Cian piloted the Voidraptor, a patrol gunship of questionable legality. He was following Jolan in the LT Flying Brick, which was an old bulky cargo ship that lived up to its name. They were only a few minutes out from Yang Station now, and the traffic controller was sending them flight paths and designated docking bays.
“You never taught me how to land, man! I’m gonna crash and kill everyone!” yelled Jolan over their private comm with panic in his voice.
“Hey, hey, calm down. Just accept the flight path that the station is sending you and turn on flight assist mode. It should set the path for you and control the thrusters. You just have to ease the throttle, go in really slow, and engage the landing gear. The station’s gravity generator will compensate and pull you to a stop as long as you’re going slow enough. It’s not a race, just take it slow.” said Cian. He had already lined up for his own landing and was approaching his assigned docking area.
“Okay. Okay. I accepted the flight path. Flight assist mode on. Dude, I’m way off! I’m gonna crash!” said Jolan.
“Hold on, I can see you. You aren’t that far off, it just looks like it from right there. Don’t touch the throttle, just let the computer correct your trajectory.” said Cian.
“Okay. I’m rotating. I think its starting to line up. Yeah, okay, I’m facing the dock now.” said Jolan.
“Good. Now just ease really lightly on the throttle and start a bit of forward thrust, then pull back on it and let momentum carry you in. Don’t forget to engage the landing gear.” said Cian.
“Okay. I got this. Engaging engine at 1%. Okay. Disengaging. I’m doing it! This is so cool. I’m landing a space ship! All the lights are lining up, I’m almost there!” said Jolan.
Cian’s ship sailed into his docking bay and he eased it down for a soft landing in his designated spot. A security team was standing by. “Just remember the landing gear, Jolan. I might be a bit, I have a welcoming committee.”
“Oops. Uh, engaging landing gear. Okay. That scraping didn’t sound too bad. I don’t think it was too late. I’m landed.” said Jolan.
“Right. Just pay the docking fee and hang out for a few. I’m going to talk with security.” said Cian. He opened the doors and a five man security team made their way in, armored head to toe with rifles in hand. They were eyeballing the bodies in the hold and two of them were moving up the hall toward the bridge, their rifles trained on Cian.
Cian made a show of sliding his rifle away from him across the bridge. “Hey friends. No resistance here, I spoke with the station on our way in. I have five pirates that we killed in self defense and a properly filed salvage title to this ship. I’m not too familiar with Coalition law, but I want to comply with all legal requirements and I can fill out other forms if needed.”
One of the team walked in and stood next to Cian, in between him and the gauss rifle on the floor. The rest of the team checked the ship room by room. Once they were done, the one next to Cian said “Clear” on his radio.
A greying Boralan entered the ship. He was dressed in a crisp, light blue uniform with a service cap that reminded Cian of an Air Force dress uniform – only several shades lighter. He walked with a limp all the way through the ship, slowing to look at the bodies as he passed them, and stood a few feet from Cian before he began to speak.
“Captain Kemp, I am Admiral Tygon. I reviewed the logs you sent. There were a few holes in the recording, but I saw enough. You defeated a boarding party and captured this ship.” said the Boralan man.
“Yes, sir. I believe I filed the proper salvage forms. I wish to sell this ship and claim any bounties that may be on these pirates.” said Cian.
The admiral motioned to one of the security team, who pulled out a tablet and showed it to him.
“I see. Yes, you filed the proper salvage form. There is an additional fee for military grade salvage, but I’m sure that won’t be a problem – we can collect it when you sell the vessel. These pirates did have a small bounty. However, you are not a licensed bounty hunter in Coalition space. Neither is your compatriot aboard the cargo vessel. I’m afraid unlicensed bounty hunting is illegal.” said Admiral Tygon sternly.
“Erm, I wasn’t aware of that. Uh. It was self defense, I didn’t go out hunting them. What’s the requirement for a bounty hunter license? I want to make this right.” said Cian, getting increasingly nervous.
The admiral stared sternly at Cian for a minute, then stepped over and slapped him on the back hard, causing Cian to nearly double over. He smiled. “Hah, just messing with you, son. Privilege of rank to mess with the youth now and then, I hope you won’t hold it against me. You only need a hundred thousand credits and the approval of a ranking admiral for the license. You took down five pirates with two crew with no casualties and hauled their ship in for salvage. You got balls kid, and the kind of initiative that this sector needs more of. That’s enough for me. I could use you in my patrol fleet. I’ll backdate you a license to yesterday. Their bounties will barely cover the fee, but it’ll leave you with five thousand credits and the license doesn’t expire. I’m sure someone with your gumption can find a use for it in the future.”
Cian laughed in relief. “Thank you, sir. You had me going there.”
