Arrival in the Ami System

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal
System: Ami

1125.25.6 - 22:15 Imperial Time, 21:15 Vilani Time

Arrival at innermost gas giant, Amakii. With passive scanners showing, "all clear", Miishakaal descends to skim.

25.7 - 06:10 Imperial Time, 28:10 Vilani Time

Skimming begins....and goes off without a hitch. Gvarokh makes it look easy.

06:40 Imperial Time, 28:40 Vilani Time

Skimming complete. Ship ascends from gravity well while new fuel purifies.

12:45 Imperial Time, 02:45 Vilani Time

New fuel purified.

14:35 Imperial Time, 04:35 Vilani Time

Safe jump distance. Mini-jump to Ami.

Gvarokh and Slade are pleased that the ship has handled the stress of the mini-jump without any apparent ill effects to the jump drive. Of course, Slade will spend every available minute giving the jump drive a thorough inspection just to be sure.

The crew is awake and rested, having slept through the trips through Amakii's gravity well. Each is in his usual position: Vincent and Simrii in the turrets, Slade in Engineering, and the rest in the crew lounge. Gvarokh is piloting. Darrurz is on the bridge as well to assist the captain, if needed. And, as is SOP, all are wearing their vacc suits.

Passive sensors are picking up two objects in geostationary orbit over the starport, though on Ami it's not much more than a landing pad. The albedo coming from the objects is very high, indicating that they're artificial in nature, most likely spaceships. Gvarokh holds off on the deceleration burn (he has time) while he waits for the passive sensors to relay enough information to the computer for it to figure out what the ships are.

A tense minute goes by. The computer comes back with a surprising result. It states that, based on IR signature, silhouette, and estimated size there is an 81% probability that the two objects are Xeekr'kir! class starships.

Gvarokh and Darrurz turn to face one another, stunned eyes wide, they shout in unison, "K'kree!"

The specifications for the Xeekr'kir! are displayed on the main screen: 6,000 tons displacement. Jump-2 range. 1G acceleration. Standard models come with 12 hardpoints, but no weapons.

Gvarokh says, "Considering that these guys had to travel through a war zone to get here, they're certainly arrrrmed."

Darrurz turns his head towards the crew lounge and shouts "Chuuuuuck, get on the Briiiidge." Turning back to Gvarokh, he adds, "We need to make ourselves and Vlad invisible."

"I agree," Gvarokh replies.

Vlad pipes in over the comm, "Yes. Yes indeed," and, ever the kidder, adds, "Either that or we start getting ready for a BBQ."

Chuck arrives on the Bridge, "What do you need, Captain?"

"We've got K'kree ships in orbit over the planet. And, in case you didn't know, K'kree and Vargr are blood enemies."

Chuck nods knowingly.

"We have to consider the possibility that the K'kree are in charge somehow. So, we're gonna have you hail the starport and find out what the situation is."


"Yes, you. I need Slade in Engineering. You're the only other human on board who knows how to fly a ship. And besides, you're a bit more 'outgoing' than he is. I need to know I can rely on you, Chuck."

"You can, sir."

"Ok. I'm releasing executive command functions to you, just in case the computer requires it."

"Where will you and the others be during this?"

Gvarokh says, "That's a pretty good question. For right now, Darrurz and I will be in the lounge just outside the bridge. We'll patch into the communication link on the monitor there so we can see everything that's going on. Be sure to wear your comm-dot so that I can talk in your ear without anyone being the wiser."

Chuck immediately fishes it out of a utility pouch and applies it behind his ear.

"Do NOT react when you hear me, though."


"We'll figure out where to hide us, if necessary, after contact is made."

Chuck Hails The Starport

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal

1125.25.7 - 14:40 Imperial Time, 04:40 Vilani Time

With all vargr off camera, Chuck takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. He then hits the comm to contact the starport.

"This is the starship, Miishakaal, calling Ami Downport. Do you copy? Over." He's completely calm.

A human female appears onscreen. "This is Ami Downport, we read you loud and clear Miishakaal."

Chuck smiles and leans back in his chair. "We've got a hold full of freight for you guys. Is it ok to land?"

