Laying Waste to the Base

Characters: Gvarokh, Vlad, Vincent, Slade, Simrii
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, inside the pirate base
System: Gamgilebo - near the gas giant, Getes

1126.7.5 - 23:50 Imperial Time, 7:50 Vilani Time

Gvarokh is still in a very bad mood. His ears are erect, a snarl locked in, his fangs always visible. "Simrii! On my signal, I want you to open fire on the offices. Vincent, hold fire, until you see activity between Simrii's shots. I don't want a firing lag to afford them any opportunity to launch a counteroffensive."

The ship unloads Darrurz and Lakir right in front of the airlock and backs away to take up a position facing the offices and quarters. Lakir takes a position at the end of the airlock with the wall as cover. He leans out far enough so that he can pick off anyone emerging from the offices with his shotgun. Meanwhile, Darrurz trots over to the access panel to see what he's up against.

Gvarokh shouts, "Play time is over!"

Realizing this is his cue, Simrii opens fire on the offices and quarters. Despite their toughness, Simrii's shots easily puncture holes in the thin crystaliron walls. Figures are occasionally spotted but Vincent picks them off and, in the process of doing so, accentuates the damage.

"Stand down," Gvarokh barks. Once the gunners comply, Gvarokh says to Uengghae move the ship back to the airlock, Chuck needs to assist Mister Darrurz." As Uengghae complies, Chuck nods to Gvarokh and heads out. Once he's clear of the ship, Gvarokh says, "Ok, let's finish the job."

Uengghae moves the ship into hangar bay one and Simrii and Vincent lay waste to the rest of the offices.

After a few minutes, Chucks comms, "Ready!"

Gvarokh instructs Uengghae to turn the ship so that it's facing outward. Should another ship come in, they'll be able to take it by surprise and shoot at it.

"Ok, here goes," Chuck says.

There's a slight rumble that's felt more than heard. Outside you can see that anything that isn't bolted down flies past and out the doors. Horribly burned and mangled bodies swiftly exit along with tools, bedding, chairs and miscellaneous debris. The offices are clearing out though some debris is catching on the remnants of the walls.

Eventually the winds die down as vacuum takes residence inside the pirate base. Nothing stirs in the wreckage.

Chuck comms, "We're all ok. Heading back to the ship." There's a pause. None of the trio emerge from the airlock. Finally, Chuck asks, "Captain, is it all clear?"

"Affirmative," Gvarokh barks back.

"See, I told you," Chuck is heard to say. He soon appears around the corner and jogs back to the ship.

Gvarokh instructs Uengghae to open the main cargo hatch. Chuck is last seen heading inside.

Darrurz and Lakir cautiously maneuver around the corner and inspect the office complex. They can see what the rest of the crew knows: that's it's been totally fragged all the way out to the excavated rock wall. It's all a smoldering ruin.

The pair spend about half a minute looking at the carnage then start walking towards hangar bay two.

Gvarokh says over the comm for all to hear, "Darrurz: You said the bastards owed you a ship. There it is. Good luck with it. And sorry about that turret.

"Lakir, come on back so we can get going. Darrurz now has what he was looking for and our mission is no longer his concern."

Lakir replies, "Roger that; heading back to the ship. See ya around, D dog."

Darrurz and Lakir appear to be exchanging some final words over a private channel, then Lakir trots inside the cargo hold.

Leaving the Pirate Base

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, inside the pirate base
System: Gamgilebo - near the gas giant, Getes

1126.7.6 - 00:20 Imperial Time, 8:20 Vilani Time

With Lakir back on board the ship, Gvarokh gives the order to close the cargo bay doors and leave the pirate base. Once inside the air lock, they encounter a problem. While the outer air lock doors are open enough to expose the pirate base to vacuum (1 meter), they aren't open far enough to let the ship out.

Slade comms, "I vote we open the lock all the way first."

That gets a round of chuckles from the crew, even from Chuck. "Sorry, but that was the best I could do under the circumstances."

Gvarokh decides to have the gunners melt the doors with controlled plasma bursts. "I don't want this base to be any closer to functional when we're done."

Simrii and Vincent oblige him and start to work on ruining the outer airlock doors.

