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  #31  
Old July 13th, 2019, 11:06 AM
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Breaking out in Caulins Belt, I meekly brought Uessae the Red Wizard report showing us as the highest-ranking pair, a list between solitaire players and groups.

"For the Spacewolves," I said calmly and resolutely.

We flew wingman for a grateful Subsidized Merchant we caught up with as we commuted to Caulins Beltport in the Asteroid World. Beltports are by and large easier to dock with despite the need to navigate planetoid belts, (which is far easier than the holovids put forth). In fact, so grateful were they (thinking we were dutiful, Imperial Humans) that their Captain sprang for our refined fuel.

The local Knight and six Sycophants were actually part of the Military Rule junta in Caulins Belt. They pulled up in an Air/raft inside the massive, planetoid hangar in which the Thuegueus II was docked. Sir Thadwick Morgani of Caulins Belt requested a tour of our vessel. We denied him much more than a drive around our ship in his vehicle. Nobility hath privilege but not with us Vargr. And we were not here to bandy words, entreat with stuck-up Humans and host tours of an AFT-BS44 Fast Far Trader. Our ship was our own. Just because we plied Imperial space did not mean the ships too belonged to the Nobility.

A refueling later, we pulled out of docking, happier to have foregone Mr-ville. Outbound, we escorted Subsidized Liner and a 10-ton local Fighter, (courtesy of Sir Morgani) escorted us all the way to 100 Diameters where we parted ways far enough to jump flash the Fighter point-blank.

Piloting and Mechanical are the only two skills which match up between Uessae and I. And in seeking to further bridge that gap with the Navalman. Uessae was a capable Leader, but I did not want into Ofo's shoes...

...well, she is pretty but still-

But would I, could I accept that Uessae might wear the pants between the two of us? I look pretty dashing in a Vargr Dzarrgh Federate kilt, even if only a Merchant. I wondered for the rest of the day how she might like a male in a kilt.

Enthusiastic is the Anglic word I had to look up when we were greeted in Khouth at the start of this ill-fated Charter. Yet another Subsidized Liner and a 20-ton Launch were in the skies inbound to the Highport. With two weeks buffer between us and the Huntress' Liner, we graciously let the two craft ahead of us on final approach. They in turn were happy to scan us and find that Traders on the border worlds were taking the "Vargr threat" seriously with all the firepower we had mounted.

I looked at Uessae and she looked at me and shrugged. They did not know Vargr were at the helm of this Fast Far Trader.

We were stopped almost immediately after landing at the Highport over Khouth. We knew not to bring weapons off the ship. That wasn't the problem.
"Military armor requires a commanding officer represent," spouted a Security trio at Uessae and I.

"Here is my UPP card," offered Uessae who stepped up. "Captain Uessae Noedhin of INS Deneb Reserve Fleet on detached Retainer." She snapped to attention while holding out her card. I fell silent and aghast.

"Ancestors, not Admiral Ngueth Noedhin! You're his, um Pack at least, ma'am?"

Uessae nodded her canine head. We were both suit-and-tie with our helmets off. We Vargr prefer it whenever possible, to better display our expressions and our personal charisma. "He is my direct sire, Officer."

The UPP card was returned. The Security trio bowed slightly. "Yes, ma'am. Welcome to Khouth. So long as your subordinate is with you, you may proceed weaponless into the concourse, but we have to register the armor on SysNet."

"Acknowledged," nodded Uessae. And like that, we were still in Combat Armor-11 while loping about in Khouth in orbit over the mainworld.
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  #32  
Old July 13th, 2019, 11:08 AM
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I paid for Berthing and Life Support with the worse-for-wear, black corporate credit chip. I did so for a reason. It was to alert Naasirka, LIC that their wayward card had returned to Khouth, to the Ka Family. I suspected Comm calls to Lidus Ka's executive father were next, to confirm he had the chip in-hand.

There would be a search for a Vargr ship. I imagined as Uessae and I sat down for some fast food in a Highport eatery that the docked vessels would produce a list of those Vargr hulls. Ours was obviously not on that list.
Aaannd not everybody speaks or reads Logaksu in the Third Imperium. There would be misspellings and incorrect readouts of the name Thuegueus. Those might fail as well.

And most folk don't suspect Vargr to name second generation names, such as the AFT-BS44 Thuegueus II. Logaksu like their ship names, much like one has Pack name pride.

Being in Combat Armor-11 meant we were obviously military. Security teams went by our seating area, searching for some Logaksu Merchant Captain named Ri Dzuerrghksungkorokotue. I had not used that name when I had the Thuegueus II built one subsector over.

I was then but an unnamed cog in the military wheels of the Imperial Naval Service, a subordinate to a very famous Admiral's daughter.

"You're going to tell me the story about your famous sire, please, Uessae," I said between bites of our meal.

"Maybe," answered Uessae, "if you ask me nicer then."

That week, there were Rumor traps set up to lure me out of hiding. Commerce kiosks offered Sealed Missives for a one Ri Dzuerrghksungkorokotue from an anonymous Patron. Please inquire at.... I didn't bite. I was Uessae's attaché in the Naval Reserves here in Khouth and on the border of the Third Imperium.

