Characters: Gvarokh, Lakir, Vlad, and Vincent
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Oriole Downport
While Gvarokh began planning out the route to Vhodan, Lakir was busy working
on a list of things he felt the ship needed to improve its chances in the days
"Hey, Top Dog." Lakir announces his presence at the bridge.
Gvarokh tears his eyes away from the star charts. "Hi, Lakir. What's on your mind?"
"Been goin' over some things we might want ta pick up for the crew and the ship, considering that we're gonna take on M's job and diversify our services."
"Ok, let's see it."
Lakir transmits his list to Gvarokh's handcomp.
Gvarokh reviews the lengthy list. Some of the stuff seems feasible. Other
stuff is too expensive for the ship's budget. "Thanks, Lakir. I'm going to
review this list, see what we can afford to implement, and I'll get back to
As Gvarokh and Lakir wrap things up, the comm chimes. It's Vlad.
"Didn't expect to hear from you so soon, Vlad."
"Got a potential new recruit for the ship. Ruelueth has a cousin named Darrurz. He's a merchant with alot of broker and piloting experience. He used to do a lot of cross border trading until he had a run in with some corsairs. He's down on his luck and could use a job. You want to check him out?"
Gvarokh trusts Vlad's judgment. "Yes," he barks.
"I'll forward you his picture so you rrrrrrecognize him when he shows up. Vlad out."
The picture that downloads show a thinner and more wiry looking vargr than average. Darrurz has a laser burn on the left side of his snout and across his left cheek where no hair grows. While he appears to be a vargr in his mid-30's, the look in his eyes makes him seem older. Aged. Weary.
Lakir suggests, "Maybe we have Vinny see what he can hack outta the net on this newbie? Otherwise, sounds like a decent find."
"Agreed." Gvarokh fires up the comm."Vinny?"
"I've got some work for you. Come up to the bridge and bring your laptop."
Vincent arrives shortly thereafter. "What did you have in mind?"
Gvarokh shows him the picture of Darrurz and passes on Vlad's info.
Vincent uses an image recognition program to search InfoNet. It isn't long before the results come in.
The first match (88% certainty) is a photo accompanying a news article. The headline reads, "Corsairs Strike Again." The photo shows a vargr that looks like Darrurz with bandages on his face where Gvarokh's photo shows scars. He's carried out of a starship (could be a Type T patrol cruiser) on a stretcher. A bandaged human walks beside him. The caption beneath the photo reads, "Captain Darrurz is escorted off the ISS Dinsdale by crewman Terrance Hastert. Their ship, the Gaell Gzagvikhoe was captured by corsairs." The article reads:
Vincent also gains access to Shiishirnii Corporation's personnel files. A
picture of a younger and unscarred version of the vargr is contained therein.
Darrurz's file highlights include a promotion to 3rd Officer in his first term
with further promotions that promptly followed. His superiors describe him as
"intelligent", "well educated", and "dependable." His exit interview reveals
"regret that he's leaving the company so soon. No doubt he'll go far in life."
His skills as a pilot, broker, and trader received high praise.
"He sounds like a good fit to me," Vincent says with optimism.
Lakir seems leery. "Yeah, but I bet he's carrin' a bit o baggage... losin' a ship and probably most of his crew. He ain't goin ta have 'the love' on for corsairs. We'll have ta keep an eye on him, if we have another run in with a rabid pack. Looks like we might be able to turn a bit of 'on top' profit this trip out, if he lives up to his potential rep as a broker. Beats the hell out of runnin' with no cover, or just tryin' ta slep freight."
Gvarokh says, "Thanks, guys."
Characters: Slade and Vincent
NPC: Ellis Ames and Miles Mickelson
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Oriole Downport
The comm chimes. Two guys in mechanic's overalls are calling from the gate
door. Gvarokh can see them on the security camera mounted over the door.
There's a cart behind them with a tool box and a small crate on it.
"Delivery from Wellesmoor Diversified Products."
"Welp, that'll be Mersshon," Lakir says.
"Just a moment," Gvarokh barks over the comm. To Vincent, he says, "Grab Slade and 'assist' out guests."
