Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wedding Bells & Other Things                       

216-1106, Kolan, Kolanis Starport

Imperial Commercial Starship Personnel Change Form – ITCC Form CS-7834/2 (Brief)
Vessel: Silver Dawn (Imperial Empress Marava-class Far Trader Starship, Registry – Narmada)
Number of Personnel Affected: 1
1) ADD: O’Connor, Samantha; 783F2A; ex-Merchant 2nd Officer, Age 34
Certifications: Steward Class II, Navigation Class I, SMG Class I, Streetwise Class I
POSITION: Ship’s Steward

ITCC Commercial Starship Freight Declaration Form – ITCC Form CS-2348/7A (Brief)
Vessel: Silver Dawn (Imperial Empress Marava-class Far Trader Starship, Registry – Narmada)
Lots Declared: 2
1) 1 dton; Destination – Narmada; Description – Wedding Gift for Noble Union
2) 30 dtons; Destination – Dneiper; Description – Bamboo Shafts of varying diameters and lengths
Estimated Departure: 218-1106

220-1106, aboard Silver Dawn, in hyperspace between Kolan and Dneiper

-- from the personal journal of Baronet Atopia Kesslering

Well, it’s not a perfect fit (yet), but Baron Harper appears to be settling into his new role as a farmer and rancher on a backwater world.  We spent a few days on Kolan just to catch up with our friend and breathe the fresh, rural air his fief.  Olivia had a blast, but was disappointed she couldn’t ride one of Harper’s “horned ponies” – Harper explained that the Zebus on his ranch are not exactly tame, after all.

While we were there, Olivia spotted a trio of men in a small boat on the Willow River.  It seemed odd for them to be there, so we hustled back to the manor house and I told Harper about it.  He quickly ascended to the manor’s cupola with a pair of electro-binocs.  Turns out the men were escapees from the planetary prison.  He quickly organized and armed a group of his workers to go round them up.  The prisoners tried to run to the opposite bank, but the group crossed a ford on their quad-cycles and quickly surrounded the fugitives.  The prisoners were escorted to the local train station where planetary constables took them into custody and boarded a train headed back for Kolanis.

It is a shame that Baron Harper can’t spend any time away from his fief to attend Marquis Toyama and Baronet Yuni’s wedding, but I understand his reasons for staying behind.  We are transporting his wedding gift – a displacement ton of choice cuts of fresh Zebu.  We all had a sample of zebu steak for dinner this evening, and our new steward, Samantha O’Connor, cooked it to perfection!

I’m looking forward to visiting with Baronet Deidre Brogan on Dneiper.  By all accounts, she recovered completely from her broken leg since we rescued her and the Chirpers from the Dneiper Ursoid last year.  I’ll have to see about getting her a suitable gift to apologize for breaking into her house, though…

229-1106, aboard the Silver Dawn, in hyperspace between Dneiper and Narmada

-- from the personal journal of Olivia Miller

OLIVIA: We had an awesome time on Dneiper!  Baronet Deidre is really nice, even if her hand and leg are metal and plastic.  She has a friend who is an ALIEN!  She calls him Fred and she told me I must always treat him like a person, even if he kinda looks like a big scaly bird with tiny wings.  Fred doesn’t really talk, he just chirps, sort of, but I can sort of know what he means.  Dame Diana seems to know more about Fred than Deidre, and says Fred is a Droyne.

Diana says that she used to be clear over on the other side of the empire when she was young, and there were whole worlds of Droyne there!  She said that Droyne like Fred are primitive because they can’t form classes without these special coins.  The Droyne on the worlds have technology like we do, sometimes even better!  Diana says that she will talk with Duke Darius about Fred and the other chirpers on Dneiper when we get to Narmada.

Diana said that most people don’t know about the Droyne because there were some very bad people who did bad things to Chirpers they found on their world.  Because of that, only nobles and some Imperial scientists really know anything about them.  That’s also why the Imperium doesn’t let people like us go to their worlds.  So I gotta be sure not to talk about Fred to anybody but here on the ship.

