Arrival at Ninnigam

Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz
Location: Happy Trails
System: Ninnigam

1126.17.7 - 20:20 Imperial Time, 12:20 Vilani Time

The two weeks in jump went by without a hitch. The time spent on Angvae is a fond memory. The group longs to return.

Anticipating their jumpspace exit, the crew is on the bridge at their posts. Upon exiting jumpspace for the Ninnigam system, that weird sensation happens again, but it's actually perceptible this time. Maybe a second, but no more. But it's there.

Vuedueloghz barks, "Tell me you all felt that."

"We did," Fi says. "Were any of you looking at the viewscreen?"

Vuedueloghz and Verroel both shake their head.

"As you know, when we first come out of jump, everything is black while the ship's sensors process the incoming data for our new location. It only lasts a second or two but it's there, like when you first turn on a monitor. But this time the screen was white."

Fi turns back to his console and prepares for the decel burn while checking the engine stats.

Verroel curses in several Vargr languages, Galanglic, Vilani and some strange tongue. "Damn it, again. Vued, check the engines and systems for any bugs and make sure you download everything from the Jump drives for later examination."

"Engines are reporting that they're fine, but you're the engineer, not me."

"Fi, can you get the same information from the navi comp as any other telemetry or view screen information. I'm going to check our internal clocks to the nearest pulsar as well as the system time. There is something really strange going on and I'll be double damned if it's going to bite us!"

Verroel works to gather what system information he can as well as looking to check the synchronization of the clocks, system clocks and a fixed pulsar using the nav equipment. "The white screen is damn strange. We may want to sniff around and see if there are any pinkie scientist types that might be interested in what is going on. I'm wary to show our throat on this though; people treat jump oddities as military secrets sometimes."

After a couple minutes, Fi reports back, "From what I'm seeing on the sensor data," he puts it on the main viewer, "it looks like they were overloaded for the first second we emerged from jumpspace and then everything returned to normal."

Verroel studies the engineering data but can't find any anomalies. He says, "The engineering data is normal. The engines and jump drives behaved normally, or at least seem to have done so." He growls softly. "The overload of the sensors seems to be the anomaly here. There shouldn't be anything on them for the first second or two, but we had an energy overload. So instead of processing data and then presenting it to us, the sensors were immediately hit with a surge."

He checks to make sure that their IFF transponder is communicating properly and then, despite being over 800,000 miles out, transmits a request for landing clearance at the starport.

"Fi, can you tease anything out from overload of the sensors? Can we tell what type of energy hit us or if there is any pattern?"

"Already working on it," Fi replies.

"I'll give you a paw," Vued volunteers.

Verroel growls again at the befuddling situation. "This jump drive theory is too esoteric to get one's teeth around."

After a minute or so, Fi says, "The sensor data indicate that we weren't hit with anything out of the ordinary, just typical EM stuff we'd normally encounter. It's like the sensitivity was turned way up or we got a day's worth of EM radiation in that first second."

The comm chimes with a text reply from the starport acknowledging their request and permission is granted. Verroel almost misses the timestamp. Universal Vilani time reads 27 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds faster than when what the ship's clock says it should be. They've lost over a day! He relates the discovery to the others.

Fi replies, "The sensor spike makes sense now. We did get a day's worth of sensor data in one second! It's like a camera on a telescope. Leave the shutter open long enough and the light from distant stars and galaxies will register on the sensor, but a brighter source will leave it overexposed."

"Like that film stuff on low tech cameras," Vued offers. "I had one once as a pup. The case popped open while I was messing around with it. When I went to get the pictures developed most of them were lost in a big whiteout."

"Exactly."

Verroel considers the information from his packmates. "That makes perfect sense. We had a burst of information that whited out the sensors. Now how in the hell did it happen?" He wags his tail slowly as he bares his teeth in a slight snarl of concentration and frustration. "So when we came out of Jumpspace, we got a day's worth and more of sensor information. It's like something happened in the interface between J-space and real space to cause a pileup of sensor information."

Vued scratches behind his head, then says, "It sounds to me like we were stuck in time. Why else would the ship's Vilani clock not match up with the local Vilani clock? The only other thing I can think of is that relativity stuff: when you move close to the speed of light, time slows down. But those rules don't apply towards jumpspace so..." He shrugs.

Fi interjects, "But time didn't slow down, it sped up. We're a day behind where we're supposed to be, like the universe moved on without us."

