Part 26: Federation - Part 01 - June 23rd, 1177 NC: Richer than Croesus, and More SlowJune 23rd, 1177 NC: Richer than Croesus, and More Slow
Say hello to Captain Kirk "Spitler" Picard, commander of the ISS Rustbucket!
We start off at Port Kane. With naught but our shuttle, we land and pick up some Luxury Goods after telling Gary to take a hike.
This is the trade screen. You can buy and sell to your heart's content, but prices and available goods vary from port to port. The "Ancient Vell-os Sculpture" is called a Junk, a medium-value and typically illegal good that only a handful of ports are interested in buying. There are dozens of them, and they're often tied very deeply into the fluff - the Polaris love Vell-os artifacts, the Aurorans love aggressive animal pelts, and so on.
Since prices vary, this allows for trade routes - high-profit routes that always keep your holds full of profitable product. The Europa-Earth luxury goods route is not very efficient, but it's very safe and low-effort. Hiring a cargo drone to haul an additional 10 tons, we make our way to Europa to buy some cheap luxury goods destined for Earth.
It's small, but it's a start...
Europa is virtually uninhabited, with only a token military presence with a more ceremonial role than anything else. Originally, the military garrison was placed here to be an early warning post in the years immediately preceding the creation of the Colonial Council. Since then, the base was reactivated during the 'dark ages' to allow the inhabitants of Earth a little time to prepare for battle. However, over the last few centuries, the military presence on Europa has been downgraded and is now viewed as a final posting for decorated veterans from the Federation/Auroran border trying to fill out their time in relative comfort before retiring.
We fill up on Luxury goods, 20 tons bound for Earth. Flying back and selling allows for the hiring of another drone, and another after the next run. Soon enough...
We're at 70 tons. It's a lot for this low a cost, but let's move up a tier. I start hiring Terrapins instead, with 25 times the cargo capacity and 10 times the cost. Soon we are moving 800 tons at a time between the two planets. The Earth-Europa route is ideal for hiring escorts, as there is no jump delay so escort payment is minimized per run.
With the Terrapins we break one million credits! Enough to buy one for ourselves - the working capital involved with buying a full load takes up most of those credits already.
With a 900-ton capacity fleet, I take to the stars. Hauling medical supplies to sell on New Ireland for a 400 credit/ton profit, we pick up low-priced luxury goods to sell back on Earth for profits of 400 credits/ton. Multiply by 800 tons capacity and we're sitting pretty.
Another trade route is explored, moving medical supplies to Port Kane, returning with equipment to Europa, and lastly moving luxury goods to Earth to start the cycle anew.
Ultimately the Earth-Europa trade route is the easiest in terms of game time, so I stick with it. We run a U.N. Shipping mission as well, delivering to Outcast. Unfortunately the Feds will have nothing to do with these competing parcel delivery services, so we won't have a chance at a cushy government job with them.
Outcast is one of many Federation prison worlds. No stockade fences are present and there are few guards, as the entire planet is a tectonic nightmare. Tours of duty are brief here, and guard personnel are rotated regularly. The prisoners are all hardened criminals or terrorists, and many sophisticated escapes have been attempted. All relied on outside help via a waiting ship, but none have ever made it through the blockade.
While recharging on the way back to Earth, we run into Debris Field. Upstanding citizens such as ourselves shouldn't be associating with questionably loyal people such as these lowlifes.
You point out to Styles just what you think of him, his clothes and his offer of a job. It could have been said in just two short words, but you decided to tell him exactly how you feel.
"Whoa!" Styles throws his hands up "No need for you to show me the attitude. Just thought I'd offer you a job,man. Never thought I'd have to come down here to be hassled by some badly dressed space-jock!"
"Debris Field are the hottest band around at the moment. Listen!" Styles waves to the Juke-bot. "That's pure genius!".
You tell him just what you think of the garbage playing on the bot and tell him to leave you alone.
We tell a marauding pirate to leave us alone as well, earning us a combat rating and a few pilfered credits.
Finally arriving back at Earth, Sigma Shipyards introduce themselves. A hop skip and jump later, we gain access to some very nice ships. I move up from hauling luxury goods to hauling luxury itself!
Look at that beauty! I promise to steer clear of space rocks.
We're accosted by some wildly bearded man speaking some strange language not entirely unlike English. I of course refuse to let him board - we are not in the business of harbouring stowaways.
Sailing in a space liner, we now have the option to fly chartered flights. I take a few before Sigma Shipyards calls us up once more.
Wild Geese Refusal posted:
The hefty man turns to you with a look of anguish, and for a second you think that he is going to cry, or hit you, or both. He hauls himself to his feet, and he walks away without a look back at you. You feel heartily ashamed.
Passengers are measured in tons of biomass, of course. Sigma Shipyards wants us to run the blockade of Kontik - not a safe place to be, but what a cruise! I accept - Sigma is too powerful to turn down.
