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The Cleon Memorial Library For discussion of Traveller fiction, both official and fan-written. Fan-written drafts are explicitly welcome.

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  #11  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:00 AM
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When the ship lifts, all bills are paid and in full. Thanks to a little risk and reward on our part, I was freed from some ship expenses, got Grunt a fat reward, was able to pay my crew and sell the Firearms to Beltport Security at 170% on the coattails of such hyped-up heroism.

Uessae, Ofo and Jack were happy to see that my sleaze-haggling had paid off.

From Sigma 7, we took on 20 tons of low-tech FeNi ore, 5 tons of heavier element ores, and Mail (barely). Thirty tons. The others with money to burn looked at me with pleading faces for permission to buy and haul speculative cargo.

On arrival I had seen Fruits up for sale. At the end of the week, Air/rafts were the Imbalance. The vehicles at KCr600 per was out of our league. But the Fruits....

...were aging and I allowed us, me Jack and the Aekhu to buy 30, 4 and 4 tons of Fruits respectively, but at 110%. Lessons, right?

Grunt we would not let do more than make coffee and heat up steak pockets and sit in the galley or the commons.

But Miss Ka kept him company and the two chatted as we head outbound for Naxx-Iygo (Corridor 0509) on free, refined fuel.

Jack, like a military drill sergeant kept up Grunt's therapy all week in jumpspace while I took a long hard look at the UWP of Naxx-Iygo. Sitting in the galley as my dinner in the oven matured, I showed the Atmosphere digit to Uessae. She wrinkled her muzzle and concurred that we should pass the mainworld and simply skim for fuel and pass on to Mowanda (Corridor 0709). "A Vacuum world will be more welcoming and be thankful for the Fruits in the cargo hold," she told me.

"Humans eat fruits, right?" asked Jack who was passing through to restock the Medic pantry. The Aekhu shot my fellow Logaksu a look.

It's true. Not all of us Extents Vargr have significant experience with Humaniti. And Jack, Grunt and I are from Provence Sector. Humaniti that far coreward are usually Travellers, dignitaries, explorers and other types too few to gain sufficient experience from.

Grunt shared his ignorance as he was still in the wounded box, sitting a couple of meters away. "I heard that millennia ago Vargr used to eat Humaniti." No one said a word as Miss Ka passed through to her cabin.

"Yew ain't nun too bright, are ya, sun?" joked Jack at the bumpkin Grunt.

After Miss Ka had entered her cabin, Uessae the bride-to-be admitted with a lowered voice, "Yes, Grunt. Second Diaspora Vargr did hunt and eat them until a Red Pelt poet told everybody to stop the practice. And it was millennia ago."
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  #12  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:05 AM
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The breakout in Naxx-Iygo presented our ship with another Subsidized Liner waiting patiently for a refueling service to replenish their huge tanks with L-Hyd. Uessae shrugged her shoulders at the tanker ship and the Liner and began her skimming run of the H2 cloud deck once we attained orbit.

Bypassing mainworld Naxx-Iygo, Uessae warned me privately, "We have to stop at Mowanda, Ri. Life Support is getting f-... hairy and we need groceries."

As the Purser on this ship, I knew the remaining stores before Uessae marched to Engineering to lay the situation on me.

What you have to understand about Uessae and I is Vargr Charisma.
I’m a sleaze-haggling Merchant from a high-tech, Industrial world with too many Vargr on it. Uessae is an ex-Navy Spacer daughter of an Imperial Subsector Fleet Admiral out of Atsah / Atsah, Deneb Sector. She has doubled me in Vargr Charisma. What she does not have over me is the deed to my family’s Vargr Trader, the Thuegueus.

Now watch closely. When I report to the Bridge and it’s empty, I have the con and am master and commander of the ship. When I report to the Bridge and Uessae has the con and is there, on duty, standing imperiously over her domain, she is MASTER and COMMANDER of the ship. When I report to my duty station in Engineering or am in the Galley cooking or in the Cargo Hold juggling cargo containers, I am master and commander of this ship, the Captain-Owner. When Uessae comes into Engineering, the Galley or the Cargo Hold and tells me the situation, (alone and without anyone else around), she flattens her ears, curls her tail and tries to be Master and Commander of this ship. And I respect her Vargr Charisma. But in those times, Uessae has to Ancients-be-damned respect that I am still the Captain-Owner of this ship.

