The Roleplaying Diaries of Bryan Stephens
Sharri Duncan did not know she even had a Great Aunt Anne Troja until today. She did not think her mother’s mother had any siblings at all. This morning she received a letter from Edom Ventrui, a partner with Dormer and Associates, and apparently, executor of her Great Aunt’s will. That was astonishing enough. What was more insane was that Sharri was now the owner of a A-2 Type Far Trader, death taxes paid, that was sitting at the Mora Downport. Things like this did not happen to her.
Sherri has spent a life as Broker, working for Xenander Connections in one office after another. She has always excelled in her work, and steadily advanced to have a team of her own. Her one adventure of a lifetime was helping a smuggler with some weapons. That went south and ended up in a gun fight! Sharri still had her little secret that she knew how to use a weapon.
Sharri reached out to Mr. Ventrui first.
“Ms. Duncan, so good to talk to you. Let me again express our deepest condolences. We are willing to help you in every way. We already have three possible buyers lined up who will buy sight unseen. The highest if for MCr50, which for a ship in its condition if a great deal.”
Sharri thought about it but had strange stirrings in her heart.
“I’d like to see it. How do I do that?” she asked.
Mr. Ventrui was clearly taken aback by the question but recovered quickly.
“Certainly, Ms. Duncan, I can send you the clearances to go to the ship. I can understand you want to check it out. It is at the Mora Downport. In addition, in one of the lockers there is something for you should you want to go to the ship. I’ll give you the code for that. Once you are happy, you can sell it.”
With that our of the way, Sharri planned her trip to the Starport. Then she called her mother. Her mother two was astonished, as she did not remember any “Aunt Troja”. Like the attorney, she assumed that Sharri would be selling the ship. Playing to her type she was hoping Sharri could retire and finally start a family.
Within the week, Sharri was standing in the hanger housing her starship, wearing a Tech Level 16 ring that gave her complete command of the computer. . With her was Karl, the custodian and maintenance man. There was a lot of work to be done on this ship. Sharri and Karl got to work, but after several weeks, her energy was drained. Her mother and Mr. Ventrui both had worn her down as well. After a particularly hard and dirty day, she was ready to call the attorney and give in. It was then that Karl called her down to meet someone who can come to see her. She was astonished to see Viktor standing there. This was the man who she agreed to smuggle weapons for, the one exciting time in her life. Why was he here?
They sky was less orange today than normal, as last night’s front had pushed much of the air inland, making the day far more breathable for those outside. Viktor enjoyed this rate time to actually use his balcony with the windows raised, as he looked across the rolling ocean and slowly setting sun. It was a fitting evening for his last full day as the Saransk Bay Director of Operations. Oh, there was time for transition, but today was the last day of business.
The wind blew through his salted hair as He took a sip of his whisky, far less than his more normal strong pulls. Today was setting up to be a good day overall. The years of sending good men and women to die were behind him. No operations would require his input now, and his debriefings were over. What was left was boring bureaucratic out-processing. Lost in thought, he missed the chime at his door, and his personal assistant AI had to get his attention.
“Sir, Assistant Director Ekende is here to see you. He has been waiting 2 minutes,” came the soft female voice.
“Let him in,” Viktor said walking back inside the office as the door slide open and his number two, soon to be his replacement walked in the room. Ito Ekende was clearly of Solamani descent. His dark black skin was almost blue. He wide grin of white teeth almost shone in the sunlight steaming sideways into the room.
“Not much longer now is it, Boss? Enjoying the balcony while it is still yours?”. Viktor nodded saying,
“I have not used it enough in the past 3 years, relying too much on this,” as he shook his glass. “Not totally sure what I am going to do when I leave, but it will be more active than sitting behind that desk.”
“Well, that is why I am here,” Ekende said, looking more serious. I have been sent with an offer from the Council.” Viktor raised his eyebrows and said,
“In that case, let me pour you a drink,” and he headed over to the wall where a small bar automatically deployed at his approach. Drink in hand, Ekende continued.
