Saturday, 30 June 2012

Solo Traveller - Aloin's Saga #3

Golus Downport - image from Pixel Atomicao
The Iridium Queen remained ground-side at Golus Downport for the next four weeks. For Aloin, the days passed in a blur as he struggled to master his basic training under Kiirgun Atmai and familiarise himself with the layout of the ship.

The Iridium Queen was a Harrana Class 200-ton, Tech Level 11, Far Trader – one of eight of this class to come out of Laargashu-Sulluvhan Yard 28 at Celephais. This facility, and much of Celephais Highport, had been heavily damaged during the Kalar-Wi War. While repairs to the Highport were still ongoing, the starship yards remained closed for the foreseeable future and this had resulted in the port’s downgrade from A Class to B Class.

The Harrana Class Far Traders, Aloin discovered, had a two-parsec Jump range and a 1G Acceleration Manoeuvre Drive. Able to carry 61 tons of cargo, 5 cabin passengers, and 4 passengers in Low Berths, the ship was relatively roomy inside. As he learnt the ship, Aloin met the other members of the crew. Aside from Captain Lukk, whom Aloin had to drive to various meetings in the both the Downport and the surrounding Star Town, and Kiirgun Atmai who cheerfully gave him piles of manuals to read and then quizzed him on them, the crew consisted of Engineer Holi Pradeen, and Navigator Miska Ilurrin. Experienced spacers, both Pradeen and Ilurrin were Celephaizons like the Captain, and shared a familiarity born of long association.

Aloin quickly became bored trekking backwards and forwards between the ship and various office suites on the concourse, and then waiting attendance upon the Captain during long, dull meetings. A lot of these meetings seemed to degenerate into tea-drinking sessions, as far as he could see, where the Captain and whoever she was meeting with gossiped for hours over pot after pot of sweet, black, chi.

“I thought we were looking for a cargo”, Aloin said to Kiirgun eventually. “But they just talk. So why am I there?’

“What do they talk about?” Kiirgun asked in reply.

“They just talk about … stuff,” Aloin said. “What’s happening on Miazan; what the President of Kamperel likes for breakfast; who’s top dog in the Hunt of Rronurl this month.” He shrugged.

“And what does this tell you?”

Alorin shrugged again. “That these people gossip worse than the Vulpini Holochannel?”

Kiirgun sighed. “Information, lad”, he said.” Next to credits, information is the hardest currency in Charted Space for a merchant.”

A little light seemed to go on for Aloin. “Oh”, he said. “Oh! Oh, that explains the guy from Jarzeroon Petrochem.”

Kiirgun looked up at him and raised an eyebrow.

“The Jarzeroon guy has been at a couple of these tea-fests”, Aloin continued. “He hasn’t said a lot, but each time he’s moved a seat closer to the Captain, and has made a point of talking to her as the meeting has broken up.

“Today, there was a lot of talk about Miazan and plastics and industrial production numbers. And I think he’s expecting a petrochem shipment in from the wells at Jakabsan North – I saw several Olkathi mooching around the Concourse today who I know range that far north and often act as guides for hauler trains.”

Kiirrgun laughed and clapped his hands. “Yes! Well done. You see, your eyes and ears take in all this information, and you just needed your brain to make the connections. We did not know for sure that there was a shipment, but we did know that the Jarzeroon representative was suddenly very keen to sell.”

Passing Aloin a fizz drink from of the crew common area freeze unit, Kiirgun opened one himself, and then toasted Aloin. “Well done, indeed, young Aloin. You asked why you have been dragged along to these ‘tea-fests’. I think you have your answer. If you have the aptitude to be a cargo broker, you have to be able to mingle and talk with a crowd. You have to be able to see who wants to sell and who wants to buy and bring these people, or their factors, together so a deal is done. You have shown me that you can put the information together, now we just have to give you the skills to extract it from the seller and the buyer in a way that both will trust you.”

I’m having a bit of fun teasing the story along and showing how “Basic Training” might actually work on a Free Trader. I rolled for cargoes on the Speculative Trading Table and got nothing of interest for four weeks. There is a reason that Captain Lukk can afford to sit dirt-side for four weeks waiting for a spec cargo, and this will be revealed later on – I have run this campaign out over a game year so there is still more story to come.

By “show”, rather than “tell”, I am trying to reveal more about the characters of the crew of the Iridium Queen, as well as information about the ship, itself. I’m also thinking that a game page on this blog might be a good thing for storing character UPPs and ship USPs as well.

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