Character: Darrurz and Verroel
Location: Swift Little Biter, parked inside Ugarun-82 landing bay
As Darrurz and Vuedueloghz prepare to head out, Verroel uses the passive sensors
to note the other ships in the bay. Two are Kaekzaekh class traders
(Swift Little Biter is parked next to one of them). The other is a
Rangongoer class scout ship. Verroel relates this information to Darrurz.
"No, flaming eyes on any of them," Verroel says.
Darrurz puts on his tailored vacc suit and grabs his communicator, comm dots, hand comp and headset. He doesn't take any weapons.
Verroel informs Darrurz that the comm system has detected the station's network.
Darrurz replies, "If they're any good we best not connect at the moment."
Verroel wishes he had a handcomp to make sure the network was safe before connecting the ship to it. "Damned narrow minded corsairs," he mutters to himself.
Darrurz looks at Vuedueloghz. "Ready"?
Vuedueloghz is wearing cloth armor and is carrying an autopistol in its holster. He also has a communicator. "Ready," he replies.
The pair make their way to the airlock. They discover that the gantry arm remains retracted against the wall. "It's one of those places," Vuedueloghz says. "We're going to have to connect with the station network if we want to disembark, or utilize any of the station's services."
Darrurz responds, "O well, let's see what happens when we connect." Looking at Vuedueloghz, he says, "You might as well do it from the Bridge."
"Let Verroel do it. He's on the Bridge already and I'm sure he's going to be bored while we're gone."
Then looking at Vuedueloghz's pistol and armour, he adds, "Have the laws changed since Ugarun joined the Confederation? Because that open display of weaponry is likely to get you jailed if they haven't."
"Bah, Ugarun's laws apply only to Ugarun. From what Captain Foeghsaerrre implied, I think it would be prudent if at least one of us shows his teeth. If the station doesn't like it and puts me down like a dog, you can cut me loose while you and Verroel make your escape."
Verroel comms Darrurz, "Do you want me to arrange fueling while you are out hunting?"
Darrurz responds, "No, not at the moment, but connect to the station so we can board."
Verroel keeps his fingers crossed as he connects to the station's network. A menu window pops up 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 port hatch.
Darrurz and Vuedueloghz make their way down the gantry arm to the station airlock. Unfortunately, the door doesn't open. Vuedueloghz growls. An LED message by the door states, "Please pay station access fee: 100 credits."
Darrurz looks at his bankcard and then his hand comp and says to no one in particular, "And the adventure continues." He opens a record sheet on his handcomp to record the transaction and pays the access fee. He keeps a secure comm channel open to Verroel so he can hear what's going on.
Meanwhile, Verroel busies himself looking for refueling arrangements and interesting news on the feeds.
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.
Character: Darrurz and Verroel
Location: Ugarun-82 (Verroel on ship)
Darrurz and Vuedueloghz exit the gantry arm and enter a corridor that runs
parallel to the hangar bay. They follow LED signs that lead the way to the
elevators. They arrive at a spoke, find an empty elevator and ride it to the
habitat ring. A short ride later they arrive.
The spoke shaft contains four elevators. It opens onto a wide open lobby that extends 20 meters away from the elevator shaft. Plants decorate the area and the place is brightly lit. The floor is colored to resemble large plates of marble but one touch reveals it to be mere laminate. In front of the pair, and behind them, are large observation windows. To their left and right, the habitat ring extends and curves out of sight.
There are two levels. The pair stand on the "ground" level. The upper level is open in the middle but a concourse on either side is clearly visible. Every 10 meters, there's a bridge connects the opposite sides of the upper level. An escalator connects the ground level to the upper one. The next escalator appears to be 30 meters away.
The place is moderately crowded with humans and vargr going about their business. A glance at a watch reveals that the next vilani day has begun. No one appears to pay Darrurz and Verroel any attention.
There are two information kiosks here in the elevator lobby; one each near the entrances to the lobby.
