Thursday, April 28, 2011

TURN 1: Down and Out in Akupánthur


Mars, Sol 4
The City of Akupánthur
Terran Date: 17.03.62011


Two Terran weeks ago, Captain Arto Patánalanya stood under the twin giant white suns on the windswept deck of a loading bay at Dar Püz Star Port on Sirius 7 watching as a swarm of red suited proles and cargo-bots loaded nearly four million credits worth of Anti-Tox, Vax, Skin spray, rare botanicals, and gene vat fluid on the Clan Patánalanya Traffickers starship Mutable Destiny, a 200 ton trader.

Strangers, Jesamin Ling and Maxaml Drankan, sat facing one another in a crowded tubecar as it hurtled into the starport station, unaware that they were both wanderers and that each had booked passage to Mars aboard the Mutable Destiny.

The flight out-system was uneventful, a leisurely three days ship-time as the Mutable Destiny raced through the void at  aspeed just incrementally below the speed of light. Patánalanya opted to delay the warp until the ship was well beyond the point where the strong gravitational field of Sirius might interfere with ship’s inter-planar translation.

In deep space, Ling, Drankan and Patánalanya dined together and chatted; they found that they had much in common, all Citizens, all recipients of the bounty afforded the elites of Humanspace, each somewhat unsure of their role in the great game and a bit adrift.

At the appointed time, the translation was instantaneous; the ship’s interfogulator sliced the planes of reality and the lemon colored light of Terra’s ancient sun sparkled on the viewscreen. Soon red and dusky Mars was clearly visible.

Ling had visited Mars some years before, and remembered that when in Akupánthur City she had spent a few pleasant nights at the excellent yet inexpensive Feasting Hall and Lodge of Joyful Endings, conveniently located within walking distance of the spaceport on the fringes of the Old Quarter. . Leaving his trusted crew with the ship, Patánalanya and his two new friends strolled to the Lodge and made arrangements for their stay in the city.  Patánalanya contacted the agent of the local government that was to receive the shipment of medical supplies and remit payment.

Over dinner, all the ancient hells of old Earth broke out. Armored air cars spitting deadly Z- rays battled in the red sky overhead. Depleted wavium shells exploded in the streets. The mercenary army of sub-Nar Thulzá Túrjan, Warlord of Jakár had laid siege to the city.

By the morning, the opposing armies had exhausted themselves and a trip to the starport seemed reasonably safe. Upon arrival; however, it was clear that the port had taken a beating in the fight, but the most horrific surprise was yet to come.

The ship sat in its damaged landing bay, scorched and pock marked. The crew of the Mutable Destiny, all long time employees of Clan Patánalanya Traffickers, Achnár Zébul, navigator, Chúrn Múz, engineer and Yána Zhu, steward, were not to be found. The cargo was gone, the ship stripped of its computer, wavium crystal containment pods smashed and emptied, even the standard utility air transport in the ship’s vehicle bay was vandalized and looted. The body of Zhu was found in the back of the utility, burned almost beyond recognition.

That was one week ago, but today at the Feasting Hall and Lodge there is joy because word has been received that the siege is lifted and the forces of sub-Nar Thulzá Túrjan are retiring. In days it is expected that the curfew will be rescinded, the severed tubeway car lines will be repaired and communication links to the galaxy beyond the city will be restored.

At a large table in the hall, drink in hand, sits Arto Patánalanya; to his right Jesamin Ling and to his left Maxaml Drankan. What to do about the missing crew and cargo and damage to the ship? Reports were filed with the local prefect of police; however there seems to be little official concern. There have been no leads to follow. It is likely that, once communication links are restored, Clan Patánalanya Traffickers’ insuring service will reimburse the clan for the loss. Repairing the ship will easily cost CR 100,000. The standard utility air car could be repaired for 2000. The cost to Arto’s reputation in the Clan might be considerable. Would he ever be given another command?

The old space rat that cooks at the Hall, Mosanu "Cookie" Iki, has been hanging around the table on his breaks, listening and spinning stories. He motions to a well dressed  sharp faced man, sitting alone across the hall.  Cookie heard him say that he has a big salvage job for the right team, a real score.

