Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Happy Trails, en route to Angvae
"Did either of you notice that?" Verroel asks.
"Yes," Fi and Vued bark in unison.
Verroel sighs. "If it hadn't happened when we arrived at Ninnigam, I'd be tempted to chalking it up to fatigue. We haven't slept much in the past 20 hours." Despite his concern, Verroel can't help but yawn. "After we've had a nap, I'd like you," he looks at Fi, "to conduct medical exams on the three of us to make we're not suffering any kind of malady as a result of what might be a non-standard jump entry."
"I'll conduct an exhaustive check of the jump drives and the telemetry for the jump transition. Vued, I'd like you to look through our library to see if there's any information whatsoever on this kind of phenomena."
After a nap and a small bite to eat, the group sets about their tasks.
The group re-convene to discuss their findings. Fi reports that all three are
in perfect health. He can't find anything anomalous with them, but he notes
that he's limited by the equipment at his disposal. "Perhaps an MRI or CAT scan
could find something but there should be other symptoms apparent that I'd pick
Verroel finds nothing at all wrong with the jump engines or the jump telemetry. As far as the ship is concerned, the jump was fine. Short of a nanoscale resonance scan at a shipyard, a costly procedure, he doesn't know what else he can do.
Vued's hunt also comes up empty. "It's not like our old captain spent much time downloading technical data. His primary concern was hunting down juicy targets."
Unable to come up with any ideas, the group decide that they have no choice but to wait for further developments.
The rest of the week is spent conducting maintenance and exercising. Verroel shares the beer and food with his crewmates and they all spend time getting to know one another.
End of first jump. The ship exits jumpspace at Vland 2104, an empty parsec. While no weirdness was experienced exiting jumpspace, Verroel still runs a systems check on engineering while Vued runs a computer diagnostic.
Both diagnostics come up empty so Verroel gives the command to jump again. No
weirdness happens this time either.
During this next week in jump the exercising regimen continues. Verroel suggests that the crew read up on their destination, Angvae.
From the Library:
Angvae: C657510-7 C Ag Ni Vw 720 Va M0 V Avg Temp: 3.5°C (38.3°F) Avg Temp Range: -38.5°C at the poles and +21.5°C at the equator Axial Tilt: 36° Gravity: 0.8 Standard Day: 31.5 hours Year: 46.7 Standard Days
Despite the cool average temperature, the world experiences a wide swing in temperatures both daily and seasonally. Expect temperatures to rise by 9.5°C during the day and plummet 47°C at night. Summers see an increase of 21.6°C and a decrease of 36°C in winter. The planet's thin atmosphere is to blame for heat loss.
Agriculture takes place in the lower latitudes. Being a vargr world, the predominant export is livestock. Plant life shuts down for the brief (9 local days) winter (more sensitive crops are grown indoors) making it difficult for livestock to forage for food. As such, livestock are brought indoors for the winter and fed from stored grains.
Vargr lore speaks of a legendary corsair by the name of Angvae. He established a code of conduct for vargr in his trade millenia ago. Unfortunately, a great many corsair bands in recent decades pick and choose which tenets to follow and many victims (humans and vargr alike) have suffered greatly because of it.
Many a pup has been named after him in the hope that he would grow up to be successful in that profession. Several rival corsair factions sought to honor Angvae by naming worlds after him. Two of these worlds lie in Vland sector. The one in Anarsi subsector, as might be expected, plays host to a corsair base.
There exists an esprit de corps here. Corsair captains pay their respects to the legend of Angvae and no one dares to resort to violence here on this seemingly sacred ground. All are brothers (and sisters) in a "pack of packs." All corsairs are welcome to make use of the facilities.
The Angvae Memorial Corporation oversees the operation of the starport and corsair base. Besides service fees and donations, agricultural exports provide the bulk of revenue. AMC asks that traders doing business here be left unmolested in the spirit of Angvae's mercy. It doesn't ask that corsairs extend that same mercy towards those merchants "just passin' thru."
