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Thevshi

Getting There Is Half The Fun (IC)

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Aboard the Solar Dawn

The Parrin system, between the Lor Republic and Stellar Khanate

Situated in an expanse of unclaimed space between the Lor Republic and the Stellar Khanate, the Parrin system was home to a native civilization that did all they could to retain a position of neutrality with both major space powers.  The Parrin engaged in trade with both, had envoys with both powers and had treaties with both powers.

Among the ways the Parrin worked to stay on good terms with both powers was by offering services to passing ships from both the Republic and the Khanate.  One of those included the Solar Dawn, a casino situated at the edge of an inner system asteroid belt which ringed the system's large red sun.  Positioned on the outer edge of the asteroid belt, the Solar Dawn had breath taking views of the belt set against the blazing light of the star.  But of course, most who came here paid little attention to the views, focused instead on the various games of chance that were available.

But Oskar Otto was not one of those.

Today the displaced human was on the Solar Dawn to meet Nerrit H'aan, one of his old contacts about a possible job.  Otto's involvement with Nerit went back to when he was still working for Zaul Zeno, and the trader had maintained his connections with Otto even after Zeno had disappeared. 

Otto had made his way through one of the main casino floors, crowded with beings from all over the parsec.  He had even spotted a group of Lor soldiers in a dice game with a group of Khanate troops in the crowd. 

Climbing a staircase, Otto reached a restaurant/bar area overlooking the casino floor he had just passed through.  The area was up against one of the walls of the station, which was made of tall transparent alloys that allowed for a clear view of the asteroid field, the Parrin star sitting beyond, its red light casting an unusual glow within the station.  The communication for Nerrit indicated he would be waiting for Otto in a booth on this level.

Elsewhere on the station

Ana Plonsky had spent a bit of time since their arrival at the Solar Dawn looking to see if she might be able to obtain some spare parts for the Xeno.  But while the station did have some basic facilities for ships docked there, it was far from a full service repair facility, and had little in the way of parts suppliers aboard.  So, it had not be long before she abandoned her search and instead made her way to one of the bars aboard the station....

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That girl is out of this world! Look at the ring on that guys finger! Look at the purse on that lady...can I...

 

Clam it up, fingers! We don't want any trouble here...look, why don't we just go back to the Ship and go and hide somewhe...

 

"Keep quiet you two, or I'll power you down" grumbled Oskar to Fingers and Mask, which he wore on the stump of his left arm and around his neck respectively, each glowing with green lines. 

 

He was just thankful that Trigger, his gun, was back in the Xeno. He would probably be demanding a shoot em up bar fight. 

 

Oskar went to the Bar and ordered a Pan-galactic gargle blaster. He sipped it cautiously. The semi-legal cocktail could hit the brain like a ton of wet lemons. He would have preferred a good German beer, but he had practically run out since his last incognito flight to his home planet. He must remember to get some more. 

 

Oskar scanned the deck, and located Nerrit. Taking another cautious sip of his potent cocktail, he strode purposefully to the booth and slumped himself down. 

 

"Been a while, Nerrit.." he said neutrally. 

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Nerrit H'aan was seated in a somewhat secluded booth toward the back of the deck, shielded from the rays of the Parrin star by a small wall that divided up the deck into separate sections.  Nerrit was a Sorinam, a short, frog-like amphibian humanoid with vibrant yellow skin accented by thick black stripes.  He wore a suit that Oskar knew helped keep his skin moisturized, and there were small vents around the collar which occasionally released a small mist of water to do the same for his head. 

 

As Oskar took a seat in the booth, Nerrit regarded the human with his large, green eyes a brief moment.  "Greetings Oskar."  He stated in a low, almost timid voice.  "Care for a Nalor Eel?"  The Sorinam gestured at a large bowl on the table in front of him, filled with somewhat cloudy liquid in which Oskar could see some dark shapes moving about.

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Oskar had eaten some weird food in his life. He got around, after all. He had cooked some strange meats and even eaten some strange uncooked one. The cloudy liquid in front of him did not look at all appetizing, even by those rather generous standards. 

 

"Sure, looks delicious"

 

He could swallow it for the sake of diplomacy. 

 

A spoon full, and he soon decided that his gargle blaster was a better idea. He washed down the oily taste of the Eel with his own drink. 