Darrurz says, "Right. Vuedueloghz. How do I find Sarruero? What would your strategy in this situation be?" While listening to Vuedueloghz's reply Darrurz watches the population pass them by. They aren't much different than what he'd see in the Imperium and its splinter states, except that there are as many vargr as humans. They wear the typical clothes. Some wear simple jumpsuits, others casual garb more typical of surface dwellers. Some carry weapons, particularly daggers and handguns. Longarms are absent. Armour too, unless it's under someone's clothes, which looks like a possibility. No one seems to be paying Vuedueloghz any extra attention for being armed.
Vuedueloghz takes a deep breath and lets it out. "Well, the straightforward approach would be to access the information kiosks and see if Sarruero is listed there. Judging by the reaction we got from flight control, he probably isn't.
"If I were still a corsair, I'd find the local hangout and ask them where I could find him. But since we're being hunted by corsairs, I'd have to find a place where the locals go. Captain Foeghsaerrre said that he works with corsairs a lot so there's a good chance we'll find some there too." He taps his sidearm. "But I'll be good. I won't bare my teeth unless we get backed into a corner."
Darrurz looks back to Vuedueloghz after listening to what he said and looking through the crowd. "So nothing out of the ordinary then?" and then to himself he says, "Well, let's try a more direct approach."
He looks through the passing people trying to find a spacer who might have a slightly less charisma than himself. Finding one, he approaches the fellow and politely asks, "I'm looking for a Vargr but he's not listed in the directory. Where would I go to look for a spacer? And where should I avoid?"
The fellow is taken aback at first. He takes a couple of sniffs as he looks from Darrurz to Vuedueloghz and back to Darrurz again. He relaxes and says, "Avoid anyplace that looks mangy. Once the corsairs get a whiff of you, they'll start salivating. Then they'll decide if you're worth hunting or hitting you up for protection money.
"Try some place that looks respectable and has hired muscle to keep out the riff raff." He looks at Vuedueloghz's pistol and says, "They won't mind if you're armed. That's a sensible precaution." He returns his gaze to Darrurz. "It's all about appearances. If you look like you're on the prowl, they'll steer you elsewhere. Look like a respectable trader and you'll be welcomed with open paws."
Darrurz sniffs the Vargr and the air. "Do I look like I'm on the prowl?" His left ear goes up as he tilts his head slightly to the right to look at the Vargr from a slightly different angle. Before he can answer Darrurz continues, "I was hoping more for the names of the establishments."
The spacer reflexively flinches at Darrurz's interrogative question. He replies, "Gzargve's Watering Hole and Arruedz's Den are safe."
Darrurz looks happy following the Vargr's answer. "Good. That's helpful. Thank you. Have a good drandir." But just before the Vargr leaves about his business Darrurz stops him and says, "Oh by the way you wouldn't know of a Vargr who goes by the name of Sarruero would you? Or where to find him?"
"Yes, I've heard of him. He's a wolf that likes to drink from two springs. He prefers the more respectable establishments but isn't above the less savory ones. I guess it depends upon his mood that day."
Darrurz looks pleasantly at the Vargr and says, "May your day be fruitful. Good luck."
The vargr spacer replies, "And your search as well." He bows his head and continues on his way.
Darrurz's tail wags a little as he walks towards the information kiosks to see where the establishments the Vargr said are, and also to note what the other ones are as well.
The safe places aren't far. Gzargve's Watering Hole is in the direction the vargr spacer came from while Arruedz's Den is in the opposite direction. Both are in the first commercial district on either side of the spoke shaft lobby that Darrurz and Vuedhueloghz are in now. While the vargr spacer didn't name any place that they should avoid, Darrurz has a good idea about a couple of them by reading their names: Scraps, Full Belly After a Kill, Wash It Down, etc.
Location: Swift Little Biter, parked at Ugarun-82
System: Ugarun (Vland 1705)
1126.8.6 - 16:00 Imperial Time, 00:00 Vilani Time
Initially bummed out about being left behind, Verroel has settled into a state of moderate boredom. To keep it from completely swamping him, he busies himself with routine stopover duties, like refueling, life support refurbishment and browsing the newsfeeds.
He's flummoxed that the space station offers no refueling facilities. The explanation from the netsite is that Ugarun-82 is a commerce station, not a starport. Verroel suspects there's more to it than that, but the netsite doesn't offer anything more.