"Don't worry, Gvarokh. We'll make sure they don't install anything besides the transponder."
Vincent and Lakir both leave the bridge. The former to meet Mersshon's men. The latter to his quarters.
Vincent comms Slade. "They're here, Slade. Meet at the passenger airlock."
"Be right there."
Vincent opens the hatch. "C'mon in guys."
Slade joins Vincent as the work crew enter the ship.
Vincent introduces himself as "engineer" and Slade as "Chief Engineer."
The first guy, who's the more senior of the two, introduces himself as Ellis Ames. His assistant is Miles Mickelson.
The access panel to the transponder is located underneath the bridge. Slade leads the men there with Vincent bringing up the rear. They pass through the starboard cargo lock, into the hold, and out through the main cargo lock.
As the technicians get to work, Vincent decides to chat with them. "We've been away for awhile, how have things been around here?"
Miles sighs, "Same war, different year."
Elias adds, "What Miles is trying to say is that even loyalists such as ourselves are growing tired of this war. Ordinarily it wouldn't be a good idea to voice doubts about the war, but even the big shots are questioning it. The reinforcements just aren't coming. The Emperor seems to have withdrawn to a more defensible perimeter and only sends out ships to attack his enemies. Meanwhile, the rest of us are forced to make due with what we've got."
"And now those fucking terrorists are stirring shit up."
Elias continues, "I'm not sure how long the line's gonna hold. I just hope Mersshon takes us with him when he pulls out."
"Don't you mean, 'if'?" Vincent asks.
Miles replies, "Nah. I really think that it's a matter of when. It could be two months or two years, but I really think that, unless there's some major breakthrough in the war, that we're just spiraling down the drain. The only thing holding this portion of the Imperium together are the naval bases. If they go, this whole area falls."
Meanwhile, Slade keeps a watchful eye on the pair.
Time passes and the installation goes smoothly.
Gvarokh comms. "Slade. Vincent. How is the installation coming along?"
"Just fine, captain." Vincent replies.
"They're almost done." Slade adds.
"Good. I'll be down there in a few minutes."
The technicians wrap things up. While Miles seals the transponder access panel, Ellis gestures towards a small metallic case inside the crate that the transponder came in. "I'm supposed to give you that," he says. "We'll wheel the cart back into the ship just in case prying eyes are about. Mersshon said to give it to Gvarokh, but if he's busy I don't see why one of you couldn't take possession of it."
"Gvarokh'll be down a few minutes, let's do it by the book," Slade says. "That thing might have space cooties."
Vincent adds, "If you don't mind the wait."
"No problem. We'll wait."
Characters: Gvarokh & Darrurz
Location: Bridge of the Miishakaal, parked at Oriole Downport
Ten minutes after the technicians arrived, the comm chimes again. This time
a solitary vargr stands outside the gate door.
"This is Darrurz. I am here to see Gvarokh."
"One moment," Gvarokh barks.
Gvarokh heads over to the starboard personnel airlock to greet Darrurz.
After the initial pleasantries, Gvarokh leads Darrurz up to the bridge. He puts the piloting controls into simulation mode and runs Darrurz threw a battery of tests.
Darrurz does rather well. Although he doesn't score as high as Gvarokh, he performs at least as well as Shiraamer did and far better than Chuck.
Gvarokh is very satisfied with his performance. His ease at the controls and obvious skill is impressive. Gvarokh smiles and asks, "I know you have flown high performance space craft before. Is an old trader an acceptable job for you now?"
Darrurz sniffs the air and his ears prick up, but before he speaks his ears come down a little and his shoulders fall. "Not performance craft nooo. Traders mostly. Beowulfs, Maravas, Akkigishs and of course Garus. I've flown a couple 5000 and 10,000 tonners in my time, and numerous classes from the Extents, but my own ship was a Maravaaa.
"I can fly small craft almooost as well, but I'm better with shippps. And to answer your question I'd be happy flying an old trader. The Miishakaal looks in good shape, so she's either not that old, five years? or you have a good engineeeer.
