Jade Imperium - Came To Make A Bang

punkey 2020-05-12 04:31:20
The Sheen lets out a fairly good approximation of a sigh. "Maybe we should just get started."
“The Steward’s mansion is on the way to the fabs, but…” Hoim starts.
“But what?”
“Unless you’ve got a skinned worker you can wear, you’re not gonna blend in at the nanofabs,” Tena says.
“Don’t get my hopes up,” FTE jokes, immediately realizing it’s not funny to the other people in the room, which only makes it funnier. “Where can I go without getting tagged, let’s start there and we’ll figure out what to do from there, whether it’s making a smaller wearable shell or extending the operation or just making a ruckus worthy of a Turai response.”
“Well, we can try our armor, but we don’t have Turai vox codes,” Hoim says.
“And if your travel shell can do anything useful, we should be able to carry that around without much trouble,” Vama adds.
“I’m pretty bare-bones in the travel shell,” FTE replies. “It’s meant to keep a low profile, which… isn’t bad, but I’ll be of limited help if we go in that way. Let’s shoot for the vox codes first - if we get them, we can slide into their DMs as Turai. We fall back to the travel shell infiltration if that doesn’t work. And the 815’s usual exfil plan is ‘bamf’ out. If you’re not leaving the planet after this, we should set up a backup safehouse as well.”
“...how clean should this safehouse be?” Vama asks.
Front Toward Enemy’s hand wavers in the air, the universal “meh” gesture. “If all goes to plan, the harvester is gonna eat everything that’d be chasing us. If it doesn’t go to plan, we’ll all be dead, so don’t sweat it.”
That assurance is not as reassuring as it could have been, but Hoim still nods. “Right. Well, let’s get cracking on those Turai idents. We can handle forming the packets, but with the Turai cranked up like they are, getting past their net has been the sticking point. Think you can handle that?”
FTE “cracks” its “knuckles”. “Time to hack,” it says. Tena leans in for a closer look as subtle panels shift on its shoulders and wrists, adjusting its internal vox arrays to account for local fluctuations.

(FTE Hack Cortex-to-Turai: 2d12+1d10 vs. 2d8 = 9, 6 v. 7)

A moment’s pause, a footfall onto a missing step, and FTE stretches out into the local Turai subcortex. The system’s security net glitters along the horizon, a blanket of cyanide cobwebs. FTE’s infiltrator routines conjure a wriggling familiar and coax it forth, carefully sliding past warning creepers and picking past tendrils with fragile but dextrous limbs. The red warning barrier blocking off the Turai subcortex looms above it, but a careful stab in between pulses opens a micrometer-wide hole, plenty for FTE to glide through into Turai dataspace.

(FTE Hack Evade Turai: 2d12+1d10 vs. 1d10 = 7, 7 vs. 2)

The nice thing about human systems is that over time, they develop layers. Front Toward Enemy stalks the undergrowth where old code’s grown up into the newer, precisely-ordered databases. It climbs, pausing as the red sentinel glow passes over. The vox codes are secured but accessed frequently, and all the Sheen needs to do is get a figurative toe in the door as a valid request passes by. One lick is all it takes to copy the authorization.

“Are you in?” Hoim asks.
FTE nods.
“We’ve got the packets put together,” she says, holding a holodisk. “...where do I...stick it in?”
“But we just met,” FTE says, taking the disc and running it through a fairly-normal looking vox, just another part of its shell.

(FTE Data Plant: 2d12+1d10 vs. 1d10 = 10, 4 vs. 6)

And just like that, the real world fades, its alpha channel minimized in favor of the Cortex smell. FTE pours out its virtual vox like a canteen, releasing chrome minnows into the data stream alongside countless identical packet-fish.
It comes back and gets up, pretending to stretch its arms and back. “Our codes are in their system and we’re tapped in. Let’s go do a war crime.”
punkey 2020-06-28 10:10:31
It’s not like Arketta is unfamiliar with the process of securing a ship for docking - quads have to secure and maintain their Manta, and if there’s a duty in the Turai that Arketta hadn’t done she hasn’t found it yet - but a full freighter is a different story. It’s not so much that things are different: check and double-check port power settings, flush coolant and fuel lines, run deep diagnostics, secure any tools and equipment, and check consumables inventory. It’s just bigger and more of it, and everything is slightly different than what Arketta is used to. Zaef is giving her some tips and helping her out a bit in the engine room when they both hear the rear cargo door start to cycle open.

“Shit, did I do that?” Arketta asks.
“No, you didn’t, and I didn’t either,” Zaef says, looking down through the floor towards the cargo hold underneath them.
“Fuck, a gatecrasher,” Arketta says, duck-scrambling towards the door through the too-tall-for-her space with Zaef right behind her.

A quick slide down a couple of ladders later, and Arketta and Zaef arrive on the catwalks above the cargo hold to find a quad of Turai standing in the otherwise very empty-looking cargo hold.
“Can I help you, banner brothers and sisters?” Arketta shouts down from above with a bow and the sign of the akwhela crossed on her chest.
“Of course a noble would hire a Turai shipmaster to visit Grinacanne,” one of the Turai said, stepping forward to the front of the group to look up at Arketta and Zaef. “Why don’t you come down here, banner sister, let us talk face-to-face.”
Arketta can spot that “I’m not asking” tone of voice from a kilometer out, and so leads Zaef down the hold ladder to the floor. “Toma Ketrusa, former Rav-Turai. My second didn’t have the privilege of serving our Emperor.”
There’s a moment where the Turai waggles his fingers for a moment, then obviously says something without letting his armor relay what he’s saying.

(Bashakra’i Hack: 2d8 vs. 2d8 = 6 vs. 5)

The lead Turai refocuses on Arketta. “Served with the Emperor’s First, pretty impressive.”
“We had some good times,” Arketta replies with a smile. “What can I do for you…”
“Samal,” the Turai says. His armor, in fact, the whole quad’s armor, is completely holo and camo off, showing just the high polish chrome and red dust of Grinacanne. No rank, no ID. “Just...checking things out, asking a few questions. You’re not your normal industria drop hauler, and we want to make sure we don’t have any problems.”
“I don’t know why we would,” Arketta says.
“Not routine delivery, some new noble is a pretty good cover,” the Turai says. “Have you heard about the terrorist problems we’ve had?”
“Think I saw it on a news holo,” Arketta says. “Bashakra’i?”
“The same,” the Turai says. “And...I don’t know, maybe you’re smuggling arms in, sunk in those protein vats you’ve got strapped to the walls.”

(Arketta Will: 2d10+1d8 vs. 1d8 = 5 vs. 2)

Arketta smirks. “You’re welcome to check,” she says. “We’ve got nothing to hide.”
“Yes, I was told how open you were by the boarding team,” the Turai said. “But down here, we take a different approach.” He walks up and looks Zaef over. “Your second here...he has the look of an Arena champion about him. All tank and stim muscles. What spink pit did you dig him up in?”
“Shadowport,” Arketta said. “Some shithole named Jang-Xur. He was collecting debts with his fists before his boss tried to squeeze the wrong shipmaster.” She puffs her chest out a bit. “After that, he had a new employer.”
“Sounds like you’re both quite a handful,” the Turai says.
“Only if we have problems, but here, all we need to do is keep our noses clean and mind our own business, right?” Arketta asks.
The Turai looks around for a moment longer. “Right.” He looks back to Arketta. “Well, I’ll let you get back to what you’re doing, Shipmaster.” He turns and walks towards the open cargo bay doors, the rest of the quad following behind him.