The cruise liner designers opted to not spoil the graceful lines of this ship with ugly armour or weaponry. As a result, some blockade-running muscle is recruited in the form of Starbridge and Thunderhead escorts.
Some exciting running gun battles are staged for the benefit of the 63 tons of passengers on board.
The escorts handle the larger ships. Unfortunately, the dust clouds surrounding Kontik don't make for good viewing. Not many escorts accompany us back, and I dismiss them as soon as we stop being followed by pirates.
Returning to Earth, I ditch the cruise ship - chartered flights just don't pay as well as trade. With the charter proceeds, we buy a Pegasus cargo freighter.
1000 tons of free space! After a short side-trip to co-operate with the Federal investigator Temmin Shard, we're back to hauling luxury goods between Earth and Europa. Shard actually manages to die to pirates en-route, auto-failing the mission. He resurrects to offer the exact same mission again though. The profits pile up fast enough to begin hiring Leviathan escorts, mammoths capable of hauling 4000 tons at once.
Soon we have a full fleet. 25,000 tons of hauling capacity, burning 720,000 credits a day to maintain and costing 32,000,000 credits to fill up. We are a hauling force to be reckoned with.
The 12,000,000 credit Leviathan is expensive, but soon we have enough cash to buy one. Armed with the largest trading fleet ever assembled, I continue to run luxury goods back and forth.
Soon we have 100 million credits and Hypergate access - enough to buy and do damn near everything. Content with the fortune, I let the fleet go and uparmour the Enterger 9 to be better prepared for the galaxy.
Our deeds do not go unnoticed - on a hunt for Hellhound missiles, a Federation officer approaches us...
Anything for the Federation!
As you wander around the outfitting area eyeing the selection you feel a tap on your shoulder and you turn to see a young man with an officious air about him standing behind you. He asks you if you are Kirk Picard, Captain of the Enterger 9. When you answer yes, he tells you that you have attracted the attention of Federation port authorities as a responsible and competent trader. He asks if you would be willing to be employed by the Federation to move cargoes to those parts of the Federation that need them?
Delivery is fast and hassle-free.
The Federation official sits down next to you and quietly tells you that the Aurorans have been getting more active along the Auroran/Federation border, and in doing so, they have actually caused a shortage of weapon stocks. Your mission is to carry 20 tons of IR Missiles to Spacedock III to help them replenish their stores.
Dockworkers swarm over your craft unloading your cargo in a quick and efficient manner, making sure that the hand over of goods to the Federation Navy is a complete success.
Immediately available, as it turns out.
A man wearing the shoulder pips of a Rear Admiral walks up to you and introduces himself as Rear Admiral Vessair of the Federation Navy. He formally thanks you on behalf of the Federation for your services. He says that there will be more missions made available to you in the area set aside for the purchase of ship outfits in the future.
Once again, run some missiles to a Spacedock. This time the Aurorans are after us.
A man in a Federation uniform wearing the shoulder pips of a Commander walks up to you and identifies himself as Commander Rabin, Spacedock III's Chief Supply Officer. He tells you that the Federation needs more war supplies along the Auroran Federation border to keep up with demand. Are you willing to help?
It's nothing our modded Leviathan can't handle. We've got more work waiting for us.
More work? The Federation requires more gas, and we're the ones to deliver it. The Aurorans trouble us, but tiny fighters can only do so much to the largest ship in Known Space. The Leviathan is well-suited to lobbing ordnance down-range, but turns so slowly that an anti-fighter escort is mandatory.
You are greeted by the Spacedock II Chief Supply Officer, who introduces himself as Commander Ffierra. "Congratulations on making it through," he says, "we need every bit of help that we can get. After having a bit of R&R, come and meet me in the ship outfitting area if you want some more work."
The spacedocks are quite safe, I don't know why they couldn't have just forked out for a contract with the Space-Post.
""It seems that Spacedock III needs another shipment of IR missiles," he confides. "I don't know how they are managing to go through so many so quickly, but they need another load, and they need it as soon as possible. You know the drill, pick it up on the Kane Band, and deliver it to Spacedock III. Watch out for Aurorans, they seem to be popping up everywhere at the moment. Oh, and give my regards to Rabin."
Once more into the breach.
As you leave your ship, you get a nod of acknowledgment from Commander Rabin. You wander over.
"I hear things are getting a little rough with all the Aurorans and whatnot," he states rather tiredly. "Oh well, it's good that you got through. How's Ffierra doing?"
You tell him that he is doing okay and that he sends his regards.
"That's good to hear," he reminisces. "Keep an eye out in the outfitting area. It won't be long before we have more work for you."
I have no idea what this is supposed to be a stereotype of. Upper-class British sitcom characters?
"This time we have a shortage of the IR missiles on Spacedock V in the Nesre Secundus system," he says. "Simply put, all we want you to do is pick it up from the stores depot on the Kane Band, and then ferry it over there.
"However, once again, we believe that the Aurorans will be onto you, so I would watch yourself out there."
