Arrival in Ugarun System

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Major Arsashaammu, Major Elloekothe
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Ugarun

1126.35.6 - 5:30 Imperial Time, 29:30 Vilani Time

NOTE: Ugarun keeps Vilani time despite the planet's 34 hour, 15 minute day.

It was an uneventful week in jumpspace, though the crew kept busy with language lessons, exercise, and simulation drills. Slade is starting to feel comfortable with the new (for him) drives. Overall, the crew has become better acquainted with their new surroundings.

Major Elloekothe offered some background on Ugarun. She explained that the world was, and still is to some extent, a monarchy. The queen, Anmaa Ugarun, knew her people didn't stand a chance against invading corsairs so she welcomed the Ngath Confederation's invitation for statehood. It was smart as it spared her people from bloodshed. While the Confederation maintains a presence, it hasn't been oppressive. In fact, the economy has improved as the world's exports are more in demand in the Confederation than they were in either the Imperium or the Ziru Sirka.

While there are numerous stations and cities in orbit, the downport has a monopoly on fuel. The stations and cities are "commerce only." However, one can arrange to have fuel delivered to one of these stations if one doesn't want to descend down into Ugarun's insidious atmosphere. There's a fee of course, and it varies from one station to the next.

All of Elloekothe's contacts are on space stations.

Like all Confederation worlds, Ugarun is a haven for corsairs. However, some corsairs are more welcome than others. And some Confederation naval personnel aren't as welcoming as others. Through her contacts, Elloekothe knows that there's a Captain Foeghsaerrrre who patrols this system and has a reputation for giving corsairs a tough time. Rumor has it that he despised the Touzagh for the way they operated. He's loyal to the Confederation but wishes they were pickier about whom they offered sanctuary to.

Dougok and the rest of the crew were silent and attentive while Elloekothe briefed them.

The ship emerges from jumpspace around Ugarun. As passive sensors come online, they detect a mostly quiet system. There are a few small vessels (less than 500 tons) either heading in to Ugarun or on their way out. There are several more making their way between the orbital stations and cities.

"We'll want to dock with station Ugarun-82. I know a wolf there named Sarruero. He's more of a fixer, but his ears pick up all sort of whispers."

Transponder codes for the various cities and stations begin to pop up on the navigation screen along with those few ships willing to broadcast (you currently do not) their status.

"There it is," Elloekothe says. She taps the screen, calling up a holo of the station's shape as transmitted by the transponder. It's a simple spoke an hub design. The central hub is a landing bay for ships 1,000 tons displacement or less. The ring is where the station's inhabitants live and conduct their business. Access to the habitat ring is through the spokes. Docking is also possible between the spokes on either side of the central hub, but only one ship per space is permitted. There are no docking ports that link directly to the habitat ring.

Gvarokh gives the order to decelerate and lay in a course for Ugarun-82 when the passive sensors announce that a very large ship has appeared.

"Show me," orders Gvarokh.

Passive sensors show a 10,000 ton Foghoks class cruiser emerging from behind a small moon.

You are hailed with a growl, "Attention, unidentified vessel. This is the Confederation starship Oekhsarkhinsoerakha. Maintain current deceleration vector and prepare to be boarded. Any deviation from your present heading will be considered a hostile act, and you will be destroyed."

Elloekothe says reassuringly, "Standard procedure. We're flying a corsair, and we came in with our transponder off. Someone saw our jump flash. The show of force is intended to intimidate. The Confederation is serious about its 'no poaching of Confederation vessels' policy. They just want to make sure we understand."

Gvarokh sends an acknowledgement of the message back to the Confederation cruiser. Afterwards he makes sure that everyone has the ship's story straight.

Everyone remains at their stations while the ship waits to be boarded.

For the record, here are those stations:

Everyone is in a vacc suit as per SOP. Weapons are discretely stored. The idea here is to appear as non-threatening as possible to the boarding party.

Getting Boarded

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Major Arsashaammu, Major Elloekothe
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Ugarun

1126.35.6 - 8:00 Imperial Time, 00:00 Vilani Time

It takes some time for a shuttle from Oekhsarkhinsoerakha to rendezvous with Pack of Daggers. The larger ship, which is only capable of 1G is still working on its intercept vector.

The shuttle gives a warning hail when it is close to docking with Pack of Daggers. A metallic chunk is heard, signalling that the docking collar has been attached.

Vlad and Elloekothe leave the crew common area to greet the inspection detail at the airlock. Five vargr in combat armor and carrying assault rifles emerge through the airlock.

Elloekothe stands straight, sniffs the air, and says in Gvegh, "Welcome aboard the Pack of Daggers."

The team leader says over his external comm, "Thank you for complying with our boarding request. Are you the captain?"

"No—"

"Take us to him, please."

"Very well. Follow me."

Elloekothe leads the team up the central stairs to the bridge. Vlad remains behind. Once on the bridge, Elloekothe says, "Captain Gvarokh, this is..."

"Lieutenant Sodzerz. Captain, I'll need to see a copy of your nav logs."

"Absolutely."

One of the Lieutenant's wolves heads over to the nav computer and sticks in a holocrystal.