The well dressed man introduces himself as Husz Chénu, dealer in exotics and antiquities.  He explains that a recent quake in the mountains to the north opened a fissure that looks very promising. The radiation signature indicates that it may be the location of a lost installation dating to the early Second Empire. Unfortunately he is not in a position to investigate this find himself but he would be willing to sell the site's coordinates for CR 2000 and a 10% share. He adds that the potential for valuable artifacts at such a site is very good but the job could prove quite dangerous.  He jerks his thumb toward a corner table where a couple of Shén are sitting with a tall, rugged bronze skinned human, and says, “You might want to take them, out of work mercenaries, they look like real killers….”

10 comments:

  1. Flashback: Almost 4.5 years ago Sun's robotic one man ship began its journey across space from the barren airless moon of an icy planetoid in remote orbit around Proxima Centauri. Travelling near the speed of light time dilation resulted in Sun perceiving only the passage of a few days. Something went wrong. The ship was damaged in the asteroid belt and forced down in the Martian desert. Was the ship originally bound for Mars? For Terra?

    Sun escaped the wreckage before the cracked wavium array exploded, wandering in the desert he met Taliat and Tabash,they befriended the bronze monkey and together they made their way to the city.

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  2. Cookie listened and nodded as Husz Chénu explained the deal. He was old. His bones hurt. His eyes were fuzzy. Cookie needed to retire. The well dressed dealer could very well be the ticket out. Two thousand credits was a lot of seed money, though.

    "Okay," he grunted to Chénu. "Get ready to ping me the specs. I'll go round up a salvage team. If this is a swindle I'll chop you up and serve your liver as pâté for the Shen. Just saying."

    The old man shuffled towards the table Chénu indicated, his knees creaking. Cookie was easy to spot around the Feasting Hall and Lodge of Joyful Endings. He was hunchbacked, wore a lunch lady hair net, and sported a white apron splattered with red and green blood.

    He stopped at the table. The two Shen and strange bronze colored man stared back. Cookie had worked with Shen before - a lot of them - back when he was a mercenary. Sometimes he'd be feeding them, sometimes he'd be shooting at them, but whatever the case, he knew them well.

    Digging around in his apron pockets, Cookie pulled out a jar of pickles. He set it down between the two Shen. Just as they reached for the jar, he snatched it back up.

    "ME COOKIE.
    COOKIE KNOW WHERE IS TREASURE.
    YOU IGUANA-BIRDS.
    IGUANA-BIRDS GO WITH COOKIE.
    COOKIE GIVE IGUANA-BIRDS PICKLES.
    IGUANA-BIRDS BLOW UP BAD GUYS.
    IGUANA-BIRDS BLOW UP POISON MUTANTS.
    IGUANA-BIRDS BLOW UP LASER ROBOTS.
    IGUANA-BIRDS NO BLOW UP COOKIE.
    COOKIE AND IGUANA-BIRDS GET TREASURE.
    COOKIE AND IGUANA-BIRDS GO HOME.
    COOKIE GIVE IGUANA-BIRDS FAIR SHARE TREASURE.
    IF IGUANA-BIRDS TAKE PICKLE JAR THEY AGREE TO DEAL.
    SAVVY?"

    Cookie sat the pickle jar back between the two creatures. The Shen looked startled. The old man ignored them, knowing it would take a bit before their little iguana-bird brains could process the information, and turned to the human.

    "Well? You savvy too, Golden Boy? Or do I gotta go through the whole pickle jar thing again? And by the way, how much money you got? The buy in is two grand. The iguana-birds ain't gonna have any money cuz they eat anything shiny. It's all up to you, bub."

    - Ark

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  3. Hmm, reading the Turn 1 again, I think I missed a change in the narrative - ooops. Oh well, fit the above into whatever you see fit. :)

    - ARk

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  4. Jesamin cocks an interested eyebrow as talk turns to lost installation. Without admitting it to herself, this is just the sort of thing she was looking for. She's not about to let the opportunity pass. Still, can't appear too eager...

    "Mr. Chénu, I'd love to hear more about this job, as I'm sure would my companions. But 2,000 Credits for coordinates? Arto, that seems high to you, doesn't it? What assurance do we have that the site is really there?"