The same explanation is offered for the lack of life support refurbishment.
Apparently Ugarun-82 doesn't want to compete with the Downport for the mundanities of star travel.
The news is his last resort. Alas, there is little here to hold Verroel's interest. There's a report from the Ministry of the Economy proclaiming that exports are at an all time high. As such, living conditions have improved for the Ugarunians. Verroel can smell a Confederation propaganda piece a klick away. The next one, a similar report about how the populace of Kashiin (Vland 1804) are also fairing much better now that the Vilani government has been expunged.
He's about to give up when he comes across an article about how the Ngath Confederation has come to a peace agreement with Hteh Hut (Vland 2103). The latter has proven it isn't a threat to the Confederation and thus it will not bear hostilities against them. Verroel wonders what the real story is here.
Verroel is quite disgruntled and his frustrations with station services don't help matters. As he sits and stews he resolves to have a strongly worded conversation with the captain about getting shoved off into low prestige task like minding the store while went off ship.
His ears perk up at the Hteh Hut and the Ngath Confederation. He pours himself a nice bowl of beer and settles down to do a bit of data mining about these two polities.
He's familiar with the Ngath Confederation from growing up on Rriksanirr. While he was just a pup, Ngath and his popular corsair band whittled away at the stagnant Oukfollarue Concord. Ngath proved popular with his lax controls on member worlds. Providing sanctuary for all corsair groups (provided that they didn't interfere with Confederation shipping) was a shrewd move as any wolf who follows interstellar politics knows that's where most of the troubles start. Appeasing them went a long way.
As Verroel grew up so too did the reach of the Confederation. Finally with the Imperium in chaos, Ngath mobilized his navy to work with corsair groups to expand the Confederation's borders rimward and trailing.
But Hteh Hut is unknown to him. He can't even pronounce that first pinky word. Who puts an H at the beginning of a word? That's a panting sound!
Fortunately, the one thing that the station does provide is access to library data. He downloads it into his ship's database.
Character: Darrurz (Verroel on ship)
Location: Gzargve's Watering Hole - Ugarun-82
Darrurz and Vuedueloghz have arrived at Gzargve's Watering Hole. From
the outside, it appears very well maintained. A fountain in the shape of a
waterfall serves as the focal point of the lobby. The rocks are styrofoam and
the plants are plastic but it's apparent they mean well. Two male vargr (one
large, one average) stand near a podium. They're dressed well, but sedate in
Once the pair step into the lobby, a buzzing sound emanates from a speaker overhead. The large vargr takes a step forward. To Vuedueloghz he says, "I'm sorry, sir, but no weapons are allowed inside the premises. You'll have to check those."
Vuedueloghz shrugs and hands them over. The large vargr hands him a claim ticket.
The average sized vargr says, "Follow me."
The pair comply and follow him through a short corridor into a large dining hall. Off to the left is a bar room with two large openings which serve as doorways (one close, one 10 meters down) and several large cut outs in the wall just above head level for the people sitting at the bar. In the distance, there are several display screens attached to the wall. Video of some mountainous region is being shown. A brook runs through the screen and empties into a lake surrounded by evergreen forests. Small animals occasionally pop into the picture to drink from the lake.
The dining room isn't crowded. The patrons are all vargr. All are dressed as merchants or spacers.
"Do you have a preference on seating?" the vargr host asks.
"The bar." Darrurz looks at Vuedueloghz and says, "I expect that you'll want something to eat with that bloody great frame of yours?"
Vuedueloghz grunts his agreement.
Turning back to the Maitre d'Hotel, he says, "I'm hoping to talk to a wolf called Sarruero and it was suggested that he comes here on occasion?"
"Yes, he does. In fact, he's here right now."
Darrurz looks pleasantly at the Maitre d'Hotel and asks, "Excellent. Would you point him out to me please?" Darrurz takes in the scents in the air and the Maitre d' in order to gauge the atmosphere in the place. He finds both the Maitre d' and the place to be relaxed.
