Vlad Detects A Musk
Vlad Looks For Vargr Hangouts - Part 1, Part 2
After the Club With Rueleth
Vlad Visits The Captain
Lakir Visits Vlad (Gishinridu - Hrun Jump Day 2)
Interview with Chief Inspector Khiikurshasekha (Sardia)
Location: The Bridge, a bar at the Larkarda Starport (Lishun
1125.6.4 - 15:40 / 14:10 local time (18 1/2 hr day)
While you're sitting down at the table enjoying your Larkarda Lager, you detect a faint musk. It smells like a human female who's aroused. Considering the flirtations of the brown nosing human Chuck, you aren't totally surprised. He could be trying to get laid or he could have more sinister motivations, like trying to get a larger share.
You get Gvarokh's attention via an exaggerated sniff of the air ("Do you smell that?"). You whine a little, let your tongue hang out a little, nod your head towards Chuck and look back at the captain ("He wants to mate with her."). You then follow it up with a quiet growl and a flash of teeth in the direction of Chuck ("Or Chuck is challenging your authority.").
Gvarokh replies with a quiet growl in Chuck's direction ("I don't trust him.") and follows it up with a whine and a nod in the captain's direction ("I trust her.").
You reply with a quick nod.
Location: Vlad's stateroom on the Miishakaal, parked at the
Larkarda Starport (Lishun 0712)
1125.6.4 - 08:30 / 12:30 local time (18 1/2 hr day)
You go to your stateroom to use the computer terminal there for finding vargr hangouts. You come up with one at the starport, Oekoerssarsill Ogz (Wandering Dog, a popular chain), and three in Oriole City: Zuenrroksue Oeng (Fierce Wolf Den), Urrogh Nguekh (Urrogh's Place), Oel Zaz (The Spot).
You decide to stay close and just hit the Oekoerssarsill Ogz. You throw on your cloth armor and grab your comm, pda, and sword and head on out.
09:00 / 13:00
Location: Oekoerssarsill Ogz at the Larkarda Starport
You stand before the Oekoerssarsill Ogz. There's a sign depicting a vargr with a backpack walking a trail that meanders through some hills toward some mountains. Opening the door, the scent of heavily spiced food hits your nostrils. It's too bad you already ate. Well, maybe in another hour or two...
The place is a little bigger than Jum's bar, The Bridge, but at this hour there are only 15 people visible in it. 13 vargr, 2 humans. Two of those vargr are working. The 2 humans are sitting with 2 vargr at a table in the back. The remaining 9 vargr are broken up in groups of: 3, 3, 2, & 1.
You take a seat at a table midway through the bar that enables you to see the whole place. Your back is to the wall. Shortly after you sit down, the waitress comes over to take your order. She's "poodled" her fur. The whole appearance makes her look pretty ugly.
"Need a menu or do you know what you want?"
"A menu, please".
She hands you on menu then asks, "Something to drink while you look over the menu?"
"Coffee and orange juice please."
"We don't have orange juice."
"Well, what kind of local fruit juice can you recommend?"
"Fine, I'll have a glass of that then."
Satisfied, she goes away.
You look over the menu, looking for something to snack on. When she returns with your guarsava juice and coffee, you inform her that you want a plate of hash browns and insist that a bottle of ketchup be brought over as well.
You fire up your PDA, drink some guarsava juice (not bad, tastes like cinnamon and avocado), and start doing some searches on people and things that pertain to the job while you try to eavesdrop on other conversations. Unfortunately, there's too much ambient noise in the room from HV's, TV's, and music piped through hidden speakers to pick up any conversations.
You search the newsfeeds for "Mersshon" and "Oda Linnachre" but come up empty. News bits for "Wellesmoor Diversified Products" gets you financial reports and products. There is a press release about new products that Wellesmoor is developing. A bioscanner is on the list. Nothing about problems with the RVE though.
Your food arrives. You start picking at it while you continue your PDA searching. "Bioscanners" gives you a listing of companies that sell bioscanners on Larkarda. Wellesmoor is not one of them.
"RVE" turns about too many hits. It's a search that you'll have to revise.
You pause from your search to look around the room to see who's come and gone. The table with the two vargr and two humans has left. New arrivals: 1 human and 1 vargr (both female) are now seated at the bar and 2 male and 1 female vargr have taken a table.
All the newcomers look like spacers. The other trios of vargr that are here look like mercenaries. The pair of vargr and the sole vargr look like local merchants.
You decide to approach the chicks at the bar. You walk over with your coffee, hoping that your not giving the impression that you're hitting on them. The human female is muscular and stocky. The vargr female is average looking and of average build. They don't pay any attention to you until you say something.