“No trouble at all. We need more good captains on the right side, too many pirates and thugs about. So you said you wanted to sell this ship? We could use another patrol ship in good condition. If you sell to us it bypasses the paperwork for the military gear and illegal missiles. See the quartermaster if you’re interested, we’ll make you a fair offer for it.” said Admiral Tygon.
“Thank you, sir. I’ll do that. It was a pleasure meeting you, sir.” said Cian.
The admiral slapped Cian on the back again. This time Cian was braced for it and didn’t stumble. “Good lad. I’ll get out of your ship now and get someone started on the paperwork.” He walked off, limping back out of the ship and down the ramp. The security team fell in behind him and followed him out.
Cian watched as they all left the ship. “Well, that was different.” He mumbled to himself. He pulled up the public information about the station and located the quartermaster’s office. It wasn’t far. He searched for ship dealers or scrap dealers. There was a small scrap dealer, but it didn’t look like a place you could sell a ship. The quartermaster was probably it, unless he flew the ship somewhere else. He switched to channel eight of his comm and called Jolan, “Hey man, I need to speak to the quartermaster to see about selling this ship. Are you okay over there?”
Jolan answered back a few minutes later. “Sure dude. I had a chat with a couple security guys over here to verify our story. They invited me for a drink afterward. I’m at the Red Minx on level four. There’s dancing girls! Oh, don’t worry, I locked up the ship. There wasn’t a docking fee.”
“Uh. Okay. Just… Okay. Try not to get drunk. It’s barely past noon ship time. I’ll meet you there once I’m done with the quartermaster. I’m going to try to get us a good price on this ship. I think it’s probably worth about four or five million with the missile system and Weave drive and stuff.” said Cian.
“Sweet. I get half right?” said Jolan.
“Yes, you get half. We might have to renegotiate that if I have to do all the paperwork while you go to bars.” said Cian.
“Cool. See ya in a bit.” said Jolan.
Cian sighed. He hooked his helmet on a loop at his belt and debated taking his gauss rifle, but decided against it. He got up and walked out of the ship and headed for the quartermaster’s office.
A few minutes later, Cian arrived at a posh little office with fancy, expensive looking decor. The door was propped open. There were beautiful tapestries of various planets, detailed and colorful works capturing the different worlds’ natural beauty and iconic landscapes. A solid wood desk sat in one corner with a little bell on it. A sign read “Quartermaster’s Office.”
Cian walked in and tapped the bell.
A tall, stern looking Erisian woman walked in and sat at the desk. She had graying hair and a flawless complexion. She was dressed in a slim black pant suit. “Yes, can I help you?”
“Hello miss, I am Cian Kemp. I just came in with a patrol gunship and filed the salvage title for it. Admiral Tygon told me that I should come here. I’m in the market to sell the ship and he said that you would make me a fair offer for it.” said Cian.
She pulled a tablet out of a drawer and pulled up information. “Yes. I have the details of the ship here. Weave drive. Armament of Peacekeeper missiles. Stock everything else. Heavy damage to the port engine.”
“Uh, that sounds about right. I was unaware of the engine damage. Miss.. I don’t believe I caught your name?” said Cian.
She looked at him. “I didn’t provide it. I can offer you three million for the ship.”
“Whoa, I was told I would get a fair offer. I sold a similar ship in much worse shape for five million.” said Cian.
“Yes. Likely on an industrial world with shipyards. You may have noticed that you’re on a remote trade station.” she said with a sneer.
“A remote trade station with a need for patrol ships. The Admiral told me himself, he needs more ships. Surely you can give me four and a half?” said Cian.
She tapped on her screen and zoomed in on the engine. It showed external and internal damage to the port engine. “This will cost half a million to fix by itself. I’ll give you four if you throw in the gear from the previous owners, and not a penny more.”
“Wait, I don’t even know how much their gear is worth.” said Cian.
“Offer is good for the next five minutes.” she said.
“Four after all salvage and all other fees. You keep their equipment. But I need my gauss rifle in the bridge delivered to the LT Flying Brick.” said Cian.
She typed at her pad, it looked like she was running some numbers. After thirty seconds or so, she replied “Fine. Pleasure doing business, Mister Kemp.” She swiped at the tablet for a few seconds, then held it out with a form with a contract.
“Uh, I need to read over this.” said Cian.
“Take your time. It’s a standard ship transfer. Fill in your banking information and I will make a direct deposit.” she said.
Cian looked it over. It had stipulations that any additional cargo or valuables found within the ship except for the gauss rifle located on the bridge were included in the sales price, but otherwise seemed pretty normal. “Hey, did you scan and find some kind of valuables hidden in the ship?”