"Exactly!" Vued counters. "Time is relative. Personal time, for those moving closer to the speed of light, slows down while the rest of the universe carries on, or speeds up from the perspective of near light speed travelers."

Fi goes back and starts checking all known navigational points in this sector. After a minute or two, he continues, his upper lip curling in frustration. "Nope, we're exactly where we are supposed to be."

1126.18.1 - 00:54 Imperial Time, 16:54 Vilani Time (Ship time adjusted to catch up)

Deceleration begins.

At Ninnigam Down with Liishaap

Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz, Liishap, and his henchmen
Location: Happy Trails, parked at Ninnigam Down
System: Ninnigam

1126.18.1 - 4:50 Imperial Time, 20:50 Vilani Time

The ship has arranged for landing clearance and declared that they have cargo that needs to be inspected. Customs gives the cargo a thorough examination but ultimately clears it.

Verroel contacts Liishaap and informs him they have a shipment for him. Liishaap is pleasantly surprised and says that he will be down to see him soon.

5:30 Imperial Time, 21:30 Vilani Time

Liishaap arrives with two burly guys and a truck. Verroel barks in laughter upon spotting him.

Liishaap is all smiles as he exits the truck. "You made it back. That's great. I wasn't sure you would after visiting Angvae."

"But of course we survived. We are both lucky and clever wolves or so we hope."

Liishaap laughs. "That's not what I meant. Your survival was never in question."

Vued starts panting.

Liishaap notices and says with a leer, "Awwww yeah, the big fellah knows what I'm talking about." He chuckles. "So what have you got for me?"

Verroel answers, "30 tons of aluminum tubes... and proof we made our delivery to Grnouf." He hands the man a memchip.

Liishaap plugs it into his PDA. His face lights up from the glow of a video. He nods and smiles. "Allrighty, you held up your end and now I'm going to hold up mine. He whips out his bankcard and a reader and swipes over 20,000 credits to Verroel.

Verroel wags his tail as the money is credited to his account.

Liishaap says, "Ok, let's have a look at that cargo."

Verroel leads the group inside and hands the cargo manifest over to Liishaap. "Ah, I've been wondering about these." To one of his henchmen he says, "Load it up." He holds up his bankcard again, "It's your lucky day. Hope you're ready for more." He swipes over another 30,000 credits.

Verroel's tail wagging increases.

While the henchmen busy themselves with loading the truck, Liishaap asks, "So what are your plans? Headed back to Angvae anytime soon?"

"We're always ready for more work. It seems that there is a place for a small, inconspicuous set of wolves. I would like to head anti spinward and coreward a few parsecs and make the run through some of the larger, as well as smaller, systems and then head back to Angvae. Our time there was very profitable not only with your business but others that we managed."

"Well I've got a backlog of merchandise for Grnouf so I make the beginning of your trip profitable. How far were you thinking of going? Into Windhorn sector?"

Verroel flips his ears back a bit and wrinkles his snout. "There seems to be some advantage to acting as a factor across the borders between the Vargr and Vilani states."

Liishaap chuckles. "Yeah, I've been doing that for years."

Verroel continues, "I was thinking of going through Anarsi and around the jump one main to Bolziin to see what cargo and trade we can pick up." He wags his tail. "Unless you have more merchandise to head directly back to Grnouf. We can go to Anarsi and the do a deep space jump directly back to Angvae."

"Bolziin? As in Bolziin Engineering?"

Verroel mumbles, "Well errrr," and then tries not to whine.

"You wouldn't be welcome there my furry friend. Ever since your less than friendly brothers started attacking the Vilani, they've all but blocked off access to your kind. They're afraid that word will leak out about the naval base's fleet and the world's defensive systems. For your safety, I strongly suggest you not go there."

Noticing Verroel is a bit flummoxed by this surprise news, Liishaap tries to settle him down. "I have plenty of merchandise for you to bring to Grnouf. Afterwards, find out what you can about trading opportunities over the border. I can't get in to Kfoerudzo; Grnouf has that locked up, which is fine. But Hteh Hut is still a friendly world and I'd love to have access to their markets. Or check out its neighbor, Knaeghzoka. I have no idea what's going on up there. I just know that they haven't joined the Confederation or the 17th Disjuncture yet."

Verroel wrinkles his muzzle in consideration. His tail and ears droop as he considers the implications of Liishaap's words. "No, Bolziin may not be a good idea. I'd like to scout opportunities, but I prefer the peaceful ones." He wags his tail, however, at the further news. "A quick return with cargo for Grnouf would be welcome as well as a chance to go exploring coreward." He extends a paw and Liishap shakes it. "That sounds like a deal. What would you like us to carry for you past Angvae, or should we sniff for information only?"

