Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Happy Trails
As expected the empty parsec jump went by without a hitch. More frustratingly,
Verroel went over every bit of the jump drive and grid and found nothing. He
even grabbed his cohorts for help with the software and found nothing. He
concluded that whatever is affecting the ship is beyond the limits of the tools
and sensors at his disposal on the ship. The fact that this problem only occurs
at Ninnigam is even more puzzling. With any luck, time will reveal its secrets.
Verroel asks Fi to begin decelerating.
The space above the planet is similar to when they left: three dozen ships in various orbits and of various sizes. Happy Trails is allowed to pass.
Once they're close, Verroel hails the starport and asks for clearance to land. It's given and the ship continues its descent unhindered.
Happy Trails touches down in the middle of the night at the starport.
Sensors indicate that the outside temp is -35C, the wind is blowing at 25
kph, and there's snow on the ground so it must be winter again.That doesn't bode
well. Angvae completes an orbit in just 46.7 Imperial days. 29 days should've
elapsed. It should be autumn.
Verroel knows from their first visit that service trucks don't run at night, but he comms the starport control tower anyway about getting fuel and life support scheduled for the morning. 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 a long two weeks spent trying to figure out what's wrong with the jump drive. Vued and Fi are on the bridge with him. He growls. "I need to blow off steam!"
He dials up the apartment comm number for the fems. A sleepy female voice says, "Hello?"
Verroel isn't sure which of the fems picked up the phone, so he lets out a low growl. "It's Verroel; we're back in port."
"Hi Verroel, it's Ingoethakhs." This is the fem that Vued hooked up with. "Let me see if I can get Ruekh." Ruekh is the fem that Verroel hooked up with.
Verroel says, "Ruekh, we're back in port."
"That's great, Verroel," she says in a sleepy voice, "but can I call you tomorrow? We all have to work in the morning."
"Tomorrow then, certainly. We'll treat you to lunch at a nice place. Hunting has been profitable."
"Great! See you tomorrow."
Verroel rubs his muzzle. Not exactly the response he was hoping for. He looks up to see Fi and Vued staring at him. "What?"
Vued points to the news video feed on the main screen, which one of them must have turned on while he was talking to the fems.
"What am I looking for?"
"The date," Vued says.
Verroel sees the date and time in the upper left portion of the screen. It reads: 1126.21.6, which is over eleven days later than the ship says it should be, just as Fi predicted.
Verroel curses. "Nothing we can do about it now. I'm going to sleep. We can talk about it in the morning."
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz & Rugdhoe
Location: Happy Trails
The crew have woken up, solemnly had breakfast, and showered. The ship's computer has had its clock adjusted and the starport contacted for fuel and life support refurbishment.
The ship has been refueled (but the fuel is still being purified) and life
support refurbished. The bill came to 15,550 credits.
Rugdhoe and a work crew have arrived to pick up the cargo. While they work, Rugdhoe makes conversation with the Happy Trails gang. "Are you wolves sticking around or are you hunting game elsewhere?" he asks.
Verroel wags his tail. "We're going to catch up on a couple of the local bitches and then head out for more hunting. We have to sniff about carefully as we're not the most heavily armed, but the careful wolf can still make a score."
Rugdhoe nods his head.
Vuedueloghz says, "Speaking of arms, is there anyone here who can hook us with some weapons."
Rugdhoe barks, "Sure. What are you looking for?"
Vuedueloghz replies, "Nothing fancy. Anything in the assault rifle or shotgun department would be nice."
Fi nods. "I could use a little something."
Rugdhoe says, "I'll see what's available and get back to you later this afternoon."
As the unloading continues, Verroel asks, "What have you heard of the coreward and trailing systems, the neutral worlds. And what's this Disjuncture thing? I can't seem to get a straight answer about them."
Rugdhoe looks alarmed. "Oh, you don't want to mess with the 17th Disjuncture. They are messed up. Bunch of brain dead wolves who'd cut off their own tails if they thought it would help achieve their goal."
"What is their goal exactly?"
"To bring about the collapse of the Imperium."
The jaws of the group drop.
"But that's insane," Vued says.