So, when Uessae intruded upon my Vargr Cave, I stood my ground and took her report, nodded attentively (even though I knew the situation already), let her have her say and acknowledged that we were going to land at Mowanda (Corridor 0709).

“Yes, ma’am,” I said.

“Thank you,” she nodded. “That’s all I had do say.” Then she left me in Engineering.

This is called the Power Behind The Throne. Uessae gets the Throne, but I’m the power behind it. We have this unspoken agreement that I don’t pull rank unless it is when we two are alone and such a meeting doesn’t have an effect on Uessae’s Charisma.

Thus far, it has worked out and none are the wiser. The Navalman wife-to-be gets to run a tight ship before her future mate-husband.

Is this deceitful, you ask? No sir, not in the least. It is Vargr Charisma. It might be a different relationship if I had the elevated Vargr Charisma and were Captain-Owner. But that hasn’t happened. Yet.

Mowanda (Corridor 0709): You're wearing your new and favorite footwear, out for a stroll when you step in a deep pile of groatshit, ruining your new purchase, saturating your socks and toes and basically ruining your entire week.

That is what happened to the Thuegueus. We broke out of jumpspace, took a confirmation sensor check. We saw that we had indeed arrived in Mowanda. But the perimeter densitometer was screaming that we had almost precipitated on top of what at first looked like a starship hulk. At a clean-close shave range of point-blank, the hull looked wrecked with blast marks and burns. Looked like it.

Then the Free Trader started firing the moment we tried to ping it with active sensors. No call for surrender. No demands. Just beam lasers.
And the battle did not last long. Uessae landed a return fire hit to something of theirs. We tried for a Signal-GK, an ambush, but found we were being jammed.

In the second exchange, Uessae blew out one of their Turrets. However, the Thuegueus suffered a hit to the last of our fuel (we were 100D from the only Gas Giant in the system), and a J-Drive hit.

1000 seconds of fear, anger and then defeat. With no fuel left, I killed all power to the ship and told everyone to repel boarders.

"My thoughts exactly!" exclaimed Uessae.

One inactive deck elevator, a ventral hatch, a dorsal hatch, a portside airlock and a starboard airlock. These points of entry we had to cover.

Miss Ka and I were assigned the ventral hatch and the nearby inactive elevator into the commons area and galley. In passing forward through the cargo hold, I retrieved her Rifle-5 to which she affixed her Bayonet-3. I did similar with my Bayonet to my Shotgun. In the pitch darkness of the commons and galley we waited for the ventral hatch to be forced or latched open via the emergency manual override.

I had no time for traps, tricks or welding the hatch. At least we knew that the elevator would be eschewed in favor of the hatch. It was our job to keep boarders from attaining the cargo hold or the deck hatch to the Bridge.

Miss Ka set herself to shoot at the hatches, the elevator and the iris valve to Cargo. I hid in the elevator. We meant to catch boarders in a crossfire at scary-close range and then finish them off with Bayonets.

A Vargr Extents design, the Thuegueus has a nonstandard deck plan. Thus, I felt the vibrations of a firefight and melee from the deck above us before the ventral hatch swung open.

The ship had already been battle decompressed. There was nothing to hear but one's own fearful breathing.

We started firing when the first enemy vaccsuit was halfway through the hatch.

We panicked. What can I say? I'm a Merchant and so is Miss Ka as a member of Naasirka, LIC. Lots of misses on both sides in that first exchange.
The two boarding suits clamored in firing. Miss Ka and I dropped the first between her Vilani hunting Rifle and my Shotgun. The second suit punched my clock and I was suddenly so very dizzy and tired. "Captain!" was the last thing I heard from the woman via our suit Comms.
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  #13  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:08 AM
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I woke up in my cabin, bandages across my chest. Power was back on. I fumbled for my Comm and saw the time was some hours later. “Sound off!" I called in a sudden panic.

My voice echoed across the entire ship. Uessae, Grunt, Jack and Miss Ka answered. Ancients.

But seconds later, I heard Ofo call out over the intercom and Jack followed up though his voice was scratchy.

We must have repelled or killed all the boarders.

Less than a minute later, Uessae entered and calmed me down. Jack took a nasty graze to the shoulder which had injured his throat and vocal cords. Ofo had downed his intruder. Uessae and Grunt had made short work of their boarders then turned on Ofo’s remaining foe. Jack held his own until he took the hit to his shoulder and neck. Miss Ka had popped one through the open hatch between decks after she finished off the pirate who put me down for the count. In all, we had repelled eight boarders, killing all of them. I and Jack were the only ones hurt, me more seriously than he.