About a minute into the slagging, the ship is hailed by Darrurz. "Hi Gvarokh. Seems like there could be someone still in the 'Swift Little Biter' over here. Would you mind if I borrowed Vincent's skills to hack into the ship and change the command codes?"

Gvarokh gives a terse, "No, I don't mind." He puts the comm on mute and says to Vincent, "Vincent, Darrurz needs your assistance in gaining access to the Seeker."

"Sure thing, captain," Vincent replies.

Gvarokh then instructs Uengghae to rotate the ship so that Simrii can do the melting work himself.

As he begins composing the "we're leaving this system" message to Khalidurton, Gvarokh listens to the conversation between Vincent and Darrurz over the shipwide comm.

"Hi, Darrurz. I understand that you can't access the Seeker."

"Correct."

"Ok, getting on it now. Give me two minutes."

Two minutes pass by.

"Ok, I'm in. Transferring control over to you."

"Thanks Vincent. If you haven't already would you lock everyone out but you and me?"

"Already set."

"Great! If there is anything in the logs or computer files that can help you in your endeavours please take a look."

"I'll download their database just to be sure. Vincent out."

On command, Uengghae rotates the ship back so that Vincent can resume melting the door.

Before they finish, Darrurz contacts the ship again. "Hi Gvarokh, apologies for disturbing you again but would you mind if I had a word with Uengghae or Kagfak please? I just want to identify the two corsairs I've just discovered in the Seeker."

Gvarokh replies, "Kagfak, can talk to you."

Upon seeing that he is talking to another vargr, Kagfak speaks in Gvegh, "Yes?"

"Can you identify these two? The video surveillance is from the Swift Little Biter's Engineering section."

"It's looks like Verroel the engineer and Vuedueloghz, who was one of their gunners. A technician too. They're good wolves, not like Ghang. Uengghae and I prowled around a few times with them over at the Lovestruck Rock and a couple other places in other systems. They're both skilled professionals who could easily be making a living outside of supporting these hunters. Considering what's happened to their pack, I think they'd be amenable to joining yours."

Darrurz replies, "Many thanks, Kagfak," and disconnects the call.

Two minutes more and they have a hole wide enough for the ship to pass through. "Go!" Gvarokh barks.

After the ship has cleared the base and begun to make its way out of Getes' gravity well, Uengghae asks for a heading.

"Dathsuts, but don't jump until I give the word. I have a message to send to Khalidurton and I want to make sure we're far enough away from Getes for it to get through."

"Aye, aye."

03:40 Imperial Time, 11:40 Vilani Time

Miishakaal is now at safe jump distance but interference from Getes is still too high to send the message.

05:00 Imperial Time, 13:00 Vilani Time

Interference is sufficiently low enough for Gvarokh's message to go through. After he sends it, he gives the order to jump.

Once the ship is safely ensconced within the surreal pink-white-black glow of jumpspace, Gvarokh orders the crew to get some sack time. Everyone has been up for 20 hours straight, some have been up for 24. "We'll have a meeting to discuss the events of the past day, and where we're headed, over breakfast. Good job today, everyone."

With that everyone heads off to their bunks for much needed sleep.

Jump to Dathsuts

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal crew lounge
System: Jumpspace between Gamgilebo and Dathsuts

1126.7.6 - 15:00 Imperial Time, 23:00 Vilani Time

After a good day's sleep and a meal, the crew is feeling rested after the battles of yesterday. The ship has lost one vargr crewman but gained two more. Chuck does his best to make Uengghae and Kagfak feel comfortable by serving them a traditionally prepared vargr meal of warmed ngarz from their former ship and introduces them to a Terran delicacy: bacon.

As promised, Gvarokh calls a meeting to order. "Everyone. I fully understand the desire we had to loot the pirate base. Ordinarily, I would have been much more willing and agreeable on that plan. However, we had a few things working against us. First, we have a mission. Our job is to find those two missing crews. We found one set. Unfortunately, we could not help them, but we did find them. The other set is still missing and we have the task to find them and retrieve them. All else is secondary to finishing that. I do want to stress the importance of that." He pauses to make sure it sinks in.

