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Trade Windows : Chapter 1
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:55 am    Post subject: Trade Windows : Chapter 1  

I've always fancied trying my hand at a skiffy, especially given how haunted... erm quiet that part of the city usually is.

I have shamelessly drawn my inspiration from the EvE-online universe in which I have recently become immersed, but I'll adapt it as needed to fit the story we create.

Before you start with Chapter 1 I highly recommend watching this short (5 mins) video to introduce you to the EvE Universe : Here


Chapter 1

"This only looks to be half what we agreed! I said 2'000 units." Targh worked to look intimidating. With some pride he noted his voice held steady, but he also noticed his arms were locked to his sides, fingers clenched with nervous energy. He stuffed them in the deep pockets of his jacket to conceal them, wishing he'd thought to bring a pistol.

"This all you take now, if boss get payment no troubles 'den boss make next shipment bigger."

The thick accent was not easy to understand, but Targh had dealt with the weasel-faced toad of a man before, some three years previous. Back then, under the control of a different boss, business had been easy. However this 'new' boss had taken to dancing Targh through hoops and he didn't like it. He frowned as he deciphered what had been said. Pulling down his shoulders and lifting his head to take full advantage of his tall frame, he loomed over his diminutive contact.

"Garat, Garat... you're not listening to me. You've not been listening to me for the last two weeks! Now you will go back to your new 'boss' and tell him, it's MY clients that are willing to pay at the prices he wants. Without me, nothing sells. I want a full shipment of 2'000 units in this hold ready for pickup by tomorrow, or I'll take my business elsewhere."

"I can no tell boss dat, boss no like to hear that...aargh"

Targh gripped the back of Garat's neck hard, pinching it until the man was forced to look up, directly into his eyes.

"Do we understand each other?"

Trapped in the restraint Garat tried unsuccessfully to nod, before croaking out a 'yes'. Targh released him and stepped back, unconsciously wiping his hand on his jacket.

"Good... I'll see you tomorrow."

As Garat ran off, Targh let out a long breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding, and ran his hands through his dark hair. Anyone would think he was dealing in black market narcotics the difficulty he'd had sorting out this simple contract. This 'boss' clearly seemed to see himself as some sort of crimelord - clandestine meetings, secret messages, a veritable army of lowlife thugs working for him; Garat just one of them. All this for some high yield mining lasers!

Suddenly aware he was alone in the dimly-lit service corridor, Targh hurried off in the opposite direction Garat had taken. Damn these obscure locations, he cursed to himself. A few minutes later, to the gentle hiss of auto-doors sliding open, Targh was back in the bustling hub of the space-station's trade centre, the harsh glow of a thousand ion-bulbs replacing the gloom behind him. Quickly he moved into the flow of people, instantly losing himself in the teaming masses from every corner of New Eden.

Neither the bustling chaos, nor the lines of retail units on either side of him registered to Targh. The long years of his pod training meant tuning out the insignificant stimulus of humans was nothing compared to sifting through the overwhelming quantity of data picked up by ship sensors every second. Lost in his thoughts he let the crowd guide him forwards, contemplating the next day.

A subconcious process alerted Targh to a comm centre to the right. He snapped out of his thoughts, and with some effort and quite a few angry mutterings, he negotiated he way out of the crowds and up to the centre. A bored looking attendant stood next to the kredit scanner, several piercings glinted in ears, nose and lips. Deep set eyes shifted over the passing shoppers with complete disinterest.

Fishing for the chain around his neck, Targh drew out his Kredit-chip and waved it in front of the scanner. A number flashed up and he headed to the nearby vacant comm unit with the matching number. The attendant didn't even acknowledge his arrival. Only two other of the fifty units were engaged. Business was slow.

With a few keystrokes, Targh established a cross-system connection.

"Hello?" The voice was deep, and smooth.

"Howdy!"

"Targh! My good man, you're not dead - that's great news! Fioji, Targh, he's not dead, ain't that great!"

Targh winced at the shout, and heard the indistinct response from a voice in the background.