The pirate ship buggered off seeing that five Vargr and one Vilani could handle eight Q-pirate raiders. Cutting their losses, they jumped instead of hanging back in a system with Naval and Scout Bases. They could spare no more to press the siege.

Grunt had beheaded his with that Groatsticker of his and then impaled the second long enough for Uessae to finish that one off. I laid in my cabin and heard the report of Uessae and Grunt then moving to help Ofo and finally injured Jack.

We were able to raise a Scout Ship who then relayed a tug for us. I had returned to Charted Space from Unconscious Land with the Thuegueus almost arriving in orbit over mainworld Mowanda.

“A Carbine nearly lost us a job, Captain-Owner,” Uessae said just before my Medic Jack checked on me.

“You- ahem you look like living Groatshit, boss,” announced Jack. “But you will live.”

I felt like I had been drop-kicked by a Groat with a mean streak.

The real pain, the bill for all of this was to come that week. Fuel, orbital GEOS parking, tug, medical supplies used, Life Support, the repairs to the Jump Drive, and the statements we would have to file on the attack with any recordings we could produce.

Let me say here and now that suffering a hit to the J-Drive is the most expensive repair bill on a ship. In pain and soreness, I haggled the Fruits, made my statement with officials, oversaw repairs because no one could read Logaksu on Mowanda, and ate painkillers like candy. But at Tech-10, I was almost new with a tiny bullet scar from that Carbine.

I was Cr63,260 in the hole after tallying all the bills and the 120% profits from the Fruits. Mowanda was hungry for them but not starving.

That is, until country Vargr Grunt, former Army Captain Gvuedhag Aeng bailed me out with his own credits, most of it from his reward money back in Sigma 7. I thanked him. He thanked me for monitoring his vitals during the Liner siege.

After that day, the pain wasn't so bad.

On Mowanda, locals don't bat an eyelid or double-take anyone else wearing their vaccsuits suit-and-tie in the concourse terminal of a Downport on a Vacuum world. Spacers, Scouts, Merchantmen and MerchantVargr such as I walked about in such array like it was the most normal lifestyle.

Another lifestyle quirk on Mowanda was the low Law Level. I checked before landing: 4 - Light assault weapons prohibited. No Dheer for Grunt. But he looked protected enough by loping about with his Broadsword-2 on his back inside the Extrality Line.

It was the Imperial Marines stationed about in their Combat Armor and Carbines that kept everyone well-behaved.

"You. Wolfperson-," said the Barbarian who was likely in close to nil under the VaccSuit-10. The tower of Human meat plunked down a huge, gold ingot and declared, "You will take me and my yellow metal home."

"Let me handle this," offered Jack who though healed still had a scratchy voice.

Lifting the ingot of gold and taking the Barbarian off to speak to him privately, Jack and the Patron spoke in a corner. I saw him point to his throat and at me. Nods and apologetic Vargr paralanguage told me that Jack was making our excuses. We would not bump Miss Lidus Ka of Naasirka, LIC from our Charter in favor to delivering Rowan the Barbarian to his home planet.

Credit-less, I landed some Freight to Drayne. The three tons left over were immediately scooped up, with my grateful permission of course, by Uessae and Ofo, Jack and Grunt. Textiles were on the menu this week.
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Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
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  #14  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:11 AM
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On our last day at Mowanda Flats, the Downport, I was approached by some Intrigued Merchants dressed in corporate VaccSuits-12. They were selling a wide variety of equipment, survival gear and weapons. But they were offering the stock from out of their ship parked at the LaGrange of Mowanda and its moon. Taxes and legalities were the reasons given for not putting up their wares in the local Market.

This raised red flags for me because of Mowanda's already low Law Level of 4. I told the Merchants that I would consider stopping by on my outbound. What I did not tell them was that my hold was already full of Freight and Textiles and that I was too poor to buy from them.

Finally, on that day I caught wind of a Rumor. Something that I did not know about Vilani bureaux: Zirunkariish Healthcare and Insurance was offering policies and deals to more than just Humans. The megacorporation was considering expanding into other races, starting with Imperial Vargr to test the market demand for such.