“I understand your plans to get back into action after you retire. I know I would love to see some of the evil men who fled our jurisdiction be brought to justice. So does the Council. However, the Council is thinking that a group of people might be more effective than one man. I’ve been asked to make the offer. Use your contacts to pull a small group of travellers together. We will feed you information on the people who need a response and supply expenses for operations and a reasonable fee. You will be a freelancer. Between jobs, be retired and you and your group can take whatever jobs you want, even some less than legal ones. It is a great cover because it will also be real. You get to be back on the ground, so to speak, and still making a difference.”
Viktor was quiet for a moment as he pondered the offer. Ekende was right that his one-man plan might not work as he hoped. He already has several hard men (and a couple of women) who he had missed it past and now needed attention. One was responsible for wiping out a whole team under his direction just this year. Access to the Directorate resources through Ekende would be of great benefit.
“How long do I have to see if I can build a team?” Viktor temporized
“Oh, I think we can give you 12 standard weeks or so. These things take time. I’d ask if you are interested, but I know you, Boss. You need to get to down levels to be happy. This skyview life is not for you.”
“You have me that pegged, huh?” Viktor took a sip of his drink. “Ah hell, of course you do. Let’s thrash this out. I have some ideas on at least two people I can contact who are getting ready for a change themselves.”
Thus, 3 days later, Viktor was standing in the hanger of the Starlight Drifter reintroducing himself to Sharri Duncan, this time as a Director in Imperial Intelligence, not a smuggler.
“Ah, yes! Ms. Duncan, you have a spaceship that needs work? I think I may be able to help, da?”
Viktor knew exactly where the recently retired pirate was. He sighed. The one good thing about being a Director was access to the abundant information of Imperial security and he was going to miss it. Still, time to put it to work. Galen Castor was sitting at the bar talking it up with the people around him. Viktor wondered what scheme the man was working on. Somehow, he had managed to avoid getting caught in the operation that took down his old casino. The files were absent on the details which smelled rotten to Viktor, but there was no need to worry about that now. Right now, the Starlight Drifter needed a skilled pilot.
”Give him another on me,” the former agent said to the bartender, saddling up to Galen. “I like this place they have a human tender. Slower, but more personal, da?”
Galen’s eyes narrowed as he studied this man, with only a flicker as he recognized him from their past, almost a decade ago.
“You are the one who we paid to get the access codes on the Centaur.” And Viktor nodded.
“Indeed, I was. It was part of a broader plan, my friend,” he said clapping Galen on the back like an old friend, while surreptitiously showing the “retired” pirate his official ID.
“And, as you are my friend, I thought to myself that you would be a most excellent pilot for a new venture of mine. See I am retiring too. The desk, is, how you say, too confining. I am out to fly the stars. I have a good friend with a ship, but she lacks a pilot. You don’t have a job and you are a pilot, no? Perfect match!” Viktor smiled widely and slapped Galen hard on the back.
Galen moved and spoke carefully. His deal with Agent Maxwell left him with a clean record, but being flippant with this man would be most unwise.
“Well, I do need work, but I don’t sign up for something without understanding it. Perhaps you can share the details over this drink you bought me,” Galen said with a smooth smile, lifting the whisky.
“Indeed, friend, let’s us talk,” and the two discussed the proposition before heading to the bay holding the Starlight Drifter to meet its Captain.
“Listen Wolfgang,” Rally said to his long-time agent, “I am leaving the planet. That fan was crazy. She had pretty wild arguments. If Captain Jhosten had not been there as a fan I’d be, well, it would be unpleasant. What if he had not won those tickets. No, I think some time off Mora would be helpful for me right now. Besides, I do have fans elsewhere!”
“Rally,” Wolfgang pleaded, “You don’t have the money to just stop playing they way you spend it. You have to keep it flowing in! We can work on guards for you. You have almost no passive income. What, two ship shares for some heavy trader? That won’t last you a week!”