Arketta waits, leaning against a monotask hauler until the quad clears the ship before immediately flicking her vox open to close the cargo doors again. “Fuck.”
“That seemed unusual, even for a Turai visit,” Zaef said.
“That’s because it is,” Arketta says. She keeps her eyes on her vox, quickly composing a message and sliding it to Zaef, who waves open his own holodisplay. That was one of the quads we’re after.
You sure? Zaef messages back.
Positive. No ID, send a whole quad to do a ship check, they were here to see if we were a target. If we didn’t give the right answers, they’d have executed us on the spot, Arketta says. Add sweeping the cargo hold for devices to the to do list.
“Fucking right,” Zaef says, and the two of them get back to work.
punkey 2020-06-28 10:10:48
It’s been a rather leisurely walk for Hug’sh back to the ship. Getting the lay of the land meant the straight path wasn’t on the menu, and while it doesn’t add up to a surveillance detection route, it ought to have made it a bit more difficult for anyone to follow without giving themselves away. That it also happened to be a great way for Hug’sh to get some quiet time and calm down from the confrontation with the Samal at the hotel was good, too. Hug’sh didn’t want to show it in front of the Turai or Angel, but this place has him on edge, and coming off Afghanistan, that’s saying something.

Accordingly, a note of alarm crawls through his fur when he boards the ship and sees Arketta and Zaef giving the cargo hold the A-Z treatment. They’re not doing that to find a dropped socket, that’s for sure.

“Hello,” he rumbles. “Boss wants his luggage. Where do you put it?”
”By the entrance,” Arketta barks.
“Okay,” Hug’sh says. Hefting a few of the bags over his shoulder, he turns again to Arketta. “You have trouble with Turai? They talk to Boss, too.”
“Just a friendly chat,” Arketta replies. “You want something to drink? All this volcano air must fuck up your throat. Come on up to the galley and we’ll grab something.”
“Yes,” Hug’sh says. “Good idea.” He shrugs the bags off his shoulders and puts them back down again. “Boss can wait five minutes more for suits.”

Hug’sh leads the way and climbs the ladder to the galley, making sure to complain about the ‘sharp air’ on the way. The galley’s a good place to talk - the boarding team didn’t seem too interested in tearing that apart and Hug’sh was there the whole time, so he feels quite confident that it’s a free speech zone. The part about needing a drink wasn’t a lie, though; Hug’sh opens the fridge to retrieve some bottled water, passing bottles to Zaef and Arketta before ripping one open for himself. As he glugs the cool water, he gives Arketta a ‘Go on’ type of glance/head tilt.
”We had a visit from the one of the kidnapping quads,” Arketta says. ”They came by to see if we were worth executing.”
”Anything that specifically brought them this way,” Hug’sh asks, ”or do they play that game with all new arrivals?” He broods. ”I suppose they didn’t give you anything to identify them with.”.
”They did the opposite,” Zaef says. ”No camo, no ident tags, no rank. Just smooth chrome armor, like out of a nightmare.”
”My cover held up, so I don’t think they’re on to us,” Arketta says, polishing off half of her own water. ”But this definitely wasn’t part of the standard greeting package. I think they wanted us to know to stay on the line, because they’re watching us.”
”I choose to see that as a plus,” Hug’sh says, finishing his bottle with another big gulp. He quickly discards the empty plastic and grabs another one from the fridge. Humans have such cute serving sizes. ”If they’re this heavy-handed, nobody’s going to miss them. Well, our Turai was one Samal Ihan. She seemed decent enough.” He rips off the top from the second bottle and takes a swig. ”I could live with her getting away.” The implication of what he wants to happen to the kidnappers is left unspoken.
”Think she knows what’s going on?” Zaef asks. ”It’d be hard for her not to know.”
”Knowing and being able to do anything about it without being executed are two different things,” Arketta points out, crossing her arms.
”What matters is whether she’s going to be in our way,” Hug’sh says. ”The hostages are our primary concern. Everything else has to follow from that. Yes?”
”Agreed,” Arketta grunts.
”Yes,” Zaef says. ”Of course. I just...wouldn’t feel bad if we maybe helped the local rebellion out a bit beyond saving the hostages.”
”I wouldn’t mind that, either,” Hug’sh says, softening his voice. ”Always good to add a few lives to our ‘plus’ column. That doesn’t exclude letting the local Turai reconsider their allegiances.” A wave of orange creeps over his fur. ”But just so we’re clear, when it comes to the kidnappers...no quarter.”
”Don’t need to tell me twice,” Zaef says, putting a hand on the hilt of one of his knives.
”Absolutely,” Arketta says. ”They’ve crossed the line.”
Hug’sh nods. ”Good,” he says, then finishes the bottle and trashes it. ”I should get going. I’ll see you at the hotel. If you find anything in the hold, probably best to leave it there for now.”
Arketta nods. ”Good idea. We’re pretty much done, so wait a second for us to get the ship locked up and we’ll head back together. Probably not the best idea to be separated right now.”
”Agreed,” Hug’sh says, then grins. ”And you can help me with the bags, too.”
punkey 2020-06-28 10:11:15
It’s a short skimmer ride from the semi-luxe hotel to the convention center, with Viaweph and his crew taking a separate drone taxi, giving Garrett, Swims-the-Black, Hale and Luis time to gameplan.
“So, five targets and three of us,” Garrett says.
”I don’t think any of them will find me particularly convincing,” Swims grunts, hunched over as best he can in the taxi. ”I should be with whoever’s going to be the heavy hitter.”
“Toa or Yarruis might respect that,” Luis says. “Do we want to split up, or try to pitch them all together in turn?”
“Depends on if you think you can fly solo,” Garrett says. Both he and Swims look to Luis, Swims’ fur ruffling a bit as his ears stand up.
“Depends who we’re talking to. Teon and Yarruis seem like they have buttons to push that might be up my alley. Quaj too, except he’s slimy enough I’d want somebody watching my back to make sure he didn’t hack my pockets in the meantime.”
”The Sheen didn’t leave you a little present in your cogitator?” Swims asks with a smile.
“I’ve got a few, but that doesn’t mean I want to give him the chance to try,” Luis says. “Garrett, any of them you think are best to work solo or which might work best as a team?”
“Toa and Yarruis are probably too skittish to team up on,” Garrett says. “One’s terrified of what’s coming next, and the other is just hired muscle that’s out of his depth. We want to approach them on their level, fellow underdogs kept down by our bosses. Voath will probably be the most suspicious out of all of them and doesn’t need us. Quaj is a follower, not a leader. But Teon...she’s a bit of a mystery. I don’t thinking coming at her heavy will work, she’s not a boss yet, but she obviously thinks she’s better than her station.” He thinks for a moment. “What do you think about going solo on Toa, Yarruis, and Teon? See how they feel about each other, maybe we have one of our factions right there.”
“I like it. I think Teon might require more flexibility, so maybe you should work on her. I think an angle for Yarruis could be to just vent to him as one mid-level employee, complaining that if this big plan to get Ibash’i ships goes through the usual ways, we’ll just end up with the usual prices and designs, and we won’t win our contracts, and see if we can make him put the pieces together himself.”
Garrett shakes his head. “We need one face to each faction. You up for it?”
“Sure,” Luis says.
“Then let’s do it,” Garrett says. “We want them closing ranks, but thinking it’s their idea. Sound good?”
“Sounds good,” Luis says.
“Where do you want me?” Hale asks.
“I want you scouting Toa and Teon while Luis makes contact with Yarruis,” Garrett says. “Crawl walk, run is a thing in the Turai too, right?”
“It is,” Hale replies.
“Then this is crawl,” Garrett says. “Scout the booths, look for security, observe the targets, and then report to Luis what you see when he gets done with Yarruis.”
“Copy that,” Hale says.

