Building a better mousetrap [not a DiD]

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Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Building a better mousetrap [not a DiD]

Post by Timsup2nothin » Thu, 29. Aug 13, 06:40

Prologue

"We need to infiltrate Terran space," the Admiral said. "See what they're up to."

"Find out what's cooking on the home fires, eh sir?"

"Dammit! They aren't our home fires! Terra is no more closely related to old Earth than we are. We may be brothers, but their goddamned 'welcome back children' attitude chaps my ass! And I can tell from your smirk you knew exactly the response your clever remark was going to get! Intelligence officers need to be smart, not smart assed."

"Sorry sir. We actually have a plan in motion, if that takes the sting out of it."

"If it's a good plan."

"It is. And I think we finally found the right man for the job."



Chapter One

The guy they think is the right man for the job is me, Patrick Henry. Named for an old Earth patriot that for some reason is better remembered by modern Argons than the Terrans. Not that being recognized as an Argon patriot by the Terrans would help with my mission.

There's no way to build an identity from scratch that would fool the Terrans, so the boys in intel came up with an alternative plan that has merit. Theoretical merit anyway. We'll have to see how it goes once it's further in play. The trick, basically, is working with my real background in the Argon military but finding a way to cut me off from it.

Which is how I came to be hanging around on the trading station in Omicron Lyrae during the Heretic's End negotiations. The Paranid chose Heretic's End to open a gate to Terran space, god only knows why. Now they've waived any claim to the sector and the mess they made. The Terrans say that since the sector connects to the Sol system they plan to 'administer' it as a security buffer. Needless to say the Argon government isn't going to accept making refugees out of the system's inhabitants and relocating them 'somewhere in your nest of backwaters' as some Terran marine at the other end of the bar just suggested as a solution. Their diplomats of course are less crudely blunt...but just barely.

In the ensuing brawl I managed to land one solid punch to the jaw of a cop who walked right into it. Then in a flurry of shattering glass and broken chairs I made a hasty exit and ran for the hanger bay. Not that running would actually solve anything, since at least twenty people in the bar can ID me, at least five will grudgingly, a couple probably will gladly, and one will for sure because that's his part to play.

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So it was definitely mustering out time. But one punch to a cop probably wouldn't overcome my record and get me anything but an honorable discharge. And that's not likely to make me seem like a good prospect for service with the Terrans. However, a little bonus in mustering out pay goes a long way towards destroying a man's reputation.

With my old buddy Endy Jerrigan clinging to the hull of my service Elite I surrendered to the cops. They took me into custody, did a quick override on the ship and sent it to their impound bay on autopilot. The paperwork is all in order, and clearly they lost the ship, not me. Endy slid it into the recycling queue at the shipyard, and before anyone knew it was gone it was, well, gone.

When I got pulled out of the brig I was pretty much a footnote. The military and the local cops were more interested in fighting over who was going to pay for the impounded and subsequently lost interceptor. Pretty much everyone knew it wouldn't be me, since I wasn't likely to have any pay they could take it out of.

I could have made a grand snotty gesture and had my brand new full kit discoverer vanguard idling on autopilot at the master-at-arms port when I mustered out, and if the Terrans would have been around to see it I probably would have. Instead Endy picked me up in his new merc tanker and dropped me off to pick up my new ride at the docking bay of a cahoona bakery where he was picking up a load.

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Endy is my ace in the hole. I'm only being established as persona non grata to give the Terrans a reason to trust me, but make no mistake, if this all goes wrong I'm not likely to get a retroactive medal, honorable discharge, and a pension. When I told my contact at Argon intelligence that I would arrange my own dishonorable discharge I think they expected me to wind up a penniless pawn in their game. When he asked what had become of my ship I just shrugged and told him to ask the cops.

Endy gave me a job, since I'm suddenly unemployed and he's an old friend. An old friend who coincidentally had a sudden salvage windfall and decided to get in the trading business. Of course he's about as qualified to be a trader as he would be to rewire a Xenon, but that's neither here nor there.

I managed to join up with a 'civilian show of support task force' accompanying the Terran delegation and their proper Argon military escort back to their station in Heretic's End. The navy boys were all familiar faces, and none of them too pleased to see me. Word had gotten around, and my scout ship with the shipyard gloss still on the surfaces gave a pretty good indication that my lost naval property hadn't been as cleanly impounded as it seemed.

Even the Terrans, who wouldn't recognize good manners if they banged into them face first, realized that their military escort and their civilian volunteer escort were as likely to shoot at each other as anyone else. And since I wasn't bound to the formations military regs require they also noticed that I bagged more targets than the military guys when a Xenon fighter group got in the way. At the end of the flight when they suggested they could always use some good pilots and got snubbed appropriately by the military guys they were happy to take me on.

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After a demonstration stint patrolling with the Terrans I was accepted more or less into their society. Still banned from what they call the 'inner system', but not held at gunpoint by their regular military, or having my ship dissected for components with what they call artificial general intelligence. I was welcomed enough to get Endy a contract shuttling goods around Heretic's End.

Useful, since him being able to pay me requires him making money, which he was not particularly trained for. But a little practice goes a long way. And a good contact at the shipyard in OmLy goes even further. I managed to turn a contract to salvage a ship, a Teladi frigate no less, into a mysterious disappearance and another windfall for Endy.

In the old days we'd have blown those credits on booze, dope, and hookers. Of course in the old days I could count on my military pay, and Endy always seemed to be handy when I had some salvage that didn't need to go through channels so neither of us were into financial security.

With the change in circumstances we found religion. Seriously. I took up with the Goners.

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Hauling stuff around Heretic's End even Endy got clued in to the local market situation. Doing some favors for the higher ups in the Goner faithful I got clued in that while their sector is technically Argon territory any stations built there would be so appreciated that the source of funds wouldn't be too closely looked at. So Endy and I built our future in Elysium of Light and got in the wheat business.

I managed to salvage a Buster. Strange little ship. An interceptor class, but a sentinel model. Interceptors are supposed to be fast, sentinel models are distinguished by heavier shields and weapon banks, which costs them speed. The navy doesn't use Buster Sentinels, and as far as I know there isn't a shipyard that builds them, so I have no idea how one came to be abandoned.

It was handy though. Great for stripping the shields off of Paranid freighters. I got plenty of the three-eyed cows to abandon ship, which in Argon space means free salvage rights. Docked them at wheat farms and Endy hired local guys as buyers. Picked up another Merc Tanker and hired a pilot to shuttle energy around Elysium of Light, and Endy picked up a jump drive for his ship and took over transporting wheat. Completely.

The whole region. The guy has a head for trading. Who would have guessed?

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So, this isn't a DiD. What the heck is it? A story I guess. Fictionalized account of a game in progress. Hopefully interesting, not only as a story but as insight into one of the many ways this game can be played. It has been said that my approach is a bit different after all, so maybe an unusual insight.

Each chapter is basically a 'game day'. I try not to think about a game day as 'a day in the life', because far more gets done in a game day than makes any sort of sense. But I do use the game day to organize my game.

Day one the objectives were to start the Terran plot, start the Goner plot, build up my mission fleet, get some marines started, and produce a self sustaining autonomous business. I didn't hammer all the minute details into the story, but I tried to hit the main points...and I did complete my objectives, though the mission fleet is far from complete and the test of 'self sustaining autonomous' remains to be passed.
Last edited by Timsup2nothin on Thu, 29. Aug 13, 21:07, edited 1 time in total.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

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Sabrina Bergin
Posts: 2163
Joined: Sat, 12. Apr 08, 10:53

Post by Sabrina Bergin » Thu, 29. Aug 13, 19:58

I quite like the style and it is always good to see another story.

DIDS; Sadly tend to end just when they get interesting which is a real pain.

for my next start I may try one without getting killed but that is a real task.

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Thu, 29. Aug 13, 20:59

Chapter 2

The Terrans weren't suitably impressed when I showed up for my next patrol assignment in a Nova Raider. They gave me some of their scout ships to use as remote wingmen, but the limits they impose on artificial intelligence make their ship AIs too slow to be trusted in a firefight, especially in ships that are that fast. Once they saw the Nova tear through a couple flights of Xenon they understood why I had just parked the Rapiers.

My Terran companions certainly weren't lacking for firepower, but the Terran weapons lack rate of fire and their plasma bursts travel too slowly. The Xenon were flying rings around them without getting hit.

They laughed when I shifted down to impulse ray emitters once the Xenon fighters had been dealt with, but I had the last laugh when the IREs proved to be the only weapon on the field fast enough to take down the Xenon scouts. One Terran pilot grumbled that their poltergeist missiles would have gotten them, and was not amused when I added 'eventually'.

He would be even less amused if he knew that my observations on Terran weaponry are being fed straight to Argon intelligence. Swarms of fast ships would present a serious problem for the Terrans. Maybe we can introduce them to the Ka'ahk.

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With Endy shipping wheat constantly, and drawing another of our experienced pilots in to help with that, I thought we should have more ships assigned to general trading duties. I was particularly concerned that without an adequate supply of energy cells our wheat customers wouldn't be able to consume our product as fast as we could deliver it.

In the aftermath of the massive shortage we were taking advantage of that wasn't a problem. The two distribution freighters were draining our buying bays as fast as they made their purchases and hauling our own product out as fast as it was produced as well. But with the added production the shortage is not going to last if consumption slows down.

Endy pointed out that our wheat sources, other than our own farms, are also subject to running short of energy cells. Since they supply three quarters of the wheat we are selling that could just as easily leave us short as our consumers running out of energy could leave us buried in product.

