NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Not sure what to expect, Gvarokh has everyone at their stations when the ship
emerges from jumpspace. As passive sensors draw in the scene, Ikhog appears to
be a somewhat busy place, but no one pays you any mind. Ships travel to and
from the planet and the gas giant it orbits.
Gvarokh opts to head directly to the planet. He hails the starport to ask for clearance to land.
The exchange is typical for what you'd expect in Imperial space, but then the system controller asks, "And what is the purpose of your visit to Ikhog?"
Gvarokh simply states, "We have cargo that we plan on selling on Ikhog. We also plan on refueling and getting supplies."
"Thank you. You've been cleared to land at gate 23. One of the starport wardens will meet with you once you've landed and will be available to answer any questions you may have. Enjoy your stay. Ghoekang Starport out."
Just as Gvarokh is about to give the order to descend to the downport, passive sensors begin to chime. Gvarokh quickly consults them to figure out what set them off. In orbit over Ikhog is a Donosev class survey scout ship. Surprisingly, the transponder has been left on. The ship identifies itself as the Qa Livk, the missing ship.
Passive scans indicate that the ship is warm, likely indicating that it has been used recently and that a crew is, or has recently been, on board. The bridge is facing you and there are lights on inside.
Gvarokh asks, "How close are we?"
Kagfak replies, "100,000 k-k-kilometer-r-rs and closing. It is in geostationar-r-ry or-r-rbit."
"Hmmmm, we can't risk changing course. We're not ready to take her yet, especially since we don't know if any of her crew are on board. Mark her coordinates so we know where to look for her later." A light bulb goes off in Gvarokh's brain. "Hey, Vincent?"
"Do we have the Qa Livk's access codes?"
"No, we've got her transponder and buoy ID codes."
"Damn, well, do you think you can hack her computer?"
"Sure, I'll give it a try." Vincent hits a few keys and executes one of his hacking programs. It takes half a minute but gets through. "Well, that was easy. Looks like they were sloppy. Must've been overly confident. They didn't make much of an effort to firewall anyone out. What do you need?"
Gvarokh responds, "We can't do too much that is obvious. First can you install permanent back-door? That way it will be easier to access later? Also, can it be programmed to send a message out if it moves or is about to leave the system? Oh, and is it currently occupied?"
"Yes on the back door, provided they don't discover it. Yes, I can drop in a subroutine that will radio us whenever it engages its engines. Again, it will work provided they don't find it. And if they've got someone with a brain at the comm, they'll probably notice the transmission. As for that last question," Vincent pauses while he looks for inhabitants on the Qa Livk, "yes. There are two, three... nine vargr on board and they are armed. No sign of the crew though."
Gvarokh says, "Ok, just do the back-door. Don't do the transmission, as that will be too obvious. The ship is a bonus. Our primary focus is the crew. Unless we can't get the crew."
"Gotcha. It'll only take me a couple minutes."
"At that, since we can't do anything, we continue on down to Ikhog. Do it slow enough that Vincent can finish his work, Uengghae."
After a couple of minutes, Vincent calls in. "All set. Next time, all we need to do is send the passphrase and we'll be in. Oh, and I really think I can set something up to text us if the Touzagh try to take the Qa Livk out of orbit. Since it takes a bit of time for the jump capacitors to reach full charge, I can drop in a program that lets us know as little as ten seconds before it maxes out. They're not going to waste converting that fuel over to jump energy if they're not going to do it. I could also tie in a trigger to the nav computer to snatch their jump coordinates too so we know where they're headed. By the time they figure out that they've sent a message, it'll be too late for them to do anything about it. The only thing they'll know is that someone wanted to know when they were leaving and where they were going. So, how about it?"
"Make it so," Gvarokh says with enthusiasm.
While Vincent sets up the jump drive email alert, Lakir says, "Absolutely. As a minimum, we need to be able to track these fucks and nail their ass, 'cause if we got no personnel we better have the ship and plausible deniability, 'else we're gonna have our ass hunted to the other side O' known space and these parts ain't lookin' too friendly right about now."