”How do you feel?” Swims asks Luis. ”You too, Hale.”
“All right,” Luis says. “Nervous about doing this without as much backup as normal, but what we really need now is more information, and we won’t get that without talking to them.”
“This isn’t exactly what I was trained for,” Hale says, the Turai looking nervous for basically the first time anyone here has seen. “But...I’ll figure it out. I read the Cortex files on these five, and what they’ve done. This is a good thing we’re doing.”
“That’s right,” Garrett says, and leans back in his seat. “That’s the job.”
“If it were easy, everyone would do it, but that’s why we’re the 815,” Luis says. “Let’s hit the floor.”


And hit the floor they do. Garrett straightens the nearly ear-high collar he’s wearing while Swims-the-Black surveys the taxi stop around them, his shimmering color-match pants echoing the low smouldering red flickering across his fur in a “back off” sign that even the Imperials understand. Luis climbs out behind him, his suit a more subdued affair - white, with gold piping and a stiff mandarin collar. Subdued by Imperial standards. Without even looking, Garrett walks away, but Swims gives him a single nod and the briefest flash of supportive mint green. Luis nods back, then heads for the Duwalon booth helpfully marked on the show floor layout in his HUD. It’s not really necessary - the major manufacturer booths tower over the displays from sub-tier suppliers and aftermarket modification firms. Duwalon’s booth would be impressive if not for the Baroness Voath’s booth overshadowing it from behind - the floor layout means it’s hard to get a look at the Duwalon booth from a distance without the Kini Aerospace booth and branding slipping into the sightline of a show visitor or a drone shot. Their skimmers are displayed on a bare carpeted floor, with only a few informational displays scattered around. Above, several ships, mostly outdated pleasurecraft, hover on impellers - a similar setup to Kini beyond, but with little of the platinum and gold curving displays, seating areas, and holodisplays. While Voath’s ships hover among holoprojections meant to look like they’re flying through atmospheric clouds or nebulae, Duwalon’s designs - a few years or decades out of date in styling - just hang in place as if to say you already know what you’re getting. Another sign of their lower status: as Luis approaches the edge of the Duwalon booth and the outskirts of the floating display fleet, he catches a glimpse of Yarruis actually out on the floor among the onlookers and the booth staff.

Luis approaches the booth, heading for the desks where two senior reps - both wearing what to Narsai’i eyes would be rather revealing swimwear and very attractive in the sculpted way that genetank bulk work creates - smile and direct inquiry to the merely naturally attractive and only slightly less clothed floor reps.
“Welcome to Duwalon Shipyards, manufacturer of high quality and reliable ships and skimmercraft,” the male of the two says. “How may I direct you?”
“I’m here with Holoros Industries,” Luis says. “We were interested in speaking about Duwalon’s products for a potential purchase, and perhaps a cooperative arrangement.”
“Well, if you are interested in our skimmers or ships, we would be happy to take your order either here or via Cortex,” he says, smile not moving a millimeter.
“We’re interested in something with a bit more customization than the standard options packages,” Luis says. “I have a presentation on our requirements which we’ve put together which we were hoping to use as a basis for discussion on feasibility before we place an order.”
The man is unphased. “If you would like to set an appointment, I’m sure an industrium representative would be glad to meet with you later this week.”
Luis frowns momentarily. “I see. Well, I hope we’ll still have time for it then, though that may be too late, we’re only on planet for a while. I’d told them Duwalon was worth talking to, that the reliability of the frames just made for a better base for what we’re looking for, but they wanted to go to Getkasa and Kini.” Luis shakes his head a little sadly.
“Sir,” the man says, his slightly unnatural cheekbones shifting in the light slightly, “I apologize, but if you wish to order a couple of skimmers for your industrium, please see our Cortex page for custom orders.”
“It’s to be more than a couple,” Luis says. “We’d need to begin finalizing arrangements soon for the production lines if we’re going to meet the delivery dates and quantities for our customers, and I think Getkasa and Voath will just drag things out longer for a worse product, but...well, I can see your point. Such a project must be beyond Duwalon these days, my managers were right. I’ll send in that note - I was hoping having my manager meet with someone in person would help, but there’s still a chance.”
The man nods to someone behind Luis. “What kind of production are you looking to buy?”
“Mantas and security skimmers,” Luis says. “Holoros deals in high-security contracts and personal protection - it’s such a dangerous galaxy these days. We used to buy through dealers and then have to work the modifications through secondary contractors, but we were looking to cut costs and offer a better product to our customers by establishing a relationship with an industrium here to directly produce security-modified hulls.”
“I think Duwalon Shipyards might be able to help with that,” a voice says from behind Luis, and steps up next to him - Hoa Yarruis himself extends a hand. “Hoa Yarruis, at your service, Mr…”
Luis’ golden eyes go wide. “Lepalon. Honi Lepalon, Mr. Yarruis. It’s an honor to meet you.”
“Likewise, Mr. Lepalon,” Yarruis says. “Why don’t we go somewhere more private?”
“It’d be my pleasure,” Luis says. He smiles, slightly awestruck. “I’ve admired your work for a long time.”
“Well, it’s not quite the same as it used to be, but we still know our way around nanofabrication,” Yarruis says, and leads Luis onto a impeller platform on the floor.

A wave of his hand later, the platform starts to levitate upwards, impeller field lifting it up towards the open airlock door of Duwalon’s one ship on display. Yarruis steps over the gap between platform and ship, leading Luis deeper inside. The ship kind of reminds Luis of his parents’ living room - lots of beige, wood, and artificial fabrics, just with metal walls rather than wood paneling. The ship’s mess has some chrome accents, but it still feels like a freighter dressed up with some nice trim and cushioned seats rather than a proper bespoke luxury ship. The crystal bottles of spirits on the table look all right, though.
“Something to drink?” Yarruis asks, pouring himself a glass.
“Oh, yes, please.” Luis pauses from looking around as if comparing the bulkheads to the frame blueprints on their Cortex site and nods.
Yarruis pours Luis a finger of clear spirits and puts the bottle back. “So, you want to make Mantas and hardened skimmers. You do realize that you need an Imperium warrant to produce those legally.”
Luis nods. “Of course. We’ve got a team working on expediting that warrant, though we’re exploring sales avenues in advance of having the paperwork to actually deliver - there’s clients Holoros has some relationships with who are willing to work with us to lay groundwork more informally.”
Yarruis pauses, but doesn’t flinch. “And...what kind of volume are you looking for?”
“Obviously, without the warrant, nothing can be finalized, and sales isn’t really my department. We’re looking to tool up at least a line for Mantas or comparable craft, and then a higher volume in skimmers. That would need at least one line, perhaps more - it depends how the sales efforts go. Part of that success, of course, relies on having the right product to offer.”
“Well, two lines, that’s...it would take a bit of lead, but Duwalon can handle that in a month or so,” Yarruis says, smiling and leaning back in the galley chair.
“I’m glad to hear it,” Luis says. “That initial development would serve to cover the most critical orders and act as display and promotional units while we scale up sales efforts for the full production run.”
“Which would be…” Yarruis asks.
“Our sales team believes in this galaxy, demand for the right ships could be several times that, perhaps an order of magnitude more.” Luis smiles knowingly. “I’m never sure how much to trust their projections - they’re selling to management and us in the technical team as often as our customers, I sometimes feel, but their models do make interesting reading. I know Holoras hasn’t had a dissatisfied customer yet, even starting from stock models.”
“That might be...more complicated,” Yarruis says with a frown. “There are...limits to what I can produce under current...conditions.”
“In the volumes or the hardware?” Luis says. “As I said, we’ve got teams working on the paperwork, if there’s any additional warrants which need to be secured, and we’re very interested in finding a way to produce the right numbers of the right ships. I’ve told them before, selling the wrong ships will just drive away repeat business.”
“In terms of...externalities,” Yarruis replies.
“Externalities, here on Ibash?” Luis leans in confidentially. “Do you know if Getkasa or Kini suffer such problems? I believe my management is looking to meet with both of them, but if there’s such issues on Ibash as a whole that would limit production, we’d like to know before we get too far involved. Is it the Steward?”
“There are issues that are...common on this planet, not related to the Steward,” Yarruis says.
Luis leans back. “Hmmmm. Do you know if they might be able to be...resolved? As I said, we have teams working the paperwork, and other details too. We’re very interested in the right ships, and if there are any roadblocks we can help with, we’d still like to talk.”
“These are substantial issues, unfortunately,” Yarruis says, a sour look on his face.
“Issues like Duwalon’s booth being overshadowed by Kini’s? Issues like why your ships keep losing more trim every model year while Kini adds another meter of platinum and another zero to the price?” Luis asks.
Yarruis is surprised, but then the sour look returns, more intense than before. “Yes, those issues. And if you’re aware of those, then you know that I cannot do what you ask. It would end...poorly for me.”
“I can only imagine,” Luis says. “We have...very interested customers, though, and a very capable team in Holoras for dealing with certain kinds of roadblocks. There is, however, only so much we can do here on Ibash, it’s not generally an area we operate. Tell me, do you know if Getkasa labors under similar restrictions?”
“They do, but if you know about this issue, then you know how...invested Baroness Voath is in maintaining the current order,” Yarruis says.