Rabin looks over his shoulder and leans a little closer.
"I should warn you about Spacedock V's Chief Supply Officer," he cautions. "His name is Calvert-Smythe; hyphenated name, very good family. He affects some sort of superiority complex that includes a bizarre turn of phrase and a ridiculous accent. Watch yourself around him, he's an odd one."
We're told to hate him, but what if we're just ambivalent? His credits are as good as any others, after all.
"Over here, old boy," shrills a short, gaunt-looking older man with a huge moustache. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Calvert-Smythe III, and you are Kirk Picard, I presume?"
You nod your head realizing that 'odd' isn't quite the word to describe this man; annoying would be closer.
"A bit of excitement out there I hear," Calvert-Smythe continues in his shrill voice, "but a bit of dashing gusto and what-ho, here you are."
You begin to wonder how anyone could be quite this irritating.
"I cannot tell you, old chap," he whines, "how glad we were when you came through. Things were getting pretty grim around here, but, with a little derring-do, you made it.
"Anyway, here's your payment," he hands you a credit chip as you try not to wince at his offensive pitch. "I might have some more work for you soon, keep looking in the ship outfitting area. Jolly good show!"
It occurs to you that the cleaners would probably get annoyed if you left a trail of his remains lying around so you decide not to attack him today.
As soon as you see the irritating Calvert-Smythe enter you start desperately looking for a back way out of the outfitter. No such luck for you this day.
"There you are qold boy!" he exclaims in his nasal whine. "It looks as though we have a spot of work for you carrying a few more things over to my old chap Ffierra. Interested in a bit more stirring adventure and derring-do?"
We go and pick them up. We pick up some missiles for ourselves as well - they'll come in handy, especially since we don't have access to a reliable Hellhound missile source.
"That's the spirit!" he shrills offensively. "It seems old Ffierra is running out of radar missiles, the poor blighter, and it is up to you to save the day, what-ho!"
You are starting to feel a little bit like a cornered rat.
"Oh, and it seems that the Aurorans are getting on to you, old chap," he continues painfully, "they seem to have assembled something resembling a small fleet to stop you. Not that you would let a few pesky savages stop you from prevailing, eh? Good work, old boy. A bit of adventure wouldn't you say. Oh, what I would give to be out there, duelling with them, looking the savage in the eye and smelling the breath of the beast. I say! Smashing!"
He shifts slightly, refocusing his attention on you.
"Anyway," he continues, his voice returning to a mere dull ache, "must dash. Good luck, old boy!"
Alright, we're moving up in the world! This is the end of the supply missions, thankfully.
Commander Ffierra waves as you emerge from your craft. "You don't know how glad I am you made it," he says, "I hear it got more than a little hairy out there. I tell you what, I'm glad we've got guys out there like you who can deliver, come rain or shine. We would be in a fair amount of trouble otherwise," he smiles suddenly. "What did you think of Calvert-Smythe?"
You roll your eyes and he laughs.
"He can be a bit hard to take all right," he smiles, becoming more serious. "The Federation has a few more sensitive missions for you. Go to Sol and ask for 'Commander Krane' in the bar and they should take you from there."
He leans a little closer.
"Do yourself a favor," he explains in a warning tone, "if you have noticed in your travels that the Aurorans aren't building up along our border any more than usual, it would probably pay to keep it to yourself. You know what they say about loose lips..."
On our way to Earth the Enterger 9 bags a not-building-up-along-the-border Auroran Carrier. Even with all the space the converted Leviathan has to hold Marine platoons, we fail to capture it.
We reach Earth and find the customary bar-based government office.
You go up to the bar and ask to see a 'Commander Krane'. The barman calls over a young soldier who indicates that you should follow him. You are shepherded into a room that has a single spotlight facing the door.
"I'm sure you can appreciate the reasons behind our security precautions," begins a lovely female voice. "It just wouldn't do for anyone to find out any more about the Bureau than they already have."
Her chair creaks as her weight shifts.
"As far as you are concerned I am Commander Krane," she continues. "You have proved your combat capabilities, and now we want to test your loyalty. Are you still with us?"
I'm surprised that suburbs still exist in the arcology-saturated future. But for now we've got our first big break and more money than we can reasonably spend!
"A military team has captured a terrorist red-handed," she shifts her weight again, her chair whining in protest, "as she attempted to plant an explosive device near a suburban shopping center.
"They are currently located in Helen in the Eeniar system," she continues gently, "and I want you to pick them up and return them here. Nothing else."
You are slightly nonplussed, and you cannot help but think that this is almost seems too easy. She must have read your face as she continues pleasantly, "This one is easy, but don't make the mistake of thinking that any later ones will follow suit," she breathes. "This one is just to get you 'into the groove', so to speak. The real test will come later."
You hear a squeal of metal on metal as she swivels her chair away from you.
"But don't get distracted," she continues dismissively, "I don't want you losing your focus from the mission at hand."
Next time: Infiltration! Intrigue! Chair imagery!