(Referee and Misha's player only)
Helia says that she gets double pay for Amber Zones, and triple pay for Red Zones. She and Ed discuss it for a little while. Ed wonders when money became important for her -- the larian has never even seemed to think about money before. Still, it's the Marquis' money, so Shark is not too worried about it.
They have decided to stay on this sleepy farming planet to see in the new year , then continue with their journey. Jake is at least pleasant. The sun shines all day here on the bright side, except when the moon partially eclipses the very dull red main sequence star. Vonish is instructed to restock the ship not only with regular supplies, but with a good quantity of wine and beer.
They do need to inform the base that they are not
a military ship, so they don't get fired on when they get there.
Of course the transponder will tell them that, but it seems that a voice
communication might be a good idea.
As they start to approach the planet, the Baron asks Robert to open a channel. Bridgehead says, "Hello, station! This is Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead coming back for a visit. I was Sir Bridgehead when you saw me last and there's somebody else you also might know, an engineer called Mich Saginaw. We should arrive at the landing field later today. Thank you."
After a while, a response comes back. It's a standard flight plan description for the landing approach.
Robert still can't figure out what those ships in orbit are. Shark fiddles with the computer and manages to resolve them more clearly. Robert then uses that information to bring them onscreen. They are three Donosev class Survey Scouts, Imperial ships, 400t displacement, all holding orbit. Since they are unstreamlined, it's not surprising that they haven't landed.
The Third Eye finally arrives at Karma.
Helia brings the ship into orbit, and then down to the landing site as
per the flight plan.
On the way down, Mich explains to Otto that they will have to refurbish a few things. Several units will need some attention, and some cleaning will have to be done. Things did get a little warm in the engineering section during the high-g run -- both Mich and Otto broke rather a sweat. Mich reminds Otto not to tell the rest of the crew -- they don't like hearing about engineering details. It'll only take a couple of hours to sort it all out.
There is indeed a starport here. It's a Class
F, a good interplanetary facility. It supposedly doesn't have facilities
for intersystem travel.
The descent is difficult. The ship is coming down into a dense atmosphere, the planet has almost one full gravity, and the landing field is totally obscured by an intense snowstorm and gale force winds. Nevertheless Helia brings them down to a perfect landing. They wait for the locals to call them.
After a while, with still no-one calling, they decide
to walk over to the buildings to find someone. Shark puts on his
environmental suit (with the faceshield down), Helia her zack (in safe
mode), Misha layers up his own cold weather gear, while Mich and Bridgehead
don regular Imperial bad weather gear.
No-one gets lost or blown away on the walk to the building. They step into the starport lobby, shaking off the snow in the environmental entrance.
There's a reception area, with a man in uniform at a desk. Shark does not recognize the uniform. Behind the desk is a symbol which he also doesn't recognize -- an Imperial starburst with an idealized scoutship heading away from it towards the viewer. Above it are the letters I.F.S.S..
The man puts down his book and greets them, "Hello! Quite some weather we have out there today!"
They discuss the weather briefly -- the man thinks the weather will probably blow over in a day or so. He introduces himself as Lieutenant Brown, and welcomes them to Karma.
Mich tells him they're here to see Professor Farol.
"He's... here. You know how he likes fishing... well, he left about three days ago, and we were expecting him back but I think the weather might have held him up a bit. He'll probably be back in a couple of days. But you're all welcome to relax here if you like."
Misha asks, "What kind of facilities do you have?"
"Not a lot. We've got a place you can stay if you want, we've got some regular food, anything you'd get at a regular Scout Base we've pretty much got covered here. If you go through that door there, that's where all the public areas are. You going to be here long, or just ot see the professor?"
"Just to see the professor. I don't know how long we're going to stay."
"Just remember, don't bring any livestock off the ship. We're concerned about the environmental balance here. No pets either. Some admiral idiot tried to bring out some rabbits a while back, we had to put a stop to that."
The Grand Am is admiring the ceiling, apparently not listening.
"Do you need refueling? If you can wait until the snow stops, or at least until the wind dies down, we'll send a crew out and hook you up."
They walk into the public areas. Shark immediately
leaves his usual note on the public board.
This area is much like a regular starport area. There are some guest rooms, past a check-in desk. There's a small cafe, a small bar, lounge chairs, news consoles. In this court-like area are a couple of people in uniform drinking coffee. There is a big wall of windows that would look out on something if it wasn't totally white.