On the outbound flight, the Thuegueus went unmolested. I sat in Engineering alone, trying to distract myself with the latest newsfeed and not think of the many things that could go wrong between Mowanda and Drayne (Corridor 0910), an Amber Zone world.

Jack had to coax me out of Engineering more than once during jump transit. He is the first to call me what I am, a shut-in. After the pirate attack, he diagnosed me with anxiety. Cooped up in my Den of Engineering was my mechanism for protecting myself from the outside universe. Jack is our Chief Medic for a reason though I'm just as rated in Medical as he.

"Nothing bad will get to me here," I moaned as he pushed me across the cargo bay. I needed his outside perspective.

"Yeah, boss. C'mon. The others have a new game for us to play while in the hole."

When I was ushered into the Galley-Commons, the others were already present and engaged in the game of Red Wizard. The opened software packaged read:

((http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Red_Wizard))
Red Wizard
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On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5
  #15  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:14 AM
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So, I sat down, donned the goggles and the gloves and played along until I had to escape, to the fresher or so I claimed. Playing, I kept to the game's civilization and ran Supply and Demand in-game.

"You haven't cast a single spell yet, Ri," complained Uessae. "What are you afraid of, a backlash?" Never mind that this was a game we were playing.
Thus, I sat on the edge of 'town' and laid buff spells on the others while they marched gleefully into the heavily instanced game zones.

The game records and saves all that is done while being played. Then, upon breakout in a system the game uploads the standings and results to the local SysNet. In about two days, you the player get to see the latest results in play that have happened in-system and arrivals from other players. This builds competitiveness and in-game commerce when groups of players match standings. Each player presets their interactive level with other groups when the game updates, allowing for limited interaction and trade. No actual cooperation happens unless the two or more groups are in the same system long enough to become live which does happen for locals. But the locals still get a kick out of us Travellers who play Red Wizard.

"Go Spacewolves!" said Ofo the most enthusiastic of our players.

"I thought it was Starwolves," I noted.

"The name was already taken when we registered," shrugged Ofo.

Upon jump rumblings prior to precipitation, I stood up to monitor in Engineering. But M&C Uessae steered me to the Bridge with, "There's an empty seat up forward you have been neglecting, Ri. C'mon."

So, I had to boot up the Engineering terminal on the Bridge, wipe down the keyboards and controls and configure them to my preferences in Engineering just so I could be present on breakout.

Upon arrival in normal space, Ofo our Astrogator and co-pilot announced, "Drayne has all the bells and whistles. Star charts have it with: Naval Base, Scout Base, Research Base, Gas Giant, Amber Zone, Puzzling locals, High Population and Industrial. Your kind of town, Ri."

Uessae had looked over to Ofo's boards since she had already pointed the Thuegueus in the direction of the Gas Giant since I could not yet afford Cr30,000 in refined fuel. She noted aloud, "Charismatic Oligarchy. I bet the local Duke, Count, and Knight are on the board or at least nominal members."

Space was aflush with traffic in Drayne. Our Vargr ship had to defer to an expensive, Makhidkarun bureaux Yacht to take their skimming run first. Later, we were bumped in favor of a 20-ton Launch who had been patiently waiting for larger ships on final approach. Why was our starship bumped for a Launch? I must assume that the Thuegueus needs a more Imperial hull paint job with Anglic lettering strings.

Grunt came in with his Security report on Drayne. "No weapons outside the home. Claws and teeth only, crew."

Though every Vargr is naturally disposed from cub years in Infighting, Grunt was the only one of us who was trained and rated with expertise in the Vargr martial art involving Vargr natural weaponry. It also did not hurt that he was the beefiest dirtsider among us.

"Buddy up then," ordered Uessae who nodded at the report. "Grunt, you're with Ri."

Ofo amended his report on Drayne with, "The majority of the mainworld likes their Charismatic Oligarchy, but there still can be resistors. Watch what you say about who rules when we reach Drayne Upwell Orbital."

Wilderness refueling went well. Final approach was spot on. No sooner was I out of the ship, through the gate and into the terminal was Grunt and I "randomly selected" for a weapons search involving detectors and a pat down. Humans getting to rub their hands over me and Grunt. What is with Humaniti's need to touch fur?

But TermSec was responsive to us Extents Vargr. We were delivering scheduled Freight and had legit business here on Drayne.

I watched over my shoulder as the Aekhu Uessae and Ofo were nodded at and allowed to pass the detectors without having to dress down to minimal wear in a side room and state our business.

