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Old August 17th, 2019, 08:54 AM
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The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
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T. Want some tea? came the unspoken but understood question as I sat in a Lone Star in an unknown Highport over a world's nightside with glittering cities below our orbit. Tea in a bar is not unheard of, but me? The moment I questioned the offer, I woke up.

021-1107
Firgvaar (Provence 0401) A667987-E Ga Hi Pr VLPr
Day-15

"Solar winds must be picking up from local," I said as Lidus pointed at the Sensors readings. She had pinged a doubly false Radioactives result. "Sorry, Spikes," I said in reference to today's spiky leather collar Lidus had buckled about her neck.

Today, I found Uessae in the Cargo Hold eyeing the strange egg artifact. She was staring at it and fiddling with her heirloom Pocketwatch-4. The engraved, brushed nickel glinted in her claw. What was she doing down here? She shrugged at my spoken question and we left the artifact alone. Depressurizing the Hold had no effect on the monadium egg.

My Engineer's cabin is two decks below the others. A Vargr Seeker has four decks because it is designed not around its Cargo Hold but around its Ship's Boat which is adjacent to one of the cargo decks.

This allows the Ship's Boat to bring in hauls from spaces too tight for the 200dT piscine Seeker hull. Blacktongue's cabin is just aft of the Bridge. Across that deck's axis corridor is Uessae's. And aft of Blacktongue is Lidus who wanted to be closest to the Galley anyway.

Though Uessae and I are betrothed, we stay in separate cabins to both stay professional before Blacktongue and Lidus, but also so I could establish my Vargr Cave down there. Just a few meters and I'm at Engineering. Three deck hatch bulkheads and two cargo elevators connect each of the decks. Though I would not mind double-occupying with Uessae, we had secretly claimed cabins as that meant more space for us rather than cramming us as a couple in one stateroom. This was fortunate because of the spat Lidus and Blacktongue were having. It allowed Uessae and I to buffer between them on the schedule and keep the peace. And morale on a Vargr Seeker can plummet when tempers are high and fuses short.

Inside the Lair Protectorate, all eight of its worlds have Starport A, Gas Giants and Naval Bases. Corsairs only come here to seek Privateer contracts and earn that elusive Letter of Marque, for there is a quiet smuggling presence into and from the Empire of Varroerth. Hence, the Minor Carp is mounted with two, Single Pulse Laser Turrets used only in mining asteroids. The finer work is done by a portable Laser Drill.

Sixty-five tons on a Seeker is a good, round number, but gets better when we include the extra ten tons in the Ship's Boat for a total of 75 tons. If we play our mining cards wisely, we can make a lottery look like a soup kitchen handout.

I will now include a stock image of the space guppy we call the VJ Seeker in this log.

VJ Vargr Seeker

See what I mean about pregnant guppy in space? The pitiful Drives in one of these are purposefully kept small. The VJ2-BU11 Minor Carp is meant for space only. Just before Uessae and I signed on after meeting Blacktongue and Lidus Ka, we beheld several examples of this class in both contragravity, aerospace berths in the upper atmosphere of Lair's four Downports and again later in parking orbit across the seventeen orbital platforms over Lair. See the huge Cargo Hold door on the starboard side? The Vargr Seeker has another on the portside. They're how we got that huge, monadium egg into the ship.

The Vilani woman and Blacktongue had argued over the scientific community claim on such an artifact Ancient or not versus Blacktongue's estimation of its credit worth to the highest bidder. Given Lidus' practicing the emulation of Vargr Charisma, I was the Medic to step in before it became fisticuffs versus Infighting.

Belting is a world apart from the Trade and Commerce of the Merchant Guilds. Us Merchants do less labor and more bookkeeping, though my presence on the Minor Carp streamlined belter operations somewhat. Blacktongue being a software genius, used a copy of a ship application as a bribe to the Lair Mining Commission to hasten the red tape for his ship to purchase and be awarded a mining license. It was my funds that helped jumpstart this expedition to Firgvaar. There is so much in each watch that can go wrong as exampled earlier in this log. But that payoff can be so sweet it'll melt your cargo bay.

A watch of six hours is the standard shift for a crew on a Seeker. That's why there are four of us on the Minor Carp. There can be more if double-occupancy is risked, but then the individual payout is lower when divided among more than four. Blacktongue instructed me that Seekers that employ more than four crew are in belts with Corsair presence, claimjumpers, and other ne'er-do-wells.

The shopping list for this excursion put supplies, gear, equipment and environmental needs on Blacktongue's Seeker. The list takes up only one ton in cargo, but gradually dissipates and opens that ton of space for ores. I'm told that if the ores don't reach that ton of space by the time the supplies are used up, something was inefficient.

There are many nuances to belting, I am learning. It's not a life I'd want, because I like the Starport bazaars, the noise of haggling, the smell of credits changing claws and the variety of Vargr I get to meet at each world. Out here in the belts, Trojans and Rings, it's quiet. I'd be very lonely out here without Uessae Noedhin. I'm a city Vargr. Uessae was a Navy brat. I get the impression from Lidus Ka that she's some kind of Black Groat of the Vilani, especially to find her on a Vargr Seeker with Blacktongue.
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