"I saw that the Miishakaal was registered to Captain Siirkasaare. Will she be coming to talk to me as welll? Starport controll seemed to distinctly remember her when I asked about the ship, and she's know about the trading houses as a good broker as well, one of them said something about 'distinctive outfits'."
At the mention of "distinctive outfits", Gvarokh lets out a loud laugh and ends it with a wry smile. Then, after only a moment or two Gvarokh's countenance drops to somber. He then says with profound sadness, "No. I am afraid she will not. She was out shopping during the most recent terrorist bombing and no longer prowls these haunts any longer. I am the captain."
He pauses for a moment to reflect on the fact that he was finally forced to state what he had been reluctant to: He is now indeed the captain.
He continues, "Consequently, your trading acumen is as large a reason for the job offer as your bridge skills. She was our trader, and we have no one else who can handle those particular functions. I can shuffle paper; I can't do trades."
Darrurz's ears and shoulders prick up at the "job offer" comment.
Gvarokh looks to see if Darrurz picked up on the "job offer" comment, but before he can really answer, he says, "Oh, one more thing before deciding on whether you want the job or not. We are going to be heading into Vilani space to deliver some cargo. You need to be comfortable with that to join. Also, to be perfectly honest, because of the deteriorating situation and bad memories here, I don't know that we will ever return here."
"I'm a merchant, more than that I'm a Free Trader. My home was my ship," he pauses a little and his snout twitches, "so I have no problems not coming back.
"I can handle the brokerage and trading for the ship as you wish. I'll need to know far more details of course. The amount of money you need me to generate to start with. I'm interested, but you'll have to let me know how you want to pay me, and how you want to handling the brokerage fees and my commission.
"I'm happy going into Vilani space, I was kind of expecting it actually with the Miishakaal being a RZSMS. What's the cargo we're shipping?"
Gvarokh ignores the last question, extends his paw and says, "Well, how would like to make the Miishakaal your new home? You are an excellent match, and just what we are looking for."
Darrurz stands up and shakes Gvarokh's paw. "I'd be happy come allonggg. Where's my bunkk?"
"Grrrreat! We are planning on leaving soon. How much time will you need to wrap up your current activities and be ready to go? When you get back, we will likely be ready to go, and I can fill you in on everything that is going on with the Miishakaal."
Darrurz's mouth opens a little and he pants a couple of times before saying, "A few hours. Just enough time to gather my stuuff."
"Good. Excuse me for a second."
Gvarokh comms his engineers. "Slade. Vincent. How is the installation coming along?"
"Just fine, captain." Vincent replies.
"They're almost done." Slade adds.
"Good. I'll be down there in a few minutes." He turns back to Darrurz and says, "How about meeting the rest of the crew?"
"Surrre. Be happpyy too."
Gvarokh gestures towards the bridge iris and the two depart from the bridge.
Characters: Gvarokh, Darrurz, Lakir, Vincent, & Slade
NPC: Simrii, Chuck, Ellis Ames, & Miles Mickelson
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Oriole Downport
Gvarokh and Darrurz enter the crew lounge where Simrii is reading something
on a datapad. Chuck is taking inventory of the ship's pantry.
"Simrii. Chuck. This is Darrurz. He'll be Ship's Broker, in charge of trading cargo and picking out which freight we should haul."
Simrii is the closest so he greets Darrurz first. He stands and shakes Darrurz's paw. Darrurz notes that he's tall and his demeanor is quite calm. He greets him in Gvegh with "Welcome to our pack."
"This is Simrii. He's a Stevedore and a Gunner."
Darrurz sniffs noticeably and while shaking Simrii's hand he looks him up and down. He replies in Gvegh, "Thanks."
Chuck walks over and introduces himself. "Hi, I'm Chuck Strider. Welcome aboard, Darrurz." Darrurz notes that Chuck is lively, gregarious, and shows too many teeth when he smiles. Fortunately, Darrurz has been around humans long enough that he knows that this isn't a threat, but rather an attempt to be friendly.
Darrurz again sniffs to gauge Chuck's scent and replies while shaking his hand, "Thanks. You shooow tooo many teeeeth when smiiling at a Varrgggr."
Chuck's smile vanishes. His face flushes in embarrassment. "Sorry. I'll... I'll try to remember that."
