Summer Time...and the livin' is easy

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Cantankerous
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Summer Time...and the livin' is easy

Post by Cantankerous » Sun, 15. Feb 09, 10:58

11ZT*766.1.1.2:
The station was old, and even having been refurbished, it was dank and dark and stank of the effluvia of scents the over taxed air exchangers and purifiers could neither exchange nor purify sufficiently. The Don stalked the corridors shaking his head slowly.

“To be honest,” he said in his thick Necian accent, “I don’t want this… stinking… pile of panels and solder. Your old man though was, how shall I put it, sufficiently unwise to use it as collateral on a series of loans from myself and my associates; loans that were, ostensibly, to fix this place up. Very substantial loans they were too I might add. So, since I don’t want this slug sty and couldn’t get rid of it for even a tenth of what is now owed, I’m going to make you an offer you,” and here Tony Marani smiled like a shark, “simply can NOT refuse.” He glanced over his shoulder at the broad shouldered young man being half hauled, half carried in the Don’s wake between tow very large Split warriors. The man’s face was a mass of swellings, blood dripping slowly from a nose smashed far out skew and lips mangled over notched and splintered front teeth. Simply being conscious was no small feat, but in as much as he could the man carried his own weight, pride buoying him more than his legs, all gone rubbery with shock and pain, could have hoped to have done.

“Part one of this, hero boy, is going to cost me, and thus, eventually, you, even more credits. I’m taking the two super freighters, such as the poor things can still be so called, in payment of the interest owed. You’ll keep one of the three Busters and the two smaller freighters. I’m taking the other two Busters and the Express in lieu of this jazuras interest payment and for the remaining set up and cum-shaw that it’ll take to get the sector board to pass this place as a mercantile concern.” Tony smiled again, another cold, frightening grin that promised that what the two Split had begun could be again accomplished at any point. “And you will, whenever you are so called upon to do so, render such …assistance, as you can to any member of my Syndicate who makes himself so known to you. This will usually take the form of clandestine transport, but may be expanded upon later. Now, soak them for everything you can get out of them boy, but you will never turn one of them down.”

Just as the world began to dim and the Don signaled his two bruisers to let the young man fall to the deck, the last words he heard were; “I promised my little girl I’d give you this chance. And Tony Marani always keeps his given word, but do not think to impose upon my goodwill…and if I ever see you within a kilometer of my daughter again I will become really annoyed with you. Understood?”
Jak knew he shouldn’t have tried to open his eyes. He knew that this was when the real headache was going to begin, but the idea of trying to stagger these half familiar, vaguely remembered corridors with his eyes shut wasn’t appealing either. There were so many places where the paneling covering the flooring cracks was half unsoldered that he'd be on his knees again in no time. Leaning back against the wall, hurting everywhere, his ear hairs even hurting, Jak was suddenly almost overwhelmed by nausea. And ohh gods, how he hated to vomit! He always had.

Slowly Jak convinced his eyes to open again and thanked whatever household god had his turn presently that it was dim, or, more honestly, dark, in this part of the station. Staggering down the unevenly floored corridors towards C&C he finally had to succumb to it, that raging nausea; twice. That was when, not when he was being beaten to a bloody pulp by a pair of massive Split, not when the Don was laying out what amounted to indentured servitude for a lifetime, but when Jak had to stop the second time to vomit, that he decided that one day he was going to track down that floating junk pile of his and torpedo it a time or eight. But that would have to be a distant future time. Right now he was in trouble and knew it.

He hoped the Don’s bean counters would be open to a little bribing. Jak knew he had to keep the one Buster variant that his father had bought right before he disappeared. The Vanguard was almost key to his short term plans and would be a BIG part of his piece of mind. Not that it would do him much good against the Don’s forces, he thought, marshalling his inner strength and pushing himself onwards. Better than a dozen of those nasty new Blastclaws and several Pirate versions of the new OTAS Elite, a formerly Split Dragon, his Marauder and who knew how many lesser craft, and maybe, if rumors were correct, a Galleon tucked away in Red Gamble; all these at least were what the Don could call on.

And Jak? He had his friends. They were short on cash, rolling stock, ships and luck, but they were tight and talented and five of them were damned good pilots themselves, with both Sevie and Brusco being first rate technicians and Poali and her pet AI, 'Cuddles' were a great tandem when it came to running the day to day operations, so it could have been infinitely worse. Poali could likely recruit a few decent dock workers and a good virtuality module could make a swamp bunny or a street rat into a decent factory worker in jig time, so with the unemployment planetside so bad, Jak at least wouldn’t have to worry about getting things produced even if the Board didn’t pass them at first. Again, bribes would get them up and operating if hard work and elbow grease couldn’t, but even so, the kind of money the Don wanted just for interest… that left Jak cold as urine vented out an airlock into the shadowed side of a station.

Still it was going to be up to him to be the main man. He was going to have to find a way to keep it all in the air at the same time, a juggling act with too many balls and plates and clubs to count, and if one slipped… Don Tony had mentioned ‘sleeping with the Boron’ in a completely understandable manner. Jak hadn’t even been tempted, for once in his life, to try to be a wise ass.

A cold compress on the worst of the facial contussions and a few spritzes from the auto doc was enough for the time being. He knew he had to get down to the docking bays and get into his EVA suit and get a look at the off side cowling on the Arizona’s thrust governor before taking her planetside to begin ferrying his staff up to the station. Like his Drill Instrictor used to say back in the Academy; “You ain’t got yerselv time to be sick boy. Y’all gotta be tough and mean and on the ball. Take your rest time after you’re worm food.”. Good advice for the time being. There were so few mazuras in the stazura, so few stazuras in the tazura and time really was profit right now.

And maybe life.





1 ZT followed the three digit number then a point then a single digit number, a point and a final single digit number is read as the standard jazura, followed by the mazura (eight to the jazura), wozura (seven to the mazura) and tazuras (seven to the wozura). Further this would be sub divided into the stazura (seven to the tazura), the mizura (ninety six to the stazura) and finally the sezura (again, ninety six to the mizura); the standard Zuran Time scale.
Not quite a newbie anymore, but still able to ask the most stultifyingly silly assed questions imaginable.

