Diula and Orneev have an entire day to kill before their meeting with the potential buyer. They wander the streets of startown aimlessly, looking for a diversion. They'd hoped to find a casino or betting parlour [both have Gambling-1], but these do not seem legal on Uloryy, and they have no luck in finding a backroom game going on [Diula failed a streetwise roll]. They do a lot of window shopping, try local restaurants, see a second-run movie... anything to kill time. At one point they witness a traffic accident [day encounter: wreck], but they decide not to hang around; they don't want to come to the attention of the police for any reason.
Finally the sun goes down and the streetlights come on. The time for their meeting is at hand. They make their way to the address printed on the plastic business card they had been given, which turns out to be a dismal tavern frequented by port labourers. They find a table, order a round, and wait.
[Their guy is (1d6): 1-2 early, 3-4 on time, 5-6 late.
6=late; 1d3 = 2 hours, resulting in 2 encounter checks.]
At one point, a [1-3 M, 4-6 F] rentboy approaches [1-2 O, 3-4 D, 5-6 both] Orneev and asks if he's looking for some trade. Orneev politely declines. [I rolled the die on the table in Startown Liberty to see what, if anything, might have come of this encounter. Turns out the prostitute was a lure for some thugs. Great are the rewards of Constancy.]
Diula and Orneev spend another uncomfortable hour of waiting and watching the crowd. They see a man in civilian coveralls, but with close-cropped hair and an obvious military bearing enter. He looks down at his handcomp, then scans the room, and abruptly walks over and sits at their table.
[rolling on CT patron list 1
first die: -1 since Orneev is a Merchant
second die: -1 since Diula counts as Other
51=mercenary; I see where this is leading...
and his reaction roll is 11!]
"You're from the Hekabe, I take it? I'm Ornakka Hofuylu, but you can call me Nakko -- everybody does-- formerly of the 3208th Mechanised Infantry Division. I'm a private contractor now. Me and my buddies are training up for some action in subsector N -- I prolly shouldn't say where, y' understand -- and a friend of mine says you got a little something that might swing the balance."
"We have," says Orneev.
"In bulk," adds Diula.
"Well, now," replies Nakko, "that's a challenge but not a big one. It's a right pain getting things cross that extraterritoriality fence, but we really need to field test the stuff before we ship out. Luckily, I know a guy at the port who can get things through without all the hassle. What you got to do is land at the downport early tomorrow, and rent a ground truck from Spuldon's Hire Centre, then drive the stuff out at 15:00 local time, through gate 26-F; the customs guys will have been bribed to wave you through. Use my name if they don't recognise you at first, or if you're a little late. Then drive the stuff out to deliver to these co-ordinates."
Nakko passes a plastic card over to Diula, which she pockets.
"We should talk price," says Orneev, but the negotiations are not what he is used to. Diula soon takes over; this is most certainly her department.
[to sell the illegal cargo, Orneev's broker skill is useless, but Diula's streetwise-1 gives a +1DM: 8+1=120%]
Nakko agrees to pay cr240,000 for the lot. He and Diula shake on it. Orneev orders a round to celebrate the deal. When they finish, Nakko says he has things to see to, and Orneev and Diula are anxious to get back to the hostel so they can call the ship.
As he about to leave, the mercenary pauses. "Think of this as your introduction," he says. "If this goes off smoothly, we may have need of an outbound trip in the future. Passengers and freight."
"Just so you know," says Orneev, "the Hekabe's going to be out of action for two weeks: annual maintenance time."
"We'd need you in four."
"I have to ask the Captain, of course. But I'm sure she'll say yes to more business."
"We'll talk more at the drop site. Ciao!"
When Orneev goes to the bar to settle up, he finds that Nakko has paid their tab.
Inty lands in the early morning as Diula and Orneev rent a ground truck. They get the cargo loaded onto the truck almost immediately, then Inty and Orneev disappear for some alone time, leaving Diula alone in the Hekabe's common area. She is eventually joined by Heldamin, looking a bit worse for wear after her three day bender in the highport.
"Can I ask you a question?" groans Heldamin.
"Ask away," says Diula as she turns on the coffee maker.
"You guys do that spacer thing where you dim the lights before a jump, don't you?"
"Yeah. How come?"
"Could we pretend we're about to go into jump now? The light in here is making my head throb."
Diula laughs, and turns the lights down as she hands the small, and --today-- fragile-seeming girl a plastic cup.
"Drink this. It'll sort you out. And then you need to get packed. We're due to leave through the extrality barrier in a little less than two standard hours. We've been told to be punctual, so we meet the right customs inspectors. You understand"
"Oh, ok. Great. Can you drop me in town? Near the light rail terminus?"
"Yeah, sure. But... let me ask you something. We heard there was a ship in system that has been evading Imperial patrols, and our special freight has just been purchased by some mercs who are training here in secret for some mission in subsector N. You came to us from a ship that was behaving a little weird, and Zoe is right on the border of N... you're not, say, mixed up in all of this, are you?"
