Characters: Slade, Captain Shiraamer & Gvarokh
Location: Captain's Stateroom on the Miishakaal, parked at the Larkarda Starport.
1125.6.4 - 19:05 / 17:35 local time (18 1/2 hr day)
The buzzer to the captain's stateroom rings.
"Enter," shouts the captain.
Slade opens the door and enters the room, "Captain. Gvarokh." Slade sees the two of them seated at the captain's table with Gvarokh's hand computer and the captain's terminal linked up to the holoprojector. It's displaying various files as well as a map. At this distance, he can't make out the details.
"Come in and join us Mr. Trask. Help yourself to the coffee Slade if you wish, have a seat."
Slade joins them at the table. The door closes behind him.
"So gives us your report Mr. Trask."
"Captain, our neighbor was apparently in such a hurry to get his new ship out of the yard that he got one without its sensor nets all calibrated. The drive went over its power limit and tripped the main plant because it didn't know any better. It's a two- to four-day calibration procedure and he asked me to ask you if you want to ship their cargo for them. He wants a pretty quick answer, he said 90 minutes, and please keep this in mind: I don't know why, but the first officer was jumpy as *hell* when I walked through the cargo hold. Maybe it's worries over people like me passing tips to pirates, but it could be something funky going on with the legal status of what they're hauling."
Gvarokh asks, "Out of idle curiosity, where are they sending the cargo?"
Shiraamer: "Now isn't that a coincidence Gvarokh. Let's check some things out first. Did you notice what their cargo was? Wonder why they were so jumpy when you were walking thru." (Shiraamer half talking to herself)
Slade: "Captain, all I really know is there's 9 tons of it, well-packaged, watched over by a seriously cranky first officer. I'm afraid I was thinking more about introductions and engines."
"Let's see what we have for info on Gishinridu." Shiraamer quickly taps into the system to see what she can find out about Gishinridu and restrictions, etc.
Gvarokh: "I did mention before that Gishinridu was one of the Vilani client states."
Shiraamer ignores him as she starts reading out loud, "C536333-A. Class C starport. Orbital only. Very thin atmosphere. Average temp -101C. Brrrrrr. 58% of surface covered by ice. 8,300 people. No cities. Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy. That's clear as mud. Law Level 3. Tech Level 10. Naval base. No Gas giants. Amber rating. No trade restrictions. Let's find out what this amber rating is all about."
Gvarokh: "Well, it could be because of its uncertain allegiance. I did read that the naval forces in the system appealed for aid from the vilani from vargr incursions. In 1122, the base commander declared a mutual defense pact with the vilani against corsairs and an outright refusal to withdraw their ships from defense of their worlds."
Shiraamer: "Here it is. Local religious sect proclaims violent racist policies and insists on being isolated from the 'unclean aliens' of the universe. Unsubstantiated rumors of vargr sacrifice in their rituals 'in order to restore order to the universe.' And you wanted to go there first Gvarokh?"
Gvarokh looks a little uncomfortable, "I didn't delve that deeply into the planet's history. Maybe this client state thing isn't such a great idea. We can skip over it, though it may give us an extra jump on the trip."
Shiraamer can't help but smile at Gvarokh's words. She remembers there were times when she had admitted that to him before. "I don't think that is a place we want to go to. Forgive me for being sentimental, but I'm kinda used to seeing your muzzle around here after all these years. I would have to take it personally if anybody tried to sacrifice ANY of my crew." Shiraamer looks up at Gvarokh and smiles, "You said you had another route available? Unless you boys can convince me otherwise, I think we're going to have to turn the neighbors offer down."
Shiraamer looks at the others to see if they object, not REALLY expecting them to, but she will hear out what they have to say.
Gvarokh says, "We don't have to stop at the client state to use that route. We can jump over Gishinridu directly into the RVE. What does the computer have to say about the amber zone around Lashlaminan? If it is just as bad, we may have to risk the corsairs."