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  5. Arto sipped his drink, glancing at the Shén over the rim of his cup and considering his options. The thought of leaving the city in the company of such dangerous and unpredictable beings gave him pause. But he desperately needed to find the missing members of his crew, and quickly, if he was to salvage any kind of face with the Clan from this debacle of a trip, And to do that, he needed funds.

    Placing his cup carefully on the table, he half-smiled at Jesamin and winked. “Unerringly, you have seen to the core of our dilemma, my dear lady,” he said and turned to Husz Chénu. “As you find us, good sir, we have just weathered a fierce attack upon this city. My ship is plundered and my crew scattered, if not dead. The few kopeks and centimes I still have to my name are fully deployed in keeping body and soul together.”

    Shrugging a shoulder, Arto smiles again. “Is there, perhaps, some way we can reach some accommodation concerning the price of these co-ordinates and the veracity of the information you wish to sell? Perhaps a lower upfront fee balanced against an increased percentage of the final yield?”

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  6. (ooc)-ignore the last email post about the first turn on Tuesday if you received it. Posted to the wrong game.

    I'm ok with carrying on the negotiations with Husz Chénu later today in this thread if there are no objections. I don't want to leave anyone out that might want to participate though.

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  7. [ooc] Spent all the free time I had this a.m. on a post which blooger then found irresistibly appetizing. I'll rewrite (on a text editor this time!) and repost later this evening.

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  8. Max thrums his fingers on the table, thinking about his past experiences working with his father and mother on archeological expeditions. If they were going to accept Chénu's offer, they would need transport, and supplies, and equipment, as well as some mercs.

    "Mr. Chénu, I agree with my companions. We do not know if your information is correct. In addition, even if it is correct, we are the ones taking all the risk. Also, I am quite familiar with such expeditions, and we will need supplies, equipment, additional personnel, and transport. Drop your fee in exchange for a slight increase in the share. If this is agreeable then let me and my companions have some time to privately discuss your offer."

    Glancing over at the mercs Chénu mentioned, Max wasn't sure they could be trusted. They could actually be Chénu's men...

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  9. Tabash To Cookie: Iguana-birds are wild animals one finds running around shit-holes like Ain 4. We're Mars-Shen. We speak Sunuz at least as well as anyone else in the room. The pickles interest us. The treasure interests us. Blowing things up costs extra. Killing mutants is fine, as long as they're not relatives or protected by a previous contract. Laser-Robots are usually very good to salvage--not always a good thing to blow-up, but that can be arranged. It would be better to state that we'd be sharing the treasure before telling us that we'd get the treasure as that leads one to believe, obviously falsely, that we'd be getting all the treasure.

    What would you consider to be a 'Fair Share'?
    Are you the boss, or is one of those ship-less people at the other table going to want to be the leader?

    We just want to make sure we know who is paying us so they don't get accidentally blown up or anything like that.

    This Chenu--how do we know he's not just setting us all up with plans to loot our dead bodies once we get to a pre-arranged ambush-site? How do we know he hasn't already sold this information to half a dozen others before coming to us with his offer?

    You have liver pate? I didn't see it on the menu. I could kill for some good liver pate...

    Taliat to Cookie: Not a very big jar of pickles. Especially not for two Shen.

    You want how much money from us? To Work For You? Is that not backwards? How much are you paying, in addition to pickles, for us to work for you?

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  10. Sungam was thankful for the shen. They were the first living beings he had ever met, other than One. They seemed surprised at his immediately friendly reaction to them, and at his laugh and easy grin in response to being called 'brass monkey.'

    When the three arrived at the city, Sun realised he would need currency for the first time. So far, showing up at the early morning day-labor pick-up had provided just enough to pay for food and a bed at Cookie's place, but he knew if he was going to make a difference in the universe he would have to find other opportunities. This offer of some kind of archeological expedition looked like just the opportunity he needed.

    Sungam smiles at Cookie. "As you know by now, I don't have any currency saved. What I can offer is my help in making sure everyone who leaves on the expedition makes it back. Hopefully that's worth something."

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