purchase and installation and the total cost of the speculative cargo lots. She sees that the ship account would be down to 169,036 credits while hers is untouched at 7,998.
Satisfied, she authorizes the 20% deposit on both lots, which puts the ship account's actual value at 291,692 credits.
Next: Gvarokh and Chuck Go Shopping - Part 2