11. Cowboys and Engines
15 June, 2775. 02:34 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.
En route to Arawne, I have been
performing routine ship maintenance. I have discovered that the
fuel explosion on the Dashgad
has damaged the Legacy's antimatter rocket engine. The
fuel mixing chamber is cracked, which is potentially dangerous.
So far we have been operating without any problems. We have to
continue using the engine since either turning it off or dropping
out of hyperspace before we reach the calculated location of
Arawne will strand us in deep space. If the crack expands into a
breach we will have hot plasma leaking into the other engine
systems in the rear of the ship, which will probably cripple us.
I estimate a five percent chance of this happening before we reach
08:29 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.
I have cold-welded a titanium plate over the crack in the fuel
mixing chamber. This should buy us some time if the crack widens
a little, but will not hold a larger plasma breach. When we arrive
at Arawne, we will need repairs before we can safely take off again.
17 June, 2775. 10:50 UTC. Log entry by Serron.
We have skewed back into realspace and are on target for Arawne.
We should land in about 4 hours. The antimatter fuel mixing chamber
has survived the trip, and if it can just last us long enough to
get planetside we'll all breathe a little easier.
We have transmitted Sara Hercule's message to the Arawne Colonial
Office, and they have responded by scrambling a small rescue fleet.
They assure us we will receive payment for our help once we land.
We've also informed traffic control of our engine problem, so they
can mobilise rescue teams if we develop severe problems.
14:47 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.
We have landed safely on Arawne, avoiding any further problems with
the engine. We are basically where we were
ten days ago, except this time we
need a new engine rather than just wanting one.
16:14 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.
Our current predicament requires us to acquire a new engine before
we can safely leave Arawne. Our options are:
- Order an engine from another planet. This leaves us stranded on
Arawne for a week or two. Furthermore, we would have to pay for the
engine up front, since the cash needs to be transferred to the
world of origin of the engine to pay for it.
- Buy passage to another planet in order to personally buy and
bring back an engine. This leaves the Legacy berthed here
on Arawne while we travel. The nearest industrial planets which
might have an engine ready for us are
- Defy the port authority and leave Arawne in the Legacy
and hope we make it to another world without blowing up.
18:35 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.
After some discussion we have concluded that the best thing to do is
to leave Ogier and Sirene here on Arawne, looking after the
Legacy, while Serron, Iki Piki and myself seek passage to
Rubilith to buy and bring back a new engine. We are leaving enough
money for Ogier and Sirene to live on until we get back, and Serron
is in the process of procuring some sort of profitable cargo with the
rest for us to take with us to Rubilith. This should allow us to get
a new engine, and hopefully leave enough to pick up something else
which we can sell for a profit once back on Arawne.
I have gone through the ship listings here and hired us on to a small
ship named the Argonaut, captained by a human by the name of
Paris D. Smith. This is a working passage,
as Captain Smith is the sole owner and current crew of the ship, so
our experience in handling a merchant vessel will come in handy during
Once Serron has organised our cargo, we shall be leaving as soon as
we can. Rubilith is nearly 14 parsecs away, and the Argonaut
is no more powerful than the Legacy. It will take us nearly
10 days to get there.
21:57 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.
I have taken on a crew of three working passengers named Iki Piki,
Serron and Spanners, respectively a Pachekki, Sparrial and Chatka.
These passengers are paying for part of their passage by working on
crew stations. They are also transporting an antimatter engine,
apparently salvaged from their own ship and to be used as a trade-in
for a new engine, and a small quantity of rare woods which the
Sparrial hopes to sell at our destination, Rubilith, for a profit.
The cargo has been loaded and the passengers have just boarded, so
we are just waiting on Serron's astrogation calculations and clearance
from the Arawne south-east central starport traffic control for
20 June, 2775. 07:12 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry
by Captain Paris Smith.
58 hours outbound from Arawne en route to Rubilith. All systems
normal. We expect to arrive at Rubilith about a week from now.
The passengers and I have been using our free time to get acquainted.
They are all unique and interesting personalities. I think we should
get along fine for the remainder of this trip and the return passage.
27 June, 2775. 13:43 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry
by Iki Piki.
Captain Smith is preparing the ship for re-entry into realspace...
Skew successful. We appear to be on course and about 5 hours out from
15:09 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.
We have received a radio message from the Rubilith Royal Office of
Customs and Trade: Attached here. We are
following instructions and will be landing at Rubilith Central
Starport near the capital city of Rheydt in about 3 hours.
18:17 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.
We have just taxied to landing platform 5/E76 and are preparing to
debark and meet the medical personnel who will escort us to the port
infirmary for quarantine check. The ship and cargo will be scanned
for contaminants while we are being tested.
18:31 UTC. Royal Office of Customs and Trade, Rubilith Central
Starport, Rheydt. Medical log entry by Dr Jossel Targophan.
I have just escorted the crew and passengers of the inbound starship
Argonaut to the port infirmary for blood tests for suspected
infection with viral thrombotic phagadaena, as reported in express
mail communication, Reference Arawne/2775.06.19.025714203/Med/001.