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Happy Trails
Happy Trails exits jump space without any of the strangeness it
experienced at Ninnigam. Verroel asks Fi to start decelerating.
Closer to the planet, the space gets a bit more crowded. There are probably three dozen ships in various orbits over the planet. Their sizes vary from 100 tons up to a thousand. However, no one hails the ship.
Once they're close, Verroel hails the starport and asks for clearance to land. It's given and the ship continues its descent unmolested.
Happy Trails touches down in the middle of the night at the starport.
Sensors indicate that the outside temp is -35°C, the wind is blowing at 30
kph, and there's snow on the ground so it must be winter time.
Verroel comms the starport control tower about getting fuel and life support but he's told that the service trucks don't run at night. However someone will be down shortly to extend the gantry arm to the ship so that they can leave the ship if they want to.
Verroel sighs to release his frustration. It's been two weeks, what's a few more hours, right? With no InfoNet available, he has the computer search broadcast frequencies for either radio or video transmissions. The computer finds two video broadcasts: one appears to be a news channel while the other provides entertainment. He picks the news. Vued joins him but soon falls asleep.
The news broadcast appears to be in a loop. Two vargr, one male and one female, read the latest news as it has arrived at Angvae. The top story appears to be the collapse of Touzagh corsair band. Verroel barks; waking Vued and causing Fi to come rushing to the Bridge.
Verroel turns up the sound.
"Five weeks ago, a band of mercenaries destroyed the Touzagh base on Ikhog. While it hasn't been confirmed if this is the same group that allegedly destroyed their Gamgilebo base, the effect has been devastating for the successful corsair band." The image switches from the newsperson to video of the Ikhog base in smoking ruin. "Video footage clearly shows that the Ikhog base has been completely destroyed." Video switches to an angry dark-skinned human barking at a press conference. "No one has come forward to claim responsibility but its leader, Kagiisha, has vowed revenge." The video returns to the newsperson. "We sent one of our reporters out to get the local reaction." The video switches to a female vargr interviewing several different vargr in the starport.
"It's a damn shame. They were a great pack. But all good hunts must come to an end."
"Serves 'em right. They were making it impossible for other corsairs to get any work. The pinkies tripled their patrols all along the border because of them."
"Good! They brought shame to a fine tradition. Bunch of slavers and murderers I tell ya." This statement pisses someone off as a furry arm comes in an connects with his snout. The camera cuts to the next interview as a fight breaks out.
"I heard the Confederation wanted them gone cause they were arguing over what to do with Gemid. Ngath wanted to make peace with the Vilani, and he was going to use Gemid's arsenal to do it. Kagiisha wanted to overthrow Ngath and use Gemid to attack the Vilani and claim a couple subsectors for himself."
"Was it one ship? Two? Even so I guess their teeth weren't so sharp after all. Anyway they're burnt. No way they come back from this. The loss of charisma to Kagiisha is too much. He'll keep a few loyalists but I guarantee that within ten weeks three in four captains will trot off."
Vued turns to Verroel, "Do you realize what this means? It means we're free. There's no way they'll come after us now!" He howls in delight.
Verroel joins Vued in howling, his one of triumph and relief. He then hops around the room, tail wagging. "We are free! Those wolves will be a broken pack, each looking to his own charisma. We could even now say that we fled with this ship in advance of the break up of the Touzagh if we want." He stops hopping and continues, "There may be some advantage to admitting to being corsairs now. We will be seen as far-sighted to have fled the Touzagh. Still, I think we will stick with our main cover story for now."
"That's fine for the humans," Vued says, "but our brothers here won't care about that. Let's toast!" As he leaves the Bridge, he says, "Channel that news feed down to the galley."
Verroel does it and then he and Fi follow Vued. Upon arriving in the galley, they find Vued pouring out a shot of Uekhfarsal into bowls for each of them.
He hands a bowl to each and shouts, "To freedom and the death of the Touzagh!"