Uessae walked ahead of me. In that week, she taught me how to look and act like an Officer's underling as we prepared our trap to rescue Lidus Ka from the Bounty Huntress. Uessae and the Vilani woman had traded shots through the lower deck of my Vargr Trader before the Huntress rushed Uessae and battered the Aekhu out with the butt of her longarm.
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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~
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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 12:55 PM..
  #33  
Old July 13th, 2019, 11:31 AM
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There is a standard operating procedure in Starship Operations. The military has theirs and we tramp Traders have ours. Ours is all about the customer. From loading and embarking to disembarking and unloading at the destination, there is a drilled order of operations to follow. This is what garners gratuities from High Passengers to Stewards and tips from grateful Low Berth Passengers to the Ship's Medic reviving them.

And in rescuing Miss Lidus Ka, this became a game of forced moves via that standard order of operations. In the second week, I randomly used the Naasirka, LIC blackened black, corporate credit chip in seemingly incoherent ways. A purchase here. A bribe there. And each time, it brought Security running after some youngling who was begging or a dockyard worker who missed his lunch for examples. Forced move number one.

The purchases began to irk the credit chip's owner. I would not know this, but in purchasing a very expensive starship, Sector Corporate had come down on Subsector Corporate who was likely to ask the Ka Family executive to a meeting and a margin call. Forced move number two.

Now, this move was not my fault. A powerful storm blew over the Downport of Khouth and though it could not stop starships, it certainly made the Highport more inviting for both Streamlined and Unstreamlined vessels. The Bounty Huntress' Subsidized Liner was not going to be tempted to land dirtside. Forced move number three.

Masquerading as a Captain's crony, looking all official and threatening actions from my superiors, I bribed that same dockworker to let me work his shift. I insinuated myself among the hangar crew that was assigned Subsidized Liners around the time that the Huntress' would dock.

The same scuzzy sleaze of mine put a Navy Captain in the System Traffic Control Tower to monitor both civilian and military traffic on a routine inspection. Uessae was kind enough to put a little Aekhu on the Comms officer and suggest the Huntress' Liner park in my assigned Hanger. Forced move number four.

Typical of passenger lines, High Passengers are unloaded first. Uessae's position in the Tower also allowed her to monitor pedestrians at a certain hangar gate. Military hush-hush and peaceful but Black Ops mind you. Holovid stuff to the Tower workers who suddenly felt part of something very important beyond their usual humdrum of traffic control. Forced move number five.

Oh crap, I feigned a frustration with my fellow team on the dockyard. That connector for the station umbilical power requires an adapter. "You. Go get an adapter from the concourse. You. Go man the switch and I'll comm you when we have adapter and the line connected." I removed any bystanders that might get in my way. Forced move number six.

So, as the Bounty Huntress was let off the Subsidized Liner as her station suited her, Uessae spotted her and grabbed some Security team assigned to that wing of the concourse. More hush-hush military practice Op games of Spot The Terrorist.

The cargo ramps lowered from the Subsidized Liner after I lied to the ship's SensOp-Comms officer that umbilical power had been connected. The Engineer then shut down his Power Plant. The entire ship went on emergency batteries, effectively paralyzing the vessel gone dark. This caused the Middle Passengers to forget tips and demand to be let off the malfunctioning Liner and straining the services of the Steward and the Purser. Forced move number seven.

As the rush for the airlock doors was crowded with angry or panicked Middle Passengers, Working Passengers, and crew, I - a simple, lowly dockyard worker - got the power hooked up to let the vessel have its juice. But the rush for the door had occurred and service temporarily put into a stampede of Thank you for choosing-, please don't run!

Then I entered the cargo bay as if to begin freeing cargo containers of luggage, flight wastes and other liner stuff. I was soon forgotten as other dockyard workers saw the connected umbilical power, that the adapter was not needed after all, thank Ancestors.

Uessae had already confirmed that Miss Ka was not listed as a High or Middle Passenger. A good transit line has all of its flight data, passenger lists and official flightpath blurted out to System Traffic Control upon breakout and signaling. Thus, I knew exactly where to find Miss Ka. She was listed in Low Berth #4. I hit the lavatory in the ship closest to the Low Berths rooms and changed into a Liner Medic uniform pilfered from the Ship's Locker while pretending to be dockyard Life Support renewal crew early to the task. Bless the conception of the Ship's Locker.

I am rated Two in Medical. I was to be Jack's co-Medic. But my Vargr Trader doesn't deal in Low Berths or Low Lottery. I stepped into the Low Berth room and used the excuse of the power failure to begin early release of the Low Passengers even though the Cargo had not yet been fully unloaded for the High Passengers angrily waiting for their luggage, the Middle Passengers stampeding off the ship that just got its power back, and dockworkers scratching their heads as to the need for the adapter and Where'd that new Vargr guy go?