“Wolfy, my mind is made up. Besides, every time I throw myself into a new situation, things end up OK. The Rally Luck always comes through,” Rally said with a laugh. “Now tell people I am on hiatus on Mora and will be traveling the stars. The press should love it. Play up the tragic part. It will be great. Trust me.” With that he terminated the call.
Knowing he needed to get off world, Rally contacted a Broker who did him a favor once, Sharri Duncan. He could trust her to book passage. When he called her office, it turned out she was not in, but they got a message to her and she called him back.
“Mr. Owens, how can I help you?” the Broker asked from her stateroom on her newly inherited ship.
“Please, call me Rally! We are friends. Anyway, Sharri, I need to book passage off of Mora to, well, anywhere. I am not wanting to hang around her and see if that crazy lady has friends or followers, if you know what I mean.”
“You want passage off Mora, Mr., err Rally?”
“That’s right, as fast as we can swing it,” the rocker said.
“Rally,” Sharri started and paused before staring again, “Rally, I am right now calling you from the stateroom on my own ship I inherited. I’d be happy to have you come with me.”
Rally was used to this sort of thing in his life, and he knew this was his Luck at work. A broker with a spaceship could take him places and act as an agent. This was perfect!.
“Well,” she continued, “I know you are not any more of a spacer than I am, but I do need crew, and if you want to leave the planet,…” she trailed off.
“Sharri, you are right that I am not much of a spacer, but you would be suprised at how well I pick things up! I am happy to sign on. ”
Sharri could not quite believe this was happening, but that went with the past quarter of the year. She sent him the slip number and finished the call. She sat there in her room, wondering, for the 101st time, if this was all a good idea. Back in his hotel room, Rally rubbed his hand together.
“Now, I need a bodyguard, and I know just the man” he thought, scrolling through his contacts to the Marine who as a cadet saved his life so long ago. “That’s the man for me!”
Sergeant Hanson was used to meager lodgings. A Star Marine and not a GROPO, he was not used to sleeping on the ground, but this small bed was enough for the moment. It was odd, because with his unexpected winnings. The Sergeant could be living it up, but that was not the way of a farm boy turned Marine. As he looked around the room he was amused by the idea that it was cleaner than what he grew up with on Tenalphi. The problem he had was not his surroundings, the problem he had was finding something to do. With the money he had and his pension, he could do nothing for the rest of his life.
“Especially, as doing nothing will kill me” he said to himself with a derisive snort. It was during his musings that he received a call from a very old friend, the superstar Rally Owens.
“Hanson!” came the voice known to billions over the comm, “The net says you are on Mora. Does that mean they finally let you go from that desk job?”
“Yeah, I found a way to get out. Just not my thing. They did teach me to fix a Jump drive for some reason. I have no idea why. Anyway, I retired,” the Sergeant said.
“Well, have you any plans for a while? As you might have seen on the newsnets, I had a run in with a cybernetic fan. I am going away from Mora, out to do a private tour. I need a bodyguard. Someone I can trust who is not party of the scene here. I don’t think they have my best interest at Heart. Now, the man who stuffed me into a Vaccsuit, that is a man I want guarding my back.”
Hanson thought that he should have been taken aback, but he found Rally’s enthusiasm refreshing. He had been lacking in that for too long himself. Hell, he had been so eager he jumped at the opportunity to be security for getting an informant off for Imperial Intelligence, even when the whole thing seemed suspect. Bodyguard sounded like it could be exciting without being on a mission for some spook.
“Yeah, that sounds good. We can work out the details,” he told his prospective employer.
“Great, I’ll send you my hotel room and you can come pick me up in a few days when I am ready. I have found an old friend with a ship. She needs a crew so maybe you can put that Jump Drive knowledge to use.”
“That sounds good. I’ll get ready.”
While Rally went back to getting his affairs in order, the more simple Seargent sat down to create a shopping list.
“First thing, I need good boarding gear,” and he worked like that into the night.