NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Arrival in Imziinune system.
Gvarokh informs the crew that he intends to jump across the arms of the Anarsi rift and plow straight through to Nashazi (Vland 1909). The bladder will be utilized for the rift jumps and a gas giant in the Deglaraarbiis system (Vland 2210) used for refueling.
Dock with orbital starport. Refuel, fill up bladder, refurbish life support and buy extra refurbishment chemicals, offload freight. Darrurz is unable to find any freight for Nashazi, but he does find four low passengers (one scientist accompanied by three marines).
Departure procedure initiated.
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Arrival in empty parsec - Vland 2311. Bladder fuel was purified and then dumped into main tanks during the week in jump. Life support refurbished.
Arrival at Shuniparerki, a gas giant in the Deglaraarbiis system. Passive scans come up empty so the ship dives down to skim for fuel. It coasts at first, making use of its remaining inertia from Imziinune. Just before reaching 600,000 miles from the cloud tops, Gvarokh initiates the deceleration burn.
In to skim. Gvarokh makes it look easy.
With the fuel tanks and the bladder filled, the ship heads out.
Since Nashazi is only a size 3 world, acceleration ends. Miishakaal will coast to safe jump distance, thus giving the newly skimmed fuel plenty of time to purify.
A jump flash is detected. Passive scans reveal it to have come from an inbound scout ship. It is so far away that is of no concern to you and it ignores you as well.
Once the ship has successfully jumped, the bladder fuel is shunted into the main fuel tanks and purified. Midway during jump, life support is refurbished.
Arrival in empty parsec - Vland 2009.
Jump to Nashazi!
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Arrival in the Nashazi system.
The ship's hail is returned by an AI. The somewhat stilted, yet polite and formal voice is unmistakable. "Welcome, Miishakaal, to Nashazi. Please follow the projected route to our starport." A series of rectangles appears on the main viewer. They are stacked in such a way as to provide a corridor for the ship to travel through. It reminds Gvarokh and Chuck of Theton.
Darrurz accesses BrokerNet and CargoNet.
Land at starport (Nashazi only has a downport).
While Chuck revives the low berth passengers, Gvarokh interfaces with the starport AI to arrange for fuel and life support refurbishment.
Darrurz doesn't have any luck on BrokerNet. Everything is too expensive. However, his luck is much better on CargoNet. There are two shipments (20 tons of "computer parts" and 30 tons of "mining equipment") awaiting transport to Zigaadig which Darrurz agrees to take on.
An autonomous fuel tanker arrives at the ship. It deftly maneuvers into position and begins refueling the ship.
Another autonomous vehicle arrives. This one interfaces with the ship's life support equipment, purging waste and providing new filtration cartridges.
A flatbed cargo truck pulls up to the front of the ship. A cargobot detaches
itself from the rear and approaches Lakir, the closest person. While it is
somewhat humanoid in design, its lower body is a triangular array of treads. One
arm extends to offer Lakir a datapad to acknowledge the receipt of the freight.
Although taken aback at first, Lakir signs the screen and returns it to the
"Thank you," the cargobot says.
It then proceeds to load the crates on board Miishakaal while Lakir, Simrii, and Vlad stand aside and watch. All are pleased as the cargobot handles its operations flawlessly.
Simrii shakes his head, "Machines: Putting humans out of work since the Terran twentieth century."
The robots have completed all of their tasks and driven away, leaving
Miishakaal all alone in the hangar bay. It's eerily quiet.
Over the comm, Vlad asks, "Hey, Captain, are we planning on lifting off right away orrrr do I have time to wanderrr arrround? I've neverrr seen an AI rrrun world before."
Lakir pipes up, "Yah, way cool. I bet there's some neat fire control and close combat kit floatin' around here somewhere."
Slade adds, "I could get interested in that."
Gvarokh replies, "We have time to look around. I am rather curious myself."
Vlad, Lakir, and Simrii walk up the forward cargo ramp and secure the lock.
Characters: Gvarokh, Vlad, Slade and Lakir
Location: Nashazi Starport
Gvarokh, Vlad, Slade and Lakir meet in the crew lounge outfitted in their
standard gear for casual (yet armed) wandering. After putting Darrurz in charge
while he's away, Gvarokh leads the group out of the ship.
The gate detects your presence and automatically opens. The lights in the immediate vicinity of the gate flicker on. Upon passing through the gate, Gvarokh and Vlad notice a slight tingle. A black glass panel on your right comes to life with a little movie welcoming you to Nashazi Starport.
Looking around from where you're standing, you notice that you're standing in a pie wedge-shaped room with the wider end facing the ship and the narrow end opening up to some sort of central area, which is in darkness. The wall facing the ship is transparent so the ship is clearly visible. Two white walls further delineate the space you're in, which is lit from within the ceiling. The floors are white tile. There's a podium near the window which faces several rows of comfy chairs.
In Gvegh, then High Vilani and finally Galanglic, a computerized female voice says, "Welcome to the Nashazi Starport. I'm the Starport AI, Nashiiri. I can assist you at any time through any one of these panels located throughout the starport.