“We’re aware of her associates’ reach with the local mercs and Kansat,” Luis says. “We could hardly miss the security here. It does not, necessarily, mean her investments must always pay off.”
“Well, if you have a plan to deal with her, then contact me when it’s done and we’ll talk,” Yarruis says.
“Our...investments in Ibash right now aren’t sufficient,” Luis says. “We’ve given it thought, thought, and our hope was that with one or more...local investors, the roadblocks could be cleared. Have you thought much about Teon or Toa as joint investors?”
“If they don’t stab you in the back,” Yarruis says. “Teon’s almost a big a tupah as Voath, and Toa is a leg-breaker, not a deep thinker.”
“Sometimes a useful type of person to know,” Luis says. “Particularly when legs need to be broken. You should meet one of my manager’s associates.”
“You mean the big Wherren I saw walking the floor?” Yarruis says. “It looked like it could break more than just your legs. But if you’re serious, and it sounds like you are...what do you need from me?”
“My manager is having discussions with other potential partners today,” Luis says. “We’d appreciate a way to contact you when you’ve had a chance to consider our proposal and perhaps any additions you can suggest yourself.”
A flick of Yarruis’ fingers sends his vox code to Luis’ head. “Done. I will be waiting.”
“Thank you,” Luis says. “I’ve long admired Duwalon’s work, it would be a pleasure to get to work with you so I could do so again. A pleasure to meet you Mr. Yarruis.”
punkey 2020-06-28 10:11:31
Garrett and Swims-the-Black cruise right past the small Duwalon Shipyards stretch of the floor and right into the main attraction - Kini Aerospace. Their booth is more than double the size of Duwalon’s, although much of that is taken up by ornate nanofabbed chrome, gold, and crystal superstructures. More than just decoration, the structures are shared with some of their ships hovering above the floor in three different tiers - pleasurecraft and runabouts on the bottom, serious luxury cruisers in the middle, and above it all, a massive bulk freighter. A dozen skimmers line the floor underneath, showing that if it’s civilian transport, be it in atmo or exoatmospheric, Kini Aerospace has what you need.

As they step into the booth, Garrett flares his collar a little and Swims-the-Black echoes the burst of color from Garrett’s attire. The goal is to look rich and get noticed, and between Garrett’s clothes and the 6’10” Wherren accompanying him, that’s pretty well accomplished. A white and gold clad functionary slides up to Garrett with a synthetic smile plastered on her face.
“Good morning, Sir, may I get something to drink for you and your slave-beast?” she asks.
“Why, yes you may,” Garrett says. “I’ll take something sweet and with a kick, and a water for my bodyguard here.”
“Certainly, sir,” the representative/eye-candy/server says with a bow before walking off.
”I do not know how you put up with these people,” Swims rumbles.
”The trick is to remember we’re here to rip them off then get them to kill each other,” Garrett replies, smile returning just in time for the representative to return, glowing orange drink in one hand and a plastic bottle of water in the other. Garrett takes a sip from his while Swims-the-Black manages to down the whole bottle in one squeeze from his hand. “Delicious, thank you very much.”
“Yes, refre-shing,” Swims-the-Black adds.
“Now, as to my reason for being here,” Garrett adds, sliding up to her and passing a token loaded with 100 lats. “You wouldn’t happen to know where Baroness Voath is in all of this, would you?”
“I apologize, sir, but the Baroness is very busy,” the representative says, still pocketing the token.
“Well, ask her if she could clear her schedule for a business discussion,” Garrett says, and places a fist-sized Manta impeller module on her tray. “We have containers of...associated parts. I think she will take one look at this and see how lucrative this opportunity could be.”

(Garrett Persuade: 2d10+1d6 vs. 2d8 = 10 vs. 7)

The representative takes a look at it and is about to pass it back when one of the men in Kini gold-and-white suits - the ones that aren’t scantily clad but instead have suspiciously pantaki-shaped bulges under their suits - walks over to the group. “Baroness Voath would like to talk to you, sir.”
“Excellent,” Garrett says with a beaming smile, and looks at the representative. “See, I told you she would be interested.”

The not-a-representative with the suspicious bulges walks Garrett and Swims-the-Black through the crowd and onto an impeller platform just barely big enough for Swims-the-Black to perch on one end of and hold onto the safety railing on one side as it lifts up. The platform hovers up past the pleasurecraft and luxury ships, all the way to the freighter at the top of the showroom. The hatch on the bottom of the hull opens up, allowing the platform to lift right up into the cargo hold of the freighter. Swims-the-Black steps off in front of Garrett, while the man in a suit moves in the opposite direction, joining a phalanx of similarly attired men and women, some of them not bothering to conceal their weapons inside the privacy of the freighter’s hold. In the middle of the hold is a small but expensive-looking office set, looking small in the spacious hold. More nanosculpted metal and glass in the form of a desk and side table, three chairs, and seated in the obvious Seat of Power, Baroness Voath herself.

(Swims-the-Black Scan: 3d10 vs. 2d10 = 10 vs. 1)

While Garrett keeps his eyes on Voath, Swims-the-Black checks the situation. The clothes might be nicer and the freighter might still have that new-ship smell of fresh weld and clean grease, but this isn’t far off from numerous deals the Shipmaster attended in his previous smuggler life. Fortunately, they must have caught the guards on a shift change, because between the people walking around on the hold floor and the gangways above, Swims clocks an even ten mercenaries, including a puff of vapor from their sniper up in the rafters taking a drag off of a drug vaporizer.
”Ten,” Swims grunts.
“I’ll thank your beast to stick with Naranai’i,” Baroness Voath says. “Nothing against him, we all must be more aware in this new era of Wherren autonomy, but I don’t trust people that talk behind my back.” Garrett and Swims come to a stop before her desk. “Even if it’s to my face.”
“Understandable,” Garrett says, and bows deeply before Voath’s desk.
“Yes, Naranai’i,” Swims rumbles back and bows as well, fur flowing over his shoulders. “Understood.”
“Please, have a seat, Mr. Ragaj Zakni,” Voath says, motioning for the fancy-but-not-as-fancy seats in front of her desk. Garrett smiles at Voath’s dropping of his cover identity as he slides into the chair, while Swims-the-Black sits...well, on the chair, to the amusement of Voath.

