Friday, March 25, 2016

IW 2 - King Saud's ice paradise

The licensees of Charter 22 are about to launch TCIV CAMEROON to Callisto. There, they expect to find a second hand Jump-2 drive to replace the old and tired one on board.

Shatah: Saudi colony on the fringes.
The Saudi royal family founded a colony on Callisto some 50 years ago. The colony’s main economic activity is intercept refueling for starship transiting through the Terran system without stopping at the main world. Callisto is a 100km-thick layer of ice (water and carbon dioxide) over a 10-20km deep subsurface ocean. Some 45K people, mainly arabic-speaker live there.   

Location: Terra, Escape trajectory, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 11, 2170 AD
A stream of swears in Anglic, Chinese and Vilani float in space from the ship’s bridge as Jane realizes that she made a data entry error and cause the escape burn to be off course by 15 degrees. “Sorry folks”, she broadcast on the intercom, “our new ETA is now March 17th”. Two days will be lost using partial thrust to compensate or else the CAMEROON will become an Oort cloud artifact.

Location: Outbound thrust, 2.7 AU from the Sun, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 14, 2170 AD
The ship smelled like disinfectant as if a platoon of neurotic crewmates went on a spring clean for the last two days. Tom looked upon the hold, rubbing the tip of his nose and dreaming of having a lift directly on board. He tried to know better Anika, but she showed little interest in interpersonal relations. Instead, she seemed single-minded on lifting the dirt on Rashid, their sole paying passenger, without success. Rashid, an underwear model for department store online catalog, was treated to tasty home-cooking by Aeryn. Aeryn, assuming the role of the steward, mainly improvised from what she knew about the job from sitcoms.

Diane was something else: she built personnel files and asked for everyone’s mugshot. Aeryn provided her medical assessments for everyone as it seemed to make sense. Molly, when she was not fretting about the maneuver drive and predicting its impending failure, was trying to make friends. She initiated games of cards, engaged unwilling others into light talks. Jane’s cabin was filled with three cases of assorted liquor. When she wasn’t working, she keept to herself, a tumbler in hand.

While the ship was tearing at peak speed, the asteroid belt required regular course adjustments. There seemed to be many unmapped objects still in this corner of the belt. In a day or so, the CAMEROON should be back into clear space.

Location: Shatah-2, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 17, 2170 AD
The underground Rouhabiah scrapyard was a dreary and dank place. An old man was shouting at two teens as unsecured material was gently tumbling in the 0.4G environment. Jane tried to look suave, but bounced too hard and would have impaled herself on a titanium rod had her nanoweave undergarment not been worn. Mammoud Rouhabiah was a pleasant man with a thickly accented Anglic.  Molly ran a few diagnostic tests on the crated jumpdrive and gave the thumb up. Mammoud eyes flicked on into haggling mode. He first refused to converse in Anglic anymore, forcing Jane to be the sole interlocutor. Jane and Diane played off each other, coordinating in Vilani when needed. Many times, Mammoud threatened to kick them out of his office, but it became clear that the old man was better at making small talk than playing hardball. The crew traded a defective drive and 750KCr for a better one. Given the 1MCr capital funds for this from Douala LLC, a lot of money ended up in their pockets out of this tangled mess of arabic shouts.

Location: Shatah-1, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 17, 2170 AD
After delivering the aluminium cargo and cashing in the pay, Tom, Anika and Aeryn took the mag elevator through 85km of ice to Shatah-1. Temperature and moisture control down here was much better. The place felt like a small town/diffuse space station. Signage was mainly in arabic and the crew clearly stood out. Aeryn lead them to a MMA gym to meet Hassan: an acquaintance. It was clear to Anika that the place was a front for some other, shadier business.

Hassan was friendly and helpful. He suggested a good hostel and advised to stay out of the way of law enforcement officers as much as possible. The place was loosely run by a Saudi King delegate named Abn Al-Bagdadhi.  Up there, Molly had damaged the jumpdrive brackets and informed the crew that the new refit estimate was 8 days.

Anika went for a walk and found two christian Nuns desperately looking for passage back to Terra. She roped them in right away and got Diane to draft the contracts. Anika poked people at the gym, looking for trade lots, and eventually got in touch with a shady russian bodybuilder bemoaing that he couldn’t move a 30 dT of military-grade polymer pellets. Aeryn passed along the opportunity to others, but the restriction that it may only be sold to UWO approved armed forces was a deterrent. They decided to take a pass.

Aeryn and Tom decided to take a room down on Shatah-1 for the next week or so while Chipper-Molly was fitting the new jumpdrive onboard. Anika opted for the quietness of her cabin back up the shaft. She scrounged for a handgun but got frustrated by uncommon they happen to be. Her only lead was to attempt to buy one from a dirty cop: and she also decided to take a pass.

Location: Shatah-1, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 28, 2170 AD
While the jumpdrive was finally secured onboard on the 25th, Diane decided to hang-on until the 30th to catch another freight job to subsidize the thrust back to Terra. They decided to wire the jumpdrive back on Terra so Molly spent 5 days embarrassing herself in various entertainment establishments. Diane decided to have some "me-time" and shopping therapy, Jane kept on looking for speculative lots while Tom and Aeryn planned to make the most out of the gym, maybe organizing a for-money fight on the 29th.

Character Cast

  • Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.

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