"Excuse me, but you look like fellow spacers and I could use a little information..."
The vargr female replies, "Like what?"
The tone of her voice isn't quite unfriendly but it sounds like it's headed in that direction. Maybe they're not convinced you're not hitting on them.
You remain standing and proceed anyway, "I serve on the Miishakaal. We've been offered a job that involves picking up a load of cargo in the RVE. My captain was hoping I could find someone with some experience with the RVE, to maybe get an idea of what we can expect to deal with once we enter territory under their control."
That catches their attention and their attitudes change completely. In a friendlier tone the vargr replies, "Well, the vilani are going to want that cargo registered, which means fees. Also, if it's deep enough in vilani space that you'll have to hit another starport their going to want your transponder swapped out with one of theirs."
The human adds, "And is that ever a pain in the ass."
The vargr continues, "That costs several thousand credits and there's usually a waiting list."
The human adds, "I've heard up to 30 days."
The vargr continues, "I hope that cargo's worth it."
You reply, "I certainly hope so too, as our Captain has already accepted a small down payment." You pause then ask, "Do you know if they confiscate your old transponder? Or when we get back do we have to have a new one installed yet again, to replace the RVE transponder?"
They look at each other as if making sure they're going the same thing, then the vargr responds, "I don't know if they confiscate your old transponder."
"They probably do," says the human shaking her head.
The vargr continues, "But I haven't heard of anyone needing to replace the RVE transponder once they got back into Imperial space. I don't think anyone cares this far out. If you were back in the Imperial Safe someone might take issue with it, but I'd think that out here there's more important things for Imperials to worry about."
"Pardon the perhaps not so delicate way I'm asking this, but how common is it to bribe in the RVE to maybe speed things up a little?"
They both laugh. The vargr answers, "Don't really know. Never tried."
The human smiles, "Depends on how big the stick is up the bureaucrat's ass."
Smiling, you conclude the conversation, "Thanks for the help. I'll pass the info on to my captain. Sorry to have intruded."
The human replies, "No problem."
The vargr replies, "No apology necessary."
You return to your seat, eat a little bit of food, and finish off your guarsava juice.
You jot down a few notes from the conversation into your PDA. You finish up your coffee and hash browns. You hail the waitress and get the check. The bill comes to $9. You swipe your bankcard for $11. You gather your things and head out the door.
11:15 / 15:15 local time
Location: Oekoerssarsill Ogz at the Larkarda Starport
You step outside of the place. Once again it is dark on Larkarda, though your body's internal clock tells you otherwise. All of the other close by vargr hangouts are in Oriole City and none are close by. You head out to the street and hail a cab.
An Oriole City Taxi cab pulls over and you get inside. The taxibot asks you for a destination. You check your pda for the closest one. Turns out its Oel Zaz (The Spot) which is located in the city's largest entertainment district. "Oel Zaz", you bark.
The taxibot must know vargr for it takes off immediately.
1125.6.5 - 11:35 / 15:35 local time
Location: Oel Zaz
The taxi comes to rest in front of Oel Zaz. The fare was $5. You paid it and got out. The area is loud with music leaking out of night clubs and bars. Oel Zaz is smack dab in the middle of it all. It's almost lunch time for you but the locals are in full swing for the night's festivities. You walk inside.
The place is crowded but you manage to find an empty spot at the bar. You flag down the bartender who cocks his head as if to say, "What do you want?" You reply, "menus" over the noise. He reaches under the counter and hands them to you and moves on to the next customer.
You look around. There's probably a couple hundred people here and it's at least 95% vargr. You don't see anyone in your immediate vicinity that looks like a spacer. Everyone is dressed casually, though some are wearing expensive, designer clothing.
You scan through the menu and find some fried vegetable sandwich that seems appetizing. When the bartender comes back, you point to item on the menu and then say loud enough for him to hear, "Larkarda Lager." The bartender nods and walks away.
Your beer arrives shortly thereafter, followed by your food in another 15 minutes. The sandwich is good, but you've had better food elsewhere.
You're finishing up your meal when an attractive female vargr sits down at the bar next to you. She sniffs the air and shoots you some side long glances. She finally turns to you and says, "So, what's a spacer doing so far downtown?"
"Oh? Hunting for what, may I ask?" she smiles in a sexy way.
"Information..... mostly. I have business in the RVE and am not quite sure what to expect. From what little I know, it sounds as if the pinkies have created a bureaucratic nightmare over there."
She laughs, "The vilani have always been buggers for paperwork. I might be able to help you with that. By day, I'm a broker so I know a little bit about trade regulations." She offers her paw, "Ruelueth."