"Affirmative." She smiles back.

Chuck leans forward, looking concerned. "Are you sure?"

The woman tilts her head slightly and her brow furrows. "Yeah, why?"

"Well, my scanners are picking up two K'kree vessels in orbit. Unless I've misjumped by about three or four sectors, those guys are a long way from home."

She chuckles. "Yeah, they're a long way from home. They're on a trading mission, trying to drum up some business with worlds in the Ziru Sirkaa. We just happened to meet their criteria."

"Oh, ok. So long as you guys aren't in any kind of danger."

She smiles. "Well, that's very sweet of you Mister...."

"Chuck Strider." He bows slightly from his sitting position.

"...Mister Strider, but we're fine. You're cleared to land. I'll inform Receiving that you're on approach."

"Much obliged."

"Just so you know, there's another K'kree trader on the ground. Be sure to give them plenty of room when you land. And, if any of your crew aren't vegetarians, you might want to give their crew a wide berth down here as well. They're a bit touchy about that. Most of us had to go into hiding for three days while our bodies 'cleansed' themselves of any traces of meat."

"Thanks for the tip."

Gvarokh whispers to Chuck, "Make sure only human workers come pick up the freight."

"Anything else?" the comm officer asks.

"Yeah, uhhh we're not vegetarians by any stretch of the imagination. There aren't any K'kree among your receiving personnel, are there?"

"Oh no. They're just visiting. They won't have anything to do with you, unless that is, you want to."

"Nope! Not a chance. I'm not too keen on militant herbivores, human or otherwise."

The comm officer laughs. "I hear you. Well, they should be gone in a day or two. Try a breath mint in the meantime."

It's Chuck's turn to laugh. "Good advice. See you on the ground. Miishakaal out."

"Ami downport out."

Chuck breaks the connection.

Lakir speaks up, "Great. Three armed horsey traders, and us with the senior crew as Vargr. Anybody wanna bet on no blood feud leachin' past the atmo, when we try to leave?

"Seems the boys on the ground are goin' outta their way to accommodate 'Q'on the hoof'. Bet they'll sell us down the road just as fast."

"Oh, I don't know about that. The comm officer seemed nice enough."

Lakir isn't having any of it. "Yeah. Everybody talks nice, with a gun to their head or lasers in orbit. Bet they ain't set up to counter three heavily armed horsey traders." Darrurz replies, "We miiight not have to woooorry about the Humans if the K'kree smell us."

Lakir continues, "Your call Capn'. I don't like that 'purging of the system' comment. Sounds way to accommodating for us meat eaters, even for some shithole backworld PolCo Vilani dump like this. How ya wanna run this transfer? Seein's how we ain't goin' ta be wanderin' the docks, and sure as hell don't want word of you teammates gettin' out around the landin' field."

Darrurz pipes up, "I suuuggest we dump all our aaair before we get to the atmosphere, and put in fresh scrrrrubbers. We can always fill back up oooonce we land. Yooou, me and Vlad suit up for the duration of ooour stay on Ami, and the only peeeeople that show themselves to the outside wooorld are Chuck, Simrii, Lakir, Vincent, and Slaaade."

Slade nods and says, "Purging the air and swapping in fresh scrubbers is doable. It might help for whatever detectable smells are purely aerosol. We can isolate the three staterooms from the rest of the ship's air; it won't be perfectly comfortable for the three of you but it'll work. Living for three days in a vacc suit is insane. It's been years since I gave a shit, but I can check if there's a medical emergency mode in the life support for stuff like this, to clear out areas that got toxified. Also we could purge the cargo hold if the cargo is vacuum-tolerant, since that would be our main interface downside, and maybe any skin oils on the cargo or whatever might evaporate or whatnot; a wasteful purge might be detected, but if we pump to the tanks through the scrubbers and then crack the hold. I dunno. They don't cover this in the textbooks outside the sections on quarantines, which gets a little draconian."

Gvarokh says, "We need to scope out the situation before we panic. The main things we need to do is deliver our freight and sell our cargo. Dumping the air isn't going to accomplish a lot, as they will smell the meat on our breaths long before they smell the us on the skin. It took them three days; we don't have that long. No matter what we do, we'll arrive with a foul odor.