The Maitre d' discretely points to a pair of male vargr in the corner. Both appear to be of larger than average size (but smaller than Vuedueloghz) and robust health. Sarruero is the better dressed wolf while the other has stuck with modesty. There are too many scents in the restaurant to accurately gauge Sarruero's presence, but the vargr's body language while in conversation with his companion is that of confidence.
Darrurz thanks the Maitre d' and walks over to Sarruero with Vuedueloghz in tow. As he nears the two Vargr he lets out the equivalent of a Vargr cough so the two at the table know they are coming. He sniffs the air taking in Sarruero and the other's scents and gauges their relative charisma. Sarruero's is high. The other one, not so much.
In earshot of the two but outside those who aren't actively listening Darrurz says, "Sarruero? I am Darrurz. I do not wish to disturb you unnecessarily. I was directed to you as someone whose services I may have need of. If now is an inappropriate time I would like to exchange comm info so I may contact you shortly to discuss the matter." Darrurz looks pleasantly at Sarruero.
Sarruero says, "Have a seat."
Character: Darrurz (Verroel on ship), Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz, Sarruero
Location: Gzargve's Watering Hole - Ugarun-82
Sarruero says, "Have a seat."
Darrurz and Vuedueloghz accept his invitation to sit down.
Sarruero asks, "Hungry? The food here is excellent."
Vuedueloghz barks, "Yes!"
Instantly a waiter appears and takes Vued's order of sunny-side up eggs, olikslono bacon and pancakes with olikslono blood syrup and some water. He asks that an order of curry spice beef stew be added for takeaway for his packmate back on the ship.
Sarruero nods in approval. "Good choice."
The waiter asks Darrurz if he'd like anything.
Darrurz replies to the waiter, "A small steak. Body temperature. Not cooked. Water in a sipper and coffee. Espresso."
After the waiter leaves, Sarruero introduces the vargr to his right. "This is Fi Khong, the best doctor you'll find in the Confederation."
Darrurz bobs his head to Fi Khong and takes a dominant stance in relation to him. "The best Doctor in the Confederation hay? High praise. What brings you to Ugarun?"
Fi replies, "Every so often a wolf needs a change of scenery. I gave in to the urge to roam and wound up here."
Darrurz nods to Vuedueloghz, "This is Vuedueloghz, my gunner, and I have my engineer on the comm."
Sarruero sniffs the air then says, "Well met."
Vuedueloghz nods respectfully.
After the introduction, Sarruero, who is still eating, asks, "So who sent you?"
Looking pleasantly at Sarruero, he replies, "Sent?" Darrurz chuckles. "When I asked who was the best wolf for providing a clean registration for my ship your name was at the top of the list." There's a hint of flattery in his voice but not deference. He scratches the laser scar on his snout.
"I can do that," Sarruero says flatly. "I can give you Vilani, Imperial, or Confederation. If necessary, I can also arrange for your ship to get a new paint job."
Darrurz's left ear pops up as he looks at Sarruero. With a slight bit of surprise in his voice, he says, "You can do Vilani that passes inspection by the Vilani? I must have been pointed to the right wolf, but who would come to you for a Vilani reg..." and then he stops himself mid-word. His ear comes back down and his tail stops moving. "I'm after a Confederation registration, as well as a paint job, and ... discretion." With which he looks first at Fi Khong, sniffs the air and then back to Sarruero.
Sarruero finishes eating and pushes his plate away. He dabs at the corners of his mouth with a napkin as he finishes chewing his last morsel. He leans back in his seat and pulls out a PDA. He interfaces with it for half a minute then puts it away. "One hundred thousand."
Both of Darrurz's ears come up as he leans slightly towards Sarruero looking him in the eye. "That's a lot of money. I was told you might start high when I was sharing a glass of Uekhfarsal. I can also provide information that is likely to be very useful to you, however I will need the price to come down." He leans back and waits for Sarruero to reply.
Sarruero matches Darrurz's stare as the waiter arrives with Darrurz's water and espresso. Vuedueloghz's water also arrives.
After the waiter leaves, Sarruero replies calmly, "I doubt that you have any information that would prove useful to me."