"Second, we had a time limit. We didn't know when more pirates were going to return; we could have had days, or we could have had minutes. We simply did not know, and, fortunately, we will never know. It was a huge risk.

"Third, there were too many of them. There were at least ten pirates cooped up in their offices waiting for us to assault them. Whether we did it with the atmosphere still there or we did it in vacuum, it was going to be a deadly proposition. We would be fighting for loot. They would be fighting for their very lives in their den. Simply put, there would have been casualties, and, to be totally blunt, I need every one of you to accomplish our mission. Any trinkets gained would have not been worth the cost. It was better to just kill them outright and move on."

Gvarokh pauses to allow anyone to challenge or respond to his statements thus far. No one does, so he continues.

Gvarokh takes a deep breath and lets it out. "For whatever reason, Darrurz decided he could no longer subject himself to operating under my command. Because of his valuable service to this ship, this crew, and myself prior to this, I chose to let him go and even helped him as he left."

Chuck blurts out, "I know why, because he thought he was better than you. Present company excluded, but there are just some vargr who don't respect the chain of command. That's why they're fighting all the time and why the Extents are always a mess. Some of them have no patience and aren't willing to see things through. They'll mutiny if the captain paints the ship the wrong color!"

After Chuck is finished with his outburst, Gvarokh thanks him for his input and continues.

"I fully realize my leadership style is more laid-back than a typical Vargr. I do not apologize for that, but do not let it fool anyone into thinking I am weak or soft. We have had success on this mission, and we will continue to have success as we find the missing crew and get them home."

Again, the crew is silent. Some heads nod in agreement. Gvarokh thanks everyone for their time and adjourns the meeting.

Arrival at Dathsuts

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal crew lounge
System: Dathsuts - near the gas giant, Tikal

1126.8.6 - 06:00 Imperial Time, 22:00 Vilani Time

Miishakaal arrives in the Dathsuts system near the system's only gas giant, Tikal. The ship had a large vector leftover from Getes so she's already cruising in at a high velocity. Fortunately, the passive sensors fail to pick up anything so the ship is safe to head in to skim.

09:00 Imperial Time, 25:00 Vilani Time

Deceleration begins

13:20 Imperial Time, 29:20 Vilani Time

Skimming begins.

Uengghae is at the helm as Gvarokh feels the young vargr needs the experience to build on his training. Although the ride isn't great, Gvarokh offers helpful hints as Uengghae encounters pockets of difficulty. The ship is never in any danger and Uengghae gets the job done.

14:50 Imperial Time, 30:50 Vilani Time

Skimming complete. Miishakaal begins the long climb out of Tikal's gravity well.

Gvarokh opts for a shorter decel burn at Taksarrgh so he instructs Uengghae to stop the burn after 235 minutes. They'll coast to the jump point.

18:45 Imperial Time, 2:45 Vilani Time

Acceleration ceases.

19:05 Imperial Time, 3:05 Vilani Time

Passive scanners detect a jump flash. In relation to your heading (where 0 degrees would be right in front of you), it was located 115 degrees to starboard and 45 degrees down. The ship (what else could it be) is relatively small (less than 500 tons), but it's difficult to get a more precise determination on its identity as it is approximately 2 million miles away.

"Shall I r-r-restart the eng-g-gines?" Uengghae asks in Galanglic.

"No," Gvarokh replies, "That will only make it easier for them to see us. Just wait."

Five minutes later, Kagfak announces from the sensors station, "I've got decel burrrrn."

Gvarokh pats Uengghae's shoulder.

22:30 Imperial Time, 6:30 Vilani Time

Miishakaal makes it to safe jump distance without further incident and promptly jumps.

As for the other ship, it decelerated at 1G and further passive observations knocked its size down to 300 tons or less. It gave no indication that it ever saw Miishakaal and made no attempts to contact her.

Arrival at Taksarrgh

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal
System: Taksarrgh

1126.9.6 - 22:45 Imperial Time, 14:45 Vilani Time

The ship emerges from jumpspace and begins it deceleration burn. Once passive sensors come online, you can see that there is a small amount of traffic around Taksarrgh. As there is no orbital facility here, all ships must descend to the surface.