"True," Gvarokh replies, "but you have to remember that if we do anything now, our whole cover is blown and we have no chance to do anything else. If we are too indiscreet in what we do, we risk blowing our cover, and at the very least they will completely lock us out of the computer. We have to be subtle. We have to try for the crew first. Of course, the other problem is hitting the ship now is that we can’t take it. Oh, sure, we could easily kill it. But we can't take it; at least not yet.
"I do, however, agree that Vincent's tracking idea is great and needs to be done!"
Vincent interrupts, "Ok, we're all set, Captain."
Gvarokh lets Uengghae know that they can take the ship down at a normal pace.
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Gate 23 of Ghoekang Starport
It is dark in the pre-dawn hours when Miishakaal comes in for a landing.
However, due to the busy nature of the starport, the place is fully lit. While
there isn't as much activity going on now as there will be come sun up, it is
the most you've seen since leaving Maran.
During the approach, Gvarokh hoped to find some information about the Auction and how the locals feel about humans but Ikhog's datanet is still young (TL-8) and there is no means for the ship to connect while in space. When they actually land at the port, he suggests that non-active crew get some rest while they can.
As the local datanet is slow, starport services are handled by people rather than computer. Gvarokh has to wait for a starport representative to visit the ship in order to arrange for fuel and air. The starport's datasite, accessed through basic wireless, has a list of brokers he can contact but trading is strictly offline.
Frustrated, he decides to take a nap and orders Kagfak to alert him when the starport finally sends someone around.
Gvarokh is awake the instant Kagfak comms him. He's down to the airlock in a
flash and greets Assistant Deputy Starport Warden Knaedhin. The male vargr is of
average build and still retains some measure of youth in his appearance.
He introduces himself and sniffs the air. "Welcome to Ikhog, Captain Gvarokh," he says in Gvegh. "What brings you to our world?"
Gvarokh smiles non-threateningly and replies, "I have cargo I wish to sell, and am hopeful I can find new cargo four our next destination."
Knaedhin's tail wags. "Oh, I have no doubt that you'll find cargo for wherever you're going. Ikhog offers a wide range of goods for export.
"Will you be needing anything from starport services?"
"Yes," Gvarokh answers. "Fuel, life support and a data feed."
"We've got all three," he says with a friendly smile. He makes marks on his clipboard, then says, "Unfortunately, we only have basic datanet and we just had wireless set up a year ago. You'll be able to get some newsfeeds but you won't be able to conduct any trading through it.
"Fuel is 100 credits per ton unrefined. 500 refined." He doesn't specify if it's Confederation or Imperial. "The landing fee is 100 credits for three days. 100 per day after that. It includes your datanet access. The landing fee is due now. Fuel and life support upon receipt."
Gvarokh asks, “What is the conversion rate for Imperial credits?”
Knaedhin is unfazed by the question and simply states, "1.5 Imperial credits per Confederation credit here at the starport. Outside the starport you'll be charged more. If you're planning on leaving the starport, you might consider buying Confederation credits before you go. Not everyone understands the efficacy of interstellar trade and recognizing foreign currencies. We're not anti-human or even anti-Imperial but we are fiercely patriotic."
Gvarokh says, "That is quite egalitarian of you."
"So where are currency exchanges conducted?"
"Down at the customs office, there's a currency exchange window."
Gvarokh then asks where trading can be conducted.
"There's the Trading Hall here at the starport. It's basically a large hall where local brokers and traders set up a table and conduct their business. You can go outside the starport if you want, but the veteran free traders I talk to say it's just easier to get their business done there."
When the conversation starts winding up, Gvarokh asks Knaedhin if there are local sights he recommends us to visit.
He howls. "If you were human, that would be easy. But as a vargr there's so much to see here in the city I wouldn't know where to begin. There are museums, art galleries, and parks but the architecture of the city itself is so uniquely vargr. It's rare that a world this close to the Imperium can be clear of its influence."
With a smirk, Gvarokh says, "If I were a human, what would be the major interest?"
"Then I would suggest the Museum of Ikhogian History, Ukhuekhsngu Art Gallery and Ghonekang Market Park."