It’s time for bed soon.  I wanna be up early tomorrow so I can play with Fred again!

241-1106, aboard the Quatermain, in hyperspace between Ussan and Narmada

-- from the personal journal of Baron Eldon von Haas

Definitely have to admire the young Baronet’s pluck, I must say!  Atopia has it in her head that she needs to present Toyama and Yuni with a special gift for their wedding, but couldn’t find one in all the shops and stores of Red Sun City.  Have to admit, this is a pleasant diversion from the usual tedium of the endless social gatherings that precede any noble wedding, but I worry that perhaps we won’t make it back in time for the wedding now.

It has been a year since I nearly got Atopia killed on a hunting expedition for Sanguine Noir, so I do owe her the courtesy of a favor, at least, so we are now hurrying to Ussan aboard my safari ship.  And I do believe that her gift is both appropriate and somewhat ironic – it should certainly cause a bit of stir amongst the stodgy masses!  I managed to get word of our coming to Baroness Orlena Lefevre about six hours before we cleared port, so she may have just enough time to dust off her coveralls and join the adventure!

I must also say that motherhood does suit the newly-minted baronet.  Olivia is a charming child, full of questions and wonder as all children should be.  I’m not sure who this Fred character is, but she certainly seems quite attached to him – and to her mother as well.  Given Olivia’s history, it is a wonder she doesn’t have more problems with people and her tragic loss.  Perhaps she is blessed with that wonderful naivety of youth, not truly understanding that her mother was brutally murdered and the body will likely never be found.  Well, at least she has found a genuinely caring and doting substitute in Atopia – a stranger that cared enough to earn the title of “mommy.”

254-1106, aboard the Quatermain, in hyperspace between Ussan and Narmada

-- from the personal journal of Baroness Orlena Lefevre

Well, the Marquis’ and Baronet’s wedding present is done and as nicely wrapped as Atopia and I can make it.  It has been a whirlwind of activity since Eldon brought her to Ussan, but it was good to get up in the foothills of the Eastwall Range.  I was surprised to see that the damage caused by those idiots last year that the Marquis and his associates stopped with a bag of enraged fire beetles and a few bullets was minimal.  If anything, the wild cousins of my cash crop were thriving even better than before, thank The Maker!

While I had a chance to meet Atopia before when she brought me my air/raft and its recharging cradle, it’s been a real pleasure to spend some time with her.  Her adopted daughter is simply delightful – both well-behaved and full of life.  I’ve raised three adopted children of my own, so I know both the joys and sorrows that lay ahead for the young baronet – the joys of watching them grow up and the sorrow of letting them go…

256-1106, Narmada, Red Sun City, Arcology Whiskey Amber Oh Seven

-- from the personal journal of Baronet Atopia Kesslering

She’s home.  She’s safe.  That’s all that matters now.  She’s sleeping in my bed tonight where I can keep an eye on her.  After today’s events, I doubt I’ll get a wink at all tonight.

Baron Eldon, Baroness Orlena, Olivia and I only just managed to make it to the wedding on time.  The Quatermain touched down just as the sun was rising on wedding day.  Fortunately, the ladies of my crew managed to get both Olivia and me into our traditional Shinto wedding garb with our hair reasonably tidy.  I even remembered the sprig of mint leaves to place upon the altar.

The ceremony went smoothly.  The bride and groom drank sake from three different cups and said their vows under the approval of both the attendees and the kami of that ancient religion from Terra.  Olivia fidgeted a bit, but did so quietly.  I gave her a cup of water to toast with while I gagged down my own cup of sake.  With a shout of “kampai!” we heralded the newly joined couple and then laid our offerings on the altar.  I let the tears flow down my cheeks as they placed their rings upon the other’s finger.

While the wedding was a private affair, the formal reception was so large that it had to be held in the Moot Grand Assembly hall.  Nearly one hundred nobles turned up for the affair which started in the early evening and went well into the wee hours of the morning.  The gifts were all very extravagant, and for a time I worried that my gift might seem a bit trite in comparison – the package was certainly small enough.