Cantankerous
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Post by Cantankerous » Mon, 16. Feb 09, 16:26

ZT*766.1.1.6: “So,” Ran Seldon grimaced as he picked himself off of the hard decking of the ill lit ‘office’; “this is what we have as a conference room? I’ve seen warehouses with more charm.” Jak smiled back at the outraged face of his oldest friend. “Sure, but it has plenty of power and systems leads. And you get used to the flooring. Sort of.”

Standing at the door Sevie Seldon, no relation to Ran and that obvious, as her dark hair, tied back in a tight pony tail and her coffee brown skin tone and broad features contrasted to his pale blonde hair and eyebrows and space tanned, but normally fish belly white skin and narrow facial structure; shook her head and leaned against the bulkhead. "The hangars are a mess. The mechanic bays are there, physically, but half of the equipment is gone and what isn’t gone is a decade or twenty out of date. I mean, some of those tools are older than the station itself is. Brusco took one look at the electrical works and the wiring bypasses and I could have sworn he was going to cry. You’d better not limp a ship back in here that needs more than the most basic maintenance for a bit, or we’ll have troubles."

From her seat on a rickety chair against one curved bulkhead the fine featured but midnight skinned Poali Umberta sighed deeply. “Trey and Gerri both have licenses to pilot the other two ships, but Gerri is going to have a hell of a time with the Busters computer system and he’s the only one you can really put in it, as you’ll need Trey in the Oklahoma for his experience with larger ships and you’ll have to nurse the Arizona along yourself. And man, Gerri is an idiot when it comes to computer repair. Since neither one of them can be really useful here in other ways, they are going to be your other two pilots by default. Gaston I can use to whip the main lines in to shape and Brusco has already told me he wants both Marran and Fil to help him get the core electronics up and running and Kendra is going to run the quality control for the factory positions AND handle as many of the minor administrative details as I can fob off on her.” Bouncing out of her chair and to her feet she paced back and forth in front of the others, her hands tight behind her back and her brow creased in concentration. “We’ll have Trey mainly stay here in sector. A few quick trips through the Power Circle gate to the Power Plants there and maybe one or two don into Argon Prime for computer parts and the like. We might actually be able to do this” She trailed off, pacing hard, her voice getting dreamy, seeing ahead, seeing our immediate future. Everyone in the room smiled behind their hands. This was the way that they loved to see her, focused and dreamy all in one package, that rarest of creatures, the administrator/visionary. And, if Poali said maybe, it was 99+% to the positive of maybe.

“Alright,” Jak smacked his hands together and then clapped Ran on the shoulder. “You run our computers and finances, let Poali have whatever she needs, she’ll save us money in the long run, and make sure that Brusco knows to be generous to the inspectors when they show up. I know he hates bribes, but we can’t stand a real inspection yet and gods know we have to start turning money over fast. I have no doubt that the Don expects us to loose money and to use us as a laundering front; but I mean to disappoint him in the one way he can’t come back at us for. Let’s do this thing people.” As Jak almost ran out the door heading for his ship he mentally checked off the first of a long list of things he needed for the one thing he hadn’t told his friends about, his long term plans, his private war planning. Step one, a good administrative and home crew was off and running. Step two was scarier.

The shadows were thick in the ancillary docking bay, where his net slung ship lay canted at a 20° angle to the flooring to expose one of the special compression pods of the cargo bay. The crackling hum was why he never heard the approach of the smallish, silent man who spoke almost from his left shoulder. “They look like a good bunch nephew.”

Jak leaped at the sudden voice, his mind so engrossed in his secrets that for all the world he looked when he turned like a young boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “Gods of the Split!” he half shouted, “How the heel do you do that?”

The space darkened face that looked up into his own owned two pale blue eyes, like chips of Magalic ice, and an expression that was never really a grin, even with those few people he prized, closer to a smirk of disdain, and now it was more pronounced than usual. “The same way you let that Pirates bully boys sneak into your room at the Armada Hotel boy; because you don’t pay attention to your surroundings when you’re in your own head boy. Speaking of them though, one is already scheduled for a tragic accident. It will even look enough like an accident that our dear Don may get superstitious about you. The other one is a pilot himself, so he’ll die in a more straight forward fashion. He flies a Bucket himself, and you know how much I love to shoot up Buckets. Still, he too will be untraceable to you, since you obviously don’t have the cash to spend on hiring assassins. All in all it will be very neat…and completely deniable.”

Jak let his heart beat slow back to a more normal pace and struggled to get himself back together. His uncle had always had this effect on him, but more so now that they were going to be working a play together. “Thanks for your appraisal of my crew. Anything I need to keep an eye out for from what you dug up on them?”

“One thing, boy, that should be kept very clear in your head; that guy Gerri who will be piloting your top cover Bucket; he’s got a touch of the gift. I can feel it in him, but he’s reckless as hell with using it. I doubt he even knows it’s there, so keep him happy, keep him close and for gods sakes, keep him loyal. I’ve got one of my old recruiters watching for suitable jobs for you. You make sure YOU run them though. Don’t farm them out of Gerri. He’s too much a ‘good boy’ to be a bad boy.” The smallish older man stepped back two pace before wheeling and disappearing into the shadows with almost eerie speed.

Jak shuddered slightly as he considered his ace in the hole. It wouldn’t do to play it too soon, and when he did he wanted badly for it to be expended itself in the process, but he was glad to have it. His uncle was more than simply formidable. A mental check list added another finished box. Two down, a plethora to go.

I intend to take some liberties with the basic background here. One thing that has always bothered me in this game was the speeds and distance problems. 12 m/s, the top speed of a reaction pack on a space suit, and about 1/3 of the top speed of a capital ship, is barely more than the sprinting speed of a human being. This is bad enough for the ships, but for the "lasers" it's repulsive. This isn't so bad "in game" but it's a pain in the ass for a writer doing a story in the setting.