"Good point. Let me see what it says." Shiraamer brings up the information on Lashlaminan and the amber zone."
"Lashlaminan. C595575-9. Average starport. Dense, tainted atmosphere. Average temp, 17.1 C. 52% water. 566,000 people. Balkanized. Law Level 5. Tech Level 9. Scout Base. No gas giants. Amber Zone: Cultural Issues. Huh? Let's get more info on that. The indigenous lifeforms, the Lasslumminm, have few scruples when dealing with offworlders. They believe that the individual is supreme and that everyone should have the maximum freedom to pursue whatever their desires may be, including dishonest gain if need be."
At this point, ship security flashes a message through the holoprojector, "Chuck Strider has just returned to the ship."
Shiraamer looks up and reads that Strider has returned. As has been her habit, she acknowledges his return with a reminder about tomorrow's meeting and a note that if he has anything to report she's in her stateroom going over the routes for their mission.
Chuck's voice comes in over the intercom, "Hi Captain. Anything to report? Why yes. I'm happy to report that I've picked up some take away food on my way back to the ship for ya'll to eat. Vlad and Simrii were the only blokes to eat at the bar so I figured everyone might want a break from rations and ship's stores to eat some fresh food. Come and get it!"
At the mention of food, your stomachs start to rumble. You haven't eaten since lunch, which was several hours ago. With any luck, Chuck has picked up something appetizing.
Slade: "Yum, food."
Shiraamer gets an embarrassed look on her face when her stomach rumbles. "Oh my! I guess it's been longer then I thought since I've eaten last. Let me tell our neighbor that I won't be able to take his cargo for him and then see what Chuck brought back. Something edible I hope."
Shiraamer motions the others to be quiet while she puts in the call to their neighbor. Not knowing what channel to reach them on, she tracks down Aerlay Craver through the starport registry. She places her call. She turns the vid screen to her so the others aren't visible while she waits for them to answer.
"This is the Aerlay Craver," a young woman's face appears on the vidscreen.
"Hi, this is Captain Shiraamer Siirkaasare of the Miishakaal, your neighbor. May I speak to Captain McKibben please."
"Just a moment."
The comm signal flickers for a millisecond as the call is re-routed.
"Bill McKibben here."
"Greetings Captain McKibben. This is Shiraamer Siirkaasare of the Miishakaal. I was told that you had some cargo that you wouldn't be able to deliver and were looking for somebody to take it for you."
"Arr, Captain Siirkaasare, Yes. Good evening, my complements on your engineer. Mr. Trask has done us a great service, so I thought I'd return a favor.
"As we are grounded for the next few days we will not be able to guarantee to deliver some of our cargo. We have nine tons of pharmaceuticals that need to be delivered to the Navies factor at Gishinridu within the next 11 days. Just standard medi, so they don't need special handling.
"Commander Haelerall, the Navy Factor will probably be at the Navy Base, although he occasionally works out of the Starport. I'm sure you know already but it's best not to leave the extradition line of the downport with Vargr in your crew. Inside the starport, the highport and the Naval base are fine of course.
"Anyway I thought I’d give you first refusal before I post it on the boards."
Shiraamer smiles sweetly into the vidscreen. "Glad Mr. Trask was able to be of service. Don't know what I'd do without him. I appreciate being given first chance on the cargo run. Unfortunately, though, I'm not going to be able to take it this time." Shiraamer gets a disappointed look on her face. "Please accept my apologies. I'm sure that you'll find somebody to take the pharmaceuticals in no time. If I hear of anybody, I'll send them your way. I'm sorry to cut this short, but I need to get back to some times. A Captain's work is never done is it? Safe Flying!"
Bill's face seems a little disappointed matching Shiraamer's "A shame. It is unfortunate that I am thus unable to replay the favor. Are you full? Or heading somewhere else?"