"So, I think the first thing we should do is not overreact. There is no reason for the three of us to cram ourselves into enviro suits for a week. Since we are going to stink, we should then use that to our advantage and make the humans come to us. The Vargr crew will need to be hidden, so the humans won't see us, but they won't be able to smell us.

"If the situation is bad, then we deliver the freight, sell the cargo, and get the hell out. If the situation is not bad, then we can at least let some of us out and just avoid the K'kree."

After that, Gvarokh mutters under his breath, "And the whole reason I picked Ami was to get out and stretch our legs! We would have been better with the other world!"

Darrurz's hackles come up and the hair on the back of his neck stands straighter. His ears go back along the side of his head and his hole body is tense. Gvarokh can tell that if Darrurz's charisma was closer to his this would be a challenge, however Darrurz is holding back.

"I don't care about the pinkies on Ami. We can reek as bad as them for all I care. They can't smell it, but the K'kree will smell us as soon as we open the cargo door. We are sentient, intelligent, civilized, predatorily, carnivores, just about the worst nightmare that they can come across, and they are religiously dedicated to our eradication throughout the known Universes.

"We know the situation. I'm not panicking. We have Centaurs on the ground at an open air starport. They out man and out gun us, and the planet has nothing to back us up with.

"I'm not advocating we cut and run like some hairless wonder, I'm suggesting that we get rid of our smell as best we can, and then we and our smell stay as concealed as possible while we are on planet. Humans smelling of meat the Centaurs can tolerate, Vargr they can't."

Gvarokh's eyes flash, but only for a moment. Instead of getting angry, however, he simply looks upward and sighs. "Slade, please go ahead and work on the containment you mentioned. We have a little over three hours until we get to Ami, so see what you can figure out in two hours. At worst, we can flush the atmosphere from the cargo hold and work on scrubbing the atmosphere in the rest of the ship. If we can at least clean out the hold, we can handle the cargo exchange. Please let us know how we can atmospherically segregate the ship."

Slade already has a reply. "I gotta agree with the apocalyptic scenario. If they smell us we're dead. This sounds like a holy war. We can try the following, but we don't have much time and we'll be shorthanded by definition:

  1. Vargr staterooms go on their own air loop with Vargr inside.
  2. Scrubbers swapped.
  3. Atmosphere swapped.
  4. Humans launder their clothing and scrub down heavily. The pilot stays at the bridge and doesn't leave, because that's too hard to sterilize -- too many soft surfaces.
  5. We do a wipedown of the cargo hold wherever human and vargr hands have touched it.
  6. Wipedown the corridor to the cargo hold and treat it like an informal airlock.
  7. Check the cargo manifests -- and purge the hold to vacuum anyway.
  8. Check prevailing winds on this rock and preferentially park downwind from the horses.
  9. Be ready to take off at full G within 30 seconds -- human crew doesn't leave the hold and stays near the walls.
One other possibility: Don't go at all. Go to the next destination and contract with another ship to transfer our cargo. That's my vote."

Simrii, who's been quiet this whole time, calmly offers his opinion. "Your plan's pretty good, except for a couple things: the pilot won't have to stay on the bridge and you won't have to scrub down the cargo.

"Vlad didn't handle any of the cargo directly, we used loaders. And none of our hairy friends has hung out in the hold this week. No room for sparring. I know because I've spent most of my time hanging out in there this week. Even so, vacuum will take care of any volatiles or fur."

"All Chuck has to say is that we had vargr passengers on board for a couple weeks and we dropped them off on Kaso.

"And if we leave the engines hot, so that we can take off in 30 seconds, someone's gonna get suspicious. Besides, those two ships in orbit would do some serious damage before we cleared the atmosphere."

He pauses for a breath, then continues, "The K'kree have no jurisdiction here. I realize that they've got, what's the word, jihad towards meat eaters but these are just traders. The ships are slow and don't have much armament, though they still out gun us. The Vilani Navy gets word of an attack on its citizens and the K'kree are dinner. I realize that would do us little good, but so long as they realize they're guests here, they'll behave. And if we follow Slade's recommendations, we'll be fine."

