Back at Happy Trails

Characters: Verroel, Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz
Location: Happy Trails, parked at Ninnigam Down
System: Ninnigam

1126.13.4 - 20:45 Imperial Time, 05:45 Vilani Time

Verroel and Fi have returned to the ship and handed Vued his steak sandwiches, which he is quite happy about. While he eats, Verroel tells him about their new patron.

"How much?" Vued asks.

"20,000 now. 20,000 when we come back with proof of delivery," Verroel answers.

"Is that enough to cover our expenses for the trip?"


Shortly afterwards a text message arrives stating that Verroel has been paid for the freight delivery: 60,000 credits. "We've just been paid for the Gadushan delivery. Time to order fuel and life support supplies."

Verroel puts in the order. The cost is 7500 credits for the fuel and 3600 for life support. Estimated wait time for services: 15 minutes.

While they wait, Verroel decides to poke around the starport netsite to see what ships might be in port or have been in port recently. He soon discovers that that information is not available. They'll either have to hack the starport mainframe (which would be a felony if they get caught) or get out and wander around.

Verroel decides that it might be worth it to find out what kind of traffic has been passing through the area. The easiest way to do that is by asking around. He figures that the starport's other two bars, Dirshurshim's Dream and Edii's Pub, are worth checking out.

Someone needs to stay at the ship to monitor the refueling and be around in case Liishaap's cargo arrives. Verroel asks Fi if he wants to go or let Vued have a turn.

"I'll go," Fi says.

Verroel leaves instructions with Vued about handling the cargo and to let him know when stuff is taken care of. Vued nods in understanding.

Verroel nods at Vued. "We'll bring back more beer and some fresh rations if they can be found on this iceball." He turns to Fi and waves. "Let's go. We can try a couple more of the bars and hit the downport."

Wandering Around Ninnigam Down

Characters: Verroel, Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz (on the ship, listening in)
Location: Ninnigam Downport
System: Ninnigam

1126.13.4 - 21:15 Imperial Time, 06:15 Vilani Time

Verroel and Fi depart the ship again with the same gear as before. The hangar bay has warmed up to about five Celsius, warm enough that the pair can opt for lighter clothing over their cloth armor. The two vargr exit the hangar and follow the pedestrian walkway back to the central hub. Once there, they cross the still quiet roadway to the platform where the downport elevators stand waiting.

They ride up to the main level and exit the elevators. They're back in the spacious open lobby. It's still warmer than down below, probably 18°C (64°F) and smells a bit humid, but tolerable. Exiting the elevator they find the place is still mostly empty. Off to their left is a sign that says, "To Trains". Behind them by another ten meters is the control tower elevator, guarded by two armed burly human males. Two corridors lead away from the central atrium: one ahead and one to the right. The one to the right is where The Frosty Finger and other two bars, Dirshurshim's Dream and Edii's Pub, are. Between the two corridors lies the ticket counter for Anarsi Travel. Directly in front of Verroel and Fi is the information kiosk. The dark-skinned, heavy set human female is still sitting there reading her PDA.

Sniffing the air curiously, Verroel stands listening, his ears perked up. After a moment's consideration he flicks his ears toward the kiosk and swaggers to the counter. Addressing the woman he wags his tail in a friendly gesture. "Greetings female, we seek to sample the sights of your planet. What is there of the downport to visit on the trains?"

She looks up from her PDA. There is no joy in her eyes. "The trains take you to the city."

"How big is the city and is there much of it to see?" Verroel wags his tail.

"It's the capital. Seven million people live there."


She hands Verroel a brochure with a map. "This will help."

"Thank you!" Verroel and Fi wag their tails.

Before they get on the train, Verroel says in a conspiratorial hushed voice. "I have an idea. Play along."


Verroel leads the way over to Anarsi Travel and approaches one of the ticket agents, a twenty-something, thin human female with blonde hair.

"Good drandir, may I help you?" she asks with a smile that shows off too many teeth. A vargr unfamiliar with humans would interpret this as a threatening gesture, but after bristling for an instinctive second, Verroel ignores her teeth. He forces himself to calm and wag his tail.

Anarsi Subsector "Yes, we're looking for tickets offworld. Do you have a schedule that I can look at?"

"Yes, I do." She pulls out a map and shows you.