"If you go past Angvae, I'd just like you to sniff around for information and potential customers. I'll give you a holocube with my catalog of merchandise that I can facilitate."

He puts an arm around Verroel and walks away from the ship. He doesn't lower his voice so he's not trying to keep anything from Fi or Vued. In fact, they follow along. It seems more likely that he just wants to keep clear of his own men.

"I know a bit about Hteh Hut. Like I said, sniff around for opportunities there, even if it's just them looking to unload ore. If you act as my representatives, I'll give you 5% of my profits. The same goes for Knaeghzoka. I know that they're a mining planet, but not much else." He lets go of Verroel and turns to face him. "They're close to both the Confederation and the 17th Disjuncture so maybe it's also a gateway to those states. If both those worlds are a bust, try Khugan and Rhodes over in Theton subsector. Though tread lightly on Rhodes, it's a client state with a naval base, so I'm sure they'll be a bit wary of your people."

Leaving Ninnigam

Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz
Location: Happy Trails
System: Ninnigam

1126.18.1 - 12:30 Imperial Time, 28:30 Vilani Time

After Liishaap left, Verroel contacted Starport Services and requested fuel and life support refurbishment to cover the trip back to Angvae. The bill came to 22,050 credits.

Once that was taken care of, Verroel decided that they should spend a few hours of sniffing around the starport for info that might prove useful. Unfortunately, there was none to be overheard.

Liishaap contacted the trio to inform them that the next cargo was ready to go. The group met him back at the ship.

+++

"Same payment schedule as before," Liishaap says. "20,000 now; 20,000 later." He swipes over the money to Verroel, then pulls a holocube out of his pocket. "And here's my catalog for any potential customers you find on your journey."

Verroel pockets the holocube.

"See me when you get back," he says. He leaves before the ship is loaded. Once it is loaded, his henchmen leave.

Verroel inspects the cargo to make sure that it has cleared customs—it has.

Verroel is pleased with the progress of the trade although the cost of life support and fuel rubs his fur the wrong way. Still, he settles the paperwork and arranges for departure.

"Prepare the ship for departure, wolves."

13:30 Imperial Time, 29:30 Vilani Time

Happy Trails gets permission to leave the starport.

17:25 Imperial Time, 1:25 Vilani Time

As Angvae is smaller than Ninnigam, Verroel gives the order to cease acceleration.

18:25 Imperial Time, 2:25 Vilani Time

Verroel gives the order to jump and that weird time dilation feeling happens again. The jump point slowly opens to accept the ship, but the space around it has gone white. Proximity alarms go off.

As the jump starts to go wrong, Verroel let's out a bark of alarm. He immediately straps himself into his acceleration couch as he smacks the collision alarm. "Abort the Jump if you can, Fi!"

Fi replies, "Sorry, sir. I can't!"

The trio braces for impact, but it never comes. Instead, there's the familiar disorientation of entering jumpspace. A quick check of the ship's instruments indicates that the ship is now in jumpspace. All systems nominal.

The Jump to Angvae

Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz
Location: Happy Trails
System: Jumpspace between Ninnigam and Angvae

1126.18.1 - 18:30 Imperial Time, 2:30 Vilani Time

Verroel doesn't flinch, but he does grip the arms of his couch for a moment until the ship clears the entrance to Jump. He holds still for moment, his nostrils flared and his teeth bared in a growl. "This is getting tiresome. Fi, Vued, let's check the records of the instruments and see if they match what we saw on the other jump. This was going 'in' though but the same white flash."

The three of them go through the engineering and sensor data to see what patterns might result when compared to the other instances.

After several hours of poring over the sensor date, this is what they learn:

  1. It only happens leaving or entering the Ninnigam system.
  2. The duration of the experience is getting longer. This time it lasted 10 seconds. The last time it was one second and the time before that it was a tenth of a second. And the first time it was a hundredth of a second.
  3. The time dilation effect is getting longer. While they haven't figured out how much time they lost this time around, the last time it was 27 hours and 46 minutes. Before that it was 2 hours and 46 minutes. And the first time it was 16 minutes.
  4. There was a dip in the sensor overload this time around (see below).
Vued barks, "I see something!"

"What?" Fi and Verroel reply in unison.

Vued puts the data that he's looking at on the main viewer.

"I don't see anything," Verroel says.

"Is that a shadow?" Fi asks.