I called in the freighters that I had assigned to random shipping routes that had caught my attention, and bought ten new Mercury Tankers. I figured that with my half dozen experienced pilots and ten new apprentices on the task the output of the three solar power plants within a couple sectors of OmLy could be distributed to our suppliers and our customers.

Teleconferencing with the sixteen pilots did not go well. I stated my intention to distribute energy cells, then pointed out that my work with the Terrans gave us access to the power plant in Heretic's End.

"Boss, that power plant is closed. Xenon raid."

Dammit. Without that power plant e-cells could run short. With sixteen pilots waiting on the line though I didn't want to get too tied up thinking about that. I shifted to the power plant in Circle of Labor.

"That plant is closed too. Pirate raid, though rumor has it the Terrans are behind it."

The meeting collapsed into a general discussion of the Terrans and their suspicions that the Argon government is somehow involved with the Xenon. While I know those suspicions are real I don't think it's likely the Terrans would hire pirates to retaliate against a solar power plant.

Having seen the overabundance of power plants in the Sol system I suspect a more mundane source for these raids. Simple greed. I had planned on being able to buy e-cells at rock bottom prices, but with these closures there wasn't just a shortage of transportation, there was going to be a real shortage of e-cells.

I dispatched my guys to the remaining power plant in Nyana's Hideout, to the nearest Terran plant in Mars orbit, to Midnight Star where the only other plants in the region are even though those plants aren't very big, and to the nearest Teladi power plants beyond Belt of Aguillar. Long inefficient runs for minimal profits, but it keeps the region from coming to a standstill...and keeps them buying wheat, hopefully.

Once they were all on their way I moved on to Elysium of Light. Since the Goners are hosting our main business I wanted to continue improving my friendship with the leaders of the movement. Not much need probably, since having Grains of Elysium's energy manager permanently assigned is keeping the power plant humming and the local cloth business stocked up. In fact I ran into a great bargain on a huge shipment of cloth, which I had one of my salvage freighters pick up and distribute to trading stations all over the region while I gathered some more building materials for the new Goner temple.

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It was while I was in Elysium of Light that things started going wrong. Nyana's Hideout is on the Xenon migration path, and it attracts pirates. If I had a choice I wouldn't use that power plant at all, and I certainly wouldn't assign rookie pilots to load there. And if I had a choice the universe wouldn't be full of three eyed cows either, so I have learned to make do.

Unfortunately in this case making do cost me a ship and a pilot. I couldn't get there in time to stop the attack, but I did get vengeance. Not that vengeance will make the pilot's family feel any better, or put the quarter million credits back in my pocket. This brought another point of 'making do' front and center as a problem to be dealt with.

I had far more ships than shield generators. Serious shield generators anyway. The only source I had located for 25 meg shield generators was a factory in Teladi space, which I had bought out of stock, and the Terran refit docks, who wouldn't sell them to me.

The Teladi source had outfitted my Nova and my primary salvaging freighter, but my troop transport and my entire trading fleet were all gimping along with 5 meg generators...including the two GoE distribution ships with their irreplacable veteran pilots who were bringing in millions of credits.

Rather than searching the unknown universe for factories making 25 meg shield generators, most of which would belong to Split who don't like me much or three eyed cows who frankly hate me anyway, I set out to negotiate with the Terrans. After kissing some important brass hatted butts, greasing a few palms, and doing an assortment of favors I wound up at the shipyard in Mars orbit. I bought two freighters, overpriced, and loaded them with fifty shield generators apiece.

"I like to be safe," I said blandly to the astonished sales rep as I signed over the eight million credits. I would have paid ten million if they had distributed them to all my various ships for me. If I had had ten million. Which I didn't. I had to draw a million out of Grains of Elysium to cover the eight.

I flew around in my Magnetar, using the Buster, the Advanced Discoverer I got from the Terrans, or the Nova, and sometimes all three at once, to deliver the shield generators. The freighters all picked up cargo compressors so the increased shielding didn't cut into their capacity. Between the credits trickling in from e-cell trading and some odd jobs I did along the way I managed to replenish my accounts without tapping into GoE again.

I blame that bit of routine but necessary business for shutting down my brain.

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Wheat sales had started to fall off. Without really looking into it I did a quick count of local beef suppliers, realized there weren't enough to supply all the cahoona bakeries, and concluded that the cahoona bakeries must be losing interest in buying wheat because they are running out of beef.

So I built a cattle ranch.

A big cattle ranch.

Since the only adequate energy supply in the entire region is the plant in Nyana's Hideout I built it there and promoted a few of my most experienced pilots to manage it. Welded a bunch of scrap freighters salvaged from the Paranids to all the existing cattle ranches, hired buyers and set out to corner the market on beef just like we did with wheat.

Not too long after setting this up I found that the Hidden Ranch Cattle Company had two distribution ships sitting idle, every buyer had a full bay, the factory was filling rapidly, and the only income was coming from the energy manager who was distributing e-cells around Nyana's Hideout...and that energy manager needed credits in the account to keep functioning. Those credits were being drawn out by the cattle buyers as fast as they went in.

And wheat sales hadn't picked up either.

Surprise! Those scumsucker cahoona makers just use whatever's cheapest! That cahoona burger you are eating may not contain any beef AT ALL! I figured they used wheat as filler. I never thought they would just make wheat burgers! If I ever get in the cahoona business I swear my bakeries will make only 100 percent pure beef cahoonas, mark my words.

Anyway.

Turns out that providing them energy, wheat and beef had sent the bakeries into overdrive and totally glutted the cahoona market. I set one of my freighters to stuff all the cahoonas they could hold into the local trading stations and set off to find another market.

I also reset the operating price point for the cattle business. Selling off all that inventory won't make any significant profit, but at least it will generate some liquid credits so I can stop propping them up.

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Game day two's objectives were to forward the Terran and Goner plots, monitor Grains of Elysium and tune it if needed, continue training marines and expanding my mission fleet, and start up some other business. How I got possessed to make that a cattle business when I should definitely know better is really anyone's guess.

But I did meet the objectives.

I also have enough 25mj shields that they won't be a problem for a while at least. Anyone who disapproves of cloning... :roll:
Last edited by Timsup2nothin on Thu, 29. Aug 13, 21:13, edited 1 time in total.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Thu, 29. Aug 13, 21:03

shaun bergin wrote:I quite like the style and it is always good to see another story.

DIDS; Sadly tend to end just when they get interesting which is a real pain.

for my next start I may try one without getting killed but that is a real task.
Thanks! I think my DiD ended abruptly just about the time it got interesting, so I know exactly what you mean. Plus I find that when not playing a DiD I get to do things that I know are going to turn out either heroic...or stupid. Even though most of them turn out to be stupid and end up in a reload I miss the occasional heroic ones.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Fri, 30. Aug 13, 22:34

Interlude

I'm not quite played through day three (hint of foreshadowing, I'm not likely to complete the day's objectives), but I've done enough to be satisfied that the day one project, Grains of Elysium, is complete. The only interaction I'm likely to have with it from here on out is pulling out credits to buy and/or equip defense fleet components. So I thought I'd post this to brighten up the thread a bit, and give it some nuts and bolts at the same time.

Image
Grains of Elysium

This complex consists of three M size wheat farms. So it consumes 5400 e-cells per hour, which come from the SPP in the background, and produces 3600 units of wheat. The e-cells are bought at 15, so unit cost on the wheat is 22.5 credits.

The complex owns six 'shipping bays' at the six other wheat farms in the region. They are mostly Demeter Haulers but I think there is a Mercury Hauler and maybe some sort of Vulture mixed in with them. They are all captures or ships bought used, and the only criteria for them that matters is a cargo bay of 6000 or slightly larger. They buy wheat, up to 3000 units, at 30 credits per, and never move. Since AI traders will not even target a wheat farm unless the price is 31 or less these guys will always beat them to the purchase. There are two L size and four M size farms, so if they don't run out of energy they produce 10,800 units per hour.

Permanently docked at the complex is their jump fuel tank, I think it is a standard Demeter. It also never moves and continuously loads up to 1200 e-cells. The rest of its cargo space sits empty, or gets used sometimes for storage of odd bits of wares like guns I know I'll use someday or salvaged stuff that pirates frequently ask for on missions, like majaglit.

The e-cells are moved by the Energy Manager, who pilots a Mercury Tanker. She actually started as an apprentice since it was a pretty simple route, but it has evolved a little. As a logistician she is probably overpaid, but she is smart enough not to fly around when there are hostiles in the sector so she's worth it. I use a 'fly to' so she is waiting at the SPP for the price to hit 15, and a sliding price for the local Rimes fact to sell off excess at price based on GoE inventory.

Code: Select all

SPP
   Fly to station
   Buy at 15

GoE
   Unload up to 10000

Rimes Fact
   Sell at 19

GoE
   Unload up to 25000

Rimes Fact
   Sell at 17

GoE
   Unload

The core of the business are the two distributor ships. Mercury Tankers with jump drives. They sell at 50 credits on a fairly complex route.

Code: Select all

Jump Fuel Tank-refuel

Buyer Belt Alpha-load 1500 wheat
Buyer Belt Bravo-load 1500 wheat
GoE-load 1500 wheat

*** They only take from stock if they can't pick up from the buyers

Generated sales stops from Belt of Aguillar back to Elysium of light

GoE unload max cargo

*** If they can't sell it on the way back it goes into stock.  This leg has more users than the two M farms in Belt can support, so there are loads from stock going out this way.

Jump Fuel Tank-refuel

Buyer Heretic's-load 1500 wheat
Buyer CoL-load 1500 wheat
GoE-load 1500 wheat

*** These are both L size farms, so this leg very seldom draws from stock.

Generated sales stops from Heretic's End back to Elysium of Light.