I caught Grunt giving his TermSec agent an even, eye-to-eye return of the Cop-Eye. "It's okay if you touch me there," he teased.

The agent couldn't help blushing but was still professional. I could not fault them. I'm from an Industrial world. Grunt isn't, being from an Ag-world.
Search, statements, UPP cards, clothes search, detectors, and the like let scores of other folk through the checkpoint while Grunt and I endured this "random selection".

Drayne has ~40% Hydrosphere and 8 billion locals, so it was no surprise to step into the fresher facilities to wash up after being fondled by Human agents and find that the water spigot only flows so long before shutting off for two minutes.

So, it was no surprise to find Uessae, Ofo, and Jack waiting for us in a Vargr cuisine restaurant in the Highport.
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On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5
  #16  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:17 AM
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After the Freight hit my account, just in time to pay the Berthing of Cr600 and the dinner tab (for myself only being that poor), we toured Drayne Upwell Orbital.

Draynewerks(TM) Tools from TL-12 Drayne were vastly superior and we spent a day splurging on Tool Sets for each of us, Hand Computers, Medical Kits, and other sundries that recent adventures seemed to indicate.

I thought Grunt was going to paint the display window with tongue drool as we passed the Vehicles Dealer. I could see his pleading eyes, a desire for me to mount an Air/raft in the cargo bay. But I could no more afford one than he, so we perused the Grav Belt models instead of fogging the windows of the Air/rafts MSRP.

Across the Highport commerce arm, I spotted Uessae and Ofo talking to the local Knight of Drayne. Though I could not tell from the Knight's Human body language, Uessae and Ofo seemed amicable to being greeted. There was chat as I pretended to try on a Grav Belt harness and spied on the Aekhu.

There is no better chance for outgoing Mail than on a world like Drayne. Later that day, I snapped up five tons of Mail to Shushaka (Corridor 1109) and 55 tons of Minor Freight.

The Silver Imbalance was too expensive for me and worse at 150% of Cr70,000 per ton to come within ten paces of buying. Even my crew were put off. Perhaps if the pirate attack had not happened... I scratched behind my right ear and walked from the Speculative warehouse.

I added the single ton of Incidental Freight and noted the lack of Personal Messages to Shushaka. That left us with 12 tons of empty cargo space for more sparring and ball games in the Cargo Hold. Jack later helped me put the Freight to the sides of the Hold, so we had a central court to play in.

Miss Ka's Cr10,000 High Passage hit my account just as she showed up from touring the Highport, though her Vilani business was her own.

A little better equipped with Draynewerks, we boarded the Thuegueus, glad to be away from this Amber Zone world. The Puzzle Trade Classification was to indicate that sociologists were "puzzled" as to why this High Population was not factious and fighting over the mainworld and system. We chalked it up to the Charismatic Oligarchy. Charisma is everything it seems. The Third Imperium could use such lessons.

Even more friendly than Drayne, Shushaka (Corridor 1109) inbound traffic was friendly, courteous even to our Extents Vargr Trader and we had no trouble skimming for fuel, bypassing a commuting Subsidized Liner and a Slow Pinnace commuter. Life Support was due again. But again, we were able to avoid landing dirtside by docking at Shushaka Skyway Orbital. At Tech-14, the crew was giddy to spend credits. I pointed out that Kaasu (Corridor 1209) was Tech-15 but off our planned route. The others were still anxious to see what the Highport had to offer.

A nice, little trade triangle is found in Drayne-Shushaka-Kaasu. All three are interstellar tech. All three have Gas Giants. Two have A-rated shipyards. One has both a Naval Base and a Scout Base. One has a Research Base doing Ancients-knows-what. A Jump-2 Merchant could make a killing off these three worlds with sorties into its neighboring worlds to add spice to the circuit. I pointed this out to Ofo my Aekhu Merchant counterpart. He nodded with his tongue lolling out. "Imperial space is rife with opportunity. Is it the same in the Extents, Ri?"

The question took a little steam out of me. Us Extents Vargr don't have a Scout Service though we favor independent Couriers. What we do have in plethora is Corsairs.

Then I fired back at Ofo with, "Both Kaasu and Drayne are labeled as Amber Zones, so sticking to the Highports of the three worlds is advised."

Unfazed, the Aekhu countered with, "Not for Imperial citizens." He pulled that card. Yes, there is a margin for Imperial Vargr, Aekhu most readily, to better integrate with the Third Imperium. It's barely palpable but does give Vargr such as the Aekhu an edge.