Darrurz head moves slightly to the left. "As you wish." He pauses for a moment before continuing. "Captain Foeghsaerrre suggested that I should call him if the price for your services and your discretion was too high. I don't want to but I will, unless of course you can help me out on the price."
Sarruero looks up at the ceiling and growls under his breath. He drums his nails on the table as he contemplates what to say next.
He returns his gaze to Darrurz and asks, "How much help do you need on the price?"
Sarruero winces at Darrurz's counteroffer. He scratches behind his ear and pulls out his PDA again. After consulting it for fifteen seconds or so, he growls. "Fine. Fifty thousand it is. Not a credit less. Fifty percent down payment when we arrive to start work. The rest upon completion. I'll have a crew there at three. Is there anything else you need to discuss? I have some work to do beforehand to make this happen." He tosses his napkin on his plate and looks ready to stand.
Darrurz looks slightly surprised that Sarruero accepted his offer, but continues, "I have a launch that needs a credible Confederation past as well so I can sell it. I can give you 5,000 now and 10% of its sale price."
"That only works for me if you plan on selling it here."
"That's the plan. But there's no guarantee."
"There never is. If you don't, can I get a 10,000 advance towards your offworld sale?"
Darrurz replies, "Cash up front is the issue. That's why I offered the 10%. I don't know what I'm going to get, and I don't know when I'm going to get it. You'll see for yourself that's it's in very good shape. If I only get 100,000 then you'll get your 10,000 however if she sells for a MCr or two then you're on a real winner."
Sarruero sighs. "I guess that's it then."
The waiter arrives with Darrurz and Vuedueloghz's food.
Sarruero stands, "I'll see you at three. Enjoy your meal." Upon noticing that Fi is still seated, he asks him, "Coming?"
"No, I'll catch up with you later."
Sarruero nods and departs.
Character: Darrurz (Verroel on ship), Fi Khong
Location: Gzargve's Watering Hole - Ugarun-82
Darrurz starts to eat his steak in a very tidy manner, his jaw movements are
small and controlled and not a spot of blood is spilled on his napkin. "So how
does the best doctor in the confederation come to know one of the best ship
fixers in the confederation?"
"Things happen," shrugs Fi. "Sarruero gave me the chance to do what I like to do, what I do best. As you say, Sarruero is the best ship fixer in the confederation and I am continually told I am the best biological fixer in the Confederation. For a time it has been a natural fit. The work was good and suited this wolf's skills, but the wanderlust that first drew me to the merchants has taken me again."
Darrurz says, "Freezing popsicles can't be much of a challenge, and clipping in-growing claws of passengers and crew can't be the highlight of your endeavours. And the rest of Merchant work, well, it's hard work week after week. Shifting freight, maintaining the ship, and playing the markets. What draws a good doctor to the Merchants?"
"Life is a constant flowing river; you never know what is around the next bend," replies Fi. He picks absently at a claw while speaking. "Best surgeon in the Merchant fleet, I have the commendations to prove it. But the river shifts and I found myself with Sarruero. Now there is a new bend that I must follow, perhaps with you, perhaps not. The Merchants took me to where I needed to be, for a time."
Fi looks up from his claw and stares down Darrurz's muzzle and into his eyes. "Question is, does your river bend need a good doctor?"
Darrurz laughs. "That's very philosophical of you. I was just hoping to broaden young Vuedueloghz's outlook and started him on Sun Tzu and General Nigukfoel as they are more to his immediate liking, but I'm sure we could move onto more philosophical discussions in the future."
Vuedueloghz pauses in his eating and raises an eyebrow. After a moment he resumes eating.
Fi replies, "Ah yes, Sun Tzu and Knoghaek-Kasakanttae I have studied, as well as many others such as the human Plato, the Aslan Master Eakhtaa Triyeakhai and even the mad ramblings of Gh'Rimee."
Darrurz asks, "Have you compared the teaching of Buddha to Knoghaek-Kasakanrrae? Both look at enlightenment and inner peace in similar ways."
Fi stops and scratches his ear. "Many an hour can be spent in study when not treating jump sickness, broken bones or laser wounds."