GoE unload max cargo

*** A pretty good amount of inventory goes into stock from this leg, though there are some L size buyers who do take a lot.

Jump Fuel Tank-refuel

Buyer Nyana's Alpha-load 1500 wheat
Buyer Nyana's Bravo-load 1500 wheat
GoE- load 1500 wheat

*** Even though the farms in Nyana's Hideout are M size, since they never run out of energy very seldom does this leg draw from stock, but the consumers in Nyana's also never run out of energy so some stock does go out on this leg.

Generated sales stop from Nyana's Hideout back to Elysium of Light

GoE-Unload max cargo

Repeat entire sequence with load stops reversed, ie load at Nyana's Bravo then load at Nyana's Alpha

*** With two ships having the same route running them through six legs instead of three helps keep them from falling into sync with each other.  The reversal on the loading stops keeps either of them from being 'secondary', which would risk them still being full when the price hits the buy point.
The final piece is an exporter to make sure we aren't overproducing. Another logistician in a Mercury Tanker with a jump drive.

Code: Select all

Jump Fuel Tank-Refuel

GoE
    Load 1500 wheat
    Unload up to 9000 wheat

*** So this guy never goes unless inventory is above 9000, which is about half and covers three deliveries each for the regular guys.

Generated sales points at 35 in all the Boron sectors I currently have mapped.

*** Boron use wheat as a secondary resource, and 35 is the max price they pay.

So this little complex,
Image
with a total cost around two million credits, controls all of the wheat trade in the entire region as well as e-cell distribution in the sector.

There are some variables. Lack of e-cells at some of the producers can cut into supply. Lack of e-cells or full product bays or competition from beef supply at cahoona bakeries can take consumers off line, which forces sales into the less profitable export market.

But overall it clears over a quarter million per hour. It was built somewhere near the end of game day one, took some tuning up through game day two, and has run hands off through game day three. It has paid for itself about five times over, and is set to pay for itself approximately every eight hours.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Sun, 1. Sep 13, 03:09

Chapter 3

I've had my fill of Terrans. And Teladi. Maybe I should just tell Argon Intelligence to eat space. I'm a civilian now. I could fully embrace the Goner path, but I look silly in robes. Or I could just be a regular businessman. That seems easy enough. Except when it isn't, which come to think of it is two times out of three.

Argon intel can't really need my help with the Terrans anyway. Turns out they gave me that souped up discoverer so that I could go into the commonwealth on a clandestine mission. Failing to notice I was flying an Argon fighter when they gave it to me. Oh well.

I got a good chuckle from the irony that the Terrans were sending me to spy on the Argon, then alerted Argon intelligence to pick up this Pearle character I was supposed to be meeting. They did a good job, following him until he did something obvious and then whisking him off for interrogation. His partner never had a clue that they had been tipped off. Of course as yet I haven't noticed anything that she does have a clue about.

And I have spent enough time with her to have noticed, if there was anything. She reminds me of the old joke; I spent a month with her one day. I guess her company might not have been that bad if it wasn't for her apparent belief that 'being inconspicuous' involves never tuning the engine of your ship. HELLO!!!! An Elite is an interceptor class. People expect it to be faster than a damaged freighter. Go ahead and tune that up. Maybe even buy a jump drive.

At least while I was following her endlessly through space I had time to keep tabs on the freighters I was managing by remote. Frantic shoveling of cahoonas into every other region of Argon space I could find got the wheat business back on track, and stopped the giant sucking sound as credits whooshed out of my account into the cattle business. Not a practical long term solution, but it kept me occupied.

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Then came the Teladi. The first one anyway. A fat lizard whose name I didn't really catch I don't think. Gastrointestinal would be the first name of a disease, not a Teladi, right?

Finding out that this scheming snake had clearance to the Argon military sector that I don't have any more set my teeth on edge. I almost smoked him for it on the spot.

This guy actually might be a disease, but killing off one of his competitors didn't bother me much. I'm sure he was pretty much a disease too. My Terran associate was certainly squeamish about it though. Her Teladi friend probably won't be asking her to do that sort of thing again.

If he does it will be because Argon intelligence wants him to. They picked him up and explained the new facts of life to him as soon as we cleared the sector. He'll make a great conduit to the Terrans for any misinformation we need them to have. I offered to come back and kill him, for free, but the regular intel guys think he might be useful.

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Anyway, after another seemingly endless trek across the universe we arrived at the MilSec. Fortunately the snail's pace of Heywood's Elite gave me plenty of time to arrange for a freighter full of teladianium to be waiting there for us to deliver. It also allowed plenty of time for a good interrogator to get anything useful there might have been out of her partner.

We managed his 'escape' easily enough. I got some buddies of mine to cut them off from the hanger bays so that they had to abandon the Elite and skip out through an airlock. Even two dim witted Terrans might have wondered how they got away if they had been fleeing in that heap. Argon patrols could have had to fly backwards to avoid catching them, and Pearle would have noticed. Even Heywood, maybe.

I delivered them back in Terran space and hoped that would be the last of them, but no such luck. Having served him so much better than Heywood Pearle latched on to me as a new partner and off we went to spy on the Split. A clueless Terran and an Argon, in Split space. We probably looked like two Paranids trying to hide in a herd of Argnu cattle by closing their third eyes. Admittedly if the cattle all stood on their hind legs it might be hard to tell...but I digress.

I convinced him that if we were going to be trying to keep tabs on events in Split space the only practical approach was satellite monitoring near the gates. I passed myself off to the Split as an investor monitoring freight traffic, and passed Pearle of as my tech assistant. We started deploying the sats, and it didn't take too long to identify some odd traffic toting tech components into what should have been a wide stretch of empty space.

Jumping in and scanning the freight we spotted jump drive components, indicating that someone was building and equipping ships in empty space. Actually in the hanger bays of a station transport. Terraformer ships. Not quite Xenon, but unpleasant enough and illegal as serving Teladi eggs and Paranid bacon in a breakfast cafe. Not that I'd be opposed, but there's that whole 'eating other sentient beings is cannibalism' thing. Again, I digress.

We planted a tracking beacon on the Elephant. A pretty spiffy piece of tech that Argon intel was happy to know about.

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While we waited for the Split criminals to settle somewhere I introduced Pearle to the mysteries of the Goner faith. The idea of someone from Earth in a cult based on legends about Earth struck me as hilarious and even Pearle had a hard time taking it seriously, but with him being wanted by the Argon military Goner space was the only place I could let him out of the cargo bin, so he adapted.

For my part, I like the peaceful atmosphere even if my experiences in the Sol system have convinced me it is far from the idyllic picture the Goners paint of it. If it was ever like that it sure isn't now.

But I keep helping them build their temple, and they keep liking me better and better. I did convince them that since I seem to be their only reliable source of freight transport they should consider maybe taking another approach, and sold them three Mercury Tankers at a substantial markup.

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With some time on my hands I started thinking about a more permanent solution to the cahoona problem. Trading stations ship cahoonas planetside, and my guy was shoveling them into the trading stations as fast as possible, but there are just too many bakeries. When their supplies were hit or miss they sort of matched with demand. Now that they are being reliably supplied...

People planetside don't eat enough cahoonas. We need more people in space. The only thing that brings people into space is jobs. I need to hire a bunch of people to eat the cahoonas. Well, I need to hire them to do something useful, then use their wages to buy the cahoonas. In fact, I can even transport the cahoonas so that I make back what they cost me in wages.

So all I need is something that a bunch of people can do for me while they eat cahoonas.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That's when I met Malhoonis Mohanis something something...well, like any Teladi he has a lot of names, so let's stick with Malhoonis.

I knew I was going to build some sort of factory, so I had hired the local station transporter. It was sitting at the docks in OmLy while I investigated various markets. The captain commed me and said he had a bit of a conflict, so I docked.

Malhoonis wanted to hire the station transport for a job in Teladi space. The captain was refusing, since he was already contracted to me...and he didn't want to go anyway I realized. Malhoonis insisted on talking to me, thinking he could swindle his way into some sort of sub contract agreement.

Eventually he did get an agreement, and I think it made everyone happy. Instead of building a crystal fab in Teladi space, where nostrop oil (Teladi food) is notoriously scarce, he opted to build an Argon plant in Nyana's hideout. Since the Captain didn't have to go to Teladi space, and in fact loaded Malhoonis' factory right there at the shipyard he was happy. I contracted with Malhoonis to supply his new plant with energy through the cattle business, so I was happy.

And I was impressed enough by his interest in the crystal business to take to it as the solution to the cahoona problem. I took a tour with my new Teladi associate as soon as his factory was placed. When I saw the size of the food storage bays on his crystal factory I would have hit the floor if the artificial gravity generators had been powered up. Thankfully the scheming Teladi didn't power them up until the workers started coming aboard.

Of course I don't want to trade more cahoonas than I can eat for more crystals than I can use, and examining the crystal market didn't reveal any great promise. So I sketched out a plan to turn cahoonas into crystals, and crystals into energy cells, which in the wake of recent events seems like a sound investment. Unfortunately between bleeding credits through the cattle business and feeding a crew of marines while they either practice their skills with hardened pirates or languish with pirate women (I'm not quite sure what I'm getting for my money there) I lack the capital to put this together all in one whack.

I got it started though. Took on a group of my experienced pilots as partners and incorporated Waste Lands Power Crystals. I figured the industrial sectors; Wastelands, Interworlds, Nathan's Voyage; were among the hardest hit by the energy shortage, so they would be a good first market. Besides, pumping energy into the industrial plants would put more people to work. And even without fully building even the first phase the new plant makes a usable cahoona warehouse. Truth is, from a practical standpoint my crystal business is not much more than that, yet.