“No. It’s a standard contract. We don’t want you coming back looking for Aunt Martha’s hidden gemstones in a month while we’re trying to get the ship in service. If we find anything, its ours.” she said.
“Hmm. Fine.” said Cian. He had scanned the ship and didn’t see any signs of hidden stashes. He really didn’t have time to search it, anyway. He signed the paperwork and put in his bank info.
The quartermaster transferred four million to Cian’s account. It was nice to have some real money again, even if two million was going to go to Jolan.
“Pleasure doing business, miss?” said Cian.
“Yes, yes. Nice buying your ship, Mister Kemp. Enjoy your money. Get out of my office now, please.” she said.
“Fine. Have a good day.” said Cian. He walked out of her office and she walked back into a back room.
“Hey Jolan. I sold the ship for four million. I get the feeling she ripped me off, but I don’t know if I could have done better anywhere else here. The station manifest doesn’t even show a ship dealer here, just some scrap yards.” said Cian over their comm.
“Sweeet mann. You coming here now? These purple swirly drinks are awesomme. You have to try one. The bartender called it a Boralan Sunset. It’s like, sweet, but not too sweet to be girly, and it has like a hopsy flavor that reminds me of a good beer.” said Jolan. He sounded drunk.
“Jolan. Man. You need to cut back, okay? We’re supposed to be securing supplies. We can’t do that if you’re drunk.” said Cian.
“I’m not drrunk! I only got four drinks and they were all fruitsy ones! Dis one is the best though. You gotta come try one.” said Jolan. He was slurring his words a bit. He was definitely tipsy, if not drunk.
“Fine. I’ll be right there.” said Cian. He pulled up the station map and found the route to the Red Minx and headed there. Fifteen minutes later, he arrived at the pub. It was a shady looking establishment. The sign was a provocatively dancing hologram of what looked like a Rastlin woman with long red hair, red fur, and a slinky red dress.
The bouncer at the door pointed at the knife that was still strapped to his leg. “No weapons.”
“Okay. Uh, where can I store it?” said Cian.
The bouncer pointed to a cabinet with multiple safes. “I tag it and put it in there. You get it when you leave.”
“Alright.” said Cian. He took a tag from the bouncer and tied it to his knife with his name and ship name on it, then handed it over.
The bouncer read the tag, nodded, then opened one of the safes that had other knifes in it and tossed Cian’s in, then closed it. “Alright. Don’t make trouble. Don’t touch the girls. Have fun.” He opened the door to let Cian in.
Cian went in. There was a Celduran, two Erisians, and a Boralan sensually dancing on the stage in revealing outfits. A huge reptilian looking alien sat in a corner booth, towering over everyone. Cian remembered seeing someone like this before in Valcim, and tried to identify him.
Yeegan – Sentient. Humanoid. Reptilian. Native to the swamps of Xiasla in the Xias system. Ranging from 7’ to 9’ in height. Intelligence inferior to humans. Tough, scaly skin generally in the brown to dark green pigments. No hair. Known to be highly aggressive. Believed to be the result of unconfirmed genetics experiments.
“What you lookin’ at?” yelled the Yeegan from across the bar. Cian had been staring.
“Uh, sorry sir. I apologize for staring. I hadn’t seen your species before.” said Cian.
The Yeegan laughed at him and went back to talking to a Celduran woman in the booth next to him.
“Heyy Cian! Over here man!” yelled Jolan from the bar. He was sitting in between two Erisian women. His helmet was hanging from a strap on his back. They all had large purple drinks with a swirl of orange in them. The colors were bright and seemed to actually be emitting light, and the orange swirled near the top yet somehow didn’t mix in with the rest of the drink. Jolan’s was mostly empty while the other two were mostly full.
Cian walked over. “Hey Jolan. I asked you not to get drunk.”
“Not drunk! Just tipsy. This is only my fourth drink. I didn’t get another! I was telling these ladies about our daring battle with the evil pirates. Cian, meet Charlotte and Jehenna. I hope I’m saying that right!”
Jehenna smiled and draped her arm over Jolan’s shoulder. “You’re saying it just fine handsome. Did you and your captain want to move to better quarters now?”
“Jolan. We have work to do.” said Cian.
“Oh, so do we sweetheart. Work can be oh. So. Fun.” said Charlotte. She squeezed up to Jolan’s back.
Jolan smiled and leaned back against her. He spoke in English for a moment, “Dude, these girls are super into us. They wanna come back to our ship!”
Cian hadn’t really tried speaking English intentionally before like that, but he concentrated and managed it. “Jolan. I’m pretty sure these are working girls. Do not take them back to our ship. Just give them a little money for their time, apologize for the mix up, and lets get out of here.”