So, for the purposes of these stories it isn't m/s, or even km/s, but rather m/s where m is a unit of measure called the "mie" and is of particularly undisclosed distance, but I think of it as about 1.9 miles. This works when talking about lasers a bit better than a speed that a good old fashioned crossbow can make look silly in a few cases and a real laser, moving at better than 186,000 miles per second annihilates. Maybe the projectile weapons use quantum technologies or something to make their speeds comparable. To me it doesn't matter as long as it sounds ignorable. This comes closer to that. It makes the ships and lasers roughly 3058 times as fast as they would otherwise be, and the distances between stations and so forth proportionately longer, making the whole thing feel less claustrophobic in scale.
Not quite a newbie anymore, but still able to ask the most stultifyingly silly assed questions imaginable.

Cantankerous
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed, 9. Aug 06, 19:46
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Post by Cantankerous » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 20:03

ZT*766.3.2.2: Three mazuras have the feel of a short time when every tazura, indeed, every stazura of the tazura are full to capacity with work and stress. Even for a truly capable team of young people, three such mazuras are still a terribly short period of time to effect a complete turn around on a ramshackle former business concern that was more fit for the scrap yard than for business, but the team Jak Steiner had assembled were taking a hell of a swing at it. For the last half stazura they had kept hard at it and now was simply the summations.

Sitting in an office that was now refurbished enough to look like an office, looking across a desk that was organized and business like in it’s appearance to look like the desk of a station owner and not a Pirate Lord, Jak reflected that while they still had a ways to go, they were certainly getting there. His “management team” sat arrayed in chairs that weren’t likely to dump them on the decking, it now covered in thick carpeting making that likelihood less bruising were it to occur, ready with data pads and hand comps. ‘We are really getting there.’ He thought. “So, Sevie, we’re running at something near spec now?”

She glanced down at her data pad, pressed a few differing places on the screen and almost smiled. “No, but we will be when I can get those new lifters running and when my second can get bay four’s atmosphere cyclers fixed, so, maybe by the end of the wozura we’ll be able to say yes to that. I think, without even using cum-shaw, we might squeak by an inspection now from a blue boy who could be charmed by a wiggle and giggle. Next mazura at this time we’ll be able to make the wiggle and giggle unnecessary to.”

Jak nodded and turned to Brusco, noting that the hulking man with the massive hands that could wring such delicate precision from any electrical equipment looked very tired. “And you, ohh sleepless giant? How is your department shaping up?”

Stan Brusco looked like a man who could throw a Paranid and split a Split, with a face that looked like death was an attractive option to crossing its owner. In reality Brusco was a quiet man who liked arranging flowers, but his voice fit the rest of his image far more exactly; cavernous, deep, dusky and threatening. “I’m on it.” He gruffed.

Jak grinned and looked at the rest of his staff. “Long winded, ain’t he?” It was an old joke and got the rolled eyes it deserved. Situation normal: Brusco was ahead of schedule, again. His answers were always the most terse when he was the most satisfied.

Before he could turn to her Poali zeroed in on him, putting him off balance as was her normal way of doing things. “Are those Borons going to come through with the Triplex scanners for ignored docking fees?”

“No,” Jak shook his head slowly, “but when I sweetened the deal by knocking off 5% for the next two jazuras on any of their ships, specifically the ‘Long Green Wave Seen on the Far Horizon Trading Consortium’ ships, they did go for it. And I got one of their technicians to come down to see to the installation on the Arizona and the Hondo. He’ll let Brusco look over his shoulder, so when Trey gets back in here with the Oklahoma, he should be able to drop it in and run it up in half the time.” Seeing her half approval and her readying to voice it, he dropped the other shoe; “Plus, we get reciprocal rights to trade in any of the eight ‘LGWSotFHTC’ stations for the same two jazuras even if we fall below minimum “sociability” levels in the wake of Gerri shooting up that ‘no, he was definitely not a Pirate’ Pirate last wozura.”

Poali shook her head in amazement. “No wonder you’ve managed to bed half of us. If we ever run really low on cash we can sell that silver tongue of yours.” As the obligatory chuckles and congratulations followed she went on. "The work force is at 92% and the production we achieved last wozura was 113%, so we are making those ends more than meet. Kendra will keep trying to pull people off of the Baton Zelda Inc. Wheat Farm down in The Hole and thinks she should have a full crew, maybe with a couple of long term ‘prentices added in, by late next wozura. We’ll need to get the Flipsons to ferry them over here again though.” She added, with an apologetic half smile directed at Sevie, who groaned theatrically. “But all in all, we’re going and by the end of this mazura we’ll be making a full profit of better than six credits per pallet of wheat we ship.” She thought for a moment and then reached over and knocked on the arm of the old fashioned wooden desk top, rapping three times smartly. “The good gods willing and the creek don’t rise.” She added, looking to Ran.

“Maybe more than sixteen per,” Ran said, forking the symbol to ward off the evil eye at the flooring, “if the rumors I’ve been hearing about a wheat plague on Prime are true. And if we make damned good and sure we don’t get it here.”

Everyone was quiet for a moment. If Ran said it quietly like that, it was a pretty sure thing and they all knew it. They also knew what that much cash could mean to them.

“And now for the biggie ladies and germs...” Jak leaned back in his seat and pulled a cigar out of the front top pocket of his flight suit. “While I was in Menelaus Frontier, I decided to try to calibrate that mineral scanner I pulled out of the wrecked Octopus I found in Queen’s Space and while that was a no go, the asteroid I picked to look at was interesting in another manner.”

Jak bit the end off and then lit the cigar and threw his soft booted feet up on the edge of the desk. “Someone was using it as a trove. There was a ship snugged in to the spaceward side of it, sitting right on top of a deposit of some ore that the scanners completely failed to identify.” Frowning for a second he shrugged. “It seems we have to write that scanner off Brusco. There’s just too much instability in the core package.”

Poali vaulted out of her chair and grabbed at him, wild eyed. “A ship? A ‘Pus maybe?”