"Vladgorkfeg, my human friends call me Vlad. Either is fine." You shake paws with her. You continue, "The ship on which I serve has accepted a job that involves picking up a load of cargo in the RVE. We've never traded in the RVE before and are a little unsure what to expect. By the way, can I offer you lunch?"
"Lunch?" She laughs. "You certainly are a spacer." She checks her wrist and laughs again. "Well for me it'd be more like a late night snack, but sure. I'll take you up on it. Some scrambled eggs would be good right about now."
She sits down on the barstool next to you. You flag down the bartender and tell him an order of scrambled eggs and another beer for yourself. The order doesn't appear to phase him.
"The RVE will gnaw at you like a bad case of the fleas if you don't follow all of their regulations. There's fees for everything. Cargoes have to be registered upon entering vilani space. Make sure you get the shipper to pay for those fees or else your profit margins are going to slip.
"You've got to buy a vilani transponder as soon as you get into vilani space. If you don't have one, the vilani navy will impound your ship. And the transponder is expensive. They'll charge you a minimum of 5 grand. Plus there's usually a 30 day wait while they check your ship out. And you can't leave! You lose a whole month waiting for these pinkies to make sure you're not some pirate."
Her eggs arrive along with your beer. You notice her glass is empty.
"Need a refill?" You ask her.
"Yeah, a gratzny tonic." The bartender acknowledges that he got the order.
She returns her attention to you, "You might be able to bribe someone to speed things up a bit, but make sure you know who to bribe and do it right. If you mess that up..."
She starts eating and growls her pleasure, "Good eggs."
"I sense a possible chicken-and-the-egg problem here. Ooooh (noticing the eggs as if for the first time), that was pretty bad, sorry. *heh*"
She laughs, almost snarfing up the eggs. She grabs your beer, takes a drink, and sets it back down. She smiles.
You continue, "Um, anyway.... At least upon initially entering the RVE, we're going to have unregistered cargo and no transponder. Is there some way to take care of that stuff before entering their territory, or do they give you a reasonable chance to comply?"
Her drink arrives. She samples it before replying, "They give you a reasonable chance to comply, so long as you're within a reasonable distance from the border.
"I suggest going to Gishinridu. It's 2 parsecs from here. They were an Imperial world but the naval base there couldn't abide by Lucan's request to abandon the world. They're kind of a vilani client state now. If you do go there, stay on the ship or the starport. There's a stupid pinkie cult there that believes that anything that isn't human is unclean and must be killed in order to restore order to the universe. But don't worry, there's enough vargr stationed at the starport and the naval base that if any of them try anything, they'll get their arms ripped off."
"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." You check your watch. It's 12:45 Imperial time, 16:45 local time. You were never given a time to either return to the ship or check in.
Ruelueth finishes off her eggs. "Thanks Vlad. Those were good eggs."
"No prob. Thanks for all the help. I've got a few hours to kill before I have to report back for duty. What the hell is there to do in this town for fun?"
She gets a feral look in her eye, "Well there's dancing here in the clubs, holosims, spice bars, but that's really no different than any other Imperial world. If you're looking for something a little different, we could go to the top of the Oriole Dome Spine Tower and check out the view from the observation deck."
"Sounds good to me. Do we walk or ride?"
"Let's get a cab. It's a long walk."
"I suppose I should settle up with the bartender first." You flag down the bartender and indicate that you want to settle your tab. The bill is $25. You throw in an extra $5 for tip.
She slips her paw around your arm as you head out the door to the street.
Characters: Vladgorkfeg & Shiraamer
Location: Captain's Quarters on the Miishakaal, en route to Gishinridu
1125.6.6 - 13:15
After a good night's sleep, a hearty breakfast, exercise, a shower, and lunch, Vlad feels ready to debrief the captain on his activities their last day on Larkarda. He knocks on the captain's door.
Vlad enters the room. The captain is seated at her meeting table studying a spreadsheet on her holoviewer. She shuts it down.
After taking a sip of coffee she says, "Hello Vlad. Have a seat. What's on your mind?"
"Welp, I figured I should fill you in on what I found out yesterday."
"Yes, I was wondering what happened to you."
"I hit a couple of vargr bars while on Larkarda in the hopes of finding someone who might have some experience trading in the RVE. I'm not sure how much real value is in any of this, but here's what I found out.
"We're going to have to register the cargo, a privilege for which they'll be charging us various fees. Apparently there are fees for practically everything they could think of to charge fees for."
"Yes we know about that. Fortunately, the cargo that Gvarokh found for us included extra payment to cover those fees."