Jehenna giggled. “Oh, I love your exotic language. Are you talking about little ol’ me?” She held out a lit cigar of some kind and Jolan took a puff of it.
Jolan coughed for a moment, choking out neon green smoke. He stared at Cian for a minute. “Wait. You mean? Like… They want us to pay them? No way, they’re just into me.” Jolan looked offended.
“Look, you can get yourself out of this one. I have work to do. Just don’t get yourself killed or robbed and meet me back at the ship. I’ll be sending an order there and someone needs to be there to sign for it. And don’t you dare bring either of them back to our ship.” said Cian in English.
Cian concentrated and switched to speaking Erisian again. “Sorry ladies, I have duties to attend to.” He turned to walk out.
“But you said your captain wanted to party at your ship. You still want to party, don’t you?” said Jehenna, pouting theatrically.
“Yeah, don’t mind him. He’s a stick in the mud.” said Jolan. He called after Cian in English. “You’re wrong dude, these girls just want to party. We have a whole day here at least to get the stuff we need, you have to live a little!”
Cian turned back for a moment and replied in English, “We’re supposed to be laying low, not bar hopping. Do you even know what you’re smoking? I’m going to get our mission done.” He turned and walked out. He got his knife back from the bouncer and walked back toward the business district. He had merchants to see about buying metals.
After half an hour of walking and two elevators, Cian arrived at the professional market area on level two. There were a number of commodity traders and various shops. He looked at the advertisements and located prices for the various commodities he needed. Some of the metals were expensive, but he didn’t need a lot of each. There were a lot of different traders and middlemen here. He wandered down a bit until he found a large shop with a lot of customers called the Yienna Exchange, the advertisements boasted direct from factory pricing on metals from Yienna II. Dozens of traders seemed to be doing business there, so Cian decided it must be a decent place to start.
Cian walked in and a well dressed Erisian man came up after a few minutes. “Greetings my friend! I am Curtis. Are you here to buy? We have the best selection of refined metals this side of Boralas!”
“Yes, thank you Curtis. I am Captain Cian Kemp. I need a variety of metals. Can I get a list of your prices?” said Cian.
Curtis whipped a tablet out of somewhere in his coat. “Of course. Here are the current market rates. As you can see, we are at least one percent lower than our competitors. If you find a better price, we will beat it by 1%.”
“I see. How is your availability? Can I take delivery today?” said Cian.
Curtis tapped at the tablet and changed the display. Now it showed prices and weights. “This is our current stock on hand. Our next delivery is in five days. If you need more of a particular element before then, we can help you source it, but the prices may be a bit higher.”
“Ah, thank you. Let me look through this.” said Cian.
“Of course. You may keep that and record your desired purchases. The amounts available will update in real time, you may add them to your list and reserve them for the next hour. Please only reserve metals you intend to buy, we have a busy clientele. Find me when you are ready to complete your purchase.” said Curtis.
“Great, thanks.” said Cian. He sat down at a table and got to work. They had all of the rare earth elements in stock. He did a quick search to compare prices with other shops that had them publicly posted, and they really were slightly lower than the rest. He quickly went down his list and reserved all of the purchases he needed. The only thing they were short on was tungsten.
Cian found Curtis. “Hello, I am ready to order. Are there bulk discounts for any of this? I really need these prices to be just a bit lower.”
Curtis frowned at him. “I am sorry, sir. Our prices are market rates plus a very small handling fee, we do not negotiate. If you wish to place your order, you may do so, but all bulk pricing has already been applied.”
“Okay. That’s fine. I need this order. I need delivery to the LT Flying Brick. Also, I need ten additional tons of tungsten.” said Cian.
Curtis smiled. “Excellent, sir. You’re in luck, I believe I can help you source the tungsten at our usual rate. One moment.” he went to the back room for a few minutes. Soon he came back out. “No problem, sir. The tungsten is available. Here is your final price. Please sign the contract, transfer the required funds, and we will process the transaction.”
“Great, thanks.” said Cian. He signed the contract, then logged into his bank and entered his details. He transferred 8,328,500 over and they finalized the deal.
“Excellent. Your resources will be delivered within the next three hours. Thank you for using the Yienna Exchange.” said Curtis.
“Great. Uh, do you know a good parts dealer? I need a variety of ship parts too.” said Cian.
“Ah. While we do not deal in parts, I can highly recommend the Rusty Wrench. They are a bit… uncouth, but their prices and quality are far beyond their appearance. You can find them on level three. When you go down the elevator, take a left and follow it down. You can’t miss their sign, it’s a giant red wrench.” said Curtis.
“Okay, thanks!” said Cian. He left and headed for the elevator. It only took him fifteen minutes to find the place. It was a scrap dealer, but with as much as he spent on the metals he would have to get used parts to fill out the list.