Catching both of her hands with his off hand Jak tried unsuccessfully to look annoyed. “No, not a ‘Pus. I know how much that would have helped out around her, but no, no ‘Pus.” He then winked at her and smiled over her shoulder at Sevie. “But maybe,” he said directing his words to the later woman, “you won’t have to do anymore engine work on the Flipsons old Express either.” Enjoying the dawning looks on his friends faces he laughed aloud at the ceiling. “It’s a Toucan, and a damned near band box new one. There were only three jumps registered on the computer core before I wiped it, so it was probably stolen from the Seizewell yards. It’s one of those new Hauler variants and it’s just down right gorgeous. I cobbled a registry code for her and sent her to the Boron Trading Station there in MF and filed papers on her right then. She should be here before the tazura is out, call it a stazura and a half.” The room erupted with battle cries, half forgotten since the battle of Omicron Lyrae. Everyone was chattering at once, massive Brusco caught Jak up in a bear hug and his cigar, fallen from almost nerveless fingers smoldered on the carpeting and Poali soundly kissed his elbow, as it was all she could reach.

Finally extricating himself he plucked the cigar from the rug and stuck it back between his teeth. “I named her the ‘Menelaus Gift’ and as we speak she’s likely using the upgrades I bought her to calibrate her A-PAC onto full FC1 coding while she heads in. The AI is one of those Boron/Teladi venture ‘personality’ jobs. She’s set on efficient, 7of9 mode. I bet she’d be cute as a Borg too. Now, I’d rather you free up Fil to fly her rather than snapping my spine oh laughing giant, so unless Big B sees fit to nay say me,” he winced and held his ribs theatrically as he settled back in his chair, grinning as the big man shame facedly nodded his acquiescence; “we’ll call that that, and call this meeting to a close. Drinks on me in the deck four lounge in an hour.”
Not quite a newbie anymore, but still able to ask the most stultifyingly silly assed questions imaginable.

Cantankerous
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed, 9. Aug 06, 19:46
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Post by Cantankerous » Thu, 26. Feb 09, 17:19

Captains Journal: ZT*766.3.1.3, Buster/Vanguard YM4AC-37 “Hondo”

It has been fifteen stazuras plus since I last slept and I admit, I’m nearing the end of my tether. It doesn’t help, I suppose, that we had three combats in the last eight of those stazura, but that can’t be helped. I wouldn’t trust the so called AI in this ship to shine my shoes. It even gets the soundtracks wrong when I’m in combat. I wanted Wagner for that fight against the Split Scorpion and it gives me glorified elevator music. How useless can you get? Well, maybe Brusco will have time to bolt in that old fashioned IL Player and I can loop it and set it to start at a button push. Even that would be better than more of whatever syrupy bastu wind that I got then. I almost let the bugger get me just so I wouldn’t have to endure anymore of it. *chuckles*

So, as an after action report: There must be some Split family with a serious hard on for the boss. Jaky boy probably talked some female Split out of her chastity belt or something. And I would have sworn that the bloody ship had a Pirate Trans-Code the first time I swept her with my sensors, but, of course, I forget to set the record request with the onboard Artificial UnIntelligence, so it’s just my word on it. Screw it. When he suddenly opened up on the Arizona I wasn’t wasting my time triple checking the jerk wad computer. Those damned Split can do one thing right…and that is equip a ship to blow things up. A 32 ms speed edge on me and the damned thing was packing a couple of A-HEPTs. A-HEPTs in an Interceptor! Man those Split are mental cases.

Ok, so tactical sit rep: We were just exiting the gate in to Kingdoms End when this Split starts screaming over the coms that he’s coming under fire. Then he races across the ‘Zonas nose and unloads a full smack, those HEPTs backed up by four, B(?), I think maybe they were B, IREs. No warning, no sheep dip; just screaming general deprecations one moment and suddenly lots of weapon fire the next; then he unloads an Aurora at almost point blank range and zips underneath Jaks butt. Between the missile and the strafing, even with Jaky boy rolling the ‘Zona quick as you can get a whale like a Mercury to roll, there were suddenly no shields left and a tiny bit of hull damage. So, *sigh* I did what I had to. There wasn’t any good choice. I T-Boned the Hondo and let Mr. Split have a nice little taste of IRE fire. I about melted his shields too. Those Scorps are buggers for fire power but shite all when it comes to shielding.

Anyway, at that point the wise man decides to fight again another day, but this idiot decides to try for the guy who just wasted his shields in a single pass. He probably figured that his HEPTs would scare me off before I got in range for my A-IREs to do the job, but come on, who can’t dodge dual fire from an A-HEPT with just a nudge or two to the strafe drive or a good hard wiggle to your walk? He opened up at about double my range but he was closing at well over 200 and I wasn’t too far under 200, call it 415 or so closing velocity so it didn’t matter much when he started firing compared to me. It sure didn’t get to do it for very long. Just one quick juke to the side and voila! I’m flaying his hull with laser fire and watching it cherry and slag off then it must have torn in to his missile compartment and backed off something nasty, likely another Aurora from the amount of blast. There were pieces of Split splitting off all over the place. *snort of laughter*

Well, just about then this very exited Boron starts hectoring me about killing a peaceful national in their space. Look, it should be obvious to anyone who has read one of my after action accuracy reports, the ones the computers tabulate, if I hadn’t of been TRYING to do so, when I sent those shots across his nose cone, Mr Octo-Cop would have had his ticket well and truly punched. I meant to miss him! And it was never by just a hair…there were a good ten meters between where I shot and where his forward assembly began. I erred on the side of caution. And what was the Moron Boron doing yahooing at a guy who just finished combat? That kind of thing gets the adrenaline flowing after all. He’s lucky I didn’t introduce him to the joys of sucking space.