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Well, my 'get another business up and running' daily objective fell pretty much flat. It's only half built. It is moving cahoonas through, and making money, but my supply side network is nowhere near fast enough. I buy at 40 and my distributors sell at 73 as fast as I can bring them in. If I turned on crystal production the supply network couldn't begin to keep up with the one plant, let alone the three that I plan on. All the supply pilots just hit cargo messenger though, so as soon as I provide jump drives I can rework that network and shift a couple gears.

I loaded in a bunch of salvage that some Paranids left lying around. Crystals to feed the power plant, which is providing the cells that are getting cahoonas eaten in Wastelands and the three adjacent sectors. A good load of silicon wafers so that I will be able to turn on the crystal fabs at some point, and to give the silicon manager something to work with.

He is set to buy at 300 and sell excess at 505, which should lock down the regional market as long as he is fast enough to prevent NPC sales. I might have to trap the mines though. Probably should have, and I think I have the ships but just didn't get to it.

On the bright side, the demand on the cahoona bakeries has been effective. Hidden Ranch is converting expensive inventory into less expensive inventory and credits, and is approaching a million in the account. The wheat business is back on track, and actually out of inventory in the facility. Down to less than half inventory in buyer ships. And approaching ten million in the account.

So the objective to classify the two day old wheat business as 'fully automatic' was met, and the objective to push yesterday's cattle business into final testing is a bust but at least some progress was made. I did forward the Terran plot and the Goner plot though.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

marrok
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed, 2. Jan 08, 17:45

Post by marrok » Sun, 1. Sep 13, 07:44

Nice writing Tim, I'm looking forward to the end of the Terran and Goner campaigns ...

By the way, it is not necessary to follow Heywood in her winged ashtray anywhere. If you jump to the target sector, she will jump too.
No, I am NOT interested in sector charts! I want a taxi mission!

Build your own XPerimental - without quantum tubes and microchips!

Song Of Obsidian
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed, 19. Jun 13, 19:46

Post by Song Of Obsidian » Sun, 1. Sep 13, 12:48

Timsup2nothin wrote:A clueless Terran and an Argon, in Split space. We probably looked like two Paranids trying to hide in a herd of Argnu cattle by closing their third eyes. Admittedly if the cattle all stood on their hind legs it might be hard to tell...but I digress.
Looooooove it.

Good read so far. Keep it up.

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Sun, 1. Sep 13, 16:10

marrok wrote:Nice writing Tim, I'm looking forward to the end of the Terran and Goner campaigns ...

By the way, it is not necessary to follow Heywood in her winged ashtray anywhere. If you jump to the target sector, she will jump too.
Thanks...truth is I was doing a lot of remote control stuff anyway and just complained about her for 'dramatic effect'. I have been working the Terran plot first thing each game day, and the flight time is used for doing the basics; buying and starting a fresh gang of CLS ships, getting any recent captured hulls parked in fairly sensible locations, reprogramming network ships that I know aren't running as efficiently as I would like, etc.
Song of Obsidian wrote: Looooooove it.

Good read so far. Keep it up.
Thanks! With feedback like that who could stop?
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Mon, 2. Sep 13, 22:47

Photo Op

Image

Waste Lands Power Crystals
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Sun, 8. Sep 13, 07:52

I did say that 'far more gets done in a game day than seems to make sense'. With that in mind, here is

Chapter 4, part one

I was working with my partners in the crystal business. The guys we had hired to haul cahoonas from the bakeries had proven to be steady and reliable pilots, but their ships were just not fast enough. I made arrangements with the local trading station in Waste Lands. As they brought in loads they diverted to the trading station and had a cargo compressed hold added. Big enough to carry a reasonable amount of jump fuel. I shuttled in the jump drives from a Boron supplier I've been dealing with and got them all going.

Since I was shuttling drives I was flying the Magnetar. I left Pearle living in the XO suite on my Centaur, docked in Elysium of Light, and told him to keep a low profile and monitor progress on the tracking of the Elephant slash terraformer factory. When he called I jumped to Elysium and switched ships. We met the Terran assault fleet in a Boron sector fairly close to the target.

Once again the blind arrogance of the Terrans brought me dangerously close to laughing in the face of their attempts at generosity. They gave me one of their heavy fighters for the engagement. No doubt a fine ship, and with a full load of shield generators and the slow firing plasma cannons the Terrans use I'd guess she would have cost me at least four million at the shipyard in Mars orbit, but the Centaur would have it blown to space dust before it could turn around twice. I accepted as graciously as I could, with my gun crews doing an admirable job of standing at attention without snickering, but I think the Admiral was just slightly offended when I claimed that lack of familiarity with her would make it hard for me to take the Cutlass directly into battle.

There was still time before the fleet moved out for the engagement. Strategy meetings among the brass hats no doubt. I put my time to good use, swapping stories with pilots and leading junior officers into complaints about their troops. I identified a couple prospects; guys who appeared frequently in pilots tales as leading players and just as frequently in officers complaints as military misfits. Having picked them out I tracked them down for direct conversations and made my choice. Then I asked to have him assigned to me, to fly my new Cutlass. I have plans for the ship, and her new pilot.

The Terran high command demonstrated the wisdom commonly found at the flag officer level and ordered me and my new wingman to escort the transports tasked with boarding the Elephant while the bulk of the Terran fleet took on the defenders. How many of the Split ships involved were actually devoted to defending the Elephant and how many of them were just resisting this invasion of Split territory by an uninvited fleet of Terrans is anyones guess, but the Terran fleet mostly got hammered. I held back with the transports until my intervention would look suitably heroic, then mopped up what was left of the Split, snatching victory from them and handing it over to the Terran Admiral in charge, a particularly pompous blowhard. If the Terrans ever mount an operation into Argon space hopefully they will see today on his record and put him in charge. The Argon fleet will be safer for it.

Beryl Hopkins had proven to be as competent in combat as I had expected, his spotty service record having more to do with a lack of diligent adherence to uniform regulations and a habit of pointing out stupidity when it made itself obvious, even if it was wearing insignia of higher rank. The Cutlass had taken some hits, but nothing that came close to getting through her heavy shielding, and he was much better at managing the slow rate of fire of her guns than I would have been. I had the Magnetar jump into the sector to pick up him and the Cutlass, as well as a modified Jaguar I picked up in the fray.

For reasons completely beyond my fathoming the Terrans tasked me with transporting the Jaguar's pilot, a Split scientist who I had captured, to their base in orbit around Earth, near the moon. By the time he arrived liberal applications of drugs had drained all useful information into Argon Intelligence data banks. A few things the interrogators deemed too useful to let the Terrans have were wiped from his memory, along with the interrogation itself, and I handed him over to Terran intelligence (term used loosely). The Split went docilely enough, his somewhat addled state easily attributed to a minor head wound suffered during his capture.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When I caught up with Hopkins he was comfortably settled in a moderately large apartment at Grains of Elysium. I had him meet me in an office with a nice view, but devoid of furniture. He came to attention when he arrived.

"I'm not much for military protocol," I said. "Probably just as well since I have no military rank, and Grains is hardly a military installation."

"I've noticed that part," he said as he relaxed into a comfortable but ready slouch. "This is a very nice facility, and seems like a steady business."

"It pays the bills. I take it the apartment is better than a barracks?"

For my troubles I got a pretty thorough rundown of pilot accommodations on Terran bases and carriers, which will allow Argon intelligence to make better estimates of strength. I had to remind myself not to feel bad about how I was getting the information. In the end Hopkins opted to abandon his Terran roots, but he wouldn't knowingly do the Terrans an ill turn and I wouldn't want him to.

Eventually the unfurnished state of the office got his curiosity up. "Why don't you have any furniture?" he asked. Seemingly reasonable question.

"Why don't you? This is your office, if you want it," I countered.

Grains of Elysium needs some security. With over ten million credits in their accounts, the company offers a pretty prize to pirates. While the Argon government officially provides security for the Goner sector, it isn't at the top of their priority list. A single corvette on patrol is about the most that can be counted on. It seems wiser to spend the credits on security than risk losing them, so I spent them.

Hopkins accepted the job as Security Chief. It pays substantially better, and the living conditions are clearly superior. He got a good laugh when I told him that as the next step up in his official chain of command I would continue to report his performance as satisfactory for as long as he wanted to continue drawing pay from the Terrans, but he chose to put in for his discharge.

We flew to OmLy in the Magnetar and ordered four Nova Raiders fresh from the shipyard. Then we interviewed pilots together, mostly guys mustering out from the Argon fleet. I let Hopkins make the choices, but steered enough of my old mates into the mix that in the end I had two guys serving under him who I could check in with to keep tabs. With pilots getting better acquainted in the ship's lounge and new ships nestled in her hanger bays I relaxed on the bridge as the Magnetar made the jump back to Elysium of Light.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The pilots departed in their new ships, and I dropped Hopkins off at Grains to get them settled and organized. Then I contacted the Goner flagship to inform them of the improvements to sector security. They were suitably appreciative, and also had another contract for me. It seems my suggestions to the Elders have taken firm root. Having their own freighters has worked out so well that now they are thinking about building their own teladianium foundry. I agreed to oversee transport and construction. I also set up a meeting between the manager they had selected for this new enterprise and the energy department at Grains. A moderately lucrative contract for regular e-cell delivery can't hurt the bottom line, and they were happy not to have to devote one of their ships to the task. I made a note to look into the local market for teladianium. Eventually their temple will be completed and I can probably contract for their product at a fair price.