"That's my point," Rugdhoe replies. "They're following some mystic who believes that the collapse of the Imperium will bring about some grand era of prosperity. And what's worse is that wolves are buying into this nonsense. Look, I'm a pirate, but you don't blow up a ship before you loot it. These guys don't seem to care. They want to destroy, and Llallaeknuez help you if you get in the way. The Sunggoe Combine bankrolled it and then they forced their neighbors to join: The Tsougak Trade Federation, the Khaellung Collective, the Kishadiku Empire, the Izidou League. They're even willing to go to war with the Ngath Confederation if they don't join in or contribute to their cause."
The states that Rugdhoe talks about are all familiar to the group. They all traded with the Ngath Confederation at some point. Well, except for Khaellung Collective. They were always obsessed with religion—being a strict sect of the Church of the Chosen Ones—instead of trade.
"If you venture onto their turf, don't be surprised if they insist you join the cause."
"I've had enough 'causes' for a lifetime," Vued grumbles. "The only cause I care to support is my pack!"
"So what about the border worlds?" Verroel asks.
Rugdhoe replies, "Let's see. First off, there's Hteh Hut. Technically they're a client state of the pinkies, but they're friendly to everyone, except the Disjuncture. After Ngath took Gemid it seemed like Hteh Hut was going to be next, but with the Touzagh out of the picture, I don't know who's going to do their dirty work. Anyway, it's a good place to do business. Very competitive though.
"If the Ngath are smart, they'll try to turn Miiko Belt into their version of Hteh Hut. They certainly could learn a thing or two about business from them."
Verroel and Vued know a little about Miiko Belt through their Touzagh compatriots. It was a client state of the Imperium with plenty of mining potential left among its asteroid belts. It never prospered like Hteh Hut. No real planning or direction. No strong links with the Imperium. Folded like a house of cards when the Touzagh invaded and subsequently turned over to the Ngath.
"There's plenty of opportunity on Knaeghzoka, but the wolf calls the shots. Nothing really happens without his approval. If he backed off and let the free market run, there'd be plenty of profit for everyone.
"Khugan is still a corsair den. I don't know why the 17th Disjuncture hasn't taken it over yet. Probably worked out a deal.
"Rhodes is still independent. Their naval base kept them from being a pushover. Still I have to think that the Disjuncture wants it. I'm sure that they'd take any trade that came their way.
"That's kinda it. There might be opportunities within the Disjuncture, but that assumes you can find a reasonable merchant somewhere in the pack of crazy.
Verroel thanks him for the intel.
As Rugdhoe and his team depart, he says to give him a call after lunch to arrange that weapons purchase.
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz, Ruekh, Ingoethakhs, Dzadurr, Rugdhoe (later)
Location: Angvae City
Verroel, Fi, and Vued have met up with the girls at a decent restaurant for
lunch. Conversation is small talk at first. When asked what they've been up to,
the males reply with "Business on Ninnigam". Upcoming plans? "Roaming around the
indie worlds up in this area to hunt up some business."
As lunch wraps up, the girls ask how long you're staying. You let them you'll probably be leaving tomorrow. They tell you to call them later if you want to hang out.
[...OOC-Matt: No real need to chat more with the girls save going out on a date stuff. Now that we are Vargr corsairs and bold merchant captains we have to have bitches in every port. :) ]
[...OOC-DED: LOL. I suddenly had an image of the Steve Martin-Dan Ackroyd swinging Czechoslovakian brothers skit in my mind.]
[...OOC-Matt: Oh, that skit would be perfect, especially for Vargr! :) ]
With the conclusion of lunch, the trio make their way over to Full Belly,
Happy Wolf to meet up with Rugdhoe. He leads you through the back rooms and
down a couple of levels to a guarded room. Using a paw print to open the door,
you follow him inside. There are many crates stacked on shelves.
"What are you looking for?" he asks.
Vued's tongue is hanging out. It takes him a couple of seconds to recover, then he says, "I'm looking for a shotgun and some kind of combat rifle."
Rugdhoe says, "I've got the Instellarms Mk X ACR, the 7 mm tech level 10 version. Standard barrel."
"I'll take it. What do you have for magazines?"
"30 and 60 round boxes."
"Ok, I'll need four of the sixties. 300 rounds each of DS and HEAP."