Ok, delete that last part journal. Oh balls! Delete this and the last part journal. Damn it all, I said delete! Arrrrhg! *bellows echoing around the cockpit* I bloody hate computers! All computers! The useless stupid… {further 3mp of data deleted.}
Dramatis Persona:
• Jak Steiner: Argon-Human; Male; 1.91meters; 93.2kilos, Brown crew cut hair and deep brown eyes, with a deeply spac tanned skin tone that would otherwise be light; fit without being overly muscular, a ladies man and “a silver tongued devil” as well as being “one damned fine fighter jockey”.
*The son of a station owner and one time Congress Representative for the Heron’s Nebula Orbital Stations, Jak was a squadron Lieutenant in the elite AFN 1st Nova Raider Squadron-Omicron Lyrae during the battle for that sectors survival as part of the ongoing Khaak War. The 1st Raiders were disbanded after the battle because of an altercation between elements of the squadron and elements of Fleet Commodore Lannings 4th Sentinel Squadron that left eight ships badly damaged and two Sentinel pilots dead the day after the fateful battle. Because on review before a Courts Martial it was noted that the 1st Raiders had been responsible directly for keeping the Khaak Heavy Fighters off of Julian Brennan’s backside during his slow motion run on the Khaak capital ship, without which the battle would very likely have not only been lost, but lost disastrously, the eleven surviving squadron members were given the option of three jazuras hard labor and then re-instatement at two rank grades lesser, or a general discharge, all eleven men and women of the squadron followed their Lieutenant in filing for discharge and separation.
**Jak had a very brief fling with the only daughter of notorious crime boss and Pirate Lord Toni Morani that meant more to her than it did to him. Fortunately for him she never figured that out and when Jak’s father defaulted on a “loan payment” to her father, and then had the bad grace and timing to die in the best ship in his “fleet” while crossing a Pirate sector with a load of Space Fuel he was unwilling to part with as tribute. This left the station, and the loans, to his only son, a half disgraced former fighter pilot who the Don’s daughter interceded for.
• Ran Seldon: Argon-Human; Male; 1.75 meters; 78 kilos; Pale blonde hair, prematurely balding, worn short and neat, pale blue eyes and very pale skin where not space browned; Ran is more at home with computers and numbers than with people. The scion of one of the oldest of the Argon families he is only a fair to middling pilot; he is however the mind behind most of the business ventures for Steiner Industries. Ran is a deep well though, with a number of secrets even Jak has no idea of. He is intensely loyal to Jak though, believing, correctly, that Jak is the reason he made it through the battle of Omicron Lyrae.
• Sevie Seldon: Argon-Human; Female; 1.52 meters; 49.1 kilos; Long Black hair, normally held back in a pony tail, or worn coiled up under her flight helmet when in the **** pit of a fighter. Sevie has coffee complected skin and a buoyant personality with a fiery temper. She and Jak have had an on again off again romance for eight years, since early in flight training in their late teens. Sevie is a very good pilot, aggressive and fearless in the cockpit, but is an even better mechanic, intuitive with the systems of nearly any space faring vessel she’s ever come across; and as will be show later on, with those no one has ever come across before as well.
• Stan Brusco: Argon-Human; Male; 2.12 meters; 148.7 kilos; Black hair, but shaven bald, deep brown eyes and the massive build of a professional athlete, although he rarely has the time to spend in the gravity room working out, Brusco is a gentle giant that looks like a terror. Barely able to fit into the standard fighter cockpit, nevertheless when he is in one he is a consummate flier. Far less aggressive than the other former Raiders in battle, Brusco is perhaps as talented a pilot as Gerri. He is also a virtuoso when it comes to electrical systems and power systems. Few people of any race are more able to learn new systems as quickly and completely. While not creative with his work, he is a perfectionist of incredible ability with an attention for detail that astounds others. He and Sevie are presently romantically involved at the beginning of the story.
• Poali Umberta: Argon-Human; Female; 1.69meters, 51kilos; Midnight Black Hair and a naturally black skin tone, with fine, sharp features and a light but elegant build, Poali looks like the model she was in her early teens. Poali has the mind of a computer when it comes to analysis, but is passionate, frenetic, and almost frantic in personality, either completely at rest or filled with nervous tension and perpetual motion. She’s a average pilot but invaluable as an administrator, able to keep the hundreds of minor details and variables that make up her job in mind all at once, but her greater talent is with people, making them believe in her and picking the right person for the right job.
• Trey Lange: Argon-Human; Male; 1.65meters; 63.1 kilos; Shaven bald and balding, always clean shaven, eyes brows permanently waxed off, series of small piercing rings set above each eye, 6 right and seven left; heavily tattooed, multiple piercings in each ear in the same amount as above the eyes, but in reverse and a large stud in chin. Trey is the only member of the main crew who was not part of the 1st Raiders. He has been with the company, even during its hiatus, for more than fifteen jazuras and he is the best freighter pilot they have, maybe the best in the sector. Trey has an uncanny gift for NOT being in the thick of things, a gift that serves a freighter pilot very well indeed. Trey is a Wildman on shore or station leave and a trouble magnate.
• Gerri Racine: Argon-Human; Male; 2.00 meters; 100.0 kilos; Reddish Blonde hair that he is studiously growing long and has been since this discharge. Gerri is a natural at everything, literally everything, he does; except where computers are concerned. Whether it’s a phobia or whether there is another reason for it, he can’t seem to get his mind around computers. But as a pilot (all of his time at the start has been spent in fighters, most of it in Interceptors) his reactions are computer fast, his decisions unerringly sound and his life incredibly charmed. He is noted for once having driven a Buster into a nine ship formation of Khaak Scouts and not only dropped all of them, but emerged unscathed and with onboard records showing his shields never dipped under half strength. He’s arrogant, cocky and full of himself and not terribly likeable because of it, even though he is also extremely charismatic, but he is without a doubt capable of living up to his own self image as well. And THAT is a feat to brag about. Which he does.
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Whatever he thinks it is!

Post by parameter » Fri, 27. Feb 09, 09:48

Well! I really enjoyed that, even the personal, personnel data! :o
:D
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Post by Cantankerous » Fri, 27. Feb 09, 22:56

ZT*766.3.1.6: Internal Report; Argon Federation Border Control
Senior Agent: Del Slammer, AFBC.13-jk5R.36DSmA:465.89
Subject: Probable Smuggling of Space Weed by employees of Steiner Gourmets Foods


Senior Supervisor, let me start by stating, again, for the record, without regard to present findings, the links between the owner of SGF (Steiner Gourmet Foods) and my cousin Aloise Slammer are completely circumstantial. Aloise and the subject did indeed attend the Academy together, where, it must be remembered, the subject was exceedingly well liked by both his other fellow class mates and the instructors as well; but to draw from that ancient linkage any real connection between the Slammer family and either Steiner himself nor any employees of his is, in my opinion, completely unfounded. They say that we are all within a few connections of connections related to or intimately connected to about one half of the people in the Federation. That, I feel strongly, is the case here. Also, I do not discuss our ongoing investigations with anyone either in or outside of my family off this station.