After each has enjoyed his shot, they return their attention to the news channel, but little of it is of interest to them and, one by one, they doze off.
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Happy Trails, parked at the Angvae Starport
Verroel jolts himself awake. The monitor is still recycling last night's
news. He yawns and stretches and gives Vued and Fi friendly shoves to wake them
"Wake up, wolves. We have a busy day." Verroel notes in his head that they have to get fuel and air and find that Grnouf character so that they can deliver their cargo. He comms the control tower and they reply that they'll send someone down to handle things. Verroel heats up breakfast for all while they wait.
After breakfast, Verroel heads up to the bridge and has a look outside. He catches movement out of the corner of his eye. Someone is finally extending the docking arm to his ship. "About time," he mutters.
Once the docking arm is connected, there's a banging on the door. Something metallic. Verroel growls at the barbaric nature of saying hello, grabs the mic for the exterior speaker, and says, "I'm opening the door. Please stand clear." After he lets go of the mic, he adds, "Or else I'm going to clock you in the head."
Fi and Vued have joined him at this point and Verroel undoes the latches and swings open the door. Standing there before him is pretty little vargr lady dressed in an Angvae Memorial Corporation uniform and carrying a clipboard. Two large wolves, also in uniform, back her up.
"Welcome to Angvae," she says.
"Thank you," Verroel replies, all irritability drained from him. Vued and Fi muscle past him to get a better glimpse of their greeter. All three are wagging their tails. "I'm Captain Verroel. This is my crew: Fi Khong and Vuedueloghz. My ship is the Happy Trails."
"Well Captain Verroel," she says with a smile, "I'm here to collect the docking fee and see if you require any of the starport's services."
"Yes, yes. We need fuel and life support refurbishment."
"We require pre-payment. Will that be a problem?"
"Not at all."
"Which currency will you be paying in?"
"Do you take Imperial credits?"
"Yes, we do." She kneels down and opens up a backpack sitting on the floor. She pulls out a card reader.
Verroel swipes his card. He notes that fuel is 150 credits/ton and life support is 1050 per person-week. He buys enough fuel to top off his tanks and replenishes his life support to cover the trip back plus an additional week. The bill comes to 15,550 credits.
After paying, she says, "Thank you."
Verroel is quite impressed by the AMC representative as his own wagging tail and perked ears attest. It's not like the Vargr could be anything other than demonstrative with their emotions and body language and he thinks little of the reactions of his companions to the pretty Vargr. Besides, it's been quite a while since they'd had much company of the fairer sex.
Verroel says, "We have cargo to discharge and seek speculative cargo and other work perhaps through the AMC. Is there a captain's meeting place or starport lounge where the wolves gather?"
She smiles and says, "The AMC contracts out the work it can't do on its own. It's dull work. Nothing glamorous befitting a corsair. A lot of maintenance type work. Very little profit to be made. And there isn't any sort of formal meeting place for captains. Nothing so dignified. The starport is a bit of a deader on purpose. All about maintaining the image of the company and its purpose. If you're looking for work or trade, you want to head into town. They built it right outside the gates. There's a whole strip of places, bars mostly, where the corsair captains and their crews hang out, talk shop, make and break deals.
Verroel smiles back and his tail wags. "We're not interested in maintenance or other dull work. It sounds like the town is the place for us." He continues, "You are very good at your job. Perhaps you know a wolf named Grnouf?" We have business with him." As he speaks, he thinks about how he could ask her without appearing to be a pup.
"Oh yeah, I've know of Grnouf. He owns a bar called 'Full Belly, Happy Wolf'. You can't miss it. It's only two blocks past the main gate on Starport Road."
Verroel's tail continues to wag. "Oh, thank you. We'll look him up." His ears perk forward. "I'm sure that every wolf that you meet wags his tail but you are a very attractive bitch."
"Why, thank you."
"Perhaps I could buy you a drink and dinner. We expect a big payout for our cargo and a celebration would be in order."