"Um, well, yes. But my business is in town. Look, I'm sure we'll meet again. We might need to hire your ship."
"So we've been told."
"I know it's all secret and stuff, but don't worry. We aren't doing anything really illegal. It just needs to be secret. And there's no need to get Imperial authorities involved. But you guys are really nice and I like your ship and since we'll need to pay for transport, I just want the money going to someone I like. So when we do hire your ship to get us offworld, I hope you'll let me have my same stateroom. It's really comfortable."
[Q: Any complications with the delivery? Unlikely: No.
No random encounters, either.]
Before long Orneev and Inty emerge, and start making the final preparations for their trip. Dame Heldamin goes to collect her things. They drive the truck to gate 26-F at 15:00 local time, and the customs officers wave them right on through. They let Heldamin off at the station, and then head out of town.
Outside the city, the terrain of Uloryy is a bit uninspiring. Endless fields of purple chulnin-reed stretch off to the horizon, where they finally blend into the distant hills. The orange sky is mostly clear overhead, though there seems to be a storm front moving in from the east. Diula fiddles endlessly with the radio in the truck's cab, Orneev dozes off with his head against the window. Inty rather enjoys the drive.
After a few hours they turn off the main road onto an unpaved dirt track. They proceed down the bumpy track for a few kilometres and then turn again onto a gated drive. Their destination is a small farmhouse, complete with tractor out front, and lazy old farm-mzu napping on the front porch, lazily twirling its hindmost antennae. Parked next to the tractor is a tracked heavy cargo hauler.
Inty stops the truck, and she and her companions don breathers before stepping out of the environmentally-sealed cab. The front door of the farmhouse is already opening, and Nakko is standing in the doorway, holding his breather over his mouth and waving to them to come inside.
After a few moments in the decon-airlock, the green "atmo-clear" light comes on and the inner door opens. Inty is glad to be rid of her breath mask so quickly. She's not from a planet with a tainted atmosphere like Diula, nor a toxic hellhole like Orneev.
[reaction=7, non-committal (so, very businesslike)
Q: Do the mercs want anything else? 50/50: 03, Exceptional yes.
Q: What: Move / Leadership]
In the living room are three more soldiers, who Nakko introduces as Captain Headlie and Privates Izzoi and Mugut. There is also an older man in casual civilian attire, whom he introduces as Brigadier Chiang.
"Nice to see you all," says Nakko, "I'm sorry we can't make an afternoon of it, but we've got work to do. We're really happy you guys showed up with this stuff. It's gonna be a real help, but, well, we're kind of on a tight schedule as it is. So today we have to load and run. Here's the money we promised. I s'pose I out to be giving it to you, ma'am, seeing as you're the captain and all. I was wondering though... Brigadier Chiang needs to get up to the highport. Would you mind taking him up with you? We'll slide an extra 10k your way -- call it a short High Passage!"
[Brigadier Chiang was a random selection from 1001 characters: army general, 7 terms. The dice made him a male solomani.
Q: Is he from Dimmul? 50/50: No.
thus, he's the mercenary brigade leader
Q: why is he travelling? Inspect / Bureaucracy: co-ordination with other mercenaries, possibly offworld. I'm leaving it vague unless he reappears.]
Inty is bemused by the mercenaries' generosity, but Nakko starts asking about what their plans are and if they intend to be back on Uloryy in 28 days or so, as they will have some freight they'll need to move, and would prefer to go with a crew they've already met.
Inty says she intends to make a short trading voyage to Oothoom or maybe Veegint, but that they would certainly be interested in doing business when they get back.
Soon the travellers are driving back to the downport, feeling pleased after a good day's business, even if their newest passenger is considerably less fun than Heldamin.
The next day the Hekabe flies up to the shipyard and goes into "drydock" for her much-needed repairs and annual maintenance. Once they're satisfied she's in good hands, the crew head back to the surface. Brigadier Chiang says a stiff, formal goodbye and takes a shuttle to the highport.
Inty makes a very brief entry in the ship's log to note the maintenance date, and do a little accounting.
Cr10,274,971 ship's fund
+240,000 sold rare spices
-10,000,000 repairs to jump drive
-66,175 annual maintenance (3 weeks early, but probably wise)
-350 rental ground truck
-15,000 "dividends" (kcr5 each for pocket money)
cr443,446 new ship's fund
[Rare spices is, of course, Inty's obfuscation for Combat Drug. The "dividends" are above board. Since none of them are drawing an actual salary, and their cash-in-hand is all dwindling, they each needed some funds to get by on. Inty gave Diula an equal payout to keep her sweet. She's been a team player for the last little bit, and things are definitely looking up in general. Diula's even accidentally hooked them up with more business.]