"Look closely." Vued points to the screen. "There's a minor dip in the noise. I'll see if I can get the computer to amplify the color difference."

He plays around at the console for a bit. "Now."

The whites are still white, but the off-whites are now dark grey. And Fi and Verroel see it.

"That, my packmates," Vued says in triumph, "is the silhouette of a starship. From my experience, I'd say it was a Broadsword class mercenary cruiser."

"But how?" Fi asks.

"It's blocking out enough of the incoming visible light impacting the sensors that it's giving them a break from the overload. Let me check it by infrared." He switches the view and sure enough, the silhouette of the Broadsword class mercenary cruiser is even more distinct. "They were pretty close to us, like they were going to board us. That had to be what set off the proximity alarm."

Verroel walks over to the screen to examine Fi's discovery. Verroel's tail is wagging slightly and his ears are perked in interest. "A Broadsword trying to board us... and we were going into Jump. Can we go back to the data from the previous 'flashes' and see if there is any similar pattern in the noise that would indicate a ship?"

Fi replies, "Yes, but it will take time."

Vued nudges him and says with a smile, "We've got a week."

As they get started, Verroel continues to think about the situation, his muzzle wrinkled in concentration. "Could this ship somehow be caught up in our Jump field? It's like time dilated as we were approaching the Jump insertion and they were in the area."

Verroel growls as the data becomes clear. "What curse is there on this system?" It's a more a question for himself than the others.

Shaking his ruffled fur out he begins poking into the library data such as they have. He says, "I'll see if there is any history of such things in the Ninnigam system. We'll want to make discrete inquiries as well at our next port about such issues. I don't want to broadcast our experiences as it will certainly draw unwanted attention."

Vued says, "Agreed."

Verroel wags his tail, "Or we can use it to our advantage..."

Vued cocks his head to the side. "How so?"

"At the very least, some mangy fur scientific type would be willing to pay for the data. I would expect the Scouts would be interested in what is going on as well. The real concern is that the information is considered of military importance and we find ourselves impounded for our 'protection'. That's why I'd like to know more about it first."

Vued nods his head.

After just a few minutes of searching the library data about Ninnigam, Verroel gives up on it. There is no reported instance of something like this happening before. And with a scout base in the system, one would expect it to be reported.

While the computer runs the analysis of the older sensor data, the crew take a break for a meal and a nap.

18.2 - 8:30 Imperial Time, 16:30 Vilani Time

The past sensor data does not indicate that any ships were in the proximity of the Happy Trails during any of these events at Ninnigam. This is the first and only instance.

Vued says, "I've been giving your previous question about whether the Broadsword got caught in our Jump field a lot of thought. I think it didn't. Our sensor data indicates that it came up on us rapidly. I'm not a physicist, but I think our time dilation means our jump flash went on a lot longer than normal. That's bound to get someone's attention. I think that's what happened here. Like insects to a bright light at night, I think it came over to investigate and was studying us."

Verroel snaps his jaws in assent to Vued's comment. "Very astute, Vued. That makes total sense. Not only would the flash last longer to an outside observer, but the ship approaching would look to us to be moving very fast." He wrinkles his snout. "I'm wondering if at some point our time dilation lasts so long that we skip years or more instead of just hours or a day."

Fi answers, "If it continues at its current pace, it will." He gestures at the screen where he's displayed a graph. "Each time, we've noticed something, the time discrepancy has increased by a factor of ten. So far, we've been off by a thousand seconds, ten thousand seconds, and a hundred thousand seconds. If this pattern hold, when we get to Angvae we'll be off by a million seconds."

Vued tilts his head to side and whimpers at the math.

Fi notices and translates, "That would be over eleven and a half days."

Verroel growls rather than whimpers at the likely amount of time dilation they could be facing. "So we'll lose over eleven and a half days on this jump. What about this ship is causing it? Was there something done in the overhaul of the ship? We need to comb through the changes and see if anything affected the Jump grid or engines. Otherwise, there is nothing much we can do about it."

Fi shakes his head, "I don't believe that Sarruero would've done anything to us. I worked with him for years. He wouldn't do this to us, nor does he have anyone with the skills to do this. Besides, if there was something that he did, why does it only seem to happen around Ninnigam?"

Vued adds, "You're the engineer, Verroel. If anyone's qualified to figure out what happened, it's you. If you're going to bark at anyone, bark at yourself."

"Right. Then that's how I'll be spending the rest of our trip."

Next: Arrival at Angvae