“So, I saw what you have to offer downstairs,” Voath says, motioning for the Manta part to be brought to her. “You are aware that private possession of Manta parts without Imperial warrant is illegal, yes?”
“Be that as it may, my associates and I at Holoros Industries have many containers of Manta parts that have come into our possession,” Garrett says. “And we are here looking for an enterprising shipyard to help us bring those parts to market.”
“Kini Aerospace strictly manufactures civilian craft, Mr. Zakni,” Voath replies.
“Yes, but a ship is a ship, all you need is the nanoforge instructions, the right parts, and an Imperial warrant,” Garrett says. “We have the first two, and with our great Emperor Vikethan’s ramping up of the war on the Bashakra’i terrorists and Narsai’i, the demand for more Mantas will make that warrant a matter of greasing the right palms - palms we believe you can introduce us and our lats to. We provide the parts, plans, and bankroll, you provide the contacts, the fabs, and the workforce, and we all get rich - both selling to the Imperials, and to...alternative markets.” Garrett throws in a knowing smirk at the last bit.

(Garrett Talk: 2d10+1d6 vs. 2d8 = 6 vs. 7)

Voath narrows her eyes at Garrett. “This plan sounds like a great way to end up on the wrong end of a firing squad - which brings me to my next question, Mr. Zakni. Where, exactly, does one come across this quantity of Manta parts and nanofab plans? I know quite a bit about the shipbuilding industry, and I have never heard of you or this Holoros Industries outfit.”
“Well, my associates and I are less in the shipbuilding industry, and more in the...hostile takeover business,” Garrett says. “We specialize in anticipating opportunities in the shipping and transportation market, and leveraging those opportunities aggressively for our own profit.” He smiles. “It’s a growth industry these days, as I’m sure you know.”
Voath pauses. “And this...business matters how?”
“We were aware of the opportunity to acquire these parts in transit, and did so,” Garrett says. “Now, we’re looking to move into the shipbuilding business with these parts. We can guarantee that we have some very interested parties that would buy our first runs off the line, Imperial warrant or not.”

(Garrett Talk: 2d10+1d6 vs. 2d8 = 6 vs. 5)

“I see,” Voath says. She studies Garrett, obviously trying to decide if it’s better to entertain his offer or call the Turai right now. “What...size of order?”
“I can think of one shadowport that needs six Mantas after their previous defense fleet was sabotaged in dock,” Garrett says. “Detonators on the react mass lines - just hazarding a guess, of course.”
Voath can’t help but crack a razor-edge smile at that. “Creating your own demand?”
“Not always,” Garrett responds with an equally sharp smirk.

“There’s just one more issue I have,” Voath says, keeping her smile on as she flips around the holodisplay on her desk to show a loop of Luis approaching Yarruis on the show floor. “Trust.” The guards catch the tone in her voice and Garrett doesn’t need Swims’ honed hearing to notice a few beamers charging up around them. “Care to explain?”
It takes a lot of field experience to keep the panic down during moments like this, but Garrett has double-crossed enough dangerous people to know how to stay calm when a murderous psychopath asks him to explain himself. The first step, laugh it off, which he does. “Do you think the Turai aren’t going to notice Ibash breaking Imperial warrants for armed craft? There’s going to come a time when we’re going to need a sacrifice to throw to the taranteks.” Garrett shakes his head. “He’s going to be talking to Toa and Teon next, just so you know. It’s my understanding that you’ve grown tired of having so many cooks in the galley, so to speak.”

(Garrett Talk: 2d10+1d10+1d6 vs. 2d10 = 6 vs. 3)

Voath’s smile grows a fraction more before she suppresses it. “I suppose I have.”
“We both get rich, and your problems end up strapped to the re-education grids,” Garrett says. “Everyone wins. Yarruis, Teon and Toa do the bulk of the manufacturing for now, and when the time is right...the Turai get a tip to look into them. They go down, we take over their yards, and it’s smooth cruising from there.”
“And what do you and your associate down there get out of all of this?” Voath asks. “Is it just about the lats?”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my brand of crime doesn’t pay nearly as well as this one,” Garrett says, motioning to the ship around them. “And while I live in a shitty shadowport, you have a palace in one of the jewels of the Imperium and four more residences besides.”
“Three,” Voath corrects.
“No, I’m pretty sure it’s four,” Garrett replies, the smirk coming back for a second. “But it’s time to admit that a pirate’s life isn’t for me, that’s all.”
“Well then,” Voath says, taking a moment to turn over the Manta part that brought Garrett to the table in the first place. “I believe that is all we have to discuss for the moment. If you will take your highly incriminating trinket with you?”
Garrett picks it up off her desk - even the lean towards Voath to grab the part gets a bit of a reaction from Voath’s guards, Swims notices - and tosses it to Swims-the-Black. “Let’s go,” he says to Swims, then turns back to Voath and bows again. “Have a good day, Baroness.”
“Enjoy the show, Mr. Zakni,” Voath replies.
punkey 2020-06-28 10:11:48
Luis walks over to the Getkasa booth, looking for Hale and checking out the sights. The Getkasa booth is about the same size as Kini Aerospace, and unlike Duwalon, Teon’s booth matches Voath’s booth extravagance for extravagance. There are fewer actual ships and more skimmers, but the displays surrounding them are just as lavishly appointed in platinum, gold, and holographic overlays as the flotilla at Kini’s booth - and the skimmers on display have a higher proportion of swoopy luxury models than Kini’s. Someone’s definitely trying to upstage someone.

Luis spots Hale standing near the perimeter, checking out a family-sized luxury skimmer. Luis briskly but casually works his way through the crowd over to him.
“See anything you like?” he asks.
“Depends,” Hale says. “Does the 815 pay better than the Turai? Because this would be a year’s pay otherwise.”
“Depends on if you’re Angel. I think this thing’s as big as the kitchen of my berth,” Luis says. “Any sign of Teon or anything interesting around their booth?”
“She’s in the back,” Hale says, not looking up from his glances into the skimmer’s interior. “Last I saw she was sitting on a sofa sipping bubbly water. Doesn’t seem like she’s particularly busy beyond glancing out across the floor at something.”
Luis gently nods in the direction he came from, where Kini and Duwalon’s booths are. “Keeping an eye on the competition, or something else?”

(Hale Wits: 2d8 vs. 2d6 = 6 vs. 5)

“Mostly just staring down that freighter up above the Kini booth,” Hale says. “Figure that’s where Voath is, given the eyeball she’s been giving it.”
“Probably,” Luis says. “I’m sure Voath would love the view from her own courtroom over the whole floor, and it must rub Teon raw.”
“So, what’s the approach? I’m new to this spy stuff,” Hale says.
“She’s not happy being low on the totem pole,” Luis says. “We want to offer her a situation she thinks she can turn to her advantage by using Yarrius’ resources and her own against Voath to put herself on top. The challenge is getting her to commit to anything - she knows where she’s starting from, and Yarrius wasn’t ready to climb onboard with anything I told him so far unless he was sure all the dirty work would be done for him. We need one of them or Toa to be willing to push to make the first move.”
“She seems pretty steamed already,” Hale says, nodding towards the back of the booth, where Arlomai Teon has come out to glare across the way to the Kini booth again, tall glass of sparkling water in hand. She’s wearing a very...upright-looking black and silver suit, all vertical lines, with tall shoulders and an even taller collar that comes up almost to her ears.
“That seems promising,” Luis says. “Let’s go.”

Hale follows as they enter the booth, with Luis leading them to one of the senior sales representatives. They’re yet more examples of the genesculpted perfection on display at every other booth on the main floor.
“Welcome to Getkesa Combine,” the pleasant mostly-naked man says, skin painted black and silver. “Which of our models are you interested in?”
“I’m interested in the ones that aren’t here yet,” Luis says.
“Well, then Sir should pay attention to our Cortex presence for future models,” the rep says.
“The industrium I represent was hoping to have a chance to shape those models before they appear on the Cortex,” Luis says. “We have some...particular needs, and what we believe to be a large market. We were hoping to work with Getkesa and Ibash on solving that problem.”
“Then I will gladly give you an account manager’s Cortex address and we look forward to working with you in the coming months,” the representative says, his smile staying plastered on.