To our findings then:
1) We have several admittedly blurry, low resolution pics of a ship that is most likely Turro Marani’s (the Don of the Marani Syndicates son) modified Eclipse within three km of the Wheat Farm. As far above the sectors plane of the ecliptic as it is, it is deemed unlikely that he just happened to be so close by. Since Turro has taken over his now deceased older brothers job as primary agent in the Space Weed trade for the Marani Syndicate and it is verifiably proven that Jak Steiner owes a tremendous amount of money to the Don’s Syndicate, the conclusions there become clear. This is how Don Marani operates in a sector where sustained piratical presence is not tolerated. He suborns a local and uses him or her as a front for his trafficking operations.
2) Arturo Sipiani, once an employee of Drastine Interstellar Lines until his conviction for using his position to aid in trafficking Space Weed for the Marani Syndicate (incarcerated: 760.5.5.2; released: 764.5.5.3; three jazuras before his scheduled release, Re: Good Behavior) is now in a middle management position, perfect framing for a fall if the owner is ever caught smuggling. Sipiani is highly unlikely to be involving himself as a third conviction (he had another two jazuras prior that was suspended without recourse; Re: unknown) would mean a mandatory 25 jazura sentence with no possibility of early release. It is my opinion that Steiner, who’s Chief Administrator is well known for the thoroughness of her background checks, does indeed know that Sipiani is a former employee of the Don’s and is planning to use him as cover in the eventuality of his capture. I have plans to try to subvert Sipiani at some point in the near future by confronting him with this idea if the board will free up sufficient funds for a medium deep cover operation for me to do so.
3) The altercation in Boron space between Pilot G. Racine (a former member of the same squadron that Steiner was cashiered from and subordinate to Steiner in that squadron) and the “Split National” a few tazuras ago is also interesting when it is noted that the Split Pilot was actually H’tt Sn’tt, the brother of one of the Don’s personal enforcers who was killed last wozura in Teladi space (Ceo’s Buckzoid) at the hands of an unknown pilot flying a Nova Raider (and here it should be noted that the cashiered Jak Steiner was the commander of a squadron of exactly those ships, one of which went missing during his court martial trial). This becomes even more interesting when it is noted that according to my sources inside the Don’s organization D’rk Sn’tt, the decedents brother who was so executed by the unknown Nova Raider pilot was one of the two who accompanied the Don to the SGF station a bit more than three mazuras ago, after which Steiner was seen to have been badly beaten.

It is the conclusion of me and my team mates that, at the very least, Mr Steiner and his station deserve a full work up and one thousand AI & man stazura worth of surveillance over the next 3 mazuras to determine whether a full infiltration is warranted.

Signed and electronically chopped: SA-Del Slammer AFBC Heron’s Nebula Control Officer
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Re: Whatever he thinks it is!

Post by Cantankerous » Fri, 27. Feb 09, 22:57

parameter wrote:Well! I really enjoyed that, even the personal, personnel data! :o
:D
I wish they had a smiley taking a bow. Thanks man


Isshia
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Post by Cantankerous » Sun, 1. Mar 09, 17:33

ZT*766.3.2.1:
“Look, damn it Jak, you had really better take this very, very seriously indeed. He may be an overblown stuffed shirt, but Slammer’s Hammers are a tight, dedicated bunch. If he’s looking this direction any shenanigans can get us shut down, any at all. Now that we know his primary entry plan, we can have an easy disinformation counter ready. But the next move the Hammers will probably plan and they will not be so stupid as to send the transmission over an open network. Argnui! Even then, if Poali wasn’t so obsessive about covering your back that she had Fil go around in the Hondo last time Gerri was on leave and stick data leeches on all the trunk satellites to watch for your or the stations name…” Ran paced. It was an angry, aggressive stride, unlike the way the man normally acted. Then, stopping mid stride, in a much quieter voice, he asked; “Is their surveillance warranted?”

“Do you want a comfortable lie, the truth as I’d tell any of my top people who wanted it, or …” Jak sighed, looking squarely between his feet as he paused. “Rany, I haven’t been able to keep anything from you that you wanted to know about since we were in OCS together. But you might not want to know the full truth. It might shorten your life span. There are some very, very dangerous people involved in this and the one who I am relying on most is the deadliest of the bunch. He professes to love me, me alone in the entire galaxy, and yet he’d kill ME without a second thought if he knew I had betrayed his place in this. So, tell me; how much is enough?”

Ran’s face had been a map of emotions, concern warring with anger and then fear and then, as both had known it would end, with resolve. “Your… ‘uncle’…the one they call ‘the Prince’?”

Jak shuddered lightly and kept studying the patch of decking beneath his feet. The cavernous auxiliary bay was badly lit, but since it was empty and they were at the far end of it from the entrance portal, right next to the outer skin of the station, it was the safest place to talk on the station. Still, his answer was almost a whisper. “Him.”

Ran let his breath out in a long slow blow and sagged against the bulkhead, barely noticing the chill that radiated from it. “Jak, why does he need us? If half of the tales about him are true he doesn’t need us to take the …” even Ran then looked around and then spoke in a barely audible voice, “err, his target. If he gives half a powdered blow to Sheol about you he’ll let you walk away.”

Jak snorted roughly and then sighed again. “He says you don’t grow old and still grow a rep in his business if you don’t take your time and set it up right, a dozen fall backs deep, three or four alternates for each and fall guys and set piece men along for the ride. Man, fall guys and set piece men. Rany, that…’old friend of the family’ plainly and simply as much as told me that I was expendable unless I stayed righteous. And hey,” here Jak’s voice took on a note of near despair, as close as he’d allow himself to showing real fear, “I’ve only been the person he loves most for a short time.” Shaking his head he continued: “My dad and he and my mom were like you and I and Poali, I think, so maybe I’m not his distaff nephew either, but that still wouldn’t protect me, so man, how much is enough?”