"Oooo sorry, I don't think my alpha wolf would approve."
The two wolves behind her growl slightly and appear to be taking a more aggressive posture.
Verroel flips his tail up and swivels his ears to the side in much the way a human would throw up both palms to signal innocent intent. "Ah, no trespass meant on your relationship with your Alpha."
"Oh it ok. These two act like my big brothers." She growls back at them.
Verroel wags his tail. "A wolf would be wise to protect such valuables." She smiles at the complement. "Have a good hunt, Captain. If you need assistance, I'm Assistant Starport Warden Taztanguen." With that, she and her escorts depart.
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Angvae City
With the ship refueled and life support refurbished, the group can finally set
out to track down Grnouf and deliver his cargo to him.
Vuedhueloghz is suited up in his cloth armor and grabs an assault rifle, 4 clips of ammo for it and his 9mm pistol from the ship's locker.
Verroel and Fi are also wearing their cloth armor. Verroel carries a 9mm autopistol and Ma-57 prominently displayed on his chest and carries two clips of ammo for each (one loaded). He also has his comm, a hand comp, and a big ol' knife from the galley. Fi carries a medkit, including bio-scanner, and his comm. A couple of knives are attached to his boots. His chest is covered by a bandolier of shotgun shells which makes sense as he's also bringing his shotgun.
No one really pays the trio much attention as they saunter through the starport to the exit. Armed spacefarers is a common sight. Even security just watches them go by.
For what it's worth, the sun is out, though a red dwarf (M0 V) isn't much for heat, particularly in winter. Emerging outside, the trio get their first breath of fresh air in several months. It's clean and crisp. It invigorates them despite the cold.
An access road and parking lot lay in front of them (OOC: just like an airport). Not too far out lies a three meter security fence which outlines the property to the left and the right. Right on the other side of the fence is Starport Perimeter Road and just past the gate, lies Angvae City. It is a mish mash of architectural styles and building types, but closest to the starport are hotels and bars. While traffic going to and from the starport is light, the city seems busier.
The trio walk on a sidewalk to the gate. A guard there nods respectfully. On the other side of the gate. With no traffic to worry about the trio cross the street and begin walking along Starport Road. Though there aren't many, the vargr they see are all flash and flair despite the cold.
Two blocks in they see Grnouf's bar: "Full Belly, Happy Wolf". A caricature of a vargr with a large belly and a big grin is attached to the building above street level. It's four stories tall and blocks the view of several windows for the five-story purple-painted brick building.
Stepping inside, one can see that this place is large. The main room is open up to three stories. A stage runs the length of the wall to the left. The kitchen is straight ahead. Wooden tables and chairs fill up the floor. The place is about 1/3 full of vargr (plus a couple humans) eating breakfast. The bar is to the right. While it has a bartender, only a couple wolves are seated there.
A vargr female waitress politely barks, "Sit wherever you want."
Fi waits for Verroel's lead, but his stomach has just started growling.
And is answered by Vued's.
Verroel sniffs the air and swivels his ears about as he takes in the scenery. He snaps his jaws at the waitress as a human might nod and looks about. He spots a booth in the back on the right hand wall between the bar and the stage. He motions to the others and they follow.
As they slide into their seats he comments, "This looks like quite the place in the evening. Let's at least get some fresh meat for breakfast while we are looking for our patron here." He flips through the menu as he waits for the waitress to come and take their orders.
A busboy shows up first bowls of water and silently departs. The waitress shows up soon thereafter. She's young and perky, with tawny fur. "Good morning, wolves. What can I get you this morning?"
Verroel is starting to like the Vargr of the opposite sex on this planet. He wags his tail as the waitress approaches. The smell of food has already built up a strong appetite that has been abused by weeks of mostly ship food. "We have a hunger for meat and fresh foods to tear into with our teeth and bellies." With a nod to Fi he orders a carafe of fruit juice and a couple of trays of smoked and cooked meats as well as fresh fruit in abundance."