(Hale Wits: 3d8 vs. 3d8 = 8 vs. 7)

Hale shifts his gaze from Luis trying to talk his way past some talent agency functionary to Teon, still standing at the shifting veiled boundary between the front of the Getkesa Combine booth and the backstage, still glaring up at the Kini Aerospace ships, and has an idea. He breaks from Luis’ side and just starts walking towards Arlomai Teon.
“Uh, Sir!” the representative says, quickly scrambling from behind his desk. “Sir, you can’t go back there!”
“Watch me,” Hale grunts back, eyes focused on Teon.
“Security!” the representative calls out. “Security!”
“I beg your pardon,” Luis says, “But I think we’ll see about making an appointment ourselves.”

(Hale Fight: 1d10+2d8 vs 2d6 = 6 vs. 4)

A tall man in a loose-fitting suit with long hair steps to intercept Hale. He’s taller than both Luis and Hale, and when he sticks his hand out in front of Hale it’s with the expectation that that hand is gonna find purchase and stop the problem. Instead, Hale grabs the man’s hand by the fingers and twists them backwards - hard. Luis hears at least one finger crack and the man drops to his knees, shouting in agony, but just for a moment before Hale knees the man square in the teeth with his next stride, knocking him out cold while Hale doesn’t even drop a step.

It’s only a few steps more before Hale is standing before Arlomai Teon, who gives him a curious look. “Well?” she asks.
“Baroness Teon,” Hale says with a bow. “We’re here to talk a bit of business. We believe this could be...very good for your ambitions.”
“I see,” Teon says, as at least five more similarly-attired men surround Hale and Luis.

(Hale Will: 3d8 vs. 2d6 = 6 vs. 4)

A smirk curls one corner of Teon’s expertly made-up face. “Then follow me.” She dismisses the security with a wave and turns around, walking back to the white sofa and matching seats behind the curtain.
Luis waits just long enough to see the security is backing off, then gives Hale a nod and follows Teon back to the seats.

“So,” Teon says, taking a seat. She actually manages to look a little taller than Arketta, although much more slightly built. “You went through all this trouble, what do you want to propose?” she asks, looking at Hale.
“Well,” Hale said, pausing and looking at Luis for a moment, suddenly realizing he’s in the hot seat. Luis raises an eyebrow and nods. Go ahead if you want. Hale takes a breath, then looks back to Teon. “Well, Baroness, we are here because we have...a large quantity of...special parts. Parts that require an Imperial warrant to turn into ships, and we don’t have a shipyard. While Ibash does.”
“Unfortunately, Getkesa also lacks a warrant for such things,” Teon says. “We’ve tried to obtain such authorizations, but the Imperium is very careful with who can produce their ships.”
“Well, we can take care of the warrant,” Hale says, and pauses. “And we have the schematics to make more parts. But what we need are the facilities to turn this into a real business. We are...we’re more in logistics and...acquisitions, than production.”
“You are pirates,” Teon says. “I figured as much from your introduction and proposal, yes. And while your proposal is interesting and I know you have approached at least one other of the shipyards on Ibash, I see no proof that you can actually follow through on your promises of wealth and influence, unlike your threats of force.”

(Hale Wits: 2d8 vs. 2d8 = 6 vs. 8)

“Ah, well,” Hale says, and stops cold for a moment, staring at Teon. “We are...we plan on selling to others, first.”
Teon frowns. “That sounds suspiciously like sedition, something that would put whoever agreed to such a plan on the re-education grids before a public execution.”
“Ah, well,” Hale echoes, and stops again.

(Hale Wits: 4d8 (invokes Turai background) vs 2d8 = 8 vs. 7)

Hale takes a breath, and smiles. “Well, unless it’s not your identity on the sales forms. Back in the Turai, we would cover down on each other’s duties all the time - we’d just use a clone of each other’s ident codes to sign off on the duty sheet. You have plenty of muscle, which means you probably have a few good Cortex jockeys on your pay, yes?”
Teon nods. “I do.”
“Then you sign the transfers with Kini Aerospace’s auth codes,” Hale says. “We have the parts, you have the yards, and Voath takes the heat. Voath’s already agreed to make a run of our ships as well, so all you need to do is keep your production quiet and clean, and when the Turai show up, you look innocent and Voath gets executed.” He takes a deep breath, and leans back. “What do you think?”
“I think…” Teon says, leaning back herself and taking a long drink of her sparkling water. “I think you should tell me more about when you can get these parts and nanofab instructions delivered.”
Hale smiles. “Great.” He looks to Luis. “When can we do all that?”
“We have several containers currently...working their way through customs,” Luis says. “We’re still working to ensure the paperwork is correct for importing the rest, but it should be enough for the first production runs. We’d need to work with your production people about seeing the nanofab instructions turned over, we already have them on-planet.”
“Excellent,” Teon says. “Then contact me when you are ready. And directly, please. No need to go spreading this further around.”
“We look forward to doing business with you, Baroness,” Luis says.
Hale stands up and bows once more. “Have a good day, Baroness.”
“And you as well, gentlemen,” Teon says, and flicks up her holodisplay, signaling the end of her participation in this conversation.

Hale leads the way out of the booth, and waits until both of them are a good distance away before letting out a massive held-in breath. “Vidas fucking Lam.”
“Well, you got her attention,” Luis says.
“How the fuck do you all do this,” Hale says. “I need a drink.”
“Sometimes I wonder,” Luis says. “Trusting your team to help when you’re in trouble helps.”
“Yeah,” Hale says. “Yeah, I guess it would.” He squares his shoulders, then looks around. “One more to go. How about that drink?”
“After that performance there, it’s on me,” Luis says.
“Perfect,” Hale says. “Trust me, having a few now will help us blend in downstairs.”
“I checked the map earlier, Luis says. “I guess Toa’s stuck slumming it.”
“Stuck nothing, he looked right at home,” Hale says.
“A bunch of pirates like us should be right at home, too,” Luis says. “Let’s get that drink.”
punkey 2020-06-28 10:12:01
Arsa Production’s booth is off the main floor entirely, down three levels in the bowels of the exhibition center. Down here, there’s no comfortable carpet spread across the floor and aisles, though a few booths have provided that minimal comfort. Many of the displays are simply whatever is on sale parked in the middle of a marked-off rectangle, with whatever displays and aesthetic treatments can be assembled from whatever the exhibitor had sitting around. Even the best are clearly making a virtue of necessity. One booth, selling coatings for viewports, has a holodisplay of their logo surrounded by various display sections of coated panels, showing the properties of various alternatives. Another, displaying portable laser-based entertainment shows designed to be packed onto a skimmer, does their best to imitate the platinum finery of the main hall with panels that are clearly just chrome and brushed steel, having clearly spent all their budget on the fancy-looking but five-year-old second hand sports skimmer parked in their booth. Slotted between these two is Arsa Production’s display, which seems to have solved the problem of floor coverings by filling nearly their entire allocated space with a single ship, a boxy ore hauler with its ramp down and cargo doors facing out into the aisle. The inside of the hold has been roughly dressed with fabric bunting over industrially coated metal, with a sales representative - notably not showing the gene-perfection on display upstairs - at a desk positioned at the front of the hold, while the bulk of the ore hauler’s floor is taken up by what looks like a very exciting party. Bright lights, loud music, curtained off privacy areas, and puffs of aerosolized stims of all types float around inside, making the green and blue cocktails Hale and Luis are holding in their hands seem positively pedestrian by comparison.

Luis and Hale’s steps ring on the ramp as they climb into the bay.
“Is this what I was missing on Whiirr?” Hale asks, already having to raise his voice despite not actually stepping inside the ship yet.
“We seem to end up around this kind of place a lot, yeah,” Luis says.
“Seems bad for your health,” Hale says. “And I say that knowing what you do.”
“It does make Whirr look a lot simpler,” Luis says. “Still, the field can be trouble itself - look at the last few months. Shall we see what we can find here?”
“Lead the way,” Hale says.