 

"Zaul's dropped out of the galaxy, I guess you know. I can't say I weep any tears. If I ever get the chance, I'll shoot the fat lizard myself. Still, the past is the past. I hope you can still deal with me. You can certainly trust me. But, fair warning, I don't do Zaul's more dirty work. I want to rub that out..."

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"Business is business." Nerrit replied, holding his web hands in an open gesture. "But you may wish to be careful about getting too comfortable with the thought that Zaul being gone. The cagy reptilian has dropped out of sight before, only to return."

The amphibian then waved one web hand dismissively. "But enough of whether Zaul might truly be gone or just hiding under some rock once more. I contacted you because I happen to have a potential job for you and the Xeno. Someone that is looking for passage to a few…out of the way places, without too many questions asked, and some assistance in finding some lost objects."

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Whenever Ana was off-ship she had essentially two motivations: parts and alcohol. Ahe never drank onboard, as it tended to dull one's sense, which an engineer in the depths simply could not afford. But planetside or docked at a station, you'd better believe she'd tie one on!

The traditional parts run turned up nothing, so she sought out the nearest watering hole, the more hole-like the better.She was wearing her armored 'snowsuit' with the helmet retracted, which not only kept her cool, but also tended to deter any amorous lifeforms. Approaching the bar, she wearily called out, "A bottle of ethyl alcohol, please, or the closest thing you've got."

Edited by Heritage

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"Business is indeed business" agreed Oskar. That much was true. A machine without morals, uninterested in the infliction of pain or the acquisition of pleasure. It trundled along blind and ignorant. One could only hope that a few good men at least tried to steer it. 

 

Fact was, in Space, you still needed credits to get by. He had a decent business, and lived well enough. But he needed to keep the wheels of his business oiled. He could pick and choose - to a degree. This looked pretty fair business, at least so far. 

 

"Sounds like the Xeno could do that" he replied. "Fast ship. And finding lost objects. Well, I usually find animals. But I don't suppose this is too different" he said congenially. 

 

"Lets say you got yourself a ship and a crew. When is lift off and whats the passenger manifest?" he asked. 

 

Best not to ask about the "not too many questions". 

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Deep Freeze

 

The Solar Dawn did not have any true hole-in-the-wall bars, but the one located on the mid-hanger level, and well away from the casinos, was the closest that there was.  Gathered in its somewhat crowded seating  area were crew members of the various ships which had brought the casino patrons to the station, who still had duties to attend to on those ships while aboard, leaving them little time to go too far when they had free time.

 

The bartender was from an insectoid species Ana had never encountered before, with four arms long arms that moved about in almost dizzying fashion around it.  It turned its head to regard the armored human, with large multifaceted eyes as one of its arms reached up and took a bottle of a high shelf behind the bar and brought it around to set on the counter in front of Ana.   *Bzzt*"20 standard credits."*Bzzt*  It stated as the hand that had brought the bottle out opened to accept the payment.

 

Starshot

 

"Excellent."  Nerrit replied, rocking back and forth happily a brief moment.  "Lift off can be as soon as I get you introduced and everything is finalized.  The passengers will be, I believe, one General Tolaan and his attendant.  The general hails from a region to the far side of the Unity."

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"That is far" answered Starshot, speaking not just of the light years but of the culture and exotic factor. 

 

He got up and shook hands with Nerrit. A guy he trusted, despite everything. For Nerrit, reputation was important. He may dip into the shadows, but if he screwed his contacts, he would be out of work. Or worse, out of life. 

 

He took out his pocket communicator and dialed up Deep Freeze. 

 

"Heads up, grease monkey, we got a job" he said to her as he turned back to Nerrit. 

 

"Ship's pretty much ready to go anyhow, Nerrit. I'm ready for that introduction when you are..."

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Ana reached over and opened a compartment on the inside of her right forearm and rapidly pushed a button twenty times, discharging the required amount of golden chits like a Pez dispenser back home. She passed the credits over to the chitinous bartender, then held her index finger over the bar and created five perfect shot glasses in a row out of ice, which she then filled with the clear liquid.

 

Picking up the first one with her ceramic-plated fingers, she held it aloft and gave the server a wry grin. "To your health." She downed it in a go, crushed the glass into fine ice crystals, and then moved on down the line; as she pulverized the third one, her comm chimed gently. Ana rolled her eyes as she raised a hand to her left ear. "Oh crap, just when I started to find my groove..."