So I hired a Teladi station hauler to bring the foundry. My regular guy in OmLy doesn't really like flying into Teladi space, and I already had enough work for him anyway. Between the profits the crystal business was generating, some bonuses I worked out with Argon intelligence, a fair purchase price for their security chief's Cutlass from GoE, and some other odds and ends I had accumulated enough credits to finish construction at Waste Lands Power Crystals.

Since that was the shorter trip and his Mammoth was faster than the Teladi's Albatross my freight arrived in Waste Lands first. The construction went smoothly enough, and I was only slightly stunned by the cavernous storage bays. Getting cash flow and inventory management into some sort of harmony is going to take some time.

My partners were ecstatic at the prospects though. Having absorbed the output of the Midnight Star solar plants into our production they have monopolized energy distribution across five sectors. Now that the supply network is fully operational they have control of cahoona distribution throughout the region. Their silicon manager has monopolized distribution of that mineral throughout the region. And by contracting with Mohanis in Nyana's Hideout and the smaller factory in OmLy we have completely taken over the crystal trade in the region as well, though we will definitely have to explore some sort of export market. I left them to it without mentioning that almost all of their customers were depending on a supply of ore that would likely not be provided steadily enough for us to really enjoy this situation for long.

Having chatted with the captain of my hired Albatross as he passed through Waste Lands I made a leisurely flight back to Elysium of Light and came into the sector in time to supervise the construction of the foundry. This was a lot simpler since it was just a single plant facility and the council of elders had specified a location, even marking it with a nav buoy. I'm not sure why they even needed me, but after paying the shipyard and the captain of the Albatross I netted a tidy profit so who am I to question their decisions?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's also not my place to question them on security matters, but I did it anyway. Unfortunately only after their own ideas led to near disaster. I was happily watching Hopkins and his group running patrol exercises through the viewport of my own office suite at GoE when a frantic call came through from the Goner flagship. The First Beholder, Jani Hall, and the entire council of elders were on a corvette which was under attack. Why they would all be traveling on a single ship was the first obvious question that sprang to my mind, but there wasn't time to ask it. I gave a passing thought to Hopkins and realized that in my planning I had not considered any operations beyond the local sector and that without jump drives they would be of no use in the present situation, then dashed for my Centaur, thumbing the emergency stud on my wrist com unit as I went.

I wasn't the last to arrive, but when I reached the docking pod most of the crew was aboard and she was ready for space. In a matter of minutes we were fully manned and blew the docking clamps. We jumped immediately, but were still too late. The council's ship had been captured by pirates, and was making its way to points unknown.

I learned later that the True Light Seeker, like all Goner ships, was unarmed, making it a stupendously bad idea to make it the single basket for all those eggs. The small task force escorting it had actually been enough to capture it, with no losses on their side. I didn't know that at the time and guessed the escorts were part of a larger strike force which had left them to handle the prize and would likely return once I started shooting. I targeted the main battery on the Centaur that was obviously the pirate's flagship, told the turret gunners to fire at will but not to hit the captured Goner vessel, and swooped to the attack.

We took some hits from the turret mounted plasma throwers on the Centaur, as well as from the smaller escorts, but our shields held easily and the surprise of our attack prevented the enemy flagship from bringing her main battery to bear before she imploded. A steady stream of mosquito missiles, coordinated by our missile defense computer, prevented potentially deadly missile hits. It also prevented completely irrelevant missile hits, and shot off mosquitoes at missiles that had missed and would have flown harmlessly into space, but I'd rather the system not pick and choose. It did run out most of my supply of mosquitoes though.

Once their flagship was finished I brought the main guns to bear on any other ships I could get in my sights. I got some of the slower ones. My turret gunners probably accounted for more of the faster lightly shielded craft than I did. In any event eventually it came down to us and the captured Goner vessel, and the pirate flying her promptly surrendered.

When I went aboard I learned that his surrender involved a safe passage agreement that he had made with the elders. The same elders who were frantic because the pirates had taken Jani Hall off the ship and begging me to find and rescue him. The same elders who had granted safe passage and wouldn't let me beat any information out of what I considered a valuable captive.

I was undoubtedly gnashing my teeth in frustration, the Split pilot was gnashing his much larger teeth and suggested that at well over nine feet and six hundred pounds he wasn't likely to take a beating from me anyway. Safe passage or not I gave him one shot from my sap, which he blocked handily with a huge muscular forearm. My sap looks like a classic highwayman's tool, short leather pouch on a secure strap loaded with lead shot to give it heft. Mine is also loaded with a half meg plasma capacitor. The big Split was still twitching uncontrollably on the deck when I beamed back to my ship without the first clue where in the universe to look for Jani Hall.

But the ways of the Goners are mysterious, and apparently there's more to being First Beholder than the plaque on his desk. The Goners informed me almost immediately of the whereabouts of a ship that was headed towards their illustrious leader. How said leader knew the ship was coming, and how he communicated that fact I cannot guess. I picked up the target, a pirate fighter, blastclaw model, on my scanners and fell in twenty clicks or so behind it and matched its slow pace.

It didn't take long to figure out that the blastclaw was headed towards a jump gate, and I opted to fly ahead. Somehow the Goners knew that too and set up such a howl when I started getting away from the target that I gave up on the idea and just tagged along. Eventually we reached the gate and passed through into a nasty nebular cloud. I took one look at the number of pirate ships that appeared on my scanners and spun straight back through the gate, getting another howl from the Goners for my troubles.

I wasn't abandoning the mission, I just didn't think blasting my way across pirate space would be the most effective solution. Given that two of the angry red blips on my scanners were capital ships I also didn't think it was a realistic solution. A quick jump delivery by the Magnetar and I was back through the gate in the comfortable pilot's couch of my Discoverer, Magnetar and Centaur standing by at the nearest Teladi station.

I dodged among the pirate task forces and kept the blastclaw in range mostly to the Goners' satisfaction. The quarry led me on a seemingly endless flight through the nebula, but eventually passed through a gate into yet another sector filled with pirates. Some of them picked me up as I came through the gate and launched missiles, but in a chase they had no chance and allowed me to slip beyond their sensor range. I shot down any missiles fast enough to get close, and was glad to see that the Kestrel pilots stayed with their task forces rather than coming after me. They would have been fast enough to catch me and would have made holding the blastclaw in range challenging.

After another long transit we passed through another gate, into a sector the gate network identified as Ghaian Star and my scanners identified as crawling with pirates in case my slow train of pursuers weren't enough. While I could easily run away from that slow train even the capital ships were faster than the pace set by my quarry in the blastclaw; probably his intent. Bobbing and weaving to avoid close contact with the thick swarm of pirates I identified the pirate base in the distance on the blastclaw's vector and once again flew out ahead. This time the Goners didn't complain.

Somehow the First Beholder chose that moment to make a mad dash, clamber into a space suit, and blow himself out an airlock. How he knew I would be outside and more or less ready to catch him I have no idea. What he would have done floating around in a spacesuit with seemingly uncountable pirates, including a new swarm that boiled out of the base in pursuit I have even less of an idea. As it was I managed to scoop him unceremoniously into the cargo bay and jump the heck out of there, but the whole situation was well beyond bizarre.

When we got back to Elysium of Light I found the Goner corvette docked at Grains, apparently meant as a reward of sorts. What to do with it I have no idea, but you can be sure I'll be equipping it with guns of some sort.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I thought the mysterious powers of Jani hall would be the strangest thing I encountered, at least for a while. I was about as far wrong as I could be.

I was trying to get reorganized after the rescue operation. Getting the ships I had left in Teladi space back home and refueled; getting my freighters back to running ore; checking on the progress of my marines in their pirate operated training program that I'm starting to think might have been a thinly disguised vacation resort hustle; that sort of thing. And I found that I had misplaced a jump drive.

I say things got strange, and you might be thinking I meant losing a jump drive, but that isn't it. It isn't like I lose equipment on a regular basis, but it isn't all that unusual. I transfer jump drives around a lot. I buy used ships. I claim stray ships that Paranid pilots misplace. Sometimes people even hire me to bring them ships, either from a shipyard or possibly their own ships that somehow got left adrift. Often I'm in a hurry or I want the ship out of a dangerous area and I'll mount a jump drive on it to get it moving. I keep a spare in the gear locker aboard the Magnetar just for that reason, and it was the spare from the gear locker that was missing. Apparently I installed it in something and forgot to get it back. It may turn up, or it may not.

In any event I jumped into Queen's Harbor in the Magnetar to pick up a replacement. Apparently someone at Atreus' Shipping Currents HQ has been talking about me, which I will have to look into. A Boron hailed my ship out of the blue, saying that he had been looking for a well respected friend of the Boron such as me. Without saying anything one way or another about being a friend to the Boron I asked him what he wanted. Now this seems pretty strange, and it was, but looking back this was just another day, relatively speaking.

The Boron, by the name of Mahi Ma, needed help finding some friends, who were lost in Xenon space of all places. I muted the com link and shared a look with the Magnetar's regular pilot, who was at the navigation console. We both said one word, at the exact same time. It would have been funny, except the word was 'dead'. I released the mute in time to hear "I'm sure we could pay you well." After a bit of negotiation, specifically covering payment for my time should his friends turn out to be dead, I agreed to go look for them.

The clincher was the ship Mahi Ma was in. A Dolphin freighter that looked pretty much ordinary, but scans were showing a highly unusual engine configuration, and I estimated she would have a higher top speed than any Dolphin I had ever seen. If I could get in good with this Mahi Ma, I figured I might be able to get access to this technology. The first step on the road to weirdness looks so normal.