"You're new to this system." He says it as fact. "Are you new to Ngath Confederation as well?"

"No, we've been running along the border for some time."

"Then you know that the Confederation accepts the presence of corsairs within its territory, but it does not tolerate the raiding of its shipping."

"Yes, that was explained to us when we first entered Confederation space."

"Good. My wolves will need to inspect your cargo hold to verify that."

"Absolutely."

Two vargr leave the bridge and descend the stairs. As they do the vargr at the nav computer has removed the holocrystal and placed it in a handcomp. There's a silence on the bridge as he (or she) is communicating on a private channel with the lieutenant.

"It seems that you've come a long way," Lieutenant Sodzerz says. "It was my understanding that the hunting in Corridor was good."

"It was for a while," Gvarokh replies, "but after so many years it had grown stale. There's a reason why we call it 'The Devoured Sector' now. So we decided to try our luck raiding the Vilani."

"Why not stay within the borders of the Irrgh Manifest and raid the Vilani on its spinward border."

"The Vilani have regained half of the Narrows subsector. Our leaders there have lost face. And as I said, things have grown stale there. We needed to set out for new hunting grounds."

"And you picked up some humans along the way."

"Their leaders...lost face as well. They felt betrayed when their leaders withdrew their defense forces and left them vulnerable. There was no point in remaining loyal to leaders who felt no loyalty to them."

"Yes, I can understand that. Tell me, have you heard of the Touzagh?"

Gvarokh replies, "We know of them."

"Well, then you know they tended to have mixed crews."

"I don't care what the shape of the person is. If they're good at what they do, and they're loyal, they're accepted. I don't care if they're vargr, human, hlanssai, or even silicate a-morphs. If they contribute, I'm happy to work with them."

"Uh huh. That's very egalitarian of you. My point is that, unlike traditional corsair outfits, the practices of this mixed race corsair band were unsavory."

Gvarokh takes an assertive stance and fixates his gaze on the lieutenant's helmet. "We don't approve of slavery. Consider us traditionalists."

"Good. Then you won't have any problems while you're in Confederation space. Good hunting, Captain." With that, he and his team depart the bridge and return to their shuttle.

Arrival at Ugarun-82

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Major Arsashaammu, Major Elloekothe
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Ugarun

1126.35.6 - 9:00 Imperial Time, 1:00 Vilani Time

Having survived the naval inspection, the Pack of Daggers has made its way towards Ugarun-82, the station where one of Elloekothe's contacts abides.

As mentioned earlier, Ugarun-82 is a simple spoke and hub design. Once the ship is close enough, the computer indicates that it has received automated telemetry from the station. On approach, the passive sensors display a visual of the station. The doors to the central hub are closed but the lights are on.

Gvarokh hails them.

A male human voice answers, "This is station Ugarun-82. How can we be of service?"

"We'd like to dock at your station. We have business to conduct."

"Docking is 100 Imperial or Confederation credits per day, unless you're bringing us supplies, then it's free. Some of the merchants operating out of the station offer parking vouchers, but you'll have to check with them."

The doors to the landing bay are opening. Gvarokh maneuvers the ship inside. There are three other vessels present: two on the starboard side and one to port. All three are Gaetung class traders (200 tons, 1G, J-2). Gvarokh parks near the one to port.

Dougok watches with interest from his turret as they approach the station and then dock. He secures the turret as they slip into their berth and heads to the common room. Upon arriving, he nods to Lakir and Vlad. The monitor in the room is on and is showing a visual of the bridge.

After Simrii, Uengghae, and Vincent arrive, Dougok asks, "Do we split up and sniff out rumors?"

Vlad says, "I'm pretty OK with whatever the general consensus is."

Gvarokh is still on the bridge. He says, "Well, given that we are flying blind, our initial best bet is to check out Elloe's contact."

Elloekothe nods in agreement.

"In addition," Gvarokh continues, "we probably ought to go out and mingle a bit in order to see if we can find out things on the ground. We need to make sure of human acceptance first. The human controller is a good sign."

Elloekothe says, "The vargr are outnumbered here 11:1. They pretty much handle positions of authority and security. Because the queen complied with the 'invitation' to join the Confederation, the transition has been a relatively peaceful one. There are 40 million humans in this system. They mostly live their lives as they did before the Confederation moved in."

"So we can send out both human and vargr?"

"Yes."

"Good. While I'm quite willing to spend a day or two to check out other bases, this will speed things up. Given that we're on number 82, I assume there are at least 81 others we can check on."

"Not exactly."

Gvarokh tilts his head to the side.

Elloekothe notes the obvious question and answers it. "While it's number 82, don't take it literally. There are many stations that came before it that don't exist anymore. Others were renamed. At this point, 82 is just a name."

"Ok. Getting back to the plan, I'd say that after we check out your contact, it's time for some good ole classic bar hopping."

Elloekothe rolls her eyes.

Vlad smiles and says, "Ah, now there's an idea I can happily glom onto."

Dougok joins in on the smiling and says, "I'm all for sniffing about. At least the vargr are in charge here."