We ended at a draw because I had to dormant the drives and open the umbilical power hatch for the Highport dock crews to hookup the ship.
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Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

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  #17  
Old July 13th, 2019, 10:18 AM
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Extents Vargr are more free willed without Subsector Dukes, Domain Archdukes and without some Emperor sitting on a throne of Iridium. So there.

That was the first and only time Ofo and I traded shots in comparing and contrasting Imperial and Extents Vargr. We are Vargr and that really is enough. Integration is a preference really. As Merchants, our goal is to make credits off Supply and Demand.

"Again with the BuddySystem, crew," commanded Uessae.

Again, I was partnered with Grunt as we disembarked at Shushaka Skyway Orbital. We were allowed Bayonets, daggers and non-concealed edges but no firearms, especially concealed.

Far less military and far more mercantile was the Skyway. At Tech-14, there were no pedestrians in vaccsuits as had been on Mowanda. Following suit, we stepped out on the orbital town in civilian wear.

Grunt yanked me out of a thoroughfare by my Tuscan red jacket. He had seen the local Count, his eleven sycophants barreling through on a travel lane in their Air/raft. Never mind that there was a pedestrian lane. Armed, armored and full of self-importance, the retinue did not think twice about us commoners. Another thing you won't find in the Extents. Entitlement beyond personal and immediate Vargr Charisma.

"Thanks," I nodded to larger and stronger Grunt.

Nobles are assigned to Imperial worlds, but that doesn't mean they necessarily own said world or are immune to the law.

"Jerk," I groused at the vehicle downfield.

Grunt found a restaurant for the crew and used the local SysNet to notify the others. The Hand Computers we bought on Drayne were serving us well with directions and other tourist points of interest.

No cops bothered me at the Commerce terminal which was a plus. I did business as Grunt thumbed responses to the others over his device.

"Hey! We're the top dogs in the local Vargr group standings in Red Wizard!" Grunt stood taller as I rolled my eyes.

To placate the Army Captain, I asked Grunt, "How many all-Vargr groups are local?" The question required him to thumb and swipe through lists on his Hand Computer.

I finished business on the Commerce terminal in time to hear Grunt report, "Four, Ri. There are four all-Vargr groups."

"One would think that the game was more popular to Vargr inside the Imperium," I offered.

Grunt displayed his device and said, "But there's more mixed groups, mainly Vargr and Humans, Ri."

I shrugged as we followed directions to the restaurant where we rejoined the others plus Miss Ka.

We ate dinner. I showed my numbers in Black for my day of Commerce to Uessae. The others hunched over the Red Wizard stats. I was also impressed with Miss Ka. The Vilani High Passenger had chosen to sit and eat with us Vargr. Of most Humaniti, I think the Vilani understand us Vargr best.
Ofo sat between me and his fiancée. Between Red Wizard and my day's commerce he asked me, "How'd it go?"

"88K versus base 119K by adding Mail to Naasakiira, I am going Mail plus speculative Aluminum. It's a gamble in my favor what with Naasakiira being Non-Industrial." I felt a little proud of the purchase, I admit.

Seventy percent of base Cr1000 industrial Aluminum to an Ag-world seemed an opportunity.

"Trade and Commerce is about watching where you are and where you are headed," I added.

"You're not in the hole again, are you, Ri?" Ofo was genuine to ask.

"Cr37,800 isn't going to sink me, Ofo," I assured him.

Since the Thuegueus was undergoing Life Support renewal and restocking, we stayed at a Highport lodge for the night.
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Last edited by The Pakkrat; July 13th, 2019 at 12:09 PM..
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Old July 13th, 2019, 10:21 AM
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Scrats. And I had just nodded off in my room when I was jolted awake by a weak knock on my lodge room door.

With my Bayonet in one claw, I opened the door to see Miss Ka in the hall. She had her kit bag on one shoulder. "May I share your room, Captain-Owner? Please?"

I looked and sniffed into the lodge hall. Nothing but Miss Ka. Ushering her inside, I wanted an explanation.

She saw my questioning stance and paralanguage and began. Though I wanted to be asleep, I heard her out.

"I am intended too," began Lidus Ka. "My father wants to marry me off to some kid out of College, a family of Makhidkarun. I bolted with my father's corporate credit chip. I think he has sent a fetch after me."

