Character: Captain Shiraamer & Gvarokh
Location: Captain's Stateroom on the Miishakaal, parked at the Larkarda Starport.
1125.6.4 - 18:20 / 16:50 local time (18 1/2 hr day)
Gvarokh enters the captain's quarters with his hand comp, "Hello Captain." He sees the captain sitting at her meeting table, a simple round affair with four chairs. A holoprojector sits in the middle. It's displaying information from Mersshon's holocrystal as well as library data on Theton. She doesn't look very enthused.
"Hi Gvarokh. Have a seat."
Gvarokh takes a seat next to the captain and gets his hand comp to sync up with the holoprojector.
"Help yourself to some of the coffee if you want Gvarokh, I made a fresh pot when we got back."
Gvarokh accepts the Captain's offer of coffee, "Thanks."
She waits for him to sit back down before continuing. "If I remember right you downloaded the information on the data crystal so I won't cover the dossier on the agent. I asked Vincent to see if he could find out anything else besides what is in the dossier." She takes a sip of coffee.
"Oops! I was so focused on the route and the cargos, I forgot to check the data crystal's info! I will rectify that mistake after the meeting."
"No problem. I checked out Theton and it doesn't look like a nice place at all. Their atmosphere is corrosive from nitric acid and even though the tourism bureau might call this place a water world, it's more like 'acid world.' I guess the lanthanum deposits make up somewhat for no native life. Most of the 6 million population live on the surface although there are some orbital cities as well.
"There IS some good news though. Even though the tech level is your average Imperial (tech level 11), the starport is B and... get this... law level is 3. The bad news is there are no gas giants, though there is an asteroid belt. This translates into fuel prices that are 5 times the norm. It appears that fuel shuttles skim ammonia from the atmosphere and refine it into hydrogen to sell as fuel at the Starport.
"This place was unclaimed until about 100 when individuals and small groups decided to mine the place. Arga colonists settled the place and haven't left. They used the place as a penal mining colony at first before it was opened up to everyone but the penal mining colonies still exist. In 625 a naval base was built and in 645 it became the subsector capital. Theton took Vland's side when it seceded from the Imperium in 1120.
"You can check it out more if you want. Wait until you hear about the red tape. (Shiraamer takes a long drink of her semi cooled coffee) The RVE (Restored Vilani Empire) requires all ships that travel within its borders to be registered. This can only be accomplished in RVE territory though. I've heard that the usual procedure is filling out the forms (of course) and also the ship's transponder gets replaced. BUT this process takes approximately takes 30 days AND your ship must remain grounded for the whole time!"
Gvarokh rolls his eyes.
Looking up at Gvarokh to see his reaction she gives a sad smile and continues.
"It gets better...The registration fee is $5,000 PLUS $10 for every displacement ton of the ship. If that wasn't bad enough, even though the docking fees, fuel prices and starports are similar to what's available in the Imperium, all cargo must be registered. That cargo registration fee is a one time cost of $20 per ton of cargo and is done at the cargo sourceworld. For transborder shipments they do it at the point that the ship enters RVE space. I couldn't find any more cargo restrictions other than the standard WMD ban, but I'm not sure if the individual worlds may have their own restrictions."
Shiraamer sighs and leans back in her seat, "Well, that's what I got. Any questions or comments before you tell me what you got?" "30 days is pretty inconvenient, but I don't think we were given a time limit. The various fees, while annoying, shouldn't hurt us too badly. The transponder issue is worrisome, however. I fear for our ability to get a non-Vilani one when it is time to leave.
"One question though. When it refers to RVE space, does that include client states?"
"I don't know. There wasn't any info regarding client states."
"We will likely end up entering RVE space through a client world. That might offer us the chance to slip past some of those issues. If there is any way to keep the current transponder, either by registering it or by keeping it after it is replaced, I think it is worth the effort."
"Good idea. I'll see about checking into that." Shiraamer replies.