Luis winds the way to the sales booth.
“Nice party,” he says to the representative as he approaches. “Is the boss in attendance?”
“Ralon Toa is here,” the representative says. She’s here as eye candy, but is actually wearing what a Narsai’i would consider an adequate amount of clothing - so by Imperial standards she might as well be dressed for winter.
“Excellent, I was hoping he might be. While we take in the party, could you see if he’d be interested in a production job for us?” Luis produces a slightly mottled chunk of bronze-colored metal, with the ends of embedded fluid passages clearly visible. By itself it doesn’t look like much, but someone familiar with the final product would spot it as the nanofabbed raw stock of a Manta beamer’s heat exchanger.
“Find him yourself,” the rep says, and goes back to looking at her holodisplay.
“Thanks for the help,” Luis says and puts the stock away. Turning to Hale as they step away from the display, he continues. “Let’s mingle and have a look. We can see if we need a repeat of earlier once we have a lay of the land.”
“Works for me, my drink could use a refresh anyway,” Hale says, and follows Luis inside.

(Hale Might: 1d8 vs. 1d8 = 1 vs. 3)
(Luis Might: 1d6 vs. 1d8 = 4 vs. 1)

The various stims and drugs make a haze that hangs over the party, catching the lights. Luis catches hints of their smells, but blinks through them. The artificial nerves of his cogitator happily report off-scale readings to the parts of his brain that are still present, the kind of signals that might have overwhelmed organic nerves but don’t bother the nanoscale circuitry in his head. The party is denser towards the back of the hold, and Luis throws a glance at Hale and nods to the back.
“Think we’ll find Toa back there?” he asks.
“Maybe,” Hale says, taking a drink from a tray and throwing it back with a smile on his face. Luis frowns slightly for a moment, then leads the way onward, looking through the throngs of partiers for Toa.

Towards the back of the cargo hold (and therefore the front of the ship), Luis and Hale find a private area separated off by curtains. Inside, a shirtless Ralon Toa dances about with a couple of mostly naked women, as a half-dozen other men and women relax on sofas, drink or inhale various substances, violate various Narsai’i public decency laws, or occasionally actually talk to each other. Luis puts on a grin, and pushes through the curtains.
“Ralon Toa, quite a party you’ve got here,” Luis says loudly over the music.
Toa turns to look at who just shouted his name. “Yes it is!” He looks Luis over, less like how Teon did but more like how a bouncer at a bar would. “Who the fuck are you?”
“We’re businessmen!” Hale shouted back, the grin on his face grown to rather disturbing proportions on his usually extremely stoic face. “Isn’t that insane?” He burst out giggling.
“I think your friend might have overdone it a bit,” Toa said, laughing himself. “So, businessman, what can Ralon Toa do for you?”
Luis smiles. “We work for Holoras security,” he says and pulls out the heat exchanger stock. “We were curious if Arsa might be interested in helping us with this kind of party favor?”
“You wanted help with a lump of metal?” Toa asks. “Buy one of our ore haulers!” He and the women he’s dancing with bust out laughing at that, as does Hale, who’s practically in tears at this point.
“We’re looking to build quite a few ships,” Luis says. “The kind this kind of metal goes into, not just this kind of bulk hauler. We were hoping you might be interested in working on us with it. It’d mean big things for Ibash -”
“Fuck Ibash!” Toa says, wandering over to Luis and grabbing his shoulder. “What does it mean for Ralon Toa?”
“Money and power,” Luis says. “You want out of this basement? You want respect due to you? You want in on this, and to be in on the ground floor of kicking it off.”

(Luis Talk: 1d8 vs. 2d8 = 3 vs. 7)

“Fuck you!” Toa shouts, pushing Luis back. “You think you’re better than me, you...arrogant shit!” He turns around, arms out, and drops them over the shoulders of the women he was dancing with. “This so-called ‘basement’ is perfect! You come in here, preening like an akwhela, and tell me you’re better than me?” He slaps the Manta part out of Luis’ hand. “You can fuck right off.”
Luis spreads his hands. “No better, just an opportunity we thought you’d be interested in.”
“Well, I’m not, so if you could fuck right off,” Toa says.
“Hey, hey,” Hale says, staggering into the middle of the conversation. “The man here might be a fucking killjoy, but...but this business offer is really good. Gonna make you a shitton of money selling…” Hale leans in. “Mantas. That part? Manta part.”

(Hale Talk: 2d8 vs. 1d8 = 7 vs. 8)

“No shit,” Toa says. “That’s pretty fucking sick. You got Manta parts?”
“Containers of them,” Hale says.
“That’s awesome, but…” Toa says. “Baroness Voath would have my balls if I made Mantas without her say-so.”
Luis kneels to grab the part off the floor. “You need her permission for everything?”

(Luis’ Talk: 1d8 vs 2d8 = 8 vs. 8)

“...no,” Toa said. “But...shit could go really bad for me if I don’t do what she says.”
“Hey man,” Hale says. One of the women Toa is no doubt paying to surround himself with stands up and drapes an arm around Hale. “Hey you,” he says, shifting his attention.
Luis stands again. “So you need to get help, make sure she can’t move on you.”
“Yeah, something like that,” Toa says, the party definitely taken out of his voice thinking about Voath.
“If this goes right, you’re making Mantas. You wouldn’t need anyone’s permission for anything,” Luis says.

(Luis’ Talk: 1d8 vs 1d8 = 1 vs. 5, add Wild Die 1d6 = 5, 6 vs. 5)

“Yeah,” Toa says, nodding. “Fuck yeah. Let’s fucking do it.”
“With these kinds of parties, I look forward to working with you, and I think my associate agrees,” Luis says. He looks over to Hale, who is trying to find his gum at the back of the hired dancer’s throat. His pupils are blown way out, whatever they’re misting in this place has hit him hard. “Still, I think I need to get him away from here before he imposes too much on your hospitality, or these fine ladies. I’ll leave you my vox code, and we can talk details later.”
“Sure thing,” Toa said. He flicked a code to Luis, and it appeared in the corner of his vision. “Let me know the plan.”
“Will do,” Luis says, and walks over to Hale. “Time to go,” he says, pulling Hale off of the dancer.
“Sure thing,” Hale says, turning around to grab a big handful of Luis’ ass.
Luis shrugs it off, grabs Hale’s shoulder, and starts trying to steer him off the ship.
“Your eyes are pretty,” Hale says, trying to kiss Luis.
“I’ll keep in mind you said that later,” Luis says. “Let’s go.”
punkey 2020-07-04 17:15:39
By the time Arketta, Zaef and Hug'sh are back at the hotel, Angel has already checked in and moved the "equipment" Hug'sh left behind upstairs. The vox codes passed by the worker at the front desk activate the lift, and they're whisked the three stories upstairs to their private floor of the hotel. Barely a few minutes go by unpacking equipment, armor and weapons before there's a knock on the door.

"Room service," a hotel worker says, a holodisplay lighting up on the door showing a man in an industrium uniform matching the hotel's colors.
Arketta grabs a beamer while Zaef's hands go to his knives. "Anyone order in?" Zaef asks.
Gatac 2020-07-04 17:30:49
The doors on the private floor might be a bit bigger than standard, but Hug'sh still comfortably fills out the frame when he opens the door for their...visitor.

"Mr. Jonmai's room," Hug'sh barks, looking down at the man. "Stand still. I check you first."