A Deal With The Popsicles

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal

1125.25.7 - 14:55 Imperial Time, 04:55 Vilani Time, 01:28 Local Time (starport)

Gvarokh snaps his fingers, "Popsicles!" He bolts out of the crew lounge and starts heading aft. "Chuck!" he yells as he departs, "Bring your medkit, we've got to thaw out these corpses before we land." To Slade he adds, "Go ahead and get started, Slade."

Vlad and Darrurz head to their rooms. The rest of the human crew follow Gvarokh down the corridor, though Slade keeps going towards Engineering and asks Vincent to lend him a hand.

Chuck shows up at the low berth number one with his medkit.

Gvarokh begins to explain himself, "We need these humans to help us with our cover story. They can't let it slip that there's vargr on board."

Chuck asks, "But can't it wait until we land when we'd normally revive them?"

Gvarokh smiles only slightly menacingly. "But then I won't be able to bribe them if they're not sure." A pause. "If I remember the passenger manifest correctly, they're all college students, right?"


"So maybe we can get one of them to contact their parents to find out what's going on."

"Hmmmmm, maybe. I don't know if Ami has that sophisticated a communications network. And there's another problem, we don't have any vacc suits for them."

"What about the ones we bought for Oda and her family?"

"They took 'em when they left."

Darrurz barks over the comm, "I've juuust brought my ooown Vacc Suit, so he could uuuse mine from the looocker as a temporary solution. Also Shiraamer's is still with her things if you need another one."

Chuck replies, "Could work. Shiraamer's has been adjusted small to fit her petite frame and George here is pretty big. Shouldn't take too long though."

"Let's get the rescue balls as back up," Gvarokh says, "just in case."


"Lakir, go get them. They're in the equipment locker."

"Aye, aye cap'n."

Simrii offers, "Rescue balls will need to be tethered to something so they don't get sucked out the airlock. Can't we put them back in the berths, but on standby?"

Both Gvarokh and Simrii look to Chuck while he ponders it.

"Yeah, we can. But not for long. They've got a limited air supply and they're isolated from the rest of the ship's HVAC system. They're designed to maintain corpsicles, not fully awake bodies."

"Long enough to land?"

"Yeah. Just in case something goes wrong, give 'em the rescue balls to climb into. They can pop the hatch on their berths after climbing into the rescue balls."

"But what's to stop them from getting sucked out?"

"We tether them to the inside handles."

"Ok, it's a plan. Revive the first one."

While Chuck initiates revival, Gvarokh returns to the Bridge to program a deceleration maneuver into the autopilot. Slade comms in from Engineering to say that he and Vincent have isolated the vargr rooms into their own life support loop.

"Go ahead and isolate Engineering, then flush your air to vacuum. Maybe if we do it in stages, it'll minimize our chances of having it detected."

Gvarokh returns to the low berth where Chuck, Lakir, and Simrii and watching the first human revive. 15 minutes have elapsed.

"George? George Higan? Can you hear me, George?" Chuck asks.

Although his eyes are still closed, he answers, "Yeah, I can hear you. Are we there already?"

"Almost. Something's come up. I'll let my captain tell you the rest."

Gvarokh steps closer. "Mister Higan, we have a situation."

George blinks in an effort to get used to the light. "That sounds bad."

"It is for us, maybe for you too. I don't know yet."

"Ok. What's the problem?"

"Three K'kree vessels are at your world. Two in orbit. The other on the ground. We're not sure if they're invaders or just visiting. Our communications with the starport indicate the latter, but we're not 100% sure. Either way, K'kree don't like meat eaters. They're our sworn enemy. While this group might not do anything, there's the possibility that my presence will incite them to riot and attack us and anyone who'd interfere."

He's puzzled. "How can I help?"

"First off, we need for you to contact your parents to find out the situation on the ground."

"Uhhh, where are we?"

"We're still in descent from jump. Does Ami have a global comm network or are all offworld communications done through the starport?"

"Yeah, we've got a sat-phone network, but I don't think it's set up to talk to spaceships. At least, I've never heard of anyone using them that way."