And then came my time to present the fist-sized cache of blue silk tied shut with an elegant white ribbon trimmed in gold.  I bowed in polite supplication to the newlyweds as I offered the present to them both.  The both looked shocked for the span of three panicked beats of my heart, then Toyama exploded in laughter.

The gift was a pound of freshly picked and cured wild Blue-Eyed Angel tea, courtesy of Baron Eldon’s conveyance and Baroness Orlena’s portable kiln.  They both hugged me, Toyama laughing so hard that tears streamed down his cheeks.

Alcohol flowed freely for the rest of the night, but I was too exhausted from the rigors of the past two weeks, and begged off the rest of the festivities.  Somehow, Dame Diana got me home and to bed, but I really don’t remember much of it, I was so tired.

I awoke very late the next morning, courtesy of a comm-call from Baronet Diedre.  Fred was missing and she wondered if he was over in my apartment.  That’s when I realized that Olivia wasn’t home, either.

I told her to search the park square adjacent to our apartment section.  Olivia fell in love with the place the first time I brought her to my apartment in the arcology.  She and Fred had gone there once before without permission, after all.

No such luck this time.  I called the arcology’s security force and they immediately began to search for her and Fred.  An hour after the search started, Sir Yael Smethwyk, the chief of the arcology's security force was at my door with security camera video of Olivia and Fred playing in the park square for an hour and a half and then wandering off into a side corridor.

“Security found an open ventilation grate and scratches in the vent surfaces like the ones Fred's claws might make,” he said.  “We’re getting security and maintenance people with infrared sensors to as many grates and access panels as we can, but this is a huge structure and they’ve got at least three hours’ head start.  They literally could be anywhere.”

I nodded and thanked him.  When he left, I quickly assembled the crew and any neighbors who were around.  I quickly printed off dozens of holographs I’d taken of Olivia and got everybody to ground level to canvas everyone and anyone.  It took two hours under the merciless Narmada midday sun, but I finally found someone who’d seen her.  He led me to a maintenance grate at ground level.  “Had a kid in a bird costume that made funny squawking noises,” he said.  “Before I could yell at them, they were gone.”

Sir Yael was there in two shakes with a maintenance worker and soon we were descending into the warm darkness of a subterranean utility conduit.  “Are you armed?” he asked when I reached the bottom.  I had my custom body pistol with hot-loaded ammo.  He deputized me into his security force right there.  “Don’t shoot anything until I do,” he advised as he handed me cold light lantern from a bracket on the wall.

We tracked them on the dusty floors.  A couple of times we were forced to stop and circle around obstructions in conduits that allowed my girl and Fred to pass, but were too small for us to follow. After nearly an hour in the pursuit, we started seeing signs of habitation.  Sir Yael shook his head.  “This sort of thing really needs to be brought to Duke Darius’ attention,” he said.  “People should NOT be living down here.”  He checked his weapon, chambering a round and holstering it again.  I did the same.

The conduit opened up into a larger chamber, about two stories high.  There were a number of terraces around the walls that allowed for technicians to access maintenance panels.  About a dozen people were there, brandishing cudgels and crude knives.  My weapon was out at the same time as Sir Yael’s.  It was about to get ugly when I heard Olivia cry out “Mommy!”

She jumped down the terraces with Fred right behind her, throwing herself into my arms when she reached me.  It took all the tension out of the air.  The homeless immediately put down their weapons and showed their hands.  After a moment, Sir Yael put his pistol away as well.

Olivia kept saying she was sorry all the way back.  Apparently, she wanted to show Fred what she used to do back on Alagon and lost track of time and direction.  Even Fred seemed apologetic, in his own sort of way.  I made Olivia promise to never do such a thing again.

I still blame myself, of course.  I was drunk and worn out from the day before.  She’d tried to wake me, twice, and then headed out when she got tired of waiting on me to get up.  Of course, it’s hard not to think of what could have happened.  Some of those vents have vertical shafts that run the height of the building.  If she had fallen into one of those – thank The Maker she didn’t.