23:20 Imperial Time, 15:30 Vilani Time

Passive sensors indicate that one of the ships in far orbit around Taksarrgh has broken off from the others and appears to be moving on an intercept course, albeit slowly. Although you're still 727,000 kilometers out (436,000 miles), passive sensors are able to determine that this other ship is in the neighborhood of 1,000 tons displacement.

23:55 Imperial Time, 15:55 Vilani Time

Passive sensors indicate that you have been scanned by that large ship. Its transponder has identified it as the Orrgzagvegholloengsourr, a Thaksoeghuksaknag class frigate in the Ngath Confederation Navy. That would make it an 800 ton vessel.

Moments after the transponder signal has been received, you are hailed in Gvegh. The ship translates, "Attention, unidentified vessel this is the Orrgzagvegholloengsourr of the Ngath Confederation navy. Identify yourself."

Gvarokh responds in Gvegh, "Greetings. We are the trader, Miishakaal."

"Where do you hail from, Miishakaal?"

"Our registry is Vilani."

"Then it's wise of you not to run with your transponder on. The wolves would smell you from a parsec away. What brings you into Ngath Confederation space?"

"We are trying our luck in the Extents due to unreasonable Vilani rules."

Laughter is heard from the other ship over the comm. "I will not argue with you over the unreasonable nature of the Vilani, however, they must be far worse than I've heard that the risk of being preyed upon by corsairs is actually preferrable." This draws more laughter from the vargr ship.

"Very well, Miishakaal. Good luck with your new hunting grounds. I have one bit of advice."

"What's that?"

"Watch your tail. Orrgzagvegholloengsourr out." The Orrgzagvegholloengsourr ceases accelerating and no longer appears interested in you.

1126.9.7 - 2:40 Imperial Time, 18:40 Vilani Time

Deceleration is completed without further incident.

Gaedze Downport, the starport outside the capitol, is hailed and landing clearance is granted.

Gaedze Down

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Gaedze Down
System: Taksarrgh

1126.9.7 - 3:00 Imperial Time, 19:00 Vilani Time, 03:32 Local Time

Miishakaal has landed in the dark at the starport, Gaedze Down. The ship is outside, connected to a gantry arm which leads to a terminal. The starport is a simple "+" shape and Miishakaal is located on the western arm.

In case it becomes necessary, Taksarrgh's gravity is half that of Earth (0.495) and its atmosphere is very thin (0.22 atm) and tainted with pollutants. The average temperature is 7.6°C (45.7°F). Nights are brutally cold as the atmosphere is too thin to retain any heat. The downport computer informs you that the local forecast is for clear skies with a high of 32.8°C (91°F) and a low of -116.4°(-177.5°F). The current temperature at the starport is -92°C (-133.6°F). Sunrise is at 09:00 local time on a 36 hour clock.

Gvarokh explains to the crew that he wants to pick up some cargo to bolster their cover story that they are traders. As there is no longer anyone officially in that capacity, he takes on that job himself.

He dismisses Uengghae and Kagfak to take a nap and informs Slade to be ready for the local refueling crew. He logs in to the starport network to arrange for fuel and life support and find the local version of BrokerNet. Unfortunately, he is informed that safety regulations prohibit refueling operations after 30:00 and before 9:00. Gvarokh growls as he makes a fuel reservation. Afterwards, he informs Slade of this and the engineer is able to catch some shuteye.

Gvarokh has better luck with BrokerNet, but not much. No deliveries are permitted after dark due to safety regulations. Furthermore no trading is allowed after 30:00 or before 08:00. The explanation for this is some mumbo jumbo about creating shipping logjams on the tarmac. However, Gvarokh is free to look at the speculative cargo. And here is what he finds:

  1. 25 tons* of Wheeled Vehicle brake assemblies at 56,000 cr/ton
  2. 8 tons* of Data Storage Modules (TL-9) at 120,000 cr/ton
  3. 350 tons* of Lead at 150 cr/ton
  4. 5 tons of Assorted Computer components (TL-9) at 75,000 cr/ton
  5. 190 tons* of Aluminum at 900 cr/ton
Although these prices are in Imperial credits, prices are also listed in Ngath Confederation Credits (which are 20% higher). Asterisk indicates the owner of the lot is willing to subdivide it.