Gvarokh smiles, "I know how. We'll go to the bridge. The other thing is that I need you to keep us a secret."

George is still a bit groggy. "Huh? Oh, that there are vargr on board. Yeah, man. That's not a problem. I like a burger the same as the next guy."

"Great. What about your fellow students?"

"They'll go along."

"Are you sure, George? This is very important."

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Ok, let's get to the Bridge."

"Uhhh, captain," Chuck asks, "Should I thaw the rest?"

"No, we'll... rather you and George will deal with them when we land." To Lakir he says, "Take three of those rescue balls back to the locker. Leave one with Simrii. We'll put George in my old room while we finish descending. Meet me on the bridge." To Simrii he says, "Help me get George to the bridge."

Once they're clear of the low berth corridor, Gvarokh gives the ok to Slade to vent air from both the port and starboard side low berth corridors.

Back on the Bridge, Gvarokh pings the comm sat network. He knows where the satellites should be in orbit about Ami and now he just needs to talk to one of them without alerting the K'kree ships.

Gvarokh yields the comm system over to George. "Go ahead, George. It'll be audio only to minimize the signal."

George inputs his parents' comm number.

A man answers the line. He groggily says, "Hello?"

"Hi, Dad."

"George! You're home! We weren't aware you landed."

"I haven't, yet."


"Dad, what's the story with the K'kree?"

There's a unintelligible dismissal. "Just a trading mission, I'm told. It's an annoying inconvenience. They're keeping people out of the area around the starport and most of downtown unless they've been meat free for three days."

"How can you prove that?"

"Some kind of bioscanner. You breathe on a sensor and it picks up traces emanating from your gut. Then you stick your arm in a sleeve where some other sensor picks it up coming out of your pores."

"Wow, I didn't think we had anything like that."

"We don't. The K'kree brought it with them."

Gvarokh asks, "Does your dad know what happens to a 'meat eater' that lands at the starport? What is the reaction to that? After all, for you only a few hours have passed since we left Kaso. And is there a secondary area that can be used as a starport to avoid offending the six limbed visitors?"

George replies, "There's only the one starport. Ami wants to minimize our footprint on this world. I'll ask him about the other stuff." Turning back to the comm, he continues his conversation with his father, "Hey Dad, do you know if there's any kind of procedure in place to handle incoming people who haven't been meat free? I had a cheeseburger before I went to sleep."

"No, I don't. You know yourself that we don't get too many visitors. I'm going to have to call the starport. How soon until you land?"

George looks to Gvarokh for the answer.

Gvarokh checks the helm. "A little over three hours."

"Three hours, Dad."

"I better call them now."

Gvarokh interrupts, "We need your dad to keep this call confidential at least until you make it home. We can't let the K'kree know we're here. There's a good chance they'll try to kill us."

"Dad doesn't know you're a vargr. As far as he knows, he's just making sure me and the others make it past the K'kree since we ate cheeseburgers or whatever. My Dad's cool. It'll be ok. And Ami certainly wouldn't let anything happen to us just because of a trade mission."

Gvarokh sighs. "Ok. I've got to go to my quarters so Slade can finish purging the ship's air. I'll be monitoring your progress from there. I want you to get in this vacc suit so that you can talk with your Dad when he calls back."


Gvarokh places a paw on Chuck's shoulder as he gets comfortable in the pilot's chair. "Good luck, Chuck."

"Thanks, captain."

Gvarokh leaves the bridge and heads to his quarters.

Descending On Ami

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Simrii & George Higan
Location: Miishakaal

1125.25.7 - 15:30 Imperial Time, 05:30 Vilani Time, 02:03 Local Time (starport)

With Gvarokh safely in his stateroom and George all secure in a vacc suit, Slade purges the ship of its remaining air. He works with Vincent to swap out the air and water filtration cartridges as quickly as possible. Shortly thereafter, Chuck starts the deceleration burn.

15:45 Imperial Time, 05:45 Vilani Time, 02:18 Local Time (starport)

A comm call comes in to the ship. The carrier identifies it as George's father.