Gvarokh feels sorry for Chuck so he tries to help him save face. "Chuck is our Medic and Cook, and a good one at that."
Chuck smiles, making sure that his teeth are hidden this time. "Thank you, Gvarokh."
Darrurz shoots Gvarokh an inquisitive glance that says, "A human cooks for Vargr?"
"Yes, he knows. If he didn't, I'm sure that Vladgorkfeg would make a meal out of him." Gvarokh laughs to make sure that Chuck realizes that this is vargr humor.
Darrurz, who gets the joke, laughs along with him.
Chuck nervously laughs.
Gvarokh adds, "He's an able mechanic and good at scrounging up the little things we need for the ship."
"Let's head uplevel." Gvarokh leads Darrurz to the lift. "I realize that some far traders leave the uplevel alone for passengers, but we wanted the crew to have their own rooms." Upon reaching the upper level, Gvarokh shouts out, "Lakir, are you here?"
Lakir sticks his head out of his room.
"Lakir, I'd you to meet our new Ship's Broker, Darrurz."
In his limited Gvegh, Lakir says, "Welcome aboard," while shaking his paw, and smiling, with no teeth.
"Lakir has stepped up over the last few months to become our unofficial Loadmaster, and he's done a fine job."
"Let's head back down to meet the rest of the crew."
Gvarokh and Darrurz head back to the lift while Lakir returns to his room.
Gvarokh leads Darrurz down through the cargo hold and out the fore lock. At the bottom of the ramp, they see Vincent and Slade talking with Mersshon's two technicians.
Upon spotting Gvarokh, Vincent says, "All done, captain."
Slade gives an approving nod.
"Good!" Gvarokh barks.
Vincent adds, "There's the matter of the cargo to settle." He points to the older technician, "Ellis says that he's supposed to hand it over to you, though he was willing to have one of us sign for it."
"That's fine." He gestures towards the vargr standing next to him. "This is Darrurz. He's our new Ship's Broker. Darrurz, meet Slade, our Chief Engineer."
Darrurz notes that Slade is of average height and weight and he wears a jumper that has several oily stains on it that scream engineer. Darrurz notes, as he sniffs the air, that the lubricant stains mask Slade's scent. Or perhaps they've blended together.
Slade shakes his paw but doesn't smile. He merely nods.
Darrurz merely nods back.
"And this is Vincent, our Computer Expert, Second Engineer, and Gunner."
Darrurz notes that Vincent is a big man. Definitely not a pinkie worth getting in a fight with.
Vincent says, "Welcome aboard." He smiles warmly, but doesn't show any teeth.
"Please go inside the ship. I'm going to talk to the technicians." Gvarokh heads over to the technicians while Slade, Vincent, and Darrurz walk up the ramp.
Darrurz asks Slade and Vincent "So what's being installed that you couldn't do yourselves?"
Slade replies, "They put in a new transponder. No user-serviceable parts."
"What an Imperial ooonne?"
"You bet Imperial. Until maybe we get to Vilani space, pick up one of theirs."
Darrurz's tail swishes and he shakes his snout a little. "But you alreaddy have ooonne!" He lets out an exasperated sigh. "Sometimes huuumanns just donn't make seeense."
Gvarokh's conversation is inaudible but he motions for the technicians to return to the ship. Gvarokh leads. The technicians follow, their cart in tow.
Once inside Gvarokh removes a small metallic case from a crate on the workmen's cart.
"Have a safe trip," Ellis says sincerely.
Gvarokh replies, "Thank you. Vincent, would you please see them out."
As Vincent departs, Gvarokh turns to Darrurz. "That's everyone, except Vlad. Did you meet him before coming overrrr?"
"No. My cousin, Ruelueth, told me about the position over the comm."
"Well, there will be plenty of time for that laterrrrr. Unless you have any questions, we'll see you back here in a few hours."
Darrurz who had watched the proceedings has his left ear up and his right one down, with his head slightly tilted to the right. "OooK. What's our first destinnnaaation?"
"Apmudurduna. Two parsecs rimward of here."
"No worries. See you in a houur or twwo."
Next: Leaving Larkarda