After that, Gvarokh explains what he found out, "There are two paths we can take." He calls up a holomap to illustrate his point. "The shortest route is the one in red. 6 jumps. The longer one in green. 7 jumps. The green route keeps us in Imperial space as long as possible though. The red path gets us into Vilani space right away. In both cases we'd be crossing the border at a Vilani client state. More on that later.
"The problem with the green route is that it brings us very close to vargr space. I found a statistical analysis of corsair attacks in this region and the closer one got to the border the greater the chance of getting attacked. Fairly intuitive.
"Between what you read and what I've read, it sounds like the vilani will at least let us into their space without harming us. We just have to deal with their bureaucracy.
"Now getting back to the vilani client world as a border crossing point, I think that regardless of the path we take, it should be used as a stepping stone. They should be able to clue us in on any rules and regulations we'll have to abide by to get reasonable access to vilani space. And maybe they'll help us take care of those RVE travel regulations.
"I've checked the library data on Gishinndu and Shuka. Both worlds were loyal Imperial worlds even after Vland seceded from the Imperium and both have naval bases. There are excerpts from news articles where the world's leaders decried Lucan's withdrawal of Imperial forces from Lishun and appealed for aid from the vilani. There's also reports from Shuka where Vilani naval vessels assisted the local squadron thwart a vargr attack. In 1122, both worlds' base commanders declared mutual defense pacts with the vilani against corsairs and an outright refusal to withdraw their ships from defense of their worlds. There doesn't seem to be a reply from Capital about what could be considered a treasonous act.
"I checked for local vilani - imperial ugliness along the border. Open conflict has been dwindling since the vilani seceded from the Imperium. Plenty of rhetoric has been exchanged by both sides and it's been backed up by alot of posturing. One side moves their squadron here and the other side moves to counter. There are accusations of privateering by both sides and there is concrete evidence that both sides are guilty. If there's a long term trend, it's that conflict between the two has shrunk from fleet-sized engagements down to squadron conflicts and then down to patrols exchanging fire. Either both sides don't have the resources or they're busy elsewhere.
"What hasn't let up are vargr attacks. Vargr corsairs, privateers, and state sponsored raiders continue to raid shipping along the Imperial and Vilani borders.
"In my opinion the route through Gishinridu is the safer way to go. While Vladgorkfeg and I might bluff our way past vargr corsairs, I don't think that we could guarantee the safety of the crew. The Gishinridu route is no safe bet but the odds of being attacked by pirates is lower than going the Phago route. And the vilani might not be as bad as the Imperium is making them out to be. Since you've got a fair amount of vilani in you, perhaps it will help if there's any racial tension."
Gvarokh cues up CargoNet. "There's several available cargoes for delivery to worlds along the Gishinridu route. Activity on the boards seems a bit light. I'm guessing that maybe not too many traders want to risk the unknown of heading into vilani space. The cargoes that seem to be getting the most attention are ones rimward back towards what TAS has labeled the 'Imperial Safe'."
"We go back a long way Gvarokh, I trust what you bring. If you think that the Gishinridu route is our best bet, that's the way we'll go. Do your best to get us cargo that is feasible and hopefully won't draw too much attention. You know what our fees are going to be at the minimum. There might be some more that I couldn't find out about."
Ship security flashes a message through the holoprojector, "Slade Trask has just returned to the ship."
Shiraamer stops to read the security message before continuing. "It seems that Slade is back. Hang on a second while I check in with him. I want to see what happened when he went over to the other ship."
Shiraamer hails Slade, "Welcome back Mr. Trask. Anything to report?"
Slade replies, "Captain, you want to do this over the intercom?"
Shiraamer looks over the table at Gvarokh with a 'wonder what he has to report' look on her face. "Report to my room then in 5 minutes for your report. Shiraamer out."
After breaking the intercom connection with Slade she turns again to Gvarokh, "Ok, call me paranoid, but let's just make sure that it is ONLY Slade that will be coming to report."
Gvarokh tries to reassure her, "In today's environment, there is no such thing as paranoid. I believe the proper human term is 'prudent'. Sounds like he has an interesting story to tell though."
NEXT: The Call To The Aerlay Craver