Gvarokh holds up a paw. "Actually, before we head out, we as a group need to address the history of Dougok, Kagfak, and Uengghae. All three are former Touzagh members, and their actual history of joining could be problematic."

He pauses to let that sink in. He then continues, "For Kagfak and Uengghae, the story is that their ship's ambush of a merchant failed, and they wound up joining them instead. Later, they defected to us as they decided being a merchant wasn't for them. We won't let on that the 'merchant' and 'us' are the same people.

"For Dougok, unless anyone has a better idea, the story is that after the base was destroyed on Ikhog, he avoided the aftermath by immediately getting out and ended up wandering for a bit before catching on with us.

"I know this is probably a little to much to worry about, but I really don't want to have their Touzagh histories bite them, or us, in the ass. This way we should all know the base story we can work from.

"And yes, this is an ideal time for Dougok to go sniffing about."

Dougok replies, "I think the story is a good one. I truly did avoid the aftermath by getting out and did later join this crew. It doesn't have to say I participated in the attack!

"Optionally, I could say that I left the group before the attack for personal reasons and wandered for a bit before joining the crew. It's possible that there are Touzagh around that knew that I was kicked out."

Gvarokh's tails wags as he says, "That's the idea! The point is having an explanation that doesn't involve the old ship and 'old' crew. The cover story acknowledges that you were on Ikhog when the attack happened, though it leaves out the part you played, of course. Why you left Ikhog is up to you, and you could easily have multiple stories. The rest of the crew doesn't know; they just know you used to work for the Touzagh. But by the time you met us, you were done with them, and now you're part of this crew. For the rest of the story, it's all up to you.

"And the reason I mention having multiple stories is because no vargr is going to want to admit that they were kicked out of anything. So you can have the version of your story where you never quit, but saw a situation going bad and left before it did. You can have a version where you quit and left because you didn't want to get involved. Finally, there is the 'real' version where you were kicked out. Make it layered. Make anyone who presses you, draw it out you. Make it real in your mind. That there are layers and lies involved helps sell the final story if you ever have to get to it.

"Just keep these important aspects in mind: you worked for the Touzagh at one point, you were on Ikhog during the attack, you left, you joined us some time later. Everything else is gravy for you to make up."

"Agreed," Dougok says with cheer, "Defense in depth! The first story will be my leaving when I saw things going bad."

Lakir affirms, "Dougok's line is he used to work for the Touzagh, and we never pressed him as we have to work with him. No one needs a pissed off Vargr bunked down the corridor in jumpspace. The locals may run some counter intel on us, so we need to stick to this line and let Dougok play it out. 'We don't know nothin'' needs to be the party line, no matter how much booze you get into."

Gvarokh nods in agreement with Lakir's comment.

Dougok suggests that the vargr go out in pairs.

Chuck counters, "Since the vargr are in charge and humans are subject to scrutiny, I think it makes more sense to have all humans accompanied by a vargr, assuming any want to leave the ship."

Elloekothe follows with: "Gvarokh and I should meet with my contact. I don't want a large group meeting with him. It would draw too much attention."

Dougok suggests that he and Chuck pair up.

"Uh uh," Chuck replies. "Not after what went down at Odinaga."

Lakir raises his hand. "I'll go."

"For what it's worth," Vlad says, "I'm of the opinion that Elloekothe and Gvarokh should meet with the contact before we do anything else. We may as well start out with as much information as we can."

"I agree with Vlad," Vincent offers. "That sounds like the safest plan to start with, and since I'm not exactly the dominant race around here, I think I'm just gonna stick with staying on the ship and make sure I know her in and out."

Gvarokh clears his throat. "It was my intention to allow the bar hopping after meeting with Elloe's contact. For the very reasons Vlad said. Now, if there's nothing else, Elloekothe and I need to track down her contact.

Lakir, you're in charge."

The meeting concluded, Gvarokh and Elloekothe return to their respective rooms to gear up. A few minutes later, they're at the airlock. Checking through the external camera, Gvarokh sees that the gantry arm hasn't connected to the ship. He shoots Elloekothe a puzzled glance.

"Yeah, I know." She hits a button for the ship's internal comm. "Vincent, would you please connect to the station's network. That's the only way we can get the gantry arm to connect to the ship."

"Are you saying that I need to hack it?"

"No. You can access it normally."

Vincent does an available networks scan and immediately sees the station's landing bay network. Once he connects to the network, a menu window pops up on the screen, listing available services. He selects "Gantry Arm Controls" and from there gets the option to "Connect to Ship". Not familiar with the controls, he opts for "Auto-Connect".

The gantry arm springs to life. Passive sensors on the ship detect a radar scan emanating from the arm. After a few seconds of calculations, the arm effortlessly connects to the ship's starboard hatch.

Gvarokh and Elloekothe make their way down the gantry arm to the station airlock. Unfortunately, the door doesn't open. An LED message by the door states, "Please pay station access fee: 100 credits."

"I got this," Elloekothe says.

The station acknowledges receipt of the access fee with an audible "thank you" in Galanglic. The door slides open and the two vargr enter the station.

Next: Elloekothe's Contact