"Hello, Dad."

"Hi, George. Spoke to the Starport Warden. You're all set. A car will pick up you and your friends when you arrive and bring you home. You won't have to worry about dealing with any of the K'kree."

"Great! Thanks, Dad!"

Gvarokh is relieved for that.

The descent continues.

As the ship passes by the K'kree ships, Chuck holds his breath.

18:35 Imperial Time, 08:35 Vilani Time, 05:08 Local Time (starport)

Miishakaal lands safely as far away from the K'kree Trader as is possible, which turns out to be 150 meters (~ 500 feet). The ship is still.

Chuck breathes a sigh of relief and states the obvious over the comm, "We're down."

Outside it's still dark, and will be for another five hours. The temperature is a chilly 3.3°C (38°F) and the air is calm. As fresh air is sucked into the ship's HVAC system, heaters get to work to kill the chill.

Chuck leaves the Bridge and begins reviving the popsicles. With George's help, he brings them up to speed on the situation. Gvarokh listens in and is pleased to hear that everyone goes along with the plan.

The taxi arrives to pick up the passengers and their luggage. Chuck thanks George for his help.

Back inside, Chuck contacts the control tower to find out when they should expect the arrival of the Receiving crew. He's told that a Lighting Crew will be by at 06:00 local time to get set up and that the Stevedores will be there at 07:00.

Chuck then heads to the galley to whip up a pot of coffee. Over the comm, he says, "So far, so good, Captain."

Unloading Cargo

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at the Ami Starport

1125.25.7 - 16:27 Imperial Time, 09:27 Vilani Time, 06:00 Local Time

As indicated, the Lighting Crew shows up outside the ship to erect lighting poles around the front of the ship to illuminate the main cargo loading ramp. Chuck goes outside to chat them up. From the sound of things, these guys are pretty relaxed. He does his best to pick them for information regarding the K'kree without sounding obvious, but it seems that they haven't had any dealings with them since the ships landed.

One tidbit of info is that all three ships initially landed. The K'kree wanted a bit of a break from the confines of their vessels and Ami obliged them. Obviously, two of them are already in orbit, waiting for the third. When pressed for an estimated time of departure, the men shrug. "Soon" is all they'll hazard a guess with.

The leader of the team hands Chuck a remote for controlling the lights. He just asks him to notify them three hours before departure so that they can remove them.

17:27 Imperial Time, 10:27 Vilani Time, 07:00 Local Time

With the front of the ship fully illuminated, the Stevedores arrive to unload freight. Vincent joins Simrii and Lakir who are assisting the locals while Chuck pretends to be the Captain.

Each does his best to inquire about the K'kree, but the reactions from this bunch are the same as the Lighting Crew. And with no soldiers about, it is obvious that they aren't being coerced in any way. Sure, a couple of them grumble about the "horseys," but there's no indication that the K'kree are in charge in any way, shape or form.

Dealing With The Spec Cargo

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at the Ami Starport

1125.25.7 - 19:57 Imperial Time, 12:57 Vilani Time, 09:30 Local Time

Freight has been offloaded and hauled away. The ship has been paid. Chuck kills the lights and it is now evident that the sky is beginning to brighten in the east. Although their spiffy new cold weather gear has kept them toasty warm, the guys head back inside the ship and close the hold.

Once they've had a chance to get situated, Darrurz' suggests selling the speculative cargo through Chuck and Lakir. Chuck because he's a people person, when he has a beer in his hand, Lakir because he always seems to ask the right questions of people, and they are both good about what's happening as grass roots level.

Gvarokh chuckles, "I was going to suggest that you try coaching them through a sale."

Darrurz gets to work accessing BrokerNet to see if he can find where to call.

"Shouldn't we wait a little while longer?" Chuck asks. "You know. Give the K'kree some time to leave first? I don't mind doing the job, especially with Darrurz coaching me. We've taken all possible precautions, shouldn't we try to ride it out for a bit? Yeah, I know that easy for me to say being that I'm not locked up in my room and all, but I thought it needed to be said."