Gvarokh decides to sleep on it and will have a decision when the trading officially opens in the morning. He locks down the ship and instructs everyone to catch a few hours of sleep.

Cargo and Fuel

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Gaedze Down
System: Taksarrgh

1126.9.7 - 6:58 Imperial Time, 22:58 Vilani Time, 07:30 Local Time

Gvarokh awakens before the markets open to finish his research. With another 90 minutes before sunrise, the sky has begun to brighten. He lets the crew sleep in for another hour as their services are not yet required.

Gvarokh considers this cover cargo to be expendable so he passes on the expensive lots. It's down to either lead or aluminum. He calls up Ikhog in the library to see if it can make the decision for him.

While Ikhog has a large manufacturing base, it isn't considered "industrial." Treaties between the five major powers regarding the handling of pollution has kept the planet clean yet maintained a robust economy. As such, manufacturers are always looking for raw materials (lead and aluminum included). Refined metals are preferred as it helps to keep costs and emissions down.

As soon as BrokerNet opens, Gvarokh buys ten tons of both the refined aluminum and lead. He pays 10,500 in Imperial credits. The owners of each lot promise to deliver them this morning. Gvarokh lets Lakir and Vlad know that they'll be receiving a shipment.

8:28 Imperial Time, 24:28 Vilani Time, 09:00 Local Time

The crew is up and the starport warden finally calls on Miishakaal.

Kagfak, whom Gvarokh assigned to keep a look out, reports to Gvarokh that he has arrived.

Having finished with the task of cargo speculation, Gvarokh greets the starport warden at the starboard personnel airlock.

"Starport Warden Ghakaraerrtang at your service," he says in Gvegh.

"Captain Gvarokh of the Miishakaal." Gvarokh replies in kind.

Ghakaraerrtang sniffs the air and says, "I understand you've put in for fuel and life support refurbishment."

"That is correct."

"The captain of the Orrgzagvegholloengsourr informed us that you are a Vilani vessel."

"That is also correct. Is that a problem?"

Gvarokh takes a more aggressive posture, which Ghakaraerrtang senses immediately and backs off. "Not as far as I'm concerned, but you may have difficulties. How were you planning on paying? Confederation credits or Imperial credits?"

"What is the implication of using Imperial Credits?"

"There's no implication. It's a fairly common practice. Ngath doesn't like it. He's ordered a 20% surcharge added to every transaction to persuade people to use Confederation Credits. So, you'll pay more for fuel and life support with Imperial Credits than if you paid in Confederation Credits. The traders don't like it; so to get back at him they'll typically charge more if you pay in Confederation Credits. It's just something you should be aware of."

Gvarokh gives a slight smile and responds, “So, basically everything is just 20% more expensive?”

"Anything involving starport or government services, yes."

"Regardless, we will pay in Imperial credits and pay the surcharge."

"That is fine. The landing fee is 120 Imperial credits and unrefined fuel will cost 240 credits per ton. Refined will cost you 1200 credits per ton. Life Support refurbishment cost 1500 credits per person week. How many people will you be covering?"

Gvarokh does his best to keep his eyes from popping out of their sockets at the costs. "Unrefined fuel. Nine people for one week."

"Very good. You're fourth in line. The fuel crew should be here within a couple of hours."

Gvarokh notifies Slade to keep an eye out for the fuel crew.

9:03 Imperial Time, 25:03 Vilani Time, 09:35 Local Time

The lead and aluminum shipments show up on the same truck. The vargr driver doesn't bat an eye at seeing vargr and humans among Miishakaal's crew. He assumes that Vlad is in charge though, and has him sign off for receipt of the cargo.

9:28 Imperial Time, 25:28 Vilani Time, 10:00 Local Time

The truck departs.

9:58 Imperial Time, 25:58 Vilani Time, 10:30 Local Time

The fuel and life support refurbishment crew arrive and get to work. Slade watches them but they perform just like a human crew would. They acknowledge Slade but that is all.