Though I did not have to do so, I buttered up the Ship's Medic by popping caskets and reviving all of the Low Passengers at once. Only the red light on #10 had indicated a death. Standard operations say the Low Passengers get to rise on their own, get a coffee or some other warm liquid refreshment, collect their Low Lottery if lucky and then disembark. I purposely did this way too early for standard operations. The Low Passengers soon crowded behind the Middle Passengers who were complaining as they ambled out the gate and up to the concourse terminal.

Miss Lidus Ka was barely awake when I grabbed her Human, 26-year old frame in my arms and declared that she was in critical, marginal awakening crisis. Volunteering to take the 'patient' to the concourse Infirmary, the Ship's Medic nodded in assent. But I took the cargo ramp exit, not the airlock exits now crowded with confused Low Passengers.

Uessae and her Security team arrived to help calm the angry High Passengers who still did not have their proper luggage unloaded and brought over via tram. She spotted the now-identified Vilani Bounty Huntress who was at the polymer glass and staring at the gate gantry with intent. Her bounty mark was supposed to be among those Low Passengers who were let out too early.

"There," pointed the Naval Captain and military games rep to her Security team. "Stun weapons hot. Take her down."

Without her luggage yet, the Vilani Bounty Huntress Liiadanan was tackled, tased and trussed from behind by satisfied Security now shaking hands with an Admiral's daughter. Surely there would be bonuses on their pay this year.

Out the Liner Cargo Hold and up the dockworker access way I carried Miss Ka who was now registering me truly through her awakening haze. "Ri!" she moaned. Was she dreaming? Was this hibernation delusion? As a Medic, I had seen quite a few diagnoses from post-Low Passenger travel.

The Ka Family, spearheaded by Fudiir Ka the Patriarch and executive for Naasirka, LIC and head of the subsector Robotics Division was on hand and waiting to pay his hired Bounty Hunter to bring back his daughter and the black corporate credit chip. The purchases I had made with that worse-for-wear credit chip had forced him to set things straight with his employers personally.

Lidus Ka's fiancée was with them. That I did not predict.
With an 'arrested' Bounty Huntress in tow, Captain Uessae Noedhin paused at my position before the Ka Family Patriarch because I had brought his daughter who was now able to stand on her own.

"Lidus!" exclaimed the fiancée.

"Cuinnit," said Miss Ka bewildered that I had delivered her directly to her father in lieu of the Bounty Hunter.

Fudiir Ka demanded an explanation. Thus, I produced the slightly overused, corporate credit chip, Lidus Ka and my Bayonet-3 while Captain Uessae halted the Security team with her. "It's alright. He's with me and part of the practice Op." Uessae had learned to lie better as I had learned to be a military underling this past two weeks.

I then threatened the Naasirka, LIC corporate credit chip with my Bayonet tip poised to end Patriarch and Executive Fudiir Ka's livelihood and family reputation. That halted all the questions, bickering and demands. These chips cannot be faked, duplicated or hacked. If destroyed, a new one has to come from Sector Corporate.

I laid down my Hand Computer-11 on the floor before all. "This will answer all questions and lay out my demands," I announced as Uessae's Security team ushered the flooded gate terminal with Passengers around us, insulating this cadre.

I was going to surrender the black credit chip. I was going to take Miss Ka who did not desire groom Cuinnit. So sorry. I was going to depart Khouth Highport and return my dead friends to their homeworlds in the Dzarrgh Federate. Miss Ka was welcome to join me as my crew aboard the Thuegueus II. If my demands were not met, a whole lotta people were going to lose their jobs, their Careers, their families' livelihoods if I had to impale this black credit chip on my Bayonet.

"Daughter, is this truly what you want, to leave this all behind for your sabbatical?" asked the Patriarch who was sweating hard now that I had delivered my ultimatum.

Unable to raise her voice to her father, Miss Lidus Ka nodded and whispered, "Sorry, Cuinnit."
__________________
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 01:05 PM..
  #34  
Old July 13th, 2019, 11:32 AM
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Miss Ka and I were to be escorted by Security to the external docking gate to the Thuegueus II after I laid the chip on the floor. Captain Uessae Noedhin laid orders after producing her service revolver. Once my ship was away, they could take the chip. Any betrayal and Security were to blow the corporate chip though the floor.

"Yes ma'am!" the Security Corporal answered in receiving the revolver.

"Well done Security team," said the Captain. "Bonuses courtesy of Naasirka, LIC have been scheduled and confirmed for this year's Holiday. Congratulations." Then Captain Uessae Noedhin marched behind the Security ushering Miss Ka and I to the Fast Far Trader.

* * *

It has been hours, ship since that scene in orbit above Khouth. True to their word, I was not pursued...so long as my jump vector was Aeghzisung (Provence 0240) across the border and into the Dzarrgh Federate. I speak very good Logaksu, right?

"All Green in Engineering for jump on your command," I reported to Uessae. She smiled at me. Maybe there could be something in the twinkling gleam of those sapphire eyes between an Aekhu and a Logaksu. Ancients knew.

The Master and Commander of my ship nodded at me and ordered, "Initiate jump."

THE END

(30)
__________________
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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