"Fioji, she's happy too!"

"Good, good. We're all happy I'm alive. Listen, Mart, that little worm Garat met me there, with half the shipment. They're trying to throw me through more hoops."

"Half... half! Ack, you're a dead man, you know they won't accept half."

"Yes, yes Mart, I know alright. I refused the shipment and demanded they be there with the full shipment tomorrow or I was pulling the deal."

"Ack, ack, Targh, what are you doing! We can't afford to cancel this deal."

"Don't worry, I called their bluff. They need this deal more than we do, or the 'boss' thinks he does at any rate. They'll deliver. And then you and me, my friend. Big time!"

"Oooh ooh yes, Big time! Direct deals with suppliers, new expanders and plates on the Bestower, no more middle men!"

"That's right, Mart. No more middle men, all the profit in our wallet. You and me."

Targh listened to his friend go on about their upcoming success for a few minutes more, wryly smiling at how quickly Mart's alarm had faded. This was a conversation they'd had many times together, hopefully the last time before it came true. When his friend paused for breath, Targh interupted him.

"Yes, yes Mart. All true. But I need you to be ready. Get that great wallowing beast of yours warmed up for tomorrow's pickup and delivery, and see if you can pick up something fast for me, a shuttle perhaps, anything with some style. You know what I can fly, see what you can do."

"Another new ship, Targh! Our wallet, it drops low."

"You've gotta speculate to accumulate, my friend. How many times have I said it. Besides, we need Mr Feolin and Co to be impressed when we arrive tomorrow with their equipment. It could be the beginning of a long relationship, and we want to make the right first impression."

Martof grunted, which Targh knew to be reluctant agreement. A soft beep in his ear reminded him of his kredit limit.

"I've got to go, Mart. I'll see you bright and early in the morning."

A click announced the end of the connection and Targh closed down the comm unit. All he could do was wait for the next day. With a weary sigh he headed towards his rooms, 'whatif's' swirling through his mind.

~

Targh tossed and turned on the thick nanoPoly mattress. Despite its advertised confort, Targh couldn't find sleep. He longed for his pod, it had been too long since he'd left. It had been nearly a week on the station, arranging the deal, and three days more than he'd ever left his pod since finishing his training. He missed the comfort of the amber fluid that served as support, sustinance, and warmth. He missed the connection to his ship, the caress of every particle hitting the smooth tritanium armour plates that felt like they were his skin when connected in the pod. The roar of his engines, the compressions and light patterns of entering a warp bubble.

Tomorrow, he told himself. Tomorrow he would be out of this God-forsaken station and back into space.

A slow mantra of 'tomorrow' eventually drifted Targh into sleep.

~

"This channel is secure?"

"Of course!"

Both voices were rough, those of men used to a life requiring hard decisions. The former had an oddly metallic quality to it.

"You were told to only contact me in an emergency. There must be no link between us. I trust you hadn't forgotten."

"One of my men got roughed up by this hauler of yours."

"Surely his injuries aren't life threatening!"

"No, no, but this trader goes too far. He wants the full delivery tomorrow. He's makes demands of me. Of ME!"

"He's a no one, and a little bruise to your ego won't cause you any harm. Follow his instructions."

"But.."

The metallic voice didn't get any louder, but a sudden undertone of menace filled it.

"There will be no buts. You already cause curiosity to grow, a dangerous curiosity. You will fulfil your obligations or you will be replaced. I hope I make myself clear."

A brief pause echoed across the comm.

"Yes, Sir."

"Good. And you will ensure that any suspicions our hauler might have are allayed."

"Yes, Sir."

A dull click announced the end of the conversation, as the owner of the metallic voice disconnected. The man known as the 'Boss' to those who worked for him, put down his comm piece and sighed.

~

Something grabbed hold of Targh's shoulder, and he came awake with a yelp, spinning round in the bed to meet his aggressor.

"Easy matey, 'tis me!"

"Oh erm who ahhh. Mart, it's you! By God's grace, don't do that to a man. Scared me half to death."