Vilani megacorporate bureaux. Big business. Aryu-level credits. That meant the means to hire a bounty hunter to bring home a wayward daughter to the altar.

"Makes sense now why you refitted my ship for a passenger cabin," I said while rubbing my eyes. "Are you followed or just nerves?"

"In breaking with tradition, I am either a rogue or a catch prize to my fiancée," complained Miss Ka. "I am faking a pilgrimage to Vland, but I don't think that will fly all the way there. I was hoping the boy would give up and choose someone else. However, a joint venture tying two families of Naasirka and Makhidkarun might help our two subdivisions...."

"A marriage of convenience," I nodded. We have those too in the Extents except it's usually Charisma on the line.

I yielded the bed and magnanimously slept on the couch.

The things you learn about another species asleep are best left unsaid. We Vargr sleep more times per Personal Day, long naps really. Thus, I was up long before Miss Ka. I crept out of lodgings and met the others for breakfast. I debated inwardly whether to tell on Miss Ka as we ate.

The general design for a Vargr Trader as I have said before does not have passenger cabins. This proved that Miss Ka wanted to look like four tons of cargo on a vessel that doesn't normally tote passengers. Yet the money trail doesn't lie quiet forever.

A megacorporate credit chip cannot be faked or shut off. Purchases like Miss Ka's are too small to register on Naasirka radar. But they are recorded. Her father would maybe get called into a superior's office is all. But Lidus Ka would have to return Naasirka property eventually, perhaps after attaining Vland.

That is, unless a bounty hunter found Miss Ka before we arrived at Vland. I debated inwardly as we Vargr ate breakfast, to be joined a half-hour later by the Vilani bride-to-be.

Lidus Ka looked at me with a question on her face as she sat down next to Uessae. I subtly shook my head at her. Satisfied? She calmed and ordered her meal.

Privately, I wagered I and the crew could feign ignorance if Naasirka caught up with the Thuegueus, all apologies and getting stern looks from corporate at a simple, Extents tramp trader, am I right?

In the restaurant fresher after breakfast, I looked in the mirror and asked my reflection, it's not like she's some wanted dead or alive criminal, right? Ancients help me if she was lying and IS a wanted criminal.

Though I was looking over my shoulder more, I did not fail to satisfy Vargr superstition by giving Uessae hers as she led the others through the gate to my ship.

That bast-! The Count buzzed out in front of my ship with his prissy Yacht! What is with Imperial Nobles?!
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

Last edited by The Pakkrat; July 13th, 2019 at 12:13 PM..
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Old July 13th, 2019, 10:22 AM
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To take my mind off Miss Ka, I put a little more heart into cooking meals as the Ship's Steward. A birthday cake for Grunt, vanilla mind you. Vargr do not eat real chocolate, but synthesized is okay, I guess. And for a party, I put more into Red Wizard.

"Hold up. Hold up!"

"What's wrong, Ri?"

I sighed underneath my goggles and folded my gloved claws. "Ofo, I know you like a lot of frontend damage, but if you keep tossing Profane spells like machine gun bullets, the backlash, should the game proc will take all of us with you."

"But we're almost done with this zone."

"Hun, Ri is right. This zone is not timed. Slow down and let Grunt go Elemental. It's somewhat safer than Profane."

Yeah. They dragged me out of 'town' on a Red Wizard quest.

"If Grunt's spells are too erratic, we can fall back on Jack's Artifice. Let someone else proc the game for a backlash."

Dejected, Ofo reluctantly fell back behind Grunt who took over with Elemental AoE spells.

Sure enough, after jump rumblings and breakout, the Red Wizard update in Naasakiira resulted in a magical backlash for some other group, leaving us safer and a little more patient.

As the Ship's IT Vargr, I'm rated in Computer.
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5
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Old July 13th, 2019, 10:23 AM
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* * *
I stagger about after being evicted from Oblivion.

Sickly yellow warning lights on battery backup illuminated Engineering. I found myself on the upper deck and in a pile of myself in a corner next to the Power Plant console.

The usual hum and vibration of the-....the Maneuver Drives-...they're offline.
The console is in ruins and still sparking from local power fizzing and dying.

I can feel the warmth of a fire down the hatch and in the Cargo Hold below me.
No broken bones, I can feel my limbs and Ancients I am sore.

I find my Hand Computer-11, switching it on.

* * *
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5
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