"If this is your first visit to Nashazi, please let me know, and I'll guide you to your destination."
Vlad looks at his companions, shrugs, and offers up, "Food?"
Lakir replies, "You bet! Let's see what we can find. Anybody seen any bio's yet? Sure would be cool to see some new live scenery."
No one has seen anyone else here besides themselves.
Gvarokh steps forward and says in a clear, well enunciated Galanglic, "We would like directions to the starport shopping and restaurant district."
Turning his head just a bit to his companions, he also says with a grin, "Hopefully they have restaurants that serve more than oil and lubricant."
Vlad laughs heartily.
The black panel illuminates. An overview map of the starport is displayed. Nashiiri replies in Galanglic, "Each terminal has several food vendors for the convenience of all visitors." Each of the circles on the map are outlined in green and then the focus is drawn down to the one you're at. It highlights the location of food vendors in green and they appear to be in the corridor that lies outside of this room. "Our main shopping and restaurant district can be found in the starport hub." The map zooms out and highlights the central rectangle in green. It then zooms on the rectangle, providing greater resolution of the layout there. Once again, the specific locations are highlighted in green. "It offers a greater variety of dining and shopping experiences for our guests.
"If you need further instructions, or a guide, I can assist you at any time through any one of these panels located throughout the starport."
Lakir says, "Well, let's head for the centre. See what we can see. Wonder if there is an electronics shop around. See if I can't grow my super PDA."
Vlad adds, "I agree. The Main Hub sounds like the best bet."
As you enter the center area for this terminal, the lights come on. Muzak creeps into the air. The area is roughly circular. In the center are a pair of escalators and elevators. There are two square areas in the middle, to the left and right of the escalators, delineated with holographic columns that contain several tables and chairs. Along the walls are vending booths. These also light up. They hawk various styles of food and personal entertainment (books, games, news, etc.). Each one appears to be automated as there is no one attending any of the store fronts. A series of green arrows appear in the floor from your room to the down escalator accompanied by the message "To the Hub."
You follow the green arrows to the down escalator. As you approach, it turns on. The level below is still in darkness however. You step on the escalator anyway and it carries you down. Lights come on a third of the way down. When you're two thirds down, the lights back at the terminal shut off.
The bottom of the escalator is a fifteen meter by fifteen meter room. A 7 meter wide corridor heads in the direction of the Starport Hub, easily identifiable by signs stating such. There even appears to be moving sidewalks along the walls. There are also three doors in the room. One on each wall. There are no markings other than numbers.
Gvarokh says, "This is getting weird."
Since it's been a while since you've really stretched your legs, the four of you decide to walk to the starport hub. It's obviously that the lights are motion sensor activated as they turn on ten meters in front of you and shut off ten meters behind you. Holo ads for everything from Aanshi Liquors and Burger Emperor to Laser Blast Shaving Cream and vacations on Irila (Vland 2211) fade in and out like commercialized ghosts.
At last you reach the starport hub. Up ahead you see a section that already has its lights on so you figure that's where the "action" is. Sure enough, there's a well lit, short, rectangular promenade lined with shops and restaurants. Most of the storefronts are empty or have been automated. However there are a few that actually have people inside them!
Before heading inside one of them, you decide to check out your options. For food, there's The Wandering Shugilii (Vilani restaurant chain) and Adrift (the local starport bar). The obligatory souvenir shop, convenience store, and Nashazi Travel Bureau round out the occupied "shops" here.
It's fairly obvious that Lakir won't find anything to add to his SuperPDA here. Crestfallen, he suggests the bar.
"Let's eat and talk to some people. Or even an interesting AI at the bar," Slade says.
Gvarokh thirds the bar idea. "Vilani food doesn't sound terribly appetizing and orrrrdering from a machine even less so."
Vlad adds, "Anything staffed by real people works for me!"
Characters: Gvarokh, Vlad, Slade and Lakir
Location: Adrift, a bar at the Nashazi Starport
Walking into the bar, you immediately notice how empty the place is. Tables
and chairs line the front of the place and are five rows deep by six columns.
Booths make up the last row with a four foot wall as a divider between "dining
room" and the bar. The bar runs the length of the back with hallways at both
ends of the bar. The one on the left leads to bathrooms while the one on the
right leads to the kitchen. While the place is properly lit for atmosphere, it
is also very clean, though whether that's due to an impeccable need for
cleanliness or a matter of low traffic is unknown.
There are 7 people visible: 4 men at a table in the far right corner and two women at the bar (middle left) talking to the male bartender. The bartender waves to you. "Come on in." He gestures with his arms open wide. "Sit wherever you want," then he adds with a smile, "You're in luck. You beat the cover charge." This gets a laugh from the women.
Vlad gestures towards a table in the middle of the room. Lakir agrees. Slade and Gvarokh shrug to indicate no table preference. Lakir sits on the right side of the table so that he can see both the door and the ladies at the bar. His back is to the four men at the corner table. Slade sits to his left. Vlad sits across from Slade while Gvarokh sits to his left.