"You got it. For shotguns, I've got the Instellarms ISAAA-18/12 auto shotgun and the NeoArms 18/12."
"Oh definitely the Instellarms model."
"Ok, I've got the 30 round drums."
"I'll take three. Give me 180 rounds of DS and HEAP. Got any armor?"
"I've got the improved ballistic weave cloth armor. Tech level 9 manufacture."
"I'll take it. What's my bill?"
"1,500 for the armor. 4,000 for the ACR. Magazines plus ammo is another 1400. 2,000 for the shotgun. Magazines plus ammo is another 600. Total is 9500."
Vued swipes his card.
Verroel restrains his enthusiasm, but his tail is wagging as much as Vued's at the sight of the weaponry. He looks about as Vued makes his choices and then adds, "Comdots and a couple of longer range hand comms, and some non-lethal ways to take a wolf down: pepper spray or something more effective would be nice. Saps would be good for when claws and teeth aren't enough as well."
Vued looks at Verroel as if he just farted.
Rugdhoe looks offended.
Vued breaks the awkward silence, "Verroel, we can get comdots and hand comms anywhere. Even the non-lethal weapons. Rugdhoe here is offering us a chance to buy weapons you can't get on the open market."
"Well how about some flash bang grenades then?"
Rugdhoe nods. "I have some of those."
Vued stands close to Verroel, and in a hushed voice that only he can hear, he says, "Unless you've been holding out on me, all you have is that 9mm pistol. Don't you think you should get something with a bit more bite to it?"
Verroel nods. "Yes." His nods become more emphatic as something clicks inside his brain. "Yes! You're right, old friend." Verroel turns to Rugdhoe, "I'd like an ACR and SMG, both with bayonet mounts! A snub auto pistol for zero g use would be good as well. Any decent body armor?"
"Just the cloth. Same as Vlad," Rugdhoe answers while searching his crates for the weapons.
"Well, how about Reflec then?"
"No. Just the cloth. Maybe on you travels you'll find a supplier. Then you can hook us up."
Verroel then waits while Rugdhoe produces the requisite weapons.
"Ok, I've got you the same ACR as Vued. The submachine gun is an Odzonfuegouz KHZ-10. You said you wanted a snub auto pistol for zero g use. I'd recommend the Instellarms SPSA-1114. The ACR is 4,000. The SMG is 1,200. The snub pistol is 1,800. Any idea on how much ammo you want?"
Verroel winces slightly at the cost, but then the cost of dying is always higher. "As for ammo, I'd say a thousand rounds each for the SMG and the ACR. Maybe 500 for the snub pistol. I'll want to have enough ammo to shoot off in practice." He wags his tail. "Any different suggestions?"
No one has any.
Rugdhoe says, "Ok that ammo plus extra clips will cost you 1,900. A case of the flashbang grenades will cost 200. I don't have pepper spray, but you should be able to get that anywhere. So, do we have a deal?"
Verroel wags his tail in agreement. "Deal!" Verroel swipes his card.
Rugdhoe turns to Fi, "Anything for you?"
Fi replies, "OK, I'll have the same number of rounds for my shotgun. It's a NeoArms 18mm Mark 12. What about flechette and tranq? I'd like a good spread of ammo types."
Rugdhoe scratches his head behind his right ear. "500? 1000?"
"500 of each, thanks. Also, can you get any semi-auto or full auto shotguns?"
"Did you like the shotgun I sold to Vued? It's an auto-shotgun."
"Perfect. I could also use a couple of good quality blades, especially if they can attach to the shotguns."
"That auto-shotgun has a polearm type accessory. Does that work? Or were you thinking something more close combat?"
"Both. One of the polearm types and a combat knife with leg scabbard."
Fi scratches his chin for a few seconds. "What restricted drugs can you get?"
"Combat or recreational?"
Fi's ears go flat as he looks at his packmates, unsure of their standing on this. "Ah, just the combat ones."
Rugdhoe consults his tablet and answers, "Combat, Redhistak 6, Adrenalize, Hi-Speed, PowerBoost, EverLast, MadScientist, EvilGenius, UWD, SuperSense, LaserFocus, Frenzy."
Fi replies, "I'll take a couple samples of each."