Ran put a hand on his friends shoulder. “All of it. Even the stuff you won’t tell Poali.”

Jak looked Ran long and searchingly in the eyes and nodded. “Ok, here’s how it all works.”

[Yes, for those of you paying attention, that does mean that this conversation happened before the one where Jak told the team about the new foundling ship. And yes, that makes the whole conversation, since Poali obviously knew some of what was going on behind the scenes and Ran knew it all, very differently complected from how it looks on the surface.]
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What the frack in Hades is going on? Oops..Comm line is open. Rats!

Post by parameter » Mon, 2. Mar 09, 09:07

[Yes, for those of you paying attention, that does mean that this conversation happened before the one where Jak told the team about the new foundling ship. And yes, that makes the whole conversation, since Poali obviously knew some of what was going on behind the scenes and Ran knew it all, very differently complected from how it looks on the surface.]
Erm? Pardon? Who? What?.. Ah, yes! I am glad you realised we were on to you. Following everystep of the way, (swining back button!) :x :oops: :D

Lead on dear Sir, lead on! Leave a few glow sticks so we can follow you..
:lol:
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Post by Cantankerous » Mon, 2. Mar 09, 17:55

Interregnum: roughly between 766.3.2.5 and 766.6.6.4

The wheels of government turn slowly, but they do turn. The station is under fairly close scrutiny by members of the AFBC Narcotics and Illegal Substances division, Jak himself has been subpoenaed to appear before a Heron’s Nebula Sector Inquiry Tribunal and is putting it off by simply never being in sector, but he can’t keep that up forever while he’s running a business and acting as a general dogs body and delivery boy for his shadowy ‘uncle’, so soon something has to give.

In the meantime though, under the direction of Ran and Poali, the station is doing land office business, driven in no small part by the wheat plague that has struck not only Argon Prime and several surrounding worlds, but several of the orbital Wheat Farms as well. In fact even with triple shifts they can’t begin to keep up with demand.

Gerri, every spare moment he gets, is using either the “Hondo” or the newly acquired Discover, “Vista”, to run Space Fuel between the Refinery in the hinterlands of the sector and the Pirate base in the hinterlands of Atreus Clouds. On four occasions he’s been scanned and run, but with the dodgy transponder settings Brusco and Ran worked out between them and his penchant for just the right twists at just the right times, as well as the fairly laissez faire attitude that Argon law enforcement has towards “bootlegging” the worst trouble that has come of it have been two official inquiries, quickly denied, by the Boron government into the possibility that the ship shown in their gun camera footage might be the Hondo. As risky as this can be, it has brought in a good sized cash flow that helped during the triennial visit from one of the Don’s “Collection Agents”. They were even able to send him on his way with a crate of Space Fuel as an extra and were able to pay half of the next triennial note ahead of time, plus paying 3% of the principal back.

The “fleet” has added a capped Buster that was sufficiently unwise to assume that it, a Buzzard and a pair of Harriers were enough to do more than give Gerri target practice. One of the two Harrier jocks also bailed, but as the crew had just gotten the Vista up and running it was sold off to help fit the newly won Buster, “En Prise”.

On orders from Jak, Ran has entered into negotiations with a mercantile concern in Argon Prime to sell them a prefab Cattle Ranch and with another for the makings of another prefab, this one a complex construction kit. They’ve laid aside the funds to get it up and running and expand their operations. They’ve also filed for a new name for the business: Steiner and Co. Gourmet Foods. 

In the meantime Jak has been an overachiever. Working on the order of six stazura a tazura and seldom climbing out of the cockpit of the Arizona (which is beginning to smell like an old gym locker) he has blitzkrieged Boron space and earned both one hell of allot of credits and no few accolades for pushing through deliveries of everything from e-cells to focusing crystals well ahead of schedule. In fact he’s done so well that Steiner Shipping and Freight is better thought of in Boron space than it is back home in Argon space.


***As an aside, remember the conversion here. When we talk about Jak working more than six stazura out of seven we mean that he’s not working, eating, sleeping (that ones a favorite) and whatever, with very little whatever being taken time for, roughly 26.2 hours out the 30.5 hour “day”.
Sezura = the smallest, mercantile time unit; it equals roughly 1.7 s
Mizura = 96 Sezuras = 163.2 s = 2.72 m
Stazura = 96 Mizuras = 15667.2 s = 261.12 m = 4.352 h
Tazura = 7 Stazuras = 109670.4 s = 1827.84 m = 30.464 h = 1.27 d
Wozura = 7 Tazuras = 8.89 d
Mazura = 7 Wozuras = 62.23 d
Jazura = 8 Mazuras = 56 Wozuras = 392 Tazuras = 497.84 d = 1.36 y
[/quote]
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Post by Cantankerous » Tue, 3. Mar 09, 18:46

Private Journal; Brusco, Stanley L. Chief Technician, Steiner and Co. Gourmet Products; Dicta-corder; Own Eyes only; ZT*766.7.2.5

New logo, almost a new company; I wandered through the bays of my deck today with what must have been a big grin and a look of approval on my face. This place had changed so drastically from when Jak showed it to me less than seven mazuras ago that few people would recognize it as the same place at all. I now have eleven Master Technicians, each with at least one journeyman and three of them with multiple apprentices as well. There were also fourteen general duties attendants and a warehouseman with his own assistant as well. All in all between Maran and me we were now overseeing forty full time employees and had a budget that was larger enough to handle the flow of ships we were seeing thrice over; yet there were never enough stazuras in the tazura for half of what had to get done. All in all it’s almost perfect.

And Sevie might be pregnant, and she wants to keep the baby and raise him or her here. If there is anything grander in life than doing what you love with someone you love and building a place where it can be done, all away from the staring faces of the masses, but with all the cosmopolitan advantages of such a place, I am unable to imagine what it might be.