While listening to Knaedhin, Gvarokh receives a text message from Lakir. "One piece of info we still lack is how the locals respond to humans."
Gvarokh responds to Knaedhin's last answer by asking, "Are there many humans on Ikhog?"
"Well, I guess that depends on how you define 'many'." He chuckles good-naturedly. "In terms of the total population, no. But there's a sizable community. I think the last census put there number somewhere around thirty thousand or so. You wouldn't think there would be any on a world that's so passionately vargr but there are. I guess it shows that we can co-exist after all." He smiles and wags his tail.
Gvarokh returns his smile and says, "Oh, I am quite convinced we can co-exist when we want to."
"I'd like to think so," Knaedhin replies. "Well, I'd better be on my way. If you're in need of further service and the netsite doesn't have the answers, feel free to contact me." He hands Gvarokh his business card.
With that Knaedhin is on his way and Gvarokh heads back inside. He announces over the comm that he wants a meeting in the crew lounge in five minutes to discuss where they're going from here.
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Gate 23 of Ghoekang Starport
After a visit from the Assistant Deputy Starport Warden Knaedhin, Gvarokh has
called a meeting to assign jobs for the day.
Gvarokh says, "From what I can see, we need to accomplish multiple things and we'll need to split up some to do that. I would like some of the humans to see if they can find the on-world human enclave and scrounge up some information. I will need to go to the Trade Hall and unload our cargo and see if there is other cargo to be found. No, I am not really trying to make money. I am trying to not lose money while providing a decent cover. If we are going to be traders, we need to at least look like we are trading. Finally a third group, primarily vargr, needs to start getting info about Auction. Like, finding out when and where it is would be a huge help.
"Does anyone have anything they'd like to add?"
Lakir asks, "Vincent, anything you can pull from the net, in regards to what us pinkies do for fun around here? With the shitty datanet, I really don't want to have to visit the Welcome to Ikhog tourist kiosk."
Vincent replies, "You don't need me for that. Any one of us can do a net search. And I doubt you'll find much. At this tech level, world datanets have limited bandwidth and are expensive. I doubt any human hangouts have the money to put up a netsite, or a reason to. I'm sure all the humans already know where the hangouts are. It's not like they're going to be getting a steady stream of human tourists coming in from the Imperium."
Lakir moves on to the next topic. "How's most of the ground support around this pad handled? Human or Vargr? Might be able to start closer in to the ship."
Simrii says, "From what I could see from the turret, it's all vargr. Haven't seen a human anywhere."
With the basis of what needs to be done covered, the group gets split into teams. Slade volunteers to stay on the ship to handle fuel and air refurbishment. Chuck volunteers to find the human enclave and Lakir states that he'll go with him. Gvarokh asks Vlad to walk around and gather intel on the Auction and instructs him to take either Kagfak or Uengghae. Vlad chooses Uengghae. Gvarokh tells Kagfak that he'll be joining him at the Trade Hall.
Simrii and Vincent elect to stay behind and watch the ship with Slade. They'll be available for back up if necessary.
Chuck and Lakir are ready first. Chuck wears his Flex Armor, carries a comm, and has his shotgun slung. All DS ammo. Lakir carries his gauss pistol with a mix of dart and tranq ammo. He also has his comm, PDA and a pocket combo tool.
After they leave, Vlad and Uengghae head out. Vlad is in Flex while Uengghae wears Cloth. Uengghae has his shotgun slung. Vlad has his body pistol and sword. Vlad also brings his comm while Uengghae borrows one from the ship's locker.
Gvarokh dons his tailored cloth armor and his auto-pistol side arm with standard DS ammo. He has his hand-comp and his comm. Kagfak joins him, wearing cloth armor and carrying a shotgun.
Gvarokh gently dissuades him from over-arming. "This is only a traders meeting. There won't be any corsairs there so no need for the shotgun. Let me find you something more suitable." He takes a Ma-57 from the ship's locker along with a comm. "Here, take this."
Kagfak graciously takes the auto pistol and the pair leave the ship.
From here, the groups split up and perform their separate tasks.
Gvarokh and Kagfak
Lakir and Chuck
Vlad and Uengghae