Gvarokh says, "That's a pretty good idea. Since they are supposed to be in the process of leaving, it certainly won't hurt to wait a day to see if they will finally just go away, and," looking at Darrurz on his monitor, "you can still do your initial research in the interval."

"Rrrisk attackkk by the K'kree just to make a largerrr profit?" Darrurz replies. "I hope the tail you bite doesn't turrrn ouuut to be ouuurrrs." He adds, "I'll let you know what I find."

It doesn't take long for Darrurz to discover that there isn't much of a market here to sell much of anything. With only 25,000 people here, commerce crawls. As he suspected, Darrurz can really only sell the spec cargo to one customer: The Agricultural Group. He finds their contact number and notes their business hours.

Darrurz relates his findings to Gvarokh and then must wait. Realizing boredom will cause him to nip at his fur until it falls out, he decides that it can't hurt to start instructing Chuck and Lakir on how to sell cargo. Maybe after a couple of hours of that he'll be calmed down enough to take a nap.

Slade interjects from Engineering, "Our low berth cargo is now walking around and talking about what an adventure they just had. They're college kids. All their friends are gonna know in like 45 seconds. If one of these yokels is a pyro looking for an excellent new way of starting a fire...just saying."

Simrii replies from his turret, "Considering that was three and a half hours ago, I'd say that fire fizzled out."

K'kree on Parade

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at the Ami Starport

1125.25.7 - 20:57 Imperial Time, 13:57 Vilani Time, 10:30 Local Time

The sun has finally risen. With it comes activity over at Miishakaal's neighbor.

"We've got movement," Vlad is heard to say. He's been tuned in to the ship's sensors on the monitor in his stateroom.

Everyone stops what they're doing, or rouses from slumber, to check their own monitors.

Four guards are seen emanating from the ship. They appear lightly armed and armored. Each holds a lance with a ceremonial flag draped from the tip. A gust of wind captures one of the flags and plays with it along the tarmac. The K'kree guard gallops after it, eventually catching up to it 10 meters from Miishakaal.

He ties the flag to his lance, tighter this time to make sure it stays put. Once he's done, he stares up at Miishakaal. He sniffs the air a bit and stares for a moment before trotting back to his own ship at an unalarmed pace.

Once he's rejoined his group, the procession continues. Another dozen K'kree disembark, their breath converging to form clouds in the chill morning air. They then proceed to march towards the city.

1125.26.1 - 04:57 Imperial Time, 21:57 Vilani Time, 18:30 Local Time

8 hours have elapsed when the K'kree are spotted returning to their ship. They march back into their ship without making any indication that there's another ship on the tarmac.

A comm call comes in from the tower. They're alerting you that the K'kree ship will be preparing to take off and that Miishakaal should keep its crew at a safe distance to avoid any debris. It's an unusual courtesy and Chuck thanks them for it.

07:00 Imperial Time, 24:00 Vilani Time, 20:33 Local Time

The K'kree trader lifts off from the tarmac and ascends into space. The danger has passed without incident. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

Lakir is the first to speak, "Any way to confirm their jump out system? Might be an idea ta check 'round; see if they dropped any clues as to their next destination. After all, we got a 1 in 8 chance of bumpin' in ta them again, 'less we use the tanks ta jump ahead of their possible route. This routine ain't so good for my blood pressure."

Chuck answers, "Well, at 1G it's going to take them three and a half hours to get to safe jump distance, longer if they decide to coast or decelerate to zero velocity for jump. With the planet's rotation, our sensors might not pick up the jump flash."

Darrurz adds, "I'm not waiting arrround to find out." He leaves his room with his handcomp and comm and starts heading towards the forward cargo lock since there are no ladders connecting the personnel air locks to the ground. "I've got cargo to sell."

Lakir disagrees, "Probably not a good idea, till we know they're out of comms range. After all, nobody 'cept the students downside know we got Vargr onboard."

Darrurz is adamant. "They're gone. This is ourrrrr turrrrfff nowww. If they returrrn, let them stay in their ship until we have finished ourrrrr business."

As Darrurz reaches the lift, he notes that Vlad is already there, smiling and nodding with what he's just said.