Sleep finally seems like a real possibility now.  I’ll curl up with my little one and see if I can grab a few winks.

257-1106, Narmada, Red Sun City, Arcology Whiskey Amber Oh Seven

-- from the personal journal of Marquis Toyama Weston

It was a pleasure to do that for her.  Just to see her face in a mixture of shock and wonder as the realization that the Silver Dawn is now hers, free and clear, was worth the expenditure of credits.  My bride approves as well.  I think she wants a few more visits from Atopia’s daughter before we make good on our wedding vows.

I’m sure my gift will spoil His Grace’s best laid plans to saddle Atopia with a bureaucratic posting, but he understands that not all nobility are willing to be rooted to one place.  How many years was it before I was ready, really ready, to call this towering structure my home?  For many who are my subjects, this is all they’ll ever need.

But not Atopia – I can see the wanderlust in her eyes.  She wants to see it all.  I believe that after next year’s Subsector Moot, she’ll be gone from this part of the universe never to return.  And while I will be sad to see her go, I will be happy as well, knowing that when I look up into the sky, she’ll be there somewhere, footloose and fancy free.

259-1106, Narmada, Red Sun City, Estate of Subsector Duke Darius Ingersoll

-- from the personal journal of Subsector Duke Darius Ingersoll

My attempt to woo Baronet Atopia into taking one of my available liaison positions in the subsector has failed completely.  I must be losing my touch.  More likely, it is her desire to live the star gypsy lifestyle of a merchant.  By all accounts, she’s pretty damn good at making deals and had several million of her debt paid off before Marquis Toyama paid the balance for her as a going away gift.  At least I got her to promise to return for the moot next year.  That’ll be my last chance before she slips through my fingers for good.

I sincerely hope she finds good fortune out there.

265-1106, Narmada, Red Sun City Starport

Imperial Commercial Starship Papers Form – TAS Form 3A (Brief)
Golden Dawn (Silk Road-class Type L – Independent Merchant)
Using a 400-ton standard streamlined hull, the Golden Dawn is an independent merchant starship designed to engage in trade along the less-traveled trade routes within the Imperium.  It mounts a jump drive-D, maneuver drive-D and power plant-D giving it performance of jump-2 and 2-G acceleration.  Fuel tankage for 120 tons supports the power plant and one jump-2.  Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/3.  There are 12 staterooms and 10 low berths.  The ship has two hardpoints and two tons allocated for fire control.  Installed on the hardpoints are triple turrets; one carries a mix of two beam lasers and one sandcaster, while the other carries two missile racks and one sandcaster.  Four tons of magazine space is allocated for up to twenty missiles / canisters for each launcher.  There are two ship’s vehicles; one air/raft and one launch (for use as a lifepod).  Cargo capacity is 117 tons.  There are 5 tons of waste space in the engineering section.  The Golden Dawn requires a crew of eight; pilot, navigator, two engineers, medic, steward and two gunners.  No additional crewmember positions may be added.  The ship’s pilot operates the launch.  The ship costs MCr141.818 (including architect fees and standard design discount of 10%) and takes 14 months to build.

] Display
>>NEEDED IMMEDIATELY: Assistant Engineer for long-term employment and no commitment to a single port.  If you want to see the universe and can solve technical problems, I want to talk to you.  Respond ASAP – I’ve got a mortgage to pay and time is money!  Payment based on experience.  Sorry, no working passages.

Lisa Dudley chuckled quietly at the post displayed on her pocket computer.  “Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess,” she said to herself.

] Reply
] I’m an engineer with a Class I certification from the IISS.  I left home sixteen years ago, never looked back and feel like I’m growing roots on this dusty rock.  Let’s talk about what we can do for each other!  Contact Lisa at ComCode 8EA4.981C.2082.B5C4.
] Sleep

Her communicator warbled less than three minutes later.  “Looks like a Beggars’ Ball,” she said as keyed open the microphone…

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