Shiraamer blushes a bit. "To be honest with you, I don't really wish to go in that direction. As you stated before, it's not the best place to go with some Vargr as crew. Next time we're both in port though, we'll have to get together for a meal. Once again thank you for your offer."
Bill looks a little surprised "It's no problem at all in the Starport. The Navy does not stand for any such nonsense. In fact Sergeant Ghurk seems to like the reaction he gets checking papers at the main gate. Admittedly he has a couple of troopers in battle dress to back him up, but it gets the point across to the locals admirably.
"They also patrol the system well. Not like elsewhere along the coreward border. As I was telling Mr. Trask, we have lost three holds in recent months, so if you are heading coreward 'ware the corsairs."
Bill pauses a moment "The offer still stands. I can add a little more to standard rates due to the time frame."
Gvarokh doesn't say anything during the exchange.
Shiraamer ponders a fraction of a second before continuing. "Tell you what Captain. Let me run some numbers and I'll get back to you in 15 minutes. Must say you do paint a pretty picture. Which pharmaceuticals did you say we would be carrying?"
Bill answers "Medical drug." He looks down for a moment. "Here is a copy of the manifest for the lot." The manifest appears at the side of the comm screen, to be downloaded if you request. "And here is a copy the customs inspection." This appears in the same place. The report states that it's standard medical drug. The manifest and Imperial custom inspection are standard, you see this stuff every time you move freight.
Bill looks back up smiling, "I'll await your call," and closes the comms connection.
Shiraamer turns from the comms connection to Gvarokh and Slade. She downloads the manifest and customs inspection and turns it so that Gvarokh and Slade and see it. "I'm planning on taking it with the added incentive he threw in on the last offer. I want it double-checked before it comes on board (assuming we can check it out without breaking customs inspection seals, etc.). When we get there I want Vladgorkfeg and you Gvarokh, to stay on the ship. Let me call him back and then we can get something to eat. After that we'll need to check out what paperwork we'll need to go there with this new cargo, what the rest of our route will be and get paperwork for that, figure out the costs which will have to come out of the down payment for our actual run. We can get the pharmaceuticals transferred and locked down so that we can plan our other cargo we'll be taking." Shiraamer finally takes a big breath and smiles at them. "Last chance for comments before I call Captain Craver back and I want our conversation recorded."
Slade looks at the Captain with a cheeky grin on his face "Great, now we're all going to die. Just kidding. Where's the food?"
Shiraamer puts through the call again to the Aerlay Craver and gets passed directly to Bill McKibben. She smiles "Captain McKibben. Good News for you. I'll take you up on your bonus offer and deliver your pharmaceuticals. Since you vouch for the cargo and assure me that the risk is minimal, especially with my Vargr staying on board, how can I refuse? I'll send some of my crew over in a bit for the cargo. If there are any particulars that you haven't told me about that I need to know, you can either download them now or give them to my First. I believe you met him on our first encounter."
Bill smiles as he replies "That is good news, one moment please." He keeps the comm to you open as he opens an inboard comm. "Arr Miss Jonnhum, Captain Siirkaasare of the Miishakaal has agreed to transport the lot for the Naval at Gishinridu. Please draw up a standard freight contract at 110% normal rates, with the standard penalty clause for late delivery. All the Ts and Is crossed and dotted, you know how the Navy are so particular. Captain Siirkaasare has said her crew will come and collect, so hand over and payment when they arrive please." You hear a distinctive "Yes Captain" from Miss Jonnhum, as Bill turns back to you "When ever you are ready to collect the lot Miss Jonnhum will oblige."
Shiraamer waits to see if he has anything else to send her before giving polite goodbyes and ending the conference.
At the goodbye Bill replies "It is good to do business with you Captain. And as you said I'll have to take you to dinner next time we are in port together. Safe Passage Captain."
She turns off the recording and turns back to Gvarokh and Slade. "Shall we get something to eat now?"
NEXT: Chowing Down With Chuck