Targh took a few deep breaths to gather his wits, and disentangled himself from the blankets. Clumsily he stepped out of bed, dressed in just his underclothes and headed over to the sink. In a line along his spine, connection implants stood out starkly, small dark holes against his pale skin. He activated the spray, splashing the cold liquid onto his face, shocking himself into some semblance of clarity.

"What you doing here already? What time is it?"

Mart looked confused.

"Ack, man. It's 0837, we're running late. I was waiting for you at the dock, but you never came. I thought you told me you couldn't sleep 'orizontal no more. You sure seemed pretty asleep to me."

Targh didn't reply, alarmed that he'd overslept. Moving to the wardrobe he pulled out a loose shirt and pants and slipped into them quickly. He wouldn't have bothered with extra clothing at all, he'd be naked in the pod of course once reconnected, but it was a half a kilometer walk to the dock and he needed to be out to inspect the cargo. Grabbing his vacbag he shoved the rest of his belongings carelessly into it, and shut the opening. A gentle whirring sounded as the electronics came alive, and Targh absently set it down to do its job. Carefully he pulled out the last item in the wardrobe, a packed suit, pressed and clean ready for the meeting later.

"Lets go." Targh announced as he thrust his arms into his jacket, and exited with the suit held up in one hand.

Mart said nothing as he grabbed the vacbag and followed his boss and friend out the door.

~

As the approached the docking port, Targh quickly scanned the lines of ships. It didn't take him long to make out the golden bulk of Mart's industrial. The large ship was basically just a cargohold covered in armour and attached to engines. Not for the first time Targh grimaced at the beast. But it could carry their entire shipment in one journey; unwieldy as it was, it served a purpose.

"So, what'd you get for me?" Targh asked absently as he scanned the other ships, trying to spot what he thought his friend would have bought. He'd be serving as scout, and protector for the journey. Staying ahead of the slow hauler, and looking out for pirates.

Mart laughed, "you won't see it docked. I bought you a choice packaged in the Bestower's hold. Before leaving I checked out the hanger back at base, you have nearly a dozen ships already. There was no point buying another."

"But..."

Mart's grin cut off Targh's protest and he just sighed.

"Ok, what's my choice?"

"Your shuttle, the Punisher, or the Mauler."

A good selection, but which one would be best. Targh made his decision quickly, aware of the time. They needed to be away to the pickup.


~ ~ ~

I toyed over the idea of not having a DP in the first chapter, but figured I'd get you involved from the start, even if it's not a great one.

So this decision point... clearly if you were Targh yourselves, you'd know intimately what the differences are between each of those spaceship options. But as readers, a little out-of-character assistance is probably called for. Don't worry, future decision points will have you coming up with your own options once you're more familiar with this story's setting.

Those that are really keen will find a lot of backstory to the EvE setting online with a little searching. However, that won't be required reading.

The options :

The shuttle is tiny and very fast, but utterly unarmed with only minimal shields and armour. It can be a good scout option as most pirates would ignore it, it not being worth their time or ammo trying to destroy it, even if they were fast enough to shoot it. An unlucky hit though, would destroy it in one shot. It has a graceful shape and a smart design.

The Punisher is bigger, in the frigate class. It has a couple of missile launchers, few shields and a medium amount of armour. Considerably faster than the cargo ship, but by no means the fastest ship out there. An unusual, but pleasantly distinctive design, looking like a golden banana.

The Mauler is considerably bigger again, cruiser class. A battery of 7 medium lasers sit on a large bulk of armour. Whilst even a weak battle ships could take it apart in a few shots, the Mauler can hold it's own against a fairly large force of smaller frigates, and weaker cruisers, as found amongst the more common pirate bands. All the armour and weaponry makes it fairly slow, although not as slow as the cargo ship. A powerful frontal profile makes this an intimidating ship to see.

The choice is yours!
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Crunchyfrog



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:44 am    Post subject:  

The moment I read 'golden banana' it has to be the second choice. And overall it is probably the best option of the three, for speed and weaponry.