Crew display no external symptoms. Contamination precautions in
Medical intern Bate Pittson suffered a tear to his contamination
suit during initial contact with the crew. He claims the Sparrial
crew member, Serron, deliberately stumbled and ripped his suit as
he fell against him, but there is no evidence to back this up and
Serron professes innocence. Pittson has been isolated and is also
undergoing tests for the phagadaena virus.
19:08 UTC. Royal Office of Customs and Trade, Rubilith Central
Starport, Rheydt. Medical log entry by Dr Jossel Targophan.
Blood test results show the crew of the ship Argonaut to
have no signs of infection with thrombotic phagadaena. Intern Bate
Pittson, cross-contaminated in the contact phase also tested
negative. Scans of the ship interior and cargo reveal no traces
of the virus.
In accordance with article 29.6 of the Galactic Interstellar
Commerce agreement, the ship Argonaut and all its crew,
passengers and cargo are cleared for immigration quarantine
19:43 UTC. Field log recording by Serron.
Serron: We have discovered that the political situation on
Rubilith has deteriorated somewhat over the past few weeks. The
corporations which effectively control the media, the law and the
economy have begun an active campaign of destabilisation which seems
to be aimed at completely removing the last vestiges of the
constitutional monarchy government. The few remaining Royal
institutions and forces are battling to remain viable and assert
This became apparent when we tried to cash in our interstellar
monetary exchange bond, issued on Arawne. Every bank we have tried
has refused to honour the bond, because the economy here is so
unstable and they are unsure of what equivalent value they can
get for it on the interstellar market.
Spanners: So how can we get the money to buy our new engine?
Iki Piki: Captain Smith, how much is the Argonaut
Paris: Hey, you're not doing anything to my ship!
Serron: I've had enough for today. I wish to go to a pub.
Spanners: I want to keep trying to get us some cash
Iki Piki: Yes, I'll go with you. We'll see you guys back
at the ship later.
21:33 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.
Iki Piki and I have had an interesting meeting with some people
at the Harcourt Shipyards company. We said we wanted to buy a
fusion engine, but when we said all we had was a monetary bond
issued on Arawne they turned us down. As we were leaving, an
executive asked us into an office for a discussion of possible
He told us that they would be willing to offer us a two gigawatt
engine plus a little extra cash in exchange for our bond and a
"small service". It turned out this service would involve
sneaking into the Royal palace and planting a listening device
in one of the government meeting rooms, so Harcourt can gather
intelligence to use in the defence of itself and allied
corporations against attempts to undermine their power by the
government. Harcourt would provide us with stealth equipment,
details of how to enter the palace undetected, and maps to help
locate the meeting room.
Initially they wanted us to leave the bond with them for safe
keeping, with the encryption key, while we infiltrated the
palace. When we refused, they agreed that we could give them
the encyption key once we returned and had the engine. Although
a better deal, Iki and I are not sure we should accept this
offer, nor even that we should reveal it to the mercenary mind
of Serron. We left Harcourt with a promise that we would think
about the offer, and are now returning to the Argonaut.
Once outside, Iki suggested we take the equipment they are
offering us and squeal to the Queen, saying "Here's the evidence,
give us an engine." This may not be practical.
21:46 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.
Serron and I have returned to the Argonaut to get some
sleep. Because the sun never sets here, Rubilith operates on UTC,
which synchs with our sleep patterns from the hyperspace trip.
Iki Piki has contacted us and says that he and Spanners
are on their way back as well, after a fruitless search for
banks or engine manufacturers who will accept the monetary bond.
Serron managed to sell the small cargo of wood we shipped from
Arawne, and with some Rubilith sovereigns in our possession we
tracked down a pub and spent some time socialising with the
locals and sampling some of the drinks. Conversation with some of
the people in the pub indicates the tense situation between the
corps and the government has filtered down to the populace. Several
people supported the corps, citing their supply of jobs, education,
health care, and effective police forces as the elements which made
life on Rubilith good and safe. A minority supported the monarchy,
claiming the corps are behaving illegally and that Queen Natasha
would have life back to the prosperous state it was before the
corps took over if only given a chance. We dodged the issues and left
when it appeared that shouting might give way to fighting.
22:02 UTC. Free trader Argonaut vid-phone log.
Paris: Free trader Argonaut, Captain Paris Smith
Smythe: This is Professor Byron Smythe, of Lyrane. I have
a message for your passengers.
Serron: Smythe! You bastard!
Smythe: Ah, I see you're there. I will be coming to see
you tomorrow morning, to clear up some unfinished business I
have with you.
Serron: What?! Hang up, Paris!
Paris: Too late, he's cut the connection. You know this guy?
Spanners: He only hijacked our ship and tried to kill us!
Iki Piki: He abandoned us on our ship, set for a burn-up
Serron: He's a wanted criminal!
Paris: Woah, slow down... tell me the story.
23:10 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.
Serron, Iki Piki and Spanners have told me a
remarkable story about their
experiences with Professor Smythe. Serron has gone outside to
scout the area around the Argonaut and plans to stand
watch out there for the next few hours. Spanners is checking
public access records on the net to see if he can find any record
of Smythe arriving on Rubilith, or staying anywhere here in Rheydt.
Iki Piki is apparently in male mode, and has simply gone to sleep.
I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I have weapons ready.
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