Misha calls back to his ship to tell everyone that they're welcome to stay here if they want a break from the ship. Shark wants to stay for a while. Helia asks the desk, and finds that there is a swimming pool -- that's good enough for her to want to stay.
After a while relaxing and sampling the food, Shark
commdots back ot the ship. "Captain, if you'd like to make a big
hit with the local commander, invite him over for supper."
He's been mildly enquiring about what this base is, what branch of the service is that runs it, and so on.
The bartender is quite forthcoming. "It's the Imperial FarSpace Service."
"FarSpace service? I never ran across it before."
"Probably not. We only operate out of the way."
"This is definitely where you would operate, then."
"We sort of take over where the Scouts leave off."
"Beyond the Scouts. That's interesting. And we always thought that the Scouts were the people on the edge."
"They are -- they're on the edge, we're over it."
"Any good beers around here?"
"This one isn't bad. Try this one." No-one has mentioned money or charges at all. As far as Shark can tell, it's all free.
Shark continues chatting with the barman. What about the commander?
"Well, this base is mostly just administration. It's really run by civilians, it's a research station."
"That's probably why my engineer wanted to come here. It's a professor from somewhere or other?"
"Yeah, that's him. The Professor. He's the guy that runs the place -- that's why we're here."
"For the Professor?"
"Yeah. And we run some ships here."
"Well, the planet doesn't seem to be a bad place to be."
"It's not, when it's not snowing. It can be warmer than this, it's a particular bad day today. It's been bad for a couple of days. It's supposed to clear up."
"We made five straight jumps without getting off ship."
"Bring the whole crew ashore. Or is this the whole crew?"
"Most of us have come ashore. I'm sure the rest of them will get their chances."
"We can run a groundcar out to the ship if you want, you don't have to walk."
"Our captain has invited your commander over for dinner, I believe. Thanks for the beer, and maybe I can swing an invite for you too. We have a good cook, and we just stopped at two Ag planets on the way, so we're well stocked up."
'Well, let me know when it is and I'll see if I can wangle time off."
Shark keeps gently digging for information. He'd like to find out how they report into the Imperium, but that's never mentioned. Also, his note on the board gets no response.
Shark asks if he can get a groundcar to park under
the ship. The barman, Ted, says they'd be glad to drive him out,
and pick up anyone who wants to come ashore -- just call them.
He goes to check out the rooms here. They're a good size, more of a suite really, at least four times a stateroom. Helia decides to stay, especially when she finds out that she can get one with a big bathtub.
Misha and Baron Bridgehead decide to return to the
ship. Lt. Brown walks them to a garage, where they are driven out
to the entrance to the ship. He also adds that they'd be glad to
drive anyone out or back on demand.
Otto wants to come ashore. He wants to check the sports channels, see if they have any big events, snowmobile races, or anything like that. As Misha and the Baron leave the groundcar, the swordworlder gets in.
"Is this your first time on Karma?" asks the driver.
"I believe so. Most of the time all I see is the inside of ships. I stand a lot of watches in port."
"I don't know that snow is much better, but it's supposed to clear up in a day or two."
"What brought me in was I heard you have a swimming pool. I can work on my butterfly stroke, and see if I can pick up any sports channels or anything like that."
"We don't have a lot going on, but there's some sports on the base. It's not like any pro league or anything, but if you play something there might be someone who can give you a match."
The car pulls up, and Otto walks through the lobby to the starport area. He sees Shark and Helia already there, just checking in the guest rooms. They chatter about guest suites, swimming pools, and so on. Otto needs some sporting gear -- apparently he can get it through the room service console once he gets to his suite.
Shark checks his console and looks for training tapes, and so on. Anything they want on board, he notes for them to request later.
All the suites have a good view outside -- of the whiteout, at present. They're comfortable, full tech level 15 accommodations.
Otto finds that there are quite a few courts for various games. He signs up for matches in several of the indoor facilities. The IFSS folks find he's a fun opponent, as not only is he a good competitor, but he loses a lot too. As for outside sports, cross country skiing is available, but there's a snow advisory for that at the moment.
Back on the Third Eye, Misha asks Robert
to connect him with the base commander. Misha intends to introduce
himself and invite him to dinner. The chain of command sort of stops
at present, though, as the Professor is off the base.