Loved the 'hey! you're not dead - guess what guys, he's not dead!' routine.

:D
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8791
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:56 am    Post subject:  

Ha! Nice start Smee, I like it already.

I say the big un. 'cos it's all about size. ;) :shock:
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:38 pm    Post subject:  

Likewise, I would choose the big one, seeing as you are trying to impress the new customers.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:59 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for your comments, folks.

A poll will be up shortly (assuming I can do it myself, longer otherwise.) Voting will close on Sunday morning, when I'll have the next chapter for you. *

Happy Playing :D
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:10 am    Post subject:  

I really like this one! Very nice, Smee.. i'm not much of a space gal myself, usually.. bu this seems to be tiptoeing around that "firefly" brand of humour that I find so funny. Also, love the little accent of Marl.

Speaking of which, can I not read, or did you change "Marl" to "Mart" halfway through the story? OR are those two separate individuals?

I have to vote for the golden banana as well.. not only is the idea so visually charming, who can pass up space fruit?- but it's right in the middle with speed and weaponry, both of which seem useful. I almost went for the big bertha option, thinking of the intimidation factor... but I think style and some flexibility will outweigh brute force for the moment.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:29 am    Post subject:  

Good spot, Kitty... it is one person called Martof, or Mart for short. The "Marls" are errors. I'll correct those now.

*chuckles* I knew mentioning banana was a bad idea.

This picture shows most of the available ships in EvE.

All the ones I've mentioned so far are in the top right (tiny little ones ;) )

It's not brilliantly to scale, but it gives a fair idea. And sadly I actually got my names muddled up, it's the Inquisitor that looks like the golden banana. But hey, it's our story, we'll have the Punisher being that instead. :)

The Maller (Mauler, sounds far more vicious ;) ) you can see on there, and the shuttle is also there, called the Slicer.

Scroll directly down from that section, underneath the arse of the huge Revelation, you'll see the Bestower cargo ship that Mart owns.

Happy Playing :)
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Crunchyfrog



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:16 am    Post subject:  

Grahh! I was looking for the Banana option. But I think I got the banana shaped one. :D
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:43 pm    Post subject:  

Me too, Crunchy. Smee.. maybe i'm lacking super powers or something.. i can't find a banana shaped option among all that mucky silver shippy-stuff! Whichever the case may be.. lets' just say, On with the Silver Banana!!!
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:08 am    Post subject:  

Now, now girls... this ain't no HEM party. Behave yourselves. ;)
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:30 am    Post subject:  

Okay.. okay.. behaving. Although, a little HEM here and there never hurt anyone.. ;)



.. which gives me an idea! hmm!
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The Powers That Be



Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 545
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:16 pm    Post subject:  

I like this chapter, Smee. Targh and Mart are dumb. And in way over their heads. And, by all rights, will be dead tomorrow. But that's just how it should be in a story like this one.

I guess I'll go with the banana too, but I'm a little worried about what happens if they run into some Monkey Men.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:05 am    Post subject:  

One more day for voting.
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:09 am    Post subject:  

Aw, Powers.. you have the best suggestions! Where have you been?

Obviously this story is lacking a musical montage, wherein several escapees from the extras lot of "Planet of the Apes- the Musical Redux" join our little twosome and plot their next moves via interpretive dance.

BraVO!
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject:  

Quite a convincing win to the Punisher then; a new chapter will be up shortly.

Happy Playing :)
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Thunderbird



Joined: 13 Sep 2009
Posts: 2139
Location: Rising from the ashes

Posted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:33 pm    Post subject:  

Just a note to let you know I'm trying to work through this one... 5 chappy's shouldn't be too bad ;) I like it so far. Both sci-fi and fantasy can be difficult to write due to so many foreign elements to the reader. I got lost in some of them but the way you put these elements in such a matter-of-fact manner suggests that before long we'll understand what vac-bags and 'pods' are. The plot develops at a nice pace here and the writing is nearly flawless. Good start! I hope to read more soon.
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