"We have a twice weekly flight from Ninnigam to Anarsi as well as from there to Derekam. We also have daily flights leaving Anarsi which run roughly along the perimeter of the subsector from Anarsi to Kakkin, Zigaadig, Nashazi, Flire in Vland subsector, Sardiika, Bolziin and back to Anarsi. We also have daily flights headed along the same path in the opposite direction."

"Ahhh, thank you miss. And do you use regular cruise ships or battered tramps? I have no desire to travel on some smelly tramp."

"Oh no, we only use Stellar class subsidized liners, and Sharurshid Bureau Consumer Reports has praised us for the quality of service and accommodations we provide."

"Do you have an itinerary? I need to make my plans for a couple of weeks in advance."

"You should download our app from the Anarsi Travel Infosite. You select the world and, if it's one of our stops, you'll get the schedule. It updates automatically whenever you visit a world with one of our servers."

Verroel pulls out his PDA, finds the Anarsi Travel Infosite and downloads the app. He makes a note to check the schedules for the surrounding worlds for later reference. He wags his tail. "Why thank you, miss. I will strongly consider traveling on your line." He pauses. "We are headed into the city. Do you recommend any of the sights?"

"There's Ninnigam Square. That's the sight of the initial settlement on Ninnigam. They've left the original dome and as much of the original buildings as possible to give you an idea of our world's humble beginnings. All around it are shops and restaurants."

Verroel sniffs the air and flips his ears back. "Thank you, female, for your help." He wags his tail and walks over with Fi toward the trains.

"I don't about you, but I've seen more life on an asteroid." Fi whispers to Verroel. "What're you thinking, Cap?"

Once out of earshot he replies to Fi, "It's a pretty dull place. They could use some of our people to liven things up." His tail is wagging. "Let's walk about the downtown area, get a bite to eat and examine the shops and state of the place. We may be able to trade information later on the planet when we get to our destination."

The pair walk to the train station. A sign states that the next one will be here at 6:45, which is only a few minutes from now. The fare is 5 credits.

On to Ninnigam City

Characters: Verroel, Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz (on the ship, listening in)
Location: Ninnigam City
System: Ninnigam

1126.13.4 - 21:45 Imperial Time, 06:45 Vilani Time

The train arrives. It's a small electric monorail, four cars in all. After waiting for the passengers to disembark, Verroel and Fi each pay five credits and board the train. The train isn't crowded and thus no one is sitting near them.

22:05 Imperial Time, 07:05 Vilani Time

Roughly two-thirds of the way to the city, Vued announces that the cargo has arrived. He says that he'll handle loading it.

22:15 Imperial Time, 07:15 Vilani Time

The train arrives at Ninnigam City. The pair disembark. Outside the train terminal is the top level of the city. A sign indicates that a mass transit subway is two levels down and a taxi stand is outside.

Verroel looks about, ears perked and tail wagging as he sniffs the air. "Let's take the scent of this place by going via the subway."

The pair descend the stairs to the subway. The air is dry and stale, shot through with the scent of brake shoe dust. It is also dimly lit. A nearby subway map shows the network is in a eight spoke asterisk shape, or a + overlayed by an X. A turnstile requires a credit to enter. Each pays and walks to the platform. A five car train awaits. Shortly after boarding the doors close.

Although there are a few stops along the way, Verroel and Fi decided to ride the subway to Ninnigam Square as per the advice of the female CSR at Anarsi Travel.

There are eight humans on the subway car with them when it pulls away from the station. The closest get up and move further away from the vargr.

The ride goes by without incident and fifteen minutes later they're at Ninnigam Square. The vargr pair disembark and follow the signs up for Ninnigam Square. It is crowded as second shift workers are headed to their jobs. Upon arriving at the surface, the fullness of light returns. Directly overhead lies Ninnigam's weak sun, a red dwarf. Lights on the dome supplement its feeble brightness.

Directly in front of them is an information kiosk about Ninnigam Square. Behind them is Ninnigam Park, a 400 square meter patch of green with small trees, benches, and a playground. To the left and right and behind the kiosk are the original settlement buildings turned into museums, gift shops and restaurants. Surrounding Ninnigam Park is the city, full of high rises that reach for the dome but stay five to thirty meters away from it (closer on the sides, further away towards the peak). The air is well-filtered but tastes it. It smells like a domed city: air-conditioned and olfactively neutralized.

