Friday, 3 August 2012

Solo Traveller - Aloin's Saga #5

I am slowly getting over a bad head cold. My misery has been compounded by connectivity shenanigans perpetrated by my second-hand-reconditioned-back-from-the dead computer, and a case of writers’ block.

A Brief Recap
Aloin Grathikka was born on the desert world of Golus in the Miazan Subsector. His father, Gealar Grathikka, was a Water Miner while his mother, Imeneene, was the pilot of a free trader and offworld, more often than not, while Aloin was growing up.

By the time he was eighteen, and after his parents had separated, Aloin had little idea about what he wanted to do with his life, except that he wanted to get off Golus and leave the desert dry behind. Meccan Vesukka, Aloin’s step-mother, was able to use her contacts to find a berth for Aloin aboard the free trader Iridium Queen, Captain Elera Lukk, out of Celephais.

After a longer than expected lay-over, the Iridium Queen left Golus, outbound for Miazan, with a cargo of petrochemicals.

During the week in Jump Space, Aloin’s training continued. The 50 tons of Petrochemicals Captain Lukk had purchased from Jarzeroon Petrochem on Golus had cost the ship Cr 450,000, or Cr 9,000 per ton. This made Captain Lukk slightly happy as the base price for petrochemicals was usually estimated at Cr 10,000 per ton. “Should have been able to talk him down further,” Lukk mused as they sat around in the crew common area. “We were the only ship in port, but that Jarzeroon guy, he knew we’d been dirtside for four weeks and we needed a cargo.

“Sometimes,” she said, “you reach a point of balance in the deal where everyone is equally unhappy, but you take it anyway, as you don’t have a choice.” She pulled up a series of charts and spreadsheets on the common area screen. “So, we take a not-so-good deal and we look around to see how to make it better.”

Tapping a map of the subsector, Lukk continued, ”We’re hauling petrochemicals, unprocessed raw materials, so Miazan is our obvious destination.” She began counting points off on her fingers, “It’s the Subsector Capital, and an industrial world with a large population; it’s two parsecs from Golus and within our range; and it has an insatiable appetite for raw materials.”

Bringing up another screen, Lukk began to enumerate the trade classifications of main worlds within six parsecs of Golus. Aloin scribbled notes on his handcomp, frantically trying to keep up.

One hundred and sixty four hours out from Golus, the Iridium Queen dropped down into Real Space, and the Miazan System. The Outrange buoys were soon detected, squawking real time navigational data, local system news and, most importantly, a raw data stream from the commodities market. By the time the Iridium Queen slid into Miazan Highport’s Bay 35 Spinward, Captain Lukk had a fairly clear understanding of the current commercial market. Within hours the cargo of Golusi Petrochemicals was sold and hauler units were moving the pallets of barrels dockside.

Tying down the pallet jacks as the last hauler rumbled down the main ramp, Aloin turned to Kiirgun Atmai. “How did we do?” he asked.

Kiirgun checked the last of the way bills against the manifest on his handcomp, hit {send}, and glanced up at his lanky protégé. “Load out times' a bit slow,” he said. “You’ll need to practise some more. On a tight turn around, you can’t mess about getting pallets lined up for the haulers.”

Aloin pulled a face. “No, I meant the cargo,” he said. “Did we get a good price for it?”

Kiirgun walked over to the main ramp and hit the large button on the battered control panel. Compressed air hissing, huge rams began to close the hold doors. “Two things,” he said over the noise of the rumbling bearings. “One; we don’t talk about ship business on an open dock,” he winked at Aloin, “and two; 765 K, while not quite doubling our money, certainly keeps us flying.”