 

It was Oskar, of course; she winced and pinched the bridge of her nose as he delivered his message, then nodded. "Sure, no problem; heading back now." With a sigh, she turned to the patron next to her and slid the remaining two shots and the partially-filled bottle their way. "Here, have a present; happy Life Day." Then she rose and got ready to head back to the Zeno.

Edited by Heritage

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Starshot

 

"No time like the present."  Nerrit replied, as he reached into the bowl in front of him and scooped out the last of the black eel like creatures and popped it into his large mouth.  The Sorinam then got up from his seat at the booth, leaving some credits behind to settle his tab and the led Oskar away.

 

Nerrit led Oskar to one of the sections for the station that housed accommodations for visitors.  This particular section was particularly polished and elegant, clearly catering to those accustomed to only the finest.  A uniformed doorman stops them briefly, but after a brief conversation with Nerrit, they are allowed to proceed into the section.  A short turbolift ride later and they are on one of the upper levels and made their way to a portal a short distance from the lift.

 

As they approach, the door slides open, reveling a short, slightly hunched creature dressed in a suit.  "Right this way please, the general is waiting."  The servant led the pair through a small entryway and into an opulent sitting room which had viewscreens looking out over the asteroid belt and the Perrin star.

 

Standing in the center of the room was a tall, purple skinned humanoid.  He was slim, completely bald, and dressed in a black uniform covered in various decorations and insignia.  Turning as the trio entered the room, the general regarded them with narrow white eyes, his face stern but otherwise showing little emotion.  He had an air of command and authority about him that Oskar found reminiscent of some of the senior German officers he had encountered during his service back during the war.

 

"Greetings general."  Nerrit stated with a small bow.  "May I introduce Oskar Otto, also known as Starshot.  He is the captain of the starship Xeno and has agreed to take the contract to transport you and your servant to where ever you need to be taken.  He comes with my highest recommendation."

 

Deep Freeze

 

Ana's small display of her power attracted a bit of attention from the other patrons around her, but it was brief, before they returned to their own drinks or conversations.  The neighbor that she gave the remaining alcohol and ice shot glasses to replied in some language that she did not understand, but seemed appreciative of the gift.

 

The engineer did not have far to go before she was back in the hanger where the Xeno was docked. 

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Starshot didn't know if he should shake the General's hand, or salute him. He elected for neither. Diplomacy did not come easy to him, but he had, over the years, learned how to at least not antagonise people. At the end of the day, he provided a service, and that meant the odd smile. 

 

"Pleased too meet you, General" he said. 

 

And servant? that rankled somehow. The lines between servant, employee, and slave...they could look fuzzy at times. 

 

"I guess its a passenger manifest of two? I can take you anywhere you want in the galaxy. The Xeno is one of the fastest ships there is, and all in the lap of luxury. Its a first rate Yacht" he explained. 

 

"I don't ask too many questions, either. But, have to ask a few, and explain a few things. If you are on board the Xeno, you are my responsibility. Your safety is on me. I'm not one for barking orders, but if you are my responsibility, that does mean you need to follow my lead. I know that may not come so easy to a General, but I hope you can understand how I have to work. I've been on some of the most dangerous hunts in the Galaxy, and I have had to kick a few tourists backsides from time to time. On the plus side, I never lost a customer yet!" he said breezily. 

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Once Ana was back at the Xeno, she opened the airlock and headed back to the engine room to begin a pre-flight check, in addition to checking the atmospherics and supply manifest; she didn't know how long they'd be out, but it was always better to have extras of everything.

 

It took a while for several of the diagnostics to run, so in the meantime she headed back to her quarters (aka 'the Meat Locker'), unlocked her suit and stepped out of it, allowing it to fold itself up for storage. Then she pulled on her coveralls, tied up her work boots, filled up her magnetic Thermos with iced coffee, and returned to the engine room. She took a big swig of coffee, then stuck her Thermos to a convenient bulkhead as she glanced at the reports.

 

"Looking good, looking good..."

Edited by Heritage

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Starshot

 

General Tolaan regarded Oskar coolly for a moment, his white somehow seeming to bore into the human.  "Thank you Nerrit."  He stated finally, acknowledging the Sorinam's introduction.  His voice was firm and authoritative.  "I am pleased to make your acquaintance Oskar Otto."  He then added.

 

"I do understand the necessary protocol when aboard a captained vessel, even when one may be the employer, however temporarily, of the captain."  He continued.  "But this will not be some idle sightseeing excursion, regardless of how...exotic some of your prior voyages may have been.  I trust you understand that the terms of our contract include assistance by you and your crew at the locals we will be visiting?"