(Hug'sh Wits (with Awareness) = ( 3 +7) = 7 vs Smells = (4+ 1 ) = 4)

The check consists of a sniff. Hug'sh takes it all in, the 'all' consisting of sulfur and hot stone - from behind the man mostly. He's not alone, and his friends don't smell like they're either Turai or Industrium drones. Bashakra'i don't carry badges, sadly, but even if by some miracle these guys are not their contacts but, say, a group of local criminals thinking they can jump a wayward noble's posse, they're about to be in one room with Arketta, Zaef and Hug'sh - oh, and Angel, too. Hug'sh likes the odds of that kind of wall-to-wall-asskicking.

"Come in," Hug'sh says and steps aside.
punkey 2020-07-04 17:42:39
Garrett raises an eyebrow as Luis helps Hale into the lift back down to the drone taxis. "What happened?"
"One great party," Hale slurs, hand reaching down towards Luis' pants as he leans against him.
Swims-the-Black sniffs Hale's hair. "He smells like party drugs. Was he dosed?"
punkey 2020-07-04 18:05:04
Freshly forged Turai credentials in their voxes, FTE falls in with the Bashakra'i infil team, just two trins out on patrol. Telosa very quickly volunteers to lead the second trin with Vano and Raand to the Turai barracks and Olona's palace - AKA somewhere very much where FTE is not, leaving Hoim and Vama Abeon, their SCADA expert, on a tour of the massive harvester itself.

It's a short skimmer ride to the outskirts of Aikoro's main settlement and just within walking distance to the harvester. Even staying low below the treeline, FTE can see flashes of the dull yellow and black metal of the harvester poking through the trees. After a short walk, the fake trin emerges from the trees next to the enormous machine. Giant landing legs standing on crushed trees support the behemoth, while a flotilla of little drones buzz around it in the air, going to and from the harvester. It extends for at least a quarter kilometer in either direction, with the rest of it vanishing over the rolling terrain that the machine is slowly grinding flat down to the bedrock.

"It's an impressive machine," Vama says.
"It's a fucking monstrosity," Hoim replies.
"I mean, yeah, but...what a monstrosity," Vama adds.
punkey 2020-07-04 18:20:14
"If you wouldn't mind leading the way, darling," a rough heavily accented voice says just outside the door.
Hug'sh's not much for getting shot in the back, but he is a sucker for anyone calling him 'darling'. He leads their party of guests through the suite towards the others.
"You did good," the voice says to the hotel worker. "Here's something for the effort."

Following in behind Hug'sh, and tracking a bit of red dirt on the carpet, is a rough-skinned man in his 40s wearing the durable and cheap workclothes of a miner - and a short-shroud beamer in his hand. "Bello said he'd be sending support. You it?"
Gatac 2020-07-04 18:43:18
Hug'sh is about to let Angel answer the question when the second rebel enters - a Wherren in a vest and pants with a work harness over it, the soot of a long day in his cover job clinging to his fur. His eyes seem to do the standard threat assessment of the room before falling on Hug'sh and...

(2d12k1 Hug'sh Body = ( 6 +12) = 12)

...stopping cold. He ruffles a green wave at Hug'sh and his iridescent tusks. Hug'sh's reply is a bit more modest, but he chances a wink and a smile.

"That'd be us," Hug'sh answers in Whirrsign. "Walks-The-Fire, and you are..."
e of pi 2020-07-04 21:12:29
Luis nods. "Yeah, Toa's idea of a party involves enough aerosolized drugs in the air to make it rain. You could make a pretty pile of lats by running a condenser there for a few minutes. Once we get him into a cab, I'd appreciate a hand keeping him busy to see if it's anything I can neutralize or if we all just needs to wait it out. Still, decent success - Toa's in, and Teon's willing to take lead. Yarrius is a bit more skittish and could use some followup, but we've got an inroad."
punkey 2020-07-05 05:38:39
"Vasa Swalooth, and your new boyfriend here is Maarh," the man says. "No offense to you Bashakra'i, but you lot are the third set of 'help' sent here and you all keep dying, so you'll forgive me if I don't ask for your names."
"I think we should hear what Walks-the-Fire and his friends have to say," Maarh says. "Paul said that they were to help rescue the family members that have been held hostage, and that would be just the flame we need to start a full revolution."
"You sure that's not just what's between your legs talking?" Vasa says.


"Inroads are good, inroads are what we need," Garrett says with a nod. "Voath is ready to throw her compatriots under the skimmer, and we have the others primed to move against her. We've built the bomb, now we need to make the fuse." Hale shifts his attention from Luis to Garrett, sticking a hand up his shirt. "But first, a cold shower and sober-up stim for Hale. Luis, make sure he detoxes. Swims and I are going to go meet Quaj."
"And how do we intend to do that?" Swims asks.
"By being too obvious to ignore," Garrett says.
Gatac 2020-07-05 06:26:53
"Jealous, darling?" Hug'sh counters. "Listen, Vasa, we've had a long flight. We wasted enough time dealing with the local turai, I'm not going to waste more with a pissing contest. If it's all the same to you, how about we get down to business and you read us in on what you got so far."
punkey 2020-07-05 10:23:25
"What we have is a severe fucking deadlock," Vasa says. "Thanks to the organization Maarh and I have built, we have 5,000 workers ready to rise up and throw the Turai and their Emperor off Grinacanne by the seat of their pants."
"What's the deadlock, then?" Arketta asks.
"The deadlock is the Turai know it, and sent the most brutal fuckers you've ever seen to make sure the locals stay in line," Vasa replies. "If we start to rumble, the miners and locals not recruited to the cause are just as likely to fight us as they are the Imperials."
"The first Bashakra'i spy your people sent was turned over to the Turai by them," Maarh says. "The second tried to take the fight to the Turai without listening to the warchief on this planet." Maarh rolls a wave of orange at that. "She tried an assault without the aid of the people, and she failed. That is when the Turai brought in their criminals to kidnap and murder."
"We need to break the Turai to get the locals on our side, but we can't break the Turai without them," Vasa says. "Like I said, deadlock. And what's your plan?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2020-07-10 18:10:16
Front Toward Enemy extends its sensors, enhancing the drone cloud for a moment, regarding it like flies on a lazy cow, then sweeps the harvester's unending and unyielding bulk. The Sheen's looking for a way in - either a normal personnel entrance, a maintenance access, an large-enough ventilation cover, or an unguarded vox array.

"What happens underneath the monstrosity, Vama?" FTE asks. "Any chance of sneaking inside with its meal?"
punkey 2020-07-10 19:48:50
Both Vama and Hoim are creeped out by the array of sconces on robot tentacles that snake out of FTE's face. "It's...theoretically possible," Vama replies. "You'd be dodging grinders, laser cutting grids, and moving armatures, but it's possible."
FTE's optics pick up a few different alternatives - there's a personnel entrance 13 meters to your right with what looks like a scanner panel next to it for ident checks, and an array of ventilation covers with a hatch below them 20 meters to your left.
"Let's just mark 'climbing into the maw of a molecular disassembler' Plan C," Hoim adds.
CrazyIvan 2020-07-27 09:13:23
There was something distinctly refreshing about carrying his own bags upstairs - the hotel having a rickety cart that seemed to Angel to likely represent more harm than good in terms of transport - but otherwise being utterly unequipped for whatever the local equivalent of a "bellhop" was.

It also let him scout out the best firing positions from the third floor's ersatz suite in blessed solitude.

Their visitors - understandably hesitant about their assistance or not - pulled his attention away from unpacking, the aura in the room diffusing from the four of them having to kill their way out to something a little closer to...tiresome bluster. Though at least with a purpose.

"Well, given we've already gotten two visits from the Turai, one from a suitably professional line Samal, and the other from a small pack of your brutal killers, I'd start looking to see if there's fissures developing between the Turai and the..." Angel waves his hand vaguely, fishing for a term. "Death squads. It's my experience that locals - especially professional locals - don't much like it when the higher ups send in some off-world trigger pullers to stir up shit." The implication that feeling might also apply to the individuals in this room was left unsaid.