Darrurz nods and continues, "However to answer you question we could use a good doctor. But I would need one that also pulls his weight elsewhere on the ship. What other shipboard skills do you have?"
Fi picks up a glass of water and laps at it for a moment. "Other skills, I have some. I learned many things while in the merchants, to pilot and navigate starships when those positions were under my care. I can fight when I need to, the shotgun being my favourite weapon on ships. I can program a computer and have a few medical subroutines I have written. I can do many things aboard a starship, when and as the need arises, but my first love is always medicine."
Fi puts down the glass of chilled water that he had been holding to the side of his head. "Sarruero will miss me, he has told me so, but he also recognizes my need to roam. So do I roam with you for a while?"
Darrurz replies, "You are welcome to if that is your wish."
"I would be happy to join in your hunt," Fi says enthusiastically.
Vuedhueloghz stops eating and extends his forearm. "Welcome aboard."
Fi accepts it and the two lock arms. "Thank you," he says.
After releasing their grip, Fi stands. "Well, I had better go pack my things." With that he leaves.
Vuedhueloghz finishes meal.
Darrurz looks at Vuedhueloghz and asks, "Ok so what are we going to do with you and Verroel then?"
Darrurz continues, "Last time I had to hide a smell I had K'kree 100 meters away on an open air landing field and I managed that one. Had to stay in a vacc suit for a time as the ship was cleaned and the air jettisoned, which was a little uncomfortable but livable. We could try the same thing. Put you in vacc suits and isolate your cabins from the rest of the ship, dump the air and then change the scrubbers.
"Verroel look on the business directory to see if there is a deep cleaning outfit on the station."
Verroel replies, "I'll look into cleaners, Darrurz." He begins to punch through the directory looking for someone that might have the capability to scrub a ship of the scent of two Vargr who had lived in it for some time.
With Verroel's voice in his ear, Darrurz has a thought. "And what's going to distract a nose from concentrating on a smell? A better one perhaps? Verroel, what's best to be cooking to distract the nose of an unwelcome guest? Food and drink. Something irresistible and aromatic."
Verroel barks in laughter. "A strong pepper curry would be my choice to mask a scent but I doubt if it will fool a professional scenter."
Vuedhueloghz nods. "Yes, that would probably work. But I don't think we need to hire a cleaning crew. I would think that Sarruero could handle that job, no?"
Verroel chuffs. "I thought we wanted the scent gone before we deal with Sarruero."
Darrurz replies, "He's changing the registry so he's going to know that the ship is from the Touzagh, and the flaming eye on the side kind of gives that away as well."
"Exactly," Vuedueloghz adds.
Darrurz continues, "So do you two want to come with me and Fi Khong, and chance your former pack? Or do you want to stay here for a few days?"
Verroel barks in answer, "They can't watch and scent every avenue. Perhaps we can mask our scent enough to let us get past any screening at the down port."
"Given the opportunity," Vuedueloghz says, "I will stay here. It's been some time since I've been free from the grind of corsair life. I welcome the few hours off ship. I know that when the ship gets back, it'll be back to work. Who knows when we'll have the chance to breathe easy again."
Darrurz considers the replies from Verroel and Vuedueloghz before saying, "Vuedueloghz, I think your suggestion is good. You and Verroel will stay here and breathe easy for a while. I'll pick you back up again when I've finished at the main port.
"Vuedueloghz, contact Sarruero and sort out a cleaning crew, and Verroel get some new filters and scrubbers for the life support and I'll swap them out as the ship is cleaned."
Verroel replies, "Filters and scrubbers it is, Darrurz. Do we have a local account set up yet to pay for it?"
"No, but I'll organise it once I get back to the ship."
Shortly thereafter, Darrurz is done with his meal and the waiter shows up with the bill. It comes to 45 credits.
Darrurz nods to Vuedueloghz. "This one is on me. You can get the next one."
Vuedueloghz answers, "Thank you, Captain."
Darrurz pays the bill while Vuedueloghz collects his weapon from security. The the two head back to the ship.
Next: Fi Khong Packs His Stuff (Private Thread) & The Walk Back