The place has a nautical theme to it with various pieces of wet navy ships adorned to the walls here and there. The tables are actually made of wood and look like they weathered centuries and then coated in stain and drowned in a polymer sealant.
Holomenus appear in front of you (projected from the ceiling) and each is tailored towards your race and offer a broad range of food one would expect at lunch or dinner. Prices are about 25% higher than average. A quick glance at the Beverage section reveals a surprising selection of offworld and extrasubsector imports, including the full line of Aanshi brand of liquors.
The vargr order seasoned steaks while the humans order up cheeseburgers. Plenty of fries to go around.
After placing your orders (via tapping the holomenus in the appropriate locations), the bartender stops chatting with the women and gets your drinks. As soon as he finishes, he's over to your table distributing them.
"Good dir, gentlemen," he says with a sincere smile. "Welcome to Adrift, the best bar in the Nashazi starport. I know that's not saying much, but it's something." His hair is long and black with streaks of gray shot through it. A ponytail extends down his back. He's about 6' 2" and his body looks 50 something. He looks like he might have been formidable in his younger years but time and gravity have dulled the edges. "I'm Jack Lucchesi, barkeep and co-owner of the place. If you need anything, just ask."
Vlad just grins toothily and hoists his glass to the bartender before taking a drink.
"Ok, then," Lucchesi replies. His smile is still there but toned down. "Enjoy your meal."
About fifteen minutes later, your food arrives, delivered by a jumpsuit wearing human female. She hands everyone their respective meals, without help. The vargr wrinkle their noses at her but don't say anything. "Enjoy your meal," she says and then leaves.
The food turns out to be quite good. Everyone is pleased, though the vargr note that the meat is definitely vat grown.
"Nothing wrong with that," Vlad says, "I've had some fantastic vat grown meat. It's just that it lacks a cerrrtain something."
Gvarokh agrees with Vlad that the steaks aren't bad.
The rest of your meal goes by without anything to note. Nobody bothers you and the bar's population remains the same. You pay the tab, add in a tip, and depart.
Your trip back to the ship is as eerily quiet and uneventful as the trip to the restaurant.
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Gvarokh, Vlad, Slade and Lakir return to the ship after their excursion to
the starport for dinner. When asked to comment on what they saw, they offer,
"Strangely quiet. A ghost town."
With the freight all loaded and the ship fully fueled, it's time to leave this place.
The starport AI is asked for permission to leave and an "all clear" reply is given. Without any further delay, the ship exits the hangar bay and makes for the jump point.
Except for detecting an inbound subsidized liner, the trip out to the jump
point is uneventful.
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Dock at starport. Unfortunately, there are too few employees to operate
shifts round the clock. Nor are there any bots to handle the tasks. So, you
must wait to access starport services.
In the meantime, Darrurz accesses BrokerNet and CargoNet. He's disgusted to find absolutely nothing, spec cargo or freight, to haul to Audhumla (the next stop on the trip). As a consolation, he finds 4 low berth passengers, employees of Naasirka, looking for a cheap ride.
Now that the new work shift has arrived, Miishakaal is refueled and life support is refurbished. Cargo trucks arrive shortly thereafter.
Freight unloaded. Passengers put on ice. Ship begins departure checklist.
Miishakaal pulls away from the starport.
The ship is 100,000 km (60,000 miles) from the jump point when three jump
flashes are detected to starboard. Darrurz, who's manning the sensors, barks out
that they're Ueknou class corsairs. One would be bad enough but three is
scary. Darrurz goes on to say that one has broken off from the others and is
heading in your direction. In an effort to intimidate you further, the corsair
is broadcasting on all general traffic frequencies that you should surrender
immediately or be destroyed.
Gvarokh quickly checks with the navigation computer. At the ship's current rate of acceleration, they'll be at safe jump point in 13 minutes, but the corsair will be in decent firing range in 7 minutes.
They could also just coast. The ship is doing nearly 437,000 kph (262,000 mph). It would take an extra 45 seconds to cruise.
Or they could jump now. They're 88 diameters out. There's only an 8.5% chance of misjump.
Darruz consults the navigation computer. "If we can hold them off for five minutes, our chances of misjump drop to 2.5% even if we just coast.
Vincent puts in his two credits worth. "I say jump. Unless there's a critical failure, we should be good."
Vlad offers, "A wolf that neverrr bites, neverrr feeds."
Gvarokh ponders the decision for a moment then acts. He initiates the jump process and sets the charge build up time for five minutes, instead of the usual ten minutes.
Down in Engineering, Slade notes that safety protocols have been bypassed. He considers expressing his unhappiness with this, but decides that jumping before the corsairs can do some serious damage to the ship is worth the increased risk of harm to the jump drive.
The maneuver drive shuts off as fuel is routed to the jump drive to build a charge in the capacitors. To trick the corsairs into thinking that they're complying with their request, Gvarokh uses the attitude jets to flip the ship around. Apparently this does the trick as the corsairs do not issue any further threats.
The crew breathes a sigh of relief that they got away safely. Slade spends the next day running the jump drive through diagnostics to make sure the sped up charging of the jump drive had no ill effects upon it.