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Trade Windows : Chapter 5
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:55 am    Post subject: Trade Windows : Chapter 5  

Chapter 5

"Targh? Answer me man!"

Mart frowned, several lines creasing his forehead, as a faint hiss echoed from the comm piece. He pulled it off his ear, and beckoned over one of his crew.

"Goffers, take this and do try to contact Targh until you be getting an answer. Let me know immediately when you do."

Mart barely even noticed the crewman nod in acknowledgement as he handed over the comm unit. Something bad had happened, and he didn't like it. There was only a little time left before the pretence of the ship being inoperative would start raising suspicions and Mart hated being rushed. 'A hasty decision is usually a bad decision', the oft repeated words of his father sounded in his head.

A problem required thought and a consideration of the options to proceed unerringly to the right solution. Yet all too often, since going into business with Targh, decisions had been hasty as a matter of course.

With a heavy sigh, Mart stood up from his command chair, automatically straightening the heavy cloth shirt that always bunched up whilst seated.

"Stal, I be going aboard the station, keep up the 'repairs' for as long as you can. I'll be back soon."

He grabbed another comm piece from a storage locker on his way off the bridge, and headed for the lift down to the docking port level. Faint banging could be heard coming from the distant engine room, and Mart let his hand run along the smooth walls as he walked.

"That-a-girl, don't you be worrying. You be flying again soon," he reassured the ship in a faint murmur.

As he went through the airlock into the station, he replayed the last conversation with Targh in his head. Wherever Targh had been when he made the call, it had been too quiet to offer any identifying sounds. There were any number of service corridors or quiet corners. Where had he said J'iony was? Up on deck 3. Up!

That put Targh on deck 1 or 2 when it happened. Pleased at having had opportunity to think through a decision more carefully, Mart changed direction and headed for the nearest elevator.


It took several minutes for the sudden light to penetrate Targh's consciousness. As he came more awake he covered his eyes with his arms, writhing in shocked pain at the bright invasion. His fogged mind struggled to work out what was going on, where he was.

"Good afternoon, you're awake at last!" The voice came from somewhere above Targh. A pleasantly musical voice, soothing and in deep contrast to every other sensation burning through Targh.

"Quite the bump on the head you have there, my associate clearly doesn't know his own strength. He will be disciplined for his excessive exuberance, be sure of that. I asked only to meet you, I did not want you harmed."

"W-w who?" Targh croaked, his throat dry and still covering his eyes against the brightness.

"Who am I?" The musical voice answered. "I'm Overseer Jacrim, of the Great House Stalat."

Even in his present condition, Targh registered the shock at being addressed by an Overseer*. As his wits returned, he thought he was in some kind of cell, although the bench beneath him was padded somewhat more generously than a typical prison.

Slowly his eyes adjusted to the light, and he pushed himself up to a sitting position. A wave of dizziness washed over him as he sat up and he clutched his head until it passed. A supporting hand on his shoulder kept him upright as he held his head.

"Easy, don't rush."

A glass was held to his lips and Targh drank gratefully. It tasted like wine, rich and expensive if a little bitter.

"Why am I here?" Targh asked as the liquid soothed his dry throat. As soon as he spoke he winced at the directness of his question to an Overseer. His thinking was still a little foggy, but if the Overseer was offended, he didn't show it.

"I'm hoping you can help me with a little problem," he replied succinctly, stepping back from supporting Targh's shoulder.

Targh looked up, finally seeing his 'host' for the first time, as well as his surroundings. He wasn't in a cell, but a small room, richly furnished with antiques, and panelled in a dark wood. The centre of the room was dominated by a large fireplace, generous flames licking large logs stacked intricately in the grate.

The scene was so unexpected that it took Targh some time to realise what was missing from his awareness. The background hum of a station's engines, the taste of treated air, the strong pull of artificial gravity. All were missing here.

"We're on a planet?" Targh spluttered, already knowing the answer but unable to prevent himself asking anyway. No one in their right mind had an open fireplace onboard a space station.

"Indeed we are, my planet in fact. Rochia IV." A hint of pride touched the voice.