Verroel shifts uncomfortably at the prejudice of the humans but manages to ignore it. He moves casually through the crowds, his ears and nose alert, tail held high in a dominant and ready posture. He sniffs and coughs a bit. "Aggghhh... artificial and stale as only humans can manage. No scent of spices and excitement in the air." Verroel looks about and sights the park. "Let's check in at the kiosk and then perhaps walk through the more natural air of the parkland." He heads to the kiosk.

At the kiosk, there are several pamphlets about historic Ninnigam and the shops and restaurants one can find. There are also maps and a interactive monitor (touchscreen).

Verroel plays with the kiosk for a minute or two then sighs. "Ahhh forget it. I don't think we're going to find anything here that's more useful than the Anarsi Travel schedule app. Let's head back to the starport."

The two vargr make their way back to the subway entrance and pay the credit to get past the turnstile. A few minutes later a westbound train arrives. The pair board and ride to the end of the line. They disembark and walk up the stairs to the starport train. Another five credits and few minutes of waiting, they board it and ride it back to the starport.

Dirshurshim's Dream

Characters: Verroel, Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz (on the ship, listening in)
Location: Dirshurshim's Dream, a bar at Ninnigam Downport
System: Ninnigam

1126.13.4 - 22:30 Imperial Time, 08:30 Vilani Time

Verroel and Fi arrive back at the downport. As they make their way to Dirshurshim's Dream, Vued comms to say that the cargo has been loaded. He asks if he should start prepping the ship for launch. There isn't much he can do as he's neither the pilot nor engineer, but he can handle the minor things.

Verroel replies, "Go ahead, Vued. We won't be much longer. Just sniffing around for later."

The entrance to the bar looks like something out of ancient Vland with columns of faux marble. Stepping through the outer door into a small lobby, two and a half meters on each side, the motif continues, but there is an incessant beeping sound. A large human male sees the pair and steps from behind a podium and holds his hands out in front of him. "Whoa! We don't want any trouble here, guys."

Verroel stops and holds up his hands as well, tail wagging. "We don't want trouble either. We're just here for a drink. Is there a problem, citizen?"

The human's eyes go to Fi's shotgun and gives it a curt nod. "It's been our experience that bringing firearms to a place that serves alcohol is trouble. Do you mind checking that here with me? I'll give it to you when you leave."

Verroel looks over at Fi and gives a quick flick of the ears. "Let's check the weapons in then. We have no desire for trouble."

Fi looks the man square in the eyes and bares his teeth ever so slightly to make his point. "This is my very favorite shotgun. Treat it like your offspring or there will be a problem. Understand?"

"Yeah, I understand. You're not the first guy to come in here and say something like that." He politely and gingerly accepts the shotgun from Fi and then the two vargr enter the bar.

The bar is about the same size and layout as The Frosty Finger but the lighting is about 20% brighter and it feels cleaner. There's music playing over speakers, but it isn't loud. There's a small stage in the back right corner but it's unoccupied.

There's probably a couple dozen humans in the place, split between the bar and the tables. Judging by their clothes, the clientele are a mix of traders, locals from the city looking for a different place to hang out, and off duty starport personnel.

Verroel heads to the bar with the swagger of a dominant Vargr. He looks around, ears perked and swiveling about as he sniffs curiously. He approaches the bar, tail wagging slightly and ears up in a posture of alert interest. He nods to the bartender.

The bartender does a double take but remains polite. "What can I get you guys?" There appear to be a wide variety of spirits available in addition to wine and three beer taps (Vlandia Light, Ninnigam Light Lager and Ranilson Lager).

"A darker beer if you have one; something with a bite."

The bartender looks down into the beer case and pulls out a bottle of Ranilson Black IPA. "How about this?" he asks.

Verroel take the beer and sniffs it before pouring it in a bowl. He laps at it and considers the taste. It is very hoppy thus giving the beer plenty of bite.

Addressing Fi, the bartender asks, "And what about you?"

"Do you have any port?" Fi asks with a hopeful wag of his tail.

"Yes I do," the bartender replies with enthusiasm. He searches the cabinets behind him, finds a bottle and pours it into a bowl.

"Do you guys want to run a tab?"

Verroel snaps his jaws in assent and then remembers human manners and nods. "Yes, a tab would be easiest."

"So what brings you guys to Ninnigam," the bartender asks.

Verroel's ears perk up at the question. "We are carrying cargo along the frontier. It's easier to work both sides of the frontier. Here and there are often opportunities where there are interfaces."