10:23 Imperial Time, 26:23 Vilani Time, 10:55 Local Time

All starport service personnel finish and depart. Gvarokh gives the order to prepare for departure.

10:43 Imperial Time, 26:43 Vilani Time, 11:15 Local Time

Miishakaal lifts off from the landing field.

14:23 Imperial Time, 30:23 Vilani Time, 14:55 Local Time

Once at safe jump distance, Gvarokh gives the order to jump to Ikhog.

Planning for Ikhog

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, crew lounge
System: Jumpspace - between Taksarrgh and Ikhog

1126.10.1 - 00:15 Imperial Time, 8:15 Vilani Time

Gvarokh has called a meeting to discuss what you're going to do once you reach Ikhog. He fires up the holoprojector and some library program offers introductory information about the system.

As a Terran looking world appears from the projector, a voiceover begins, "Ikhog is a Ngath Confederation world located in the Gvadhoe subsector of Windhorn. It orbits the gas giant Sagvo but lies far enough out that it is unaffected by ionizing radiation. Ikhog is a pleasant world with an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere of 0.89 standard pressure. 78% of its surface is covered with water but gravity is only 0.576 standard. Mean surface temperature is 9.6 degrees Celsius (49.3°F).

"Total world population is 3.87 billion spread among five nations. The law level rating is a four. Explosives, poison gas, portable energy weapons, weapons of a strict military nature and light assault weapons are prohibited.

"The native vargr population, although proud of their heritage, do not display any signs of xenophobia. While most of the original human population has emigrated, a tiny sample remain.

"Ikhog's starport has a B rating while it's technological level is 8. While the presence of starships is common, the world lacks the technological infrastructure to manufacture starships and thus these must be imported. There is a level two global telecommunications network in effect. Visitors wishing to connect with the local network will have to use wires.

"Ikhog's prosperity is the direct result of many successful business enterprises. It has a healthy manufacturing base but, to maintain its appeal to tourists, the nations have agreed to avoid the trap of rampant industrialization and abide by mutually agreed upon environmental regulations. As an added benefit, Ikhog's has a thriving agricultural industry. This diverse blend of corporate endeavors manifests itself in the uniquely vargr art and architecture which has blossomed over the years.

"The Ikhogians have taken to sponsoring several corsair bands who meet their strict criteria for personal conduct. Ikhogians prefer corsairs who abide by traditional values and frown upon bloodthirsty cutthroats. These patrons live vicariously through their preferred swashbucklers, savoring their tales of mischief. That isn't to say that all corsairs found on Ikhog are savory characters. It just may be that their cunning is such that they are able to keep their dark deeds hidden and they'll do anything to maintain that ruse rather than lose their adoring public."

After the library data has been presented, Gvarokh says, "Our mission here is to find and retrieve the crew of the lost merchant ship. We don't know where or when the Auction is held. I've even checked the pirate base database. We won't know the parameters of the actual effort until we get to Ikhog and can study the situation first hand, but I would still like to at least have some initial lines of approach. Any suggestions on what we should do first?"

Slade says, "I think just by showing up, a certain amount of trouble will locate us and provide us with something to do."

Gvarokh is taken aback for half a second and then bursts out laughing for a couple of minutes. Vlad and the other vargr chuckle as well.

Composing himself, Gvarokh answers, "Yes. Yes it definitely will! But, while fending off our guaranteed trouble, does anyone have any ideas on how to find our missing crew? Hell, just figuring out where and when the Auction is without attracting new trouble would be helpful, too."

Kagfak says sheepishly, "We c-c-could just ask-k-k. We look-k-k Touzagh," he gestures to the humans and then the vargr, "and ship might pass-s-s for c-c-cors-s-sair, even if no have flaming eye. C-c-color good for vargr ship."

Uengghae adds, "Auction legal. We never-r-r hear-r-r talk about pr-r-roblem with Ikhog and Auction. Other-r-r cor-r-rsairs have auctions, though most prefer-r-r to use broker-r-rs to sell prizes."

Kagfak says, "Might be VIP only."

Uengghae nods. "Yes. Aerrdathin br-r-rags about big buyer-r-rs, but never-r-r say names."

Next: Arrival at Ikhog