We docked at Atreus HQ and got the jump drive we came for, then jumped deep into Split territory to a gate that showed on the map data Mahi Ma had provided as the most likely point of entry into Xenon space his friends would have taken. With my recent success dodging pirates still fresh in my mind I took off from there in the Discoverer.

The Xenon weren't as cooperative as the pirates had been. A couple of their fastest N scout craft left their groups behind and sped after me. One on one they had little chance against the Discoverer the Terrans gave me. I crossed two sectors without too much trouble, reaching the gate that should have taken me into the sector Mahi Ma's friends were supposed to be headed for. That's when the slippery slope into weirdness turned into a cliff.

I emerged from the gate (actually according to Mahi Ma I didn't emerge, the space I was in is actually contained somehow in the abstract non-space between the gates) into a huge spherical construction. When I say huge, whatever you are thinking it isn't huge enough. Maybe not planets, but I have definitely seen moons that would fit inside it. The Argon main battle fleet could conduct an exercise inside it. And drifting in the center of it was the wreckage of a ship.

It showed a spark of power, which turned out to be a reserve pack in the central computer. When I got close enough to tap in it transferred out the captain's logs with the last bit of power and the ship was dead. Julian Brennan's ship.

Yes, Mahi Ma's mysterious friends turn out to be Julian Brennan and Bala Gi. That pretty well explains the source of the engine technology in his ship. Added to the totally incomprehensible mechanism I was in the middle of it also convinced me that I was well and truly out of my league, and I left. Fast.

I downloaded Brennan's logs into a hand pod, along with all records of the strange space, and erased them from the Discoverer's memory core. I docked back aboard the Magnetar, told her pilot to get me back to Queen's Harbor and Mahi Ma but to stop and refuel along the way to give me some time to think, and retired to my cabin.

I couldn't tell from the logs if Brennan was alive or dead. Bala Gi I guessed was alive. They had docked, somehow, in the giant mechanism. Bala Gi was certainly still there. Brennan had left, apparently to retrieve Mahi Ma. Whether he had escaped the ship and made it back into whatever port they had found in the mechanism in a spacesuit there was no way to know other than go back and look. I wasn't all that interested, but it would be hard to abandon two heroes of the commonwealth like Julian Brennan and Bala Gi. It also put Mahi Ma's claim that they could 'pay me well' in an entirely different light. As far as I know Bala Gi could buy Argon Prime if he felt so inclined.

We arrived in Queen's Harbor and my mind wasn't totally made up. I sent Mahi Ma a vague message and promised him details that I would only give him in person. For some reason before I could get locked on to him with the transporter device the little squid had popped out an airlock. Probably just as well since he needed his enviro suit just as much in my cabin as he did in space. He took one look at the vids of the mechanism and said "We must go. Immediately."

I tried to argue, at least a little bit. Really. But too many huge factors were colliding in my brain. Bala Gi and his unimaginable wealth. Jullian Brennan and his legendary status. And if Bala Gi had sent Brennan to get Mahi Ma, what did that say about the intellect of this particular squid? In truth I caved pretty much immediately. I did delay for a minute when I asked about Mahi Ma's abandoned Dolphin and he said "It does not matter, just leave it." I may have been star struck and overwhelmed, but I wasn't dead. If he was going to leave it to be salvaged it would be salvaged by me, not the next passing vagrant.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A pretty eventful stretch, and the game day still has almost eleven hours to run. I wasn't sure the forum (or any readers) would handle the length of the post if I ran it all in one chunk, and I didn't want anyone thinking I had abandoned the project. Rest of chapter four will follow, promise.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 11. Sep 13, 17:48

QUESTION

I see the view count going up, so people are looking at this thread. I can think of three possibilities.

There are actual readers.

There is someone working out a trading network and they are referring to the details about Grains of Elysium repeatedly.

My pictures are being looked at.

Needless to say I think all three of these possibilities would be complimentary. There may be others that aren't I guess. But I'm wondering which ones are accounting for the view counter. If I knew it would help make decisions going forward. eg,

More pictures? Less pictures?

Details on structure of another network or not?

Early retirement for Patrick Henry?

What to have for breakfast? Okay, that one I should just figure out myself.

Feedback requested.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

Sirrobert
Posts: 1185
Joined: Wed, 21. Aug 13, 13:55

Post by Sirrobert » Thu, 12. Sep 13, 00:27

It's actualy midnight, so no breakfast for me. But thanks for the offer

And I love the story, plain and simple.
Pictures aren't bad, though I prefere to paint the picture for myself using the story :D

As for feedback: I love the parts of the story that are not about the actual game play (so converstations with crew members, that sort of thing.)
It turns a story about a game into an actual story

Song Of Obsidian
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed, 19. Jun 13, 19:46

Post by Song Of Obsidian » Thu, 12. Sep 13, 00:49

What he said. I also enjoy seeing different interpretations on in-game events, how they're portrayed in some way other than what the game actually offers...because face it, as far as the game is concerned, story is pretty much an afterthought. Convenience and streamlining are more important than believability.

But you're shaping the game events in your own way. Sometimes making fun of that dynamic, which is something I think we can all appreciate. Your take on the effects of your actions on the Admiral's career in light of the AI's performance in battle at the start of your last post, for example.

Bringing in more people makes it fun too. Wondering what you're planning to do with Pearle. Always hated that guy...

I'm not terribly big on pictures either. For the most part a picture in the mind's eye is worth a thousand screenshots to me.

Timsup2nothin
Posts: 3167
Joined: Thu, 22. Jan 09, 18:49

Post by Timsup2nothin » Thu, 12. Sep 13, 20:18

Chapter 4, part two

I gave some thought to how I wanted to return to the strange sphere. The information in my hand pod would allow a direct jump. But whether those gate images in the sphere were actual gates or just the 'inside' of actual gates didn't really matter; they connected to busy Xenon sectors. Popping out of one at the same time as a Xenon capital ship did not appeal to me at all, in any ship. So I told the pilot to jump the Magnetar to Elysium of Light, where we docked my custom Discoverer at GoE. Then we jumped off to collect my old Discoverer Vanguard, which I have been using to map sectors, a function the autopilot manages fairly well.

Another function the autopilot could handle well enough, and better than a live pilot, was jumping into the mysterious sphere and scanning for Xenon before we risked any lives. We set up in the nearest Split sector and sent it on its way. I monitored the scanners by remote, and gave my pilot the all clear so he could jump us in. We put a safe distance between the ship and the gate, then paused to allow the scout to dock.

Mahi Ma, meanwhile, was going insane; babbling almost incoherently. I made out 'transit hub' and something about connecting Kingdom End directly to Queen's Harbor, those being two Boron core sectors that are about as far apart as it is possible to get. Overall he wasn't making any sense, but he certainly has talent. Tentacles flew across our com panel, a couple of control panels on some equipment he had brought, or possibly built, and our security interface...all at the same time. In fairly short order a docking beacon glowed on a large protruding structure. Closer inspection revealed docking clamps, of an archaic design but recognizable...and apparently functional. I took Mahi Ma aboard my Nova, launched, and manually brought it into the clamps. No point risking the entire crew of the Magnetar.

I was prepared to explore in my space suit, but we found the life support systems not only functional but maintaining Argon normals. I took that as a good sign for Julian Brennan, since if only Bala Gi had survived he would likely have set them to Boron normals. Mahi Ma floated about in his enviro suit, examining panels that I knew at a glance there was no reason for me to examine, or even try to think about. Eventually he said "Here. This is an internal sensor array." For all I could tell it could have been a micro-wave oven, a lawnmower, or anything in between. "It feeds into the main computers there." He waved a tentacle vaguely towards a large blocky structure. "I should be able to build an interface unit if you can get me a few things."

I said "No problem," without considering that Mahi Ma was accustomed to working with Bala Gi. He promptly produced a list of components. Probably at least a couple hundred production cycles worth of output from a full scale computer plant. No doubt Bala Gi would just open a closet and say 'help yourself', but I gaped at the list. I had expected to hop in the Nova and pick up supplies from the Magnetar, not buy out the universe. "Okay, no problem but it may take a little time," I said.

"Please hurry. I will stay here and analyze these systems. This is a fantastic device. The potential is enormous! But first thing I would like to access that internal scanner and find Julian Brennan and Bala Gi, if they are still alive."

I considered the manpower required to search what was apparently a single machine, a giant hollow sphere tens of kilometers across with a shell hundreds of meters thick laced through with compartments, passages, and crawl spaces through intricate machinery. The scanner was obviously the only way we could even consider looking for them. "I'll be back as soon as I can," I said.
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So off I went in search of computer components, after a serious meeting with the crew of the Magnetar. Mahi Ma's ravings were starting to worry me. This thing could be a weapon of epic proportions. Such epic proportions that I'm wondering what to do if he gets it working. He's a Boron, solid allies but I can't see letting the Boron end up in control of this thing. On the other hand I work for Argon intelligence, I'm a patriot and a veteran, and I'm not sure I would trust the Argon government with some sort of superweapon either. And we sure as hell can't let the Terrans get hold of it. Once we jumped out I again cleared the nav data from the ship's computer core, thinking we would rely on my hand pod.

Unfortunately I screwed up and let the secret out myself. Let it out far enough that I had to kill to keep it anyway.

My first place to look for computer components was a factory in Interworlds. Not much in stock there, but before I could decide where to go next the com link chimed. An Argon face, vaguely familiar, showed on the vid. "Patrick Henry! Like a bad penny turning up in my hour of need. Always thought you were too straight laced to end up kicked out of the service." Ah. I remembered this guy. Supply officer on a carrier I served on once. Carrier came up short on inventory a lot and he was invited to retire, though nothing was proven.

"Yeah, well, times change, people change," I said, chafed a bit by maintaining the fiction of my dishonorable discharge.