 

Deep Freeze

 

Looking over the Xeno's manifests, everything seemed to have been topped off to the standard levels as was typical when they docked at a well stocked location.  Of course, Ana was not sure what additional supplies they might need to add, but things were at least at the baseline that Oskar liked to keep them at.

 

Once down in the engine room and looking over the readings, the engineer found that everything was performing like it should be.  But she still double checked the data on the starboard stabilizers, as she had recently overhauled them after they had gotten a bit clogged up during the last time they had landed on a planet without any real landing facilities.

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"Comes with the Job" replied Starshot. "Crew and ship, all at your disposal. Only two crew, though. Myself and my greasemonkey, Deep Freeze"

 

He paused a moment. 

 

"I seen some action, and seen some crazy worlds. But its a big universe, so plenty more to see, I guess. We can take you wherever you want to go, and will be at your service. I do like to know where we are going, though" he smiled. 

 

He ushered General Tolaan into the Xeno. "I guess its time for a look at the insides. And if you want, meet my engineer. She probably has the ship ready to take off now, if you want. You are hiring us, so we can go whenever you want..."

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"Balus, gather our things and relocate them to Captain Otto's vessel."  The general stated to his servant, who gave a small nod and set off toward another room to begin the process.  "Balus is good a keeping things ready to move quickly."  The general then stated to Oskar.  "So he should be following behind very shortly."

 

"Well, it appears the two of you have everything well in hand."  Nerrit replied, given a small nod to the general and then to Oskar.  "I shall be on my way, a great pleasure to have assisted you general."  With that, the Sorinam made his way out of the quarters.

 

As Oskar and the general began to make their way toward the Xeno's hanger, the pair continued to talk.  "I understand your desire to know about our first destination Captain," he began, "and I certainly will be informing you of that, but likely best to wait until we are on your vessel for the discussion."

 

When they reached the hanger, the general gave the Xeno a long, measured look, as if he was making initial judgments about the vessel.  "I take it there have been modifications from the standard yacht configuration?"  The general asked as they made their way over to the ramp of the vessel.

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Starshot let the General in first, to the main lounge. 

 

The Xeno wasn't the fastest ship in the galaxy, but it was fast. It wasn't the most luxurious, but it was luxury all the same. And its centrepiece, both figuratively and architecturally, was the hunter's lounge. 

 

With leather sofa's, multi media, a view of the stars in one direction, a view of the two capture tanks to port and starboard, and the five cabins, all equally grand (although perhaps the Captain had reserved the best for himself), it looked the part. Various stuffed beasts hung as trophies on the wall. 

 

"We have had some modifications, yes" he explained with a smile. May as well show off the best of the Xeno first. 

 

"Its a Yacht Vessel, so its decked out for comfort and style. Quantum drives, its fast too. But unarmed. The Xeno isn't a military ship. The only fighting it sees is the hunting we do outside of it" he explained. "What makes it special is our capture tanks.." he indicated the two large tanks they could view behind reinforced maxi-glass. "Capable of simulating any environment, we can capture live creatures here. Non-sentient of course. Although they have seen use when we collect on the odd bounty" he explained. 

 

He pressed a button to call down to the Engine rooms. 

 

"Freeze, get your frozen behind up here and meet our employers. And make sure you wipe of any engine oil!" he joked down the intercom. 

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"Oh great; people."

 

With a sigh, she grabbed a steri-wipe from the box she kept by her monitor station, rubbed her hands and face with it vigorously, then tossed it gracefully into the dismat for particle disassembly. She tugged her Thermos off the bulkhead and trudged over to the lounge, where Oskar always entertained his guests; the heads on the walls made her want to barf. A cloud of chill followed her in, wrapped around her like an icy blanket.

 

The frosty blonde cleared her throat and offered a slight bow. "Fellow sentients, welcome aboard the Xeno; I'm Ana Plonsky, engineer, at your service."

Edited by Heritage

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The general's servant came trudging into the lounge shortly after the general and Oskar made their way in. He was pushing a small stack of luggage that was stacked on a hoverdisk. The general was slowly sweeping his stern gaze over the contents of the hunger's lounge, noting the luxurious accommodations and pausing a moment at the sight of the stuffed animal heads.

He moved over near a shelf along one wall and ran a finger along the shelf briefly before turning to regard the capture tanks. "Rather impressive captain." He stated as he looked at the tanks. "Although not likely to see much use while I am aboard."