Once the two vargr reach the cargo hold, they notice Gvarokh talking with Chuck. He pats Chuck on the shoulder to conclude their conversation. To those present, and over the comm he announces, "The whole reason I picked Ami was to stretch my legs and breath real air, and now given the opportunity, I am certainly going to take it. You arrre all free to join me."

Business As Usual... You Wish!

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at the Ami Starport

1125.26.1 - 07:15 Imperial Time, 24:15 Vilani Time, 20:48 Local Time

Everyone is outside, except for Slade who's down in Engineering resetting the HVAC system on Life Support and Lakir who's monitoring sensors and comm chatter for signs of a double cross.

Darrurz successfully gets a hold of The Agricultural Group and has arranged a meeting to discuss selling them what amounts to being "spare parts" for the farm machinery they've just received. Since it's far, Simrii offers to give Darrurz a lift in the air raft.

09:45 Imperial Time, 26:45 Vilani Time, 23:18 Local Time

Darrurz and Simrii return to the ship all smiles. Simrii isn't known for telling stories so the crew eagerly listen in. He relates how people along the streets were pointing to them as they drove by. He was getting a bit nervous and thought that maybe Lakir was on to something after all, but when they arrived at The Agricultural Group it all became quite clear.

The staff at "The Farm" enthusiastically greeted them, especially Darrurz. There were plenty of complements consisting of "nice job", "well played", and so on. While the K'kree trading mission was amicable enough, their protocol requests were a little demanding. Some would say unreasonable, but everyone wanted relations to remain civil. The fact that a vargr was sitting on the tarmac 150 meters away... well, they appreciate the irony.

Of course, Darrurz played this good faith to his advantage. The crew's jaws hit the floor when they learn he negotiated a sale price of 400,000 credits! The parts only cost 50,000 credits (plus registration). Nearly 700% profit!

A truck will be here in a little while to pick up the farm machinery parts.

Darrurz mentions to Gvarokh that the spec cargo that's available here on Ami (organic oils and herbs) would sell better on Mimere than on Zaan. All Gvarokh needs to do is give him a budget to work with and he'll get started.

Gvarokh tells him that if he's this confident all the time, then he can risk up to 250,000 credits.

Darrurz is bowled over by this show of confidence in his abilities. He promises not to let Gvarokh down.

Gvarokh adds that he doesn't expect 700% returns every time, just a good overall return over time.

Darrurz recognizes the light hearted comment for what it is and chuckles.

It appears that some of the initial tension between these two has abated.

Thank You Refund

Character: Gvarokh
Location: Captain's Quarters on the Miishakaal, parked at the Ami Starport

1125.26.1 - 10:45 Imperial Time, 27:45 Vilani Time, 24:18 Local Time

To show his gratitude for their cooperation, Gvarokh refunds the fares for George Higan and the other low passengers out of his own pocket. He throws and extra grand in for George. Each one receives an explanation for the refund, while George's is a bit longer and makes references to his courage, selflessness and integrity during the ordeal.

Leaving Ami

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at the Ami Starport

1125.26.1 - 12:15 Imperial Time, 29:15 Vilani Time, 24:48 Local Time

Darruz purchases 50 tons of organic oils at 1,800 cr/ton. The cargo registration fee brings the total cost to 91,000 credits. Freight for Zaan makes up the balance of the hold.

Gvarokh spends as much time outside as possible. The air is clean and full of natural odors. He savors the scents of green grass, trees, small game animals. It's been a long time since he's been able to just enjoy breathing real, un-recycled air. He catches sight of Vlad reacting the same way and they both laugh knowingly.

He wishes they could stay for a while and go exploring. There's a lot of wilderness here. Who knows, maybe the war will end....

Yeah, right.

While the cargo is being secured and Chuck and Slade go through the pre-flight checklist, Gvarokh engages in small talk with the Lighting Crew as they pack up the courtesy lights. He's the last one to board and waits until the last possible minute before doing so.

He lets Chuck pilot the ship out. He deserves it for keeping his cool with the K'kree around. He uses the time to pay out the spec cargo profits to the crew.

16:15 Imperial Time, 1:15 Vilani Time, 28:48 Local Time


Next: Zaan