Rugdhoes scratches behind his ear and sighs. "I don't think you will, but..." He refers to his tablet as he lists off the prices. "Combat 2000 each, Redhistak6 250 each, Adrenalize 100 each, Hi-Speed 2000 each, PowerBoost 2000 each, EverLast 2000 each, MadScientist 2000 each, EvilGenius 2000 each, UWD 10000 each, SuperSense 300 each, LaserFocus 200 each, Frenzy 5000 each." Rugdhoe looks up from his tablet at Fi.
Fi has 59,000 credits, but he hasn't heard how much the weapons and ammo are going to cost him. He knows the auto-shotgun cost 2,000 credits.
Fi's ears go flat again. "Oh, I don't think so either. What's the total so far?"
Rugdhoe replies, "6,500. And the ammo with the Instellarms shotgun I'm selling you is compatible with your NeoArms model."
Fi quickly goes over in his head what each of those drugs do. Combat boosts strength and endurance. Redhistak 6 is a stimulant. Adrenalize quickens reaction times [OOC: Initiative Boost]. Hi-Speed doubles speed, but leaves a person exhausted afterwards. PowerBoost provides super strength. EverLast provides super endurance. MadScientist provides superior memory recall [OOC: Good for skills that rely on Education]. EvilGenius provides neurostimulation for massive intelligence boosts. UWD, short for Ultimate War Drug, is like a super combat drug mixed with Hi-Speed. SuperSense amplifies all the senses. LaserFocus offers clarity of thought [OOC: a bit like a safer mix of MadScientist and EvilGenius, but not nearly as strong.]. Frenzy is an even stronger version of UWD, but more likely to be fatal.
All of these drugs have side effects. Some worse than others. Fi isn't sure if they're worth the risk. Ultimately, he decides to take two each of the Redhistak6, Adrenalize, SuperSense, and LaserFocus.
His final bill comes to 8,200 credits.
Afterwards, Verroel asks who he should talk to about making speculative purchases for the Hteh Hut and Rhodes markets.
"Grnouf is probably the wolf for that," Rugdhoe says. "He's got the nose for those things. Want me to see if he's available?"
Verroel's tail wags. "Certainly! He's dealt fairly with us in the past. Please see if he'll see us or recommend someone else."
Rugdhoe replies, "I'll do that."
Verroel says, "We're headed up to the bar to wait for him, so what can we do about...?" He gestures to all the gear.
"Oh, I can set it all aside. Bringing all that gear into the bar might send a bad message." He winks. "You can pick it up after you meet with Grnouf."
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz, Rugdhoe, Grnouf
Location: Full Belly, Happy Wolf
It doesn't take long before Grnouf is ready to see the trio. They're only
halfway through their first beers when Rugdhoe waves them over. He lets them
know that it's ok to bring their beer.
Rugdhoe leads them to an office upstairs instead of Grnouf's subterranean study. This place isn't nearly so luxurious; it's business. The desk is made of aluminum, and the chair is ergonomic. A laptop sits on the desk. Two 100 cm monitors are mounted on the walls. One shows security camera feeds from the bar. The other is turned off.
Grnouf sniffs the air when the trio enter and then enthusiastically shakes their paws. "Have a seat, gentlewolves." Once they're seated, he asks, "Rugdhoe tells me that you need some market advice."
"Yes," answers Verroel. "We're headed just coreward of here to see what's going on with the markets."
"Which systems?" Grnouf asks.
"Hteh Hut, Knaeghzoka, Khugan, Rhodes. Maybe Miiko Belt, too. It depends on where the trail leads. Hteh Hut and Rhodes are our preferred stopovers. Rugdhoe already warned us about the 17th Disjuncture and gave us intel about those worlds."
"Good! Those stupid wolves have gone mad. Hopefully, they won't try to stick their teeth into those worlds while you're there. Let's see, Hteh Hut is fairly independent. They get their raw materials from the local belt. They have onsite refining and manufacturing. And they're high tech. About the only thing they don't do well is food. Not really enough space for the good stuff. Bring them food and you'll make your money back a few times over.
"Rhodes may be a client state, but they still have a naval base. Be very careful when you go there; they spook easy around us. The 17th Disjuncture has cut them off from the Vilani on the trailing side, and the worlds on their spinward side have problems of their own. Trade is light there, so they'll be desperate for anything they can get their hands on: real food, medicine, most manufactured goods.