I might even be able to free up some of the C sector aft to turn in to a proto hydroponics area, and get Jak to sponsor it, so that when Sevie and I have our baby it will have a garden to play in. Salli-Annes and Daisies and Teladian Sunrise Flowers, maybe with a small reflecting pool area where I can have some Borno/Maesuri Water Roses and some more traditional lilies. I have to remember to talk to Jak about that when he gets back in.

But speaking of Jak…. What the hell do I do about what I found out? I mean it’s all well and good for Poali to want to cover his back. I expect that. But damn it, there might be a reason she and Ran are keeping so hush hush about those satellite trunk line taps and what they’ve pulled off of them. Are we under investigation?

Maybe we should be. Space Fuel is one thing, but there have been enough “bad crops” of Space Weed, killer crops if you smoke to much of it, especially with what passes for Teladi quality control of the stuff, that if I keep silent I am partly responsible for any deaths it causes, aren’t I? And those inner crates, there’s no two ways about it, those were distinctive. They were straight from the factories out in Spaceweed Drift. I’ve seen enough of them to know back when I was seconded to the Border Sweep squadrons before joining the 1st Raiders.

Jak had to have known. I mean, his personal stamp was on four of the exterior crates. And covering the inner crates with lightly irradiated outer packing crates and marking the whole thing as “Energy Waste”, that’s exactly the kind of innovation on the old trick that Jak would use. He’s too smart and too slick for his own good, or for ours. It’s a mandatory three mazuras for accessories before or after the fact in smuggling Spaceweed, even for first time offenders. Can I chance that, with Sevie being pregnant and the mandatory separation of mother and child in narcotics convictions cases? I mean, she’ll follow Jak. She’d follow him to the gates of hell. She’d never admit it but she still loves him more than me.

Ok, maybe I just do some snooping and confirm these things, maybe even gather evidence. But then what? I can’t turn states evidence. Sevie would never speak to me again, and blackmailing Jak won’t work either. Maybe I can blackmail Ran into blackmailing Jak. He’d pull it off and he has to be in on it. He and Jak have always been thicker than thieves.

Damn it. I can’t can I? But what happens if we ARE caught? If we loose the baby because of this I’ll snap his spine damn him! Aren’t we making money fast enough? Why does he have to risk it all?

*deep sigh*

End Dictation
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Post by Cantankerous » Wed, 4. Mar 09, 21:15

ZT*766.7.2.1:

Memorandum:

Beginning the last quarter of the Jazura we’re expanding into Trans-System Lines shipping hegemony and predictably this has meant that Pirate encounters are becoming ever more frequent. Gerri and our fearless leader seem to have discouraged the Marsh/T’Zan Consortium after destroying there BlastClaw Heavy Flight and capping three of their ships. We now have two extremely under sized Falcon Vanguard Js added to the fleet and once we get it back from the Argon Prime Shipyards, a BlastClaw that should give us some parity,. Jak and Gerri both have been flying their butts off to get us where we are, so we are going to support them by getting that Nova Raider and the BlastClaw fully ready before Juzaras End.

Speaking of former Pirates, Jak has brought in three more former Pirates who were part of the Aggressor Squadron Ban Danna sponsored for reintegrating these guys, and while I know some of you don’t like dealing with Pirates in any capacity, I’ll say it again, these are NOT Pirates. They are reformed, former Pirates who’ve done their bit. Hell, Ban Danna’s 3rd Home of Light Aggressors were the only Squadron that had higher marks and better kill ratios than our own 1st Nova Raiders. These guys are top notch. Two of them are, according to Gerri, prodigies. They’ll be riding in the Falcon Raider we picked up early last mazura and the two Scorpion Vanguards we acquired the last wozura last mazura before that. We should then have enough fast react pilots to run full combat cap for all non-jump capable ships simultaneously.

TSL is going ape shaped over our expansion, predictably and we may even see Mercs involved under the guise of Pirates. Trans System Lines has always played dirty, as everyone in this business knows, so official scrutiny will be light when we kick off operation Countdown early next mazura. After two of their super freighters and one of their fast Toucans go belly up on them, or, maybe, fall into “other hands”. Jak will, through a mutual contact, broach the idea of a paper merger and a substantive “anti-poaching” initiative that will put an end to it. But, we’re going to go for the iron fist in the velvet glove approach here and he’ll tell them about a rumor that the six Hell Fire torpedoes that went missing from the Split Supply Column two mazuras ago might be modifiable by “Pirates” to be fired from a firing cradle carried in a cargo ship. He’ll be giving them “theoretical specs” that Brusco and I put together. Hey, it’s almost too bad that we aren’t doing this. It looks like we might even be able to iron out the technical problems we left out mentioning in the précis and we might actually be able to get such a system to work…maybe, theoretically. :)

Singh and Co. are ready to join in our mutual fighter coverage package as of this tazura, so be sure to keep your people informed. Any Singh and Co. freighter or transport ship that they see getting jumped, make sure they know they are supposed to call it in, help as they can, even including firing off a few fighter drones or pealing off an escort ship to assist if it doesn’t put them in to IMMEDIATE DANGER. Get this people. Jak is very serious about this, as Jenni Singh is someone he feels he can rely on the word of. As a corollary to this, tell them to keep in mind that when they are in CBSE, Ore Belt or CBSW and they spot one of their fighters or ships when they themselves are under attack, to call on them as well.

Finally, I am going to want all of the third quarter final assessments on my desk top before close of business tomorrow. Remember that Departmental Bonuses will be handled partly in this basis.

Ran Seldon, Chief Operating Officer
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Post by Cantankerous » Sun, 5. Apr 09, 07:57

Thanks to those of you who have been reading...and this will, after a hiatus, likely start up again, but right at present I have TC and my Reunion stories are waiting a bit while the Muse in TC gets here time on stage.

I am probably going to tie all of the Reunion stories together with the TC story (the story that is comprised of eight stories :) ) in the not too distant future as the continuing tales of the X-Verse, in case anyone is interested.

So, for all three of the Reunion threads, you'll be asked to kindly be patient with the TC Muse, who seems to want to just talk and talk and talk. Thanks again.


Isshia
Not quite a newbie anymore, but still able to ask the most stultifyingly silly assed questions imaginable.

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