He then turned his steely gave to Ana as she entered the room. "Greetings." He replied, though his tone was very neutral. He studied Ana for a moment before turning back to Oskar. "If you could direct Balus to which quarters will be mine, he can begin getting our things arranged. Whenever you are ready to depart captain, our first stop will be Nocturis."

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"Nocturis"

 

He remembered the world. Near the Khanate border, which was dangerous enough. It was an unusual world, a smallish world whose gravity would be uncomfortably light if was not for its peculiarity - an incredibly slow rotation. Nocturis' nights lasted long dark weeks, as its days were an endless ocean of light. 

 

"I hope the quarters are to your liking, General, and Balus..." he said, showing them each a cabin. It wasn't absolutely top class, but even Kings would not complain. A certain luxury and extravagant space to them all. Equal in luxury. But he acknowledged he kept the captains quarters to himself and that they where perhaps slightly more equal than the others. 

 

"I'll set a course now, General. Should be there in a few hours, if the engines keep up their good work, and Ana here is first class at making sure they do" he smiled. The Xeno was old, but had been upgraded. And sometimes, classic was still magnificent. 

 

With that, he went to the bridge, and set the Xeno skyward, ready to jump to hyperspace...

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Ana nodded politely to their guests and headed back to engineering; once there, she called the bridge on her headset as she kept her eyes on the diagnostics. "So, fearless leader, do you anticipate any trouble with these two? Bet you twenty credits I'm in and out of the general's cabin adjusting the atmospherics the whole trip..."

 

The young cryokinetic pondered how often her life was similar to that of the super at an apartment building :rolleyes:

Edited by Heritage

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The general and Balus followed after Oskar as she showed them the way to their quarters, the general regarding the rooms with a firm gaze.  While the general did not seem to be awed by the quality of the cabins, he also did not make any complaints.  At least not yet.

 

He gave a small nod in acknowledgment as Oskar excused himself to head up to the ship's bridge to get them underway.  Meanwhile Balus had begun the process of organizing their things in the rooms.

 

Once on the bridge, Oskar finds there is a last bit of supplies to be loaded aboard, some additional rations and other consumables that Nerrit had arranged to account for the presence of the general and Balus aboard.  Once those were finished loading, Oskar fired up the engines and received clearance to depart the Solar Dawn.

 

Soon the Xeno was exiting the docking bay forcefield, making its way back into the vacuum of space.  Oskar received telemetry for a clear lane within the system to take him toward the out edge, where he could make the final calculations for setting their course to Nocturis, and really open up the Xeno's throttle, so to speak.

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"Could be, could be" said Starshot with a slight smile to Deep Freezes question. 

 

"I'm sure we have had worse, though. Generals started down the ranks. This one does not look too soft. Truthfully, I think the problems we get on this one is...authority...." he mused. The tension lines had be drawn. It only remained to see how truly tight and sharp they were. 

 

"I may be Captain, but he is a General" he explained. 

 

"As for fearless. I have plenty of fear. Keeps you alive. Keeps you on edge. Just make sure you don't fall off the edge and get eatem up by fear..." he said. 

 

But he still got nightmares of world war II every so often. 

 

Frowning at the thought, he flicked the Xeno into hyperdrive, the star's blurring and the ship sinking into faster than light speed. 

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Ana snorted. "Well, lots of officers just went to the academy on their parents' dime; guess we'll see just what he's made of out in the field. Engineering out."

 

The beginning of a journey was always exciting, but once you were underway things quickly became routine; Ana decided to pick up one of her old projects, rebuilding an old Lor intra-system surveillance drone. You never know what might be useful out among the stars...

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Once the ship was underway at faster-than-light speeds, there was little need for Oskar to spend the entire time in the Xeno's cockpit.  It was not long before Ana was first contacted by the general about a complaint regarding the temperature in his quarters.  Or more accurately, she had been contacted by Balus about the issue.  But other than a shared meal in the middle of the six hour journey, the general mainly stayed out of Oskar and Ana's way.

 

Then, about five minutes before they would be reaching their destination, Oskar made his way back up to the cockpit, ready for when they dropped back into sub-lightspeed.  As they did so, and the stars came back into focus, the Xeno's sensors quickly locked onto Nocturis.  According to the general's instructions, they were bound for one of the planet's main cities, located on the side of the planet currently well into the long night cycle...

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