"Does that help?"
Verroel's tail is held high and his ears are perked forward, swiveling a bit as he listens. Once Grnouf finishes, Verroel's tail, which is sticking through the back of the chair, wags. "That is perfect, Grnouf. It sounds like wolves willing to brave uncertainty and danger can make a decent profit trading the route we're headed." He snaps his jaws. "So food, and good food at that, for Hteh Hut and food, medicine, and manufactured goods for Rhodes. I'd think we can at least get the manufactured goods at Hteh Hut."
"That would be your best bet," Grnouf replies.
Verroel nods. "It's probably a good idea to buy a few cases of expensive liquor to use as presents at both systems."
Grnouf throws his head back and laughs. "Yes!"
Verroel asks, "Does Rhodes have much available to trade onward though?"
Grnouf replies, "No, not much. Raw materials: processed and unprocessed ores. You can probably get it cheap as their remote location and ugly neighbors give them few buyers. Then, it'll be up to you to find a customer."
Verroel's tail wags again. He says, "We'll have to see where the hunt for trade takes us from Rhodes then. If we can get processed ores, there may be markets for the rarer materials." He glances at his comrades. "What about medical equipment and drugs? They are expensive but might sell well."
"It would be more profitable if we could make them," Fi replies.
"Can we? We could pick up a fireproof shipping container to act as our lab," Verroel says enthusiastically.
Fi shakes his head. "I'm a doctor, not a chemist. Even if I had the formulas, it would be tough. And possibly dangerous."
Verroel's tail stops wagging and his ears momentarily droop. However, he soon recovers and turns to Grnouf. "Any suggestions as to where we could pick up medical supplies?"
Grnouf replies, "We probably have some, but they wouldn't be cheap so your profit margins would probably be small. Try Hteh Hut. Or go back to Vlani space. Anarsi would probably be a good place."
Verroel thanks him again as do the others. Grnouf bows graciously. With that, the trio take their leave of Grnouf and return to the bar.
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
Location: Traders' Bazaar
The trio have made their way from Full Belly, Happy Wolf to the Traders'
Bazaar. It's a long and narrow hall lined with traders buying, selling, and
haggling over prices. It seems a bit overwhelming.
A pup, no more than a dozen years old, comes up to the group and says, "Tell me what you're hunting for and, for five credits, I'll bring you to it."
Vued, who has no patience for the chaos of trading, pays him. "High quality food that we can sell to pinkies and wolves alike on Hteh Hut."
"Follow me!" He scampers through the crowd, but the trio manage to keep him in their sights. He ultimately leads them to an area where foodstuffs are being sold. Some of it is open for sampling, and the scent of it finds its way to the nostrils of the trio.
"I believe we're in the right place," Vued says.
Looking around, they see various fruit priced from 1,200 to 1,800 cr/ton. Various cuts of meat run from 2,000 to 5,000 cr/ton. Spices run 5,000 cr/ton. Grains run 500 to 1,000 cr/ton. There's prepared food as well. It runs from basic rations up to high end intrasolar system flight pre-made meals. There's also tea, coffee, canned beverages, liquor, and so on, but these items run in the tens of thousands of credits per ton range. You'd have to consider small lots.
Verroel gives the pup 10 credits for helping them. He wags his tail excitedly, thanks Verroel for his generosity, and scampers off.
To the others, he says, "I'm thinking we spend about 50,000 credits on foodstuffs. We'll go for stuff that won't spoil in a week's flight as we don't have specialized containers for that stuff."
Vued nods his head in agreement.
After much deliberation and sampling of wares, this is what the group decides on:
Characters: Verroel & Fi Khong
NPC: Vuedueloghz, Rugdhoe, Grnouf
Speculative cargoes placed. The crew returns to the ship to await their delivery.
Deliveries made. Ship loaded and ready to go. The trio call up the ladies for one last meal and partying before heading out.
Rise and shine. Farewell.
Bellies full of breakfast, the trio is back at the ship and slowly starts to prepare for launch.
The Happy Trails takes off.
Next: Arrival at Hteh Hut