"I'll have a stack of pancakes too," Vued adds.
She smiles, "Coming right up."
Verroel watches her go. He can't help wagging his tail some more.
She returns a couple minutes later with the fruit juice. After she leaves, Vued asks the group, "Should we ask her about Grnouf?"
Verroel eagerly laps up the fruit juice and wags his tail. "We'll ask her when she returns with the food. I'd rather not have our questions lead to anything being added to the food."
"Ahhhh, good point."
Ten minutes later she returns with the food. It smells heavenly. "Can I get you wolves anything else?"
Verroel sniffs deeply, tail wagging and barks in pleasure. "The food smells delightful. One question," he leans forward and lowers his voice. "We have a cargo from across the border for Grnouf. Can we speak with him after breakfast here?"
Her ears pop up in surprise at the question and she whines a little. "Well, I don't know Grnouf's schedule—he's a busy wolf—but I'll see to it that someone in management comes to see you." She smiles and heads off to check on other customers.
The food is delicious.
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Angvae City
The three of you have finished your breakfast and are leaning back in the booths.
A nap would be great right about now but three vargr males approach the table.
Two are armed with shotguns while the leader of the three has two pistols
holstered. Each is dressed in clothing with the restaurant's logo embroidered
Verroel stretches a bit as they approach but is careful to make no sudden moves. Instead he's showing confidence (a charismatic trait) by not being affected by their display of weapons.
The leader speaks, "Did you gentlewolves enjoy your meal?"
"Yes!" Verroel says with enthusiasm.
"Good. I'm Uknae Solrudzngae. I understand that you wanted to meet with Grnouf."
Not to be intimidated, Verroel replies, "I'm Verroel and yes, we did. We have cargo for him."
"I'm sorry but he isn't available. He sent us instead. Who did you say the cargo is from?"
"I didn't. But it's from a human named Liishaap Lurukemmime of Ninnigam."
"I see. Would you be willing to show us this cargo?"
Verroel wags his tail. "I would be happy to show you the cargo with the understanding that our ultimate deal is with Grnouf."
"Absolutely. He would have my head if he thought I was stealing from him."
After paying the bill, the two trios leave the bar and head back to the ship.
While walking through the starport, Vued stops. He's looking up at clocks on the
wall. They're analog clocks showing Imperial time, Vilani time, and local time.
"What's up, Vued?" Verroel asks.
"Is that the correct time?"
Uknae responds, "Yeah, what of it?"
"Nothing. My chronometer is just running slow."
"How slow?" Fi asks.
"Looks like 2 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds slow. So the time is really... 05:16 Imperial Time, 17:16 Vilani Time, 15:42 Local Time.
Verroel growls over the time discrepancy. It seems to have grown from jump to jump. He checks his watch and vows to check the discrepancies with ship and planet time with each of their stops when he has a chance.
"I guess you need a new chron," Urknae laughs and his buddies join in.
But Fi, Verroel and Vued aren't laughing.
The vargr have all returned to the ship to examine the cargo.
"Good," Uknae barks. "The seals are still intact." He walks up to one container which has a numeric keypad and types in a few numbers. There's the sound of a lock opening. Uknae then grabs a handle, turns it, and opens it. The seal breaks and inside are a bunch of ammo boxes with Instellarms logo stamped on them. Uknae opens one and howls in delight. He then closes it and the container. He's smiling.
"Excellent! Grnouf will be pleased."
Verroel and the others watch intently as Uknae opens the crate. Verroel says, "Ammunition. Quite the good haul I think. Of course we've seen nothing of what may be in a sealed container."
"Of course you don't. It's better for your health that way." Uknae laughs and slaps Verroel on the back. "Come! Let us return to the bar to celebrate."
Verroel wags his tail. "Yes, a celebration for a profitable trip is in order."
Verroel, Vued and Fi return to the "Full Belly, Happy Wolf."
Next: Full Belly, Happy Wolf