The bartender's eyebrows go up. "Risky work. You've got to contend with pirates and the authorities."

Verroel's tail wags and he grins with a hint of teeth. "Yes, it is a rough life for a wolf but a reputation and fortune is not made by sitting safely at home."

The bartender nods. "Good point."

"Is there much cross border traffic or even traffic at all coming through here."

The bartender smiles but keeps his teeth mostly hidden. "Well, cross border trade is prohibited on account of the war. The Vilani don't want to trade with the Ngath Confederation until they rein in the pirates and the 17th Disjuncture are just a bunch of wackos. Hteh Hut is about the only place over the border the authorities will allow... for now.

"As for traffic on this side of the border, no, not a whole lot. There's some, but this whole subsector has been on the slide since the war started. Most of it is driven by the military for supplies for the border patrol."

Verroel laps his beer with evident satisfaction. "I'll keep in mind the clearance for cross border traffic at Hteh Hut. We're flying below the radar so far; moving small cargoes for people with particular needs. We may end up staying on this side of the border depending on the business." He pauses and his ears perk up. "What types of ships are hauling military supplies? That sounds like something a small ship like mine might perform quite well."

"Well, I don't know all of their requirements, but a ship has to be armed and sometimes that's not enough. I've heard that even the armed ships will get escorts. The Bureaux have an application you have to fill out and then you have to wait for it to be processed. I'm not sure but each Bureaux might have its own application. I haven't seen too many guys in here that do that work. Those that do say the pay is good but the paperwork is a pain.

Verroel barks in laughter. "Everything requires paperwork and it is always a pain with the Bureaux." His tail wags to indicate he is mostly joking. "We will hunt down that trail, for steady money is always useful. As well it is good that the ships are escorted because military supplies would be particularly tempting to any raider, human or otherwise."

Someone at the far end of the bar waves to the bartender. He excuses himself and then sees to the customer.

Verroel resumes drinking and taps away at his hand comp to see if he can find the application and list of requirements. When he does, he sees that the form is lengthy and will require some time to fill out. The listed requirements are few. The ship must be armed and be in excellent fiscal standing. Ships that are owned outright are preferred over those carrying mortgages. The applicants must not have a criminal record. A thorough background search will be conducted and anyone caught lying on their application will immediately have said application rendered invalid and be subject to a fine up to 1,000 credits.

When the bartender is idle again, Verroel waves him over. "Can I get a couple six packs and a couple steak sandwiches to go?"


Fifteen minutes later he returns with the sandwiches in one bag and the beer in another. He also presents a check for 90 credits. Verroel is a bit surprised at first but then sees he was charged bar prices for the beer rather than retail.

Verroel swipes his BankCard for 150 credits. "Thank you for the beer and the chance to talk. We very well may be back through here again."

Upon noticing the more than generous tip, the bartender exclaims, "Thank you!" He says something in Vilani which Verroel doesn't understand but the tone implies gratitude. When Verroel cocks his head in confusion, the bartender says apologetically, "Good hunting."

Verroel nods. He and Fi then return to the ship.

Leaving Ninnigam

Characters: Verroel, Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz (on the ship, listening in)
Location: Happy Trails
System: Ninnigam

1126.13.5 - 00:00 Imperial Time, 10:00 Vilani Time

Verroel and Fi have returned to the ship. Vuedueloghz wags his tail as he is happy to see that they've brought more food and beer back to the ship. "After we're in jump, this will be my celebratory meal."

Vuedueloghz has taken care of all that he can so Verroel & Fi handle the rest of the pre-flight sequence.

01:00 Imperial Time, 11:00 Vilani Time

Happy Trails gets clearance to leave the starport and ascends into space.

05:00 Imperial Time, 15:00 Vilani Time

Happy Trails ceases acceleration and coasts the rest of the way to the jump point (Angvae has a shallower gravity well than Ninnigam).

06:00 Imperial Time, 16:00 Vilani Time

Having safely reached the jump point, Verroel gives the order to engage the jump engines. But like their emergence from jumpspace to Ninnigam, it feels, as Vued put it earlier, "like someone put the universe on pause." While it's over in an eyeblink, you're more certain than before that it happened. But your entrance to jumpspace is undeterred and its warm, pink, fuzzy glow fills the viewscreen.

Next: The Trip to Angvae