Vladgorkfeg continues, "We already know that we'll have to get a RVE transponder, but I got the impression that we may be able to get around that, if we don't have to hit a starport while we're there. However if we're caught without one, their navy will impound the ship. It costs a minimum of 5,000 credits and it could take up to 30 days to get it. Plus there's a chance our current transponder will be confiscated. Also, we cannot leave while waiting for the transponder."
"I don't see how we can travel 11 parsecs without hitting a starport. We don't have enough food, water, or air to last that long. We won't try to dodge the Vilani navy. Let's not break the law just yet.
"As for the cost and time for installation, we've heard that as well."
"Some well placed bribes could probably speed things up a bit, but we'd have to be very careful about who we tried that on."
"Yes, the others have heard that too. That's good that we're getting some consistency to the reports about that."
"It was suggested we go to Gishinridu first to register our cargo and get the transponder as it's nice and close to the border. Lessens the chance that we may get hassled before we get a change to comply with RVE law."
"Well that's fortunate since that is indeed our first destination."
"If we do go to Gishinridu, we Vargr should remain in the Starport. There's a cult there that believes all non-humans need to be eradicated to purify the galaxy, or some such nonsense."
"Yes, we read about that on InfoNet. Captain McKibben of the Aerlay Craver assured me that the Navy doesn't tolerate that behavior at the starport. I'm still hesitant to let you and Gvarokh leave the ship though. I'd rather not risk my crew over this. I'm sure that other crew members will be able to handle this."
"That's about it."
Shiraamer then stands and Vlad does likewise, "Well thank you for the information Vlad. I appreciate you telling me all that."
"Sure." He turns and leaves.
Characters: Lakir & Vlad
Location: Cargo Bay on Miishakaal
1125.8.1 - 10:30
Lakir has been searching the ship for signs of Vlad. He finally tracks him down in the back of the cargo bay. The big wolf has improvised a makeshift barbell and weights from some loose spare parts. He growls as he finishes a set of dead lifts.
Lakir contemplates leaving Vlad to finish, but the vargr has detected his presence, "Lakir! Speak!"
"Heyay buddy...figured to try you out for a bit'o sparing practice, fore' we hit Hrun an' all....didn't want to lose my 'close'in an' personal skills on what's going to be a long and bloody trip, I'm thinkin'.. Mabe' some o' that 'claw' gig you do, versus some good o'le fashioned fake plastic blade. I don't want'ta end up missin' a throat or somtin'...."
Vlad grins a big toothy grin and says "Sounds fun!"
"Perfect! Let me know what sort of timing works with your routine, and we'll get it on." Looking around the cargo bay, "Whatta ya figure, we got enough room here?"
Vlad looks around the makeshift room, "Of course we do! You never know when you're going to be in close quarters combat."
"Great! So what are we lookin' at timewise?"
"Make it afternoons, around fifteen hundred. This way I get my nap in after lunch."
Later that afternoon, the two have their sparring match. Vlad splits his time using a fake sword and going unarmed, relying on his infighting skill. Although Vlad "wins" most of the time, he is good natured about it and offers hints to Lakir as to where he went "wrong." Often, it's just a matter of Vlad's greater speed and strength.
The two practice daily for a half hour to an hour or so. Vlad incorporates it into his daily aerobic exercise regimen.
NPC: Chief Inspector Khiikurshasekha
Location: Gvarokh's quarters on Miishakaal
1125.11.7 - 19:15 Imperial Time, 12:15 Vilani Time
Vlad is the fourth crew member to visit with the Chief Inspector. Chuck was the first, followed by Simrii and Lakir. Vlad made sure to take a nap while he waited.
As far as cops go, Chief Inspector Khiikurshasekha didn't seem all that bad. No condescending tone. No veiled threats. No odd scents to give him away, though the combat armor he wore would mask everything except his head, which was exposed. Pretty straightforward human.
The Chief Inspector explained that this was merely an evidence gathering inquiry. He wasn't planning on filing any charges until there was sufficient evidence to convict someone of a crime.
After giving his name and stating how long he'd been a member of the crew, Vlad told his version of what happened, though he left out the part about being solicited to join the pirates. The guy just let the holorecorder take it all in. When he was done, Khiikurshasekha asked him one question.
"How did you feel after the captain gave the order to surrender?"
"I was pretty pissed. I thought that we should've fought them."
"Weren't you worried about getting killed? Or the passengers for that matter?"
"We all thought that the pirates were going to kill us anyway. Betterrrrr to go down biting." Vlad finishes the statement with a snarl.
The Chief Inspector nods in such a way that Vlad thinks that he would've done the same.