"Good thing too! Right now I really need someone like you, and you are going to bless the day you ran into me."

More like curse. He had a line on an abandoned ship. In fact he had managed a hack that had erased the ship from Boron military records, showing that instead of damaged and abandoned it had been destroyed. He just needed a pilot to bring it to the station so he could interface it and alter the registration and he would show as the rightful owner. When he told me my cut would be two and a half I must have looked confused, because he laughed and said "million, Pat, two and a half million." He was stealing a Kraken.

How to keep my cover as a dishonorably discharged anything-for-a-credit ruffian without letting a Boron capital ship fall into this scumbag's hands? I figured I'd just steal the ship from him. All I needed was a place to put it where no one would find it. And I thought I had just the place. Unfortunately the scumbag was a little smarter than I anticipated, the Kraken had a tracking beacon on board, and when I didn't deliver it he passed the beacon frequency to the cops leaving me in the helmsman's seat of a stolen Kraken docked in a mysterious sphere in non-space...and surrounded by Argon police.

I would have been inclined to just surrender the ship to them and get Argon intel to get me off the legal hook, but they weren't going to just forget about the transit hub. I was stuck. Then they revealed the way out of the trap. They offered to let me go if I turned over the ship. I didn't believe them and figured they would just shoot me, but they obviously had no intentions for me to ever see a courtroom.

Cops are basically thugs for hire, hired by the government. But these cops had allowed the government to be outbid. I had been offered two and a half million. How much was the old supply officer paying them to get the ship?

I had sent the Disco Vanguard into the hub ahead of me on autopilot again, and had planned on using it to get back to reality. I climbed into the cockpit, released the docking clamps, and hit the throttles. Then I hit the com link. Locked on my signal my Centaur popped out of a gate ten seconds later and I beamed on board. Another of my crews to be sworn to secrecy, but better them than the thugs with badges.

The top cop, recently having offered to take the Kraken and go, opened fire immediately. Fortunately he had skimped on his equipment. My Centaur was a little faster and much quicker. I settled in behind him, a single turret throwing plasma at my shields, and my main bank of particle cannons disintegrated him in short order. The smaller ships in this jackal pack went even quicker.

Mahi Ma took it all in stride. That may not be the most apt phrase since he doesn't have legs... Anyway, he did the smoothest hack I've ever seen, and now I own a Kraken.

The crew of the Centaur joined the crew of the Magnetar in the band of secrecy and we jumped out to Kingdom End. Mahi Ma recommended a couple of computer factories in and near the Boron home system, but it turned out that the entire regional economy is in total disarray. The computer plants had no stock, no resources, and most of their employees had been laid off. Every business in sight was starving for energy, and energy cells at the solar plants in Queen's Space were stacked on the docks. I bought two freighters at the Kingdom End shipyard and after consulting the owner of the computer plant for recommendations hired two Boron pilots for them. They won't be able to turn the economy around by themselves, but they will at least get some supplies to the computer plants.
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Mahi Ma isn't exactly patient though, and I'm inclined to agree with him. There's an old saying, that the only number of people who can keep a secret is one. I trust my crews, but whatever this hub is or isn't, I need to know before word leaks out that it exists.

We jumped the Centaur back to Interworlds. I knew that factory was well supplied, and figured it would have built up a decent inventory. It had, but unfortunately it was enough inventory to have attracted a Split trader in a Boa transport, who bought them out while I was about ten clicks from the docking clamps. I was furious. Even more so when the Split trader set a course for Paranid space. Buying the computers out from under me was one thing. Selling them off to Paranids was over the line. I flew into Paranid space to wait, looking forward to dealing with any Paranid that tried to intervene.

I got good news while I waited. One of my freighters found about half of what Mahi Ma needed at a factory in OmLy. I got better news when the Split trader agreed that his life was worth more than his freight and spewed computer components and a shipment of missiles and guns I wasn't even looking for into space. One of his escort pilots gave up in disgust and abandoned a Jaguar scout ship that made icing on the cake. Putting candles on the cake we blew up four Paranid customs and border control agents who came sniffing around.

Between the salvage and the shipment my freighter had picked up there were more than enough components for Mahi Ma's needs. I transferred the goods to the Centaur and contacted my little genius friend. He sent the Discoverer out to scout the hub to ensure our safe arrival. My secret transit hub is apparently not as far off the track as I had thought, since the scanners revealed a wild dogfight between at least two Kha'ak clusters and a Xenon task force. They weren't near the gate though, so we jumped in and made for the docks.

With the automated systems off line we stacked computer components, by hand, in the docking bay. Mahi Ma looked on appreciatively, occasionally muttering over one piece or another. "The Boron is sure these will do admirably," he said as the final crate thumped to the deck.

"Good," I replied, wiping sweat.

"Everything else the Boron will have to build from scratch." I looked at him. "I will need some raw microchips. Five hundred cases should do."

I exploded. "Five hundred cases! Look, for all I know Bala Gi keeps microchips in his pantry with the wheat flakes and you guys eat them for breakfast, but where in hell do you think I'm going to get five hundred cases of microchips?"

"The Boron has no idea, but you did much better than you expected finding these." He waved a few tentacles at the stacked crates. "The Boron is sure you will do admirably."

I was back on the Centaur when I realized he had said exactly the same thing about me as he had said about the computer components. Off we went, to try to 'do admirably'. What else could we do?
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Interlude-An Alternative Point of View

Marika Jerrigan clicked off the com. The smile remained on her face. Her sister-in-law was also her best friend, and seeing her so happy made Marika happy. Being married to her brother, Endy, had frequently presented Jennit with hard times. For that matter being Endy's sister hadn't always made life easy. Now Endy was settled, running a hugely successful business, and everyone was better off for it.

Endy. She called him 'the teflon man' because nothing ever seemed to stick to him. The ready grin, the earnest face, the calm reasonable voice that could get away with saying anything. Black sheep of the family. Well, blackest sheep anyway. Her parents didn't exactly boast about her either. At least they hadn't, but times had changed for her just as much as they had for Endy.

When Endy had announced that he was going spaceside their father had exploded. "Space is for pirates. You plan to be a pirate?"

That grin had flashed as Endy replied. "Don't worry dad. I know pirates and I'm no pirate." Lost in the clever word play was the true statement that should have set off all alarms; I know pirates.

Endy knew pirates, because somehow Endy seemed to know everybody, and everybody knew Endy. A pirate with a stolen ship? He knew Endy. A shipyard worker with a gambling debt? He knew Endy. The casino owner that wanted his money? He knew Endy. Next thing you know the ship was being recycled and everyone had money. All three were happier...because they knew Endy. He wasn't a criminal, but he didn't see the law as a narrow path either.

That...flexibility...had led to scrapes with law enforcement, but as with most problems nothing ever stuck to Endy. The scrapes with the lawless were sometimes more of a problem. Even if they liked Endy, pirates were sometimes pragmatic about who knew what about them. At the worst of those times Endy's best friend growing up, Patrick Henry, had always been there for him. Nothing like a fighter pilot in the Argon defense fleet to resolve problems with pirates.

When Marika told their parents about her own plans to move spaceside their father exploded again. He thought men went to space to be pirates. What he thought young women went to space to be she didn't want to know, though she had a good guess. Fortunately their father had been more furious with Endy for 'leading her astray' than with her. She shook her head at the memory. Truth be told a crush on Patrick had more to do with her move than her brother did.

She got over the crush, got a job, got some inventory control software training, got a better job; did pretty well for herself though her parents never acknowledged that. She was a good worker, a good citizen, a good person...but, she knew Endy. There had been times that being his sister had turned into meeting people that had turned into side work. Never illegal, really, but not necessarily things you added to your resume. Now she had a job too good to believe, and no resume had been required. Now she worked for Patrick.

Beryl Perod came into her office. Beryl was chief of the flight crew. His military background showed in his posture as well as how quickly he had answered her summons. "We need to move the ships," she said. "You'll be docked at the trading station."

"Will you be staying aboard?"

"No. Documentation will be docking here. I'll be in that office for a while."

"Very good. I'll send the orderly to transfer anything you'll need to the dockside lockers." He turned precisely and left.

Marika wondered what her father would think. His little girl running an interstellar trading company from an office suite aboard a ship designed as a military transport, refitted as a luxurious office complex. Two ships actually. Identical. A six room living and office suite for her on each of them. In the crushing lack of space planetside how much would a suite like this cost? How big a company would she have to be running for them to provide a suite like this? With another just like it so that one or the other would always be hers, but the other would be just standing empty?

The two Magnetars served as headquarters for a very fluid shipping business. This ship, Accounting, handled invoicing, transactions, payroll, and pilot training for an ever changing fleet of traders. Currently there were ten ships, all assigned to the energy trade, running from Heretic's End to Black Hole Sun. Her staff were very well paid and enjoyed living conditions that even their exceptional salaries could not have covered, the tradeoff being that they lived aboard and the terms of employment included a 'mobility clause'. The entire company could leave Omicron Lyrae at a word from Patrick. A word they all knew would come sooner or later.

The company logo, emblazoned on the ships and gracing the letterhead, was a stylish ISC. Funny thing about using letters, no one really asked what they stood for. The employees all knew it was 'Interim Shipping Company'. They filled voids in the shipping industry, profitably and temporarily, until Patrick could put something more permanent in place to take advantage of the opportunity. The possibility that the next opportunity could be literally anywhere was the reason they had ships instead of leasing an office block somewhere.

Some time later she stood in the docking pod, admiring the ISC logo on the bow as Documents slid into the clamps. The staff aboard Documents included some of the best hands in the field of working through the maze of paperwork created by the Department of Mercenary Vessels. Some experts believed that at least twenty percent of all DMV registrations were hacked to some degree or another, and her staff were skilled at that too. The data shufflers at the DMV had neither the skills or the interest to separate the intentionally hacked documents from the documents they accidentally screwed up themselves on a regular basis.

She also employed experts at negotiating the salvage laws of all the major governments. Patrick kept them busy. When a task exceeded their collective skills they turned to one of the best DMV hackers in the universe. Her.

"What's up?" she asked without ceremony as she walked into the office of her Director of Teladi Operations.

"More of an oddity than a problem," he said. The request from Patrick was pretty routine and it's already been processed so no problem there..."

"What was it?"

"Salvage titling on an Osprey, in Teladi space. Pure routine. Title already exists with the Argon though, but the ship was disposed of at a Teladi shipyard with no questions."

"No Argon police reports?"

"Not yet. Patrick did post the request through the urgent channel so there might be eventually."

"Not documented to us with the Teladi? Personally to him I hope. He has connections. He can fade the heat."

"That's where it got strange. Documented third party..."

"He's done that before."

"Not to a third party like this one. Company registration. Boron. I did a ping back." He met her eyes.

Marika shook her head, but smiled. Her staff were the best, and the best always dug in to find things that they didn't really need to know. That was part of what made them the best. "Okay, a Boron company. So?"

"The ping echoed back from all three gates."

As far as Marika knew that wasn't possible, and Marika knew quite a bit. "Just where is this Boron company?"

"I couldn't tell. But it appears you can get there no matter what gate you take out of OmLy."

Marika kept her composure and tried to look like this was exactly what she expected. What the hell had Patrick gotten himself into now?
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What I had gotten into was trying to fund Mahi Ma's huge pile of chips. I was approached about salvaging the Osprey, and frankly I stole it. But technically it was salvaged by a Boron salvage company before I got to it. That company sold it to a Teladi shipyard before I had a chance to report to my employer that their contract could not be fulfilled. There's a huge murky area at the intersection of Argon law, which applies because the original owners are Argon; Teladi law, which applies because the ship was abandoned in Teladi space; and Boron law, which applies because the salvaging company is Boron. In that murky area whole fleets of ships can disappear, and often do.

This one disappeared pretty thoroughly. The Teladi certainly recognized that a Boron salvage company registered into existence mere minutes before wasn't selling them a ship without some sort of strings attached, so they probably moved that ship through a dozen transactions before I even cleared the sector. Mahi Ma got all the proper paperwork settled for the company, but there's no way anyone is going to be knocking on the door of our headquarters to ask questions any time soon, since that headquarters is somewhere in non-space. And as for me, I can indeed fade the heat. When I told my contact at Argon intel that I might have a legal problem and explained the situation he nearly fell out of his chair laughing.

"They sent you to salvage a Teladi corvette, in Teladi space...that has to be five million credits...and they offered a salvage fee of two hundred thousand. This must be an insurance scam because they had to know there was no way you would bring that ship back. You'd be laughed out of the salvage industry. I'll take care of it."

That was no doubt the last words I will ever hear on that subject. Of course his next words were "as long as you're here..."

So I found myself delivering a covert ops team to the Argon facility in Black Hole Sun. Probably for their final operational briefings, but I don't know for sure. If they had told me they'd probably have had to kill me.

No one had to tell me there was a Xenon invasion going on in Black Hole Sun. I figured that right out all by myself. Nobody told me, and it still nearly killed me.

The six cahoona bakeries in BHS are pumping credits into all three of my companies. The Xenon invasion threatened Argon lives, and my credits. I felt compelled to do something about it.

The Centaur made very short work of Xenon interceptor Ms, and short enough work of L fighters. Unfortunately there were two task forces of Xenon, each centered on a Q corvette, and there was nothing the Centaur was going to do with them. No nuclear missiles on board. No squash mines. Nowhere near enough firepower to punch through their shields. Barely enough speed to stay out of range of their guns.

If they quit chasing me and started firing on a factory I annoyed them with light missiles. If they got too close to me I used my jump drive to flash across the sector. If a machine can be frustrated, if a machine could be angered, I did it to those two Qs. Eventually my former mates in the Argon fleet managed to show up with a destroyer and put them out of their misery, and mine.

I need a bigger ship.

I didn't have the funds to buy one. I was close. Very close. Had I not put the sale of the Osprey into Mahi Ma's project fund I'd have been there. Had I not bought mining equipment to start Mineral Fortune Mining and Supply I'd have been there. But I wasn't there. Then since I was so close I did something silly. I didn't learn the lesson and immediately buy heavy torpedoes and squash mines. I figured I'd just save the credits and be in a frigate sooner for it.

The next thing I knew the Centaur and I were running around leading a frigate full of mad cows all over Interworlds. Same sad story. Barely enough speed to stay out of range, not enough firepower to punch through their shields, couldn't leave them alone to destroy valuable customers. Eventually a Colossus carrier came along and made short work of them.

I really need a bigger ship.
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Ninu Keswen was hot. I don't mean in the beautiful woman oozing sexuality sense, though she is. I mean in the fry an egg on her forehead I'm glad I'm talking to her over a comlink and not in the same room sense. Can't say I blame her.

At least she knows I didn't hire her for her looks, since she actually started working for me as an e-cell pilot at ISC and it was Marika who hired her. The trouble started when I took on partners for Waste Lands Power Crystals. I chose my partners from the pilots at ISC, the two most qualified at the time. They brought Ninu, who hadn't been with me as long, along with them and put her in charge of silicon management. When I started putting my mining company together she was the obvious choice to run it, and I told her so. She packed up and moved to Treasure Chest as soon as the facilities were built, ready to go to work and make us both a pile of credits. My partners at WLPC weren't happy to see her go, and were even less happy that she was taking the silicon trade and its revenue stream with her.

Then I disappeared, leaving her with an irritable Split station transporter captain and a handful of inbound ships with pilots who had been told they may or may not be being reassigned pending interviews...interviews I was supposed to be there to give. Ninu could interview them and take on who she wants, but I have other companies I need to consider and told her I had to be there. So they wait. The fact that I had had two invasions to fend off gained me some slack, but not much.

I figured the first thing to do was deal with the Split. He is a jerk, and it was unfair to stick her with him. The local shipyard couldn't provide the high capacity mining stations I wanted, so I had turned to a Split source and hired this finhead to deliver them. In the course of this transaction I had tolerated his arrogance and abuse while my temper slowly eroded. When our business should have been complete he started complaining about how our contract had terminated with him stuck so far from Split space, claiming that I should pay him for the return journey. I had lost my temper at that point, but only internally. On the outside I was totally calm. The guys I served in combat with would have probably warned the Split at that point.

I hired him for an additional job, building a large complex. I told him I had some details to work out and left him there in TC. Unfortunately I got sidetracked and Ninu suffered the consequences of his company. And of course I haven't done anything about the large complex I am supposed to be planning. I don't actually have any large complex to plan. But I got the Split captain on the com and spun him a tale. Stations would be delivered by Mammoth. With the agility demonstrated by his ship and his skills he would be tasked with placing them, and paid very well for it. I gave him the coordinates and sent him on his way to meet the fictional Mammoths. My only regret is that when my Mercs board his ship and sell him to the rehab facility I won't be able to rub it in personally.

With that out of the way Ninu's mood improved slightly, but turned back to full heat when I told her I had a lot on my plate but would be there as soon as I could.
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All three of my salvage freighters were full in the aftermath of the battles. Full of mixed loads of cargo that had been spilled by freighters, arms from destroyed invaders and defenders, and some just plain junk that had gotten scooped indiscriminately into their holds in the rush. I also had abandoned ships to claim, one a very valuable Paranid Hades bomber. That was my first priority, angry partner at the mines or not.

I also had my cattle business in a complete shambles. At one point the Paranids had focused their attack on a cattle ranch and I decided to pull out my assets. Argon dock workers had piled aboard hulks never meant to move and set out on autopilot for the next sector. These refugees, complete with loads of cattle, were docked at my crystal company in Waste Lands, totally disrupting the supply network side of my cattle business as well as being in the way. My cattle business still isn't working all that well, so just sending them back to where they were isn't all that attractive a move.

I promised Ninu I would be ready to get the mining company up and running as soon as the ship I had picked out for a jump fuel tank arrived and got to work on the other issues. She snapped "Perfect, I'll be here," as the com link blanked out. Just to be on the safe side I told my pilot to take command of the Centaur and set course for the mines, then retired to my cabin to work out all these kinks. Anything he does short of crashing into an asteroid I can just ignore.
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So ends the busy "day". I actually figure a game day to be something more like a quarter, or maybe a year.

Anyway, my objectives for the day were met, at some basic level. That basic level seems to be accumulating on me though. The cattle business from day two is still just running at a basic level, and the energy and crystal business from day three is still just running at a basic level, so adding the mining business which I think should run at a basic level but hasn't actually proven yet that it is doing even that...I have a lot of chainsaws in the air, but whether I am juggling them or just getting body parts chopped off in a creative way remains to be seen.

The Terran plot advanced. The Goner plot advanced. The Hub plot invited itself into my game and advanced. My marines started coming out of training and the few who aren't done are very very close. If I had any other objectives I've forgotten them.
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To those who responded, thanks for responding and thanks for reading and I'm glad you like it. I will certainly keep your feedback in mind.

From a gameplay standpoint those two Magnetars represent a million credits spent just to avoid having a bunch of ships cluttering up my property list. I do it every game, and every game I think it's wasteful, but at least this time I could make a story element out of them. Hope you liked it.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

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