It had been many years since Targh had last been planet bound. Almost immediately he felt the first twinges of the claustrophobia-like feelings he always had when not in space. The oppressiveness of the massive quantities of rock beneath his feet feeling like they were swelling up, encasing him, preventing him from being free.

With an effort Targh shook himself out of such thought and looked again at his host. He was a tall man, typical Ammarian features not that different from Targh's own, although not so scarred, and softened at the chin and cheek bones. A prominent nose dominated the face although it didn't overshadow the penetrating dark eyes. Long black hair was held back in a ponytail.

His clothes suited his station, precisely tailored and richly embroidered, the mark of his office showed in the simple marks on his collar. The five interlinked rings formed a larger circle, symbolising the Royal families of Amarr supporting the Empress, one of which was gold indicating to which family the Overseer worked. Targh instantly recognised it as the Khanid family, particularly known for its warrior based roots.

Jacrim smiled, and absently placed the wine goblet on a tray held out by a young Mimitarian slave with blonde hair. Targh hadn't even seen the boy standing there. A flicker of a finger dismissed the slave and the Overseer turned his attentions back on to Targh.

"Now, let me tell you about my little problem."


Over thirty minutes of searching later and Mart had found no trace or evidence that helped figure out what had happened to Targh. Frustration and worry were beginning to overwhelm the middle aged pilot as he brushed his hands through greying hair.

With a resigned sigh he made the decision to head to deck 3. It was another trade deck, although one quarter of it was given over to various gambling pits and gaming stations. Mart had never met J'iony, but the latter was well known on the Gravel** circuit and Mart was soon pointed to him.

"J'iony?" Mart asked, quickly appraising the shaven headed man sat down infront of him. His clothing was rough but well tended, clean if rather disheveled like he'd slept in it for the past week. Stubble lined the man's cheeks, patchy and uncared for and a gold ring adorned one ear. The ends of several tatoos were visible, decending down from the back of his neck, staying wide of the centre where Mart recognised the tell-tale lump of a connection implant just showing above the collar. A pod pilot! He appeared fairly young, perhaps early twenties at most. Remarkably young to have implants.

"Who wants to know?" He replied without looking up from his game.

"I be Mart. Someone associated with a common friend. Targh D'yer."

J'iony slapped a series of buttons and a gold block on one of the hexagonals lit up making his opposition grimace. With a grin, J'iony finally looked up at Mart.

"Friend of Targh's, heh. The man helped a fellow out a few years back. A fellow owes a few favours his way; I'm listening. Just gimmie a minute here, alright!"

Turning back to his game, J'iony caused a last piece to shift and stood up with a wide grin.

"Better luck next time, my friend." He smirked at his opposition.

Beckoning Mart to follow, he led them to a quiet booth at the back of the room, motioning to a passing waiter to bring them drinks. Once they were settled, Mart sighed and ran through the situation including the deal and Targh's disappearance, as briefly as he could.

"Quite a problem, heh!" J'iony said, the same grin plastered on his face. "Targh was always one to get caught up in some dodgy stuff, but never known him to be suckered quite so well."

Mart tried hard not to scowl at the cocky grin on the punk's face, whilst trying to work out what Targh had been thinking when he'd helped this boy. Probably a hasty decision.

"So? Do you be helping or not" With only twenty minutes or so before the charade of fixing the Bestower was foiled, Mart couldn't help some of his impatience escaping in his voice.

"Heh, easy Gramps. All in good time. I'll call a few friends of mine, see if they've seen anything. But I reckon Targh can look after himself. We should focus on getting the cargo outta here before you wind up in a CONCORD cell and are no use to any one."

Mart managed to smile, but inside he boiled. A hasty decision to come find this boy, and already it had shown itself to be a sour decision. Rude ass punk. Young Pod Pilots, always thought themselves God's gift. But if the boy had a ship, and some friends too, then they just might get out. With the delivery complete he'd be free to spend as long as necessary to find Targh, and have the Kredits to do it too.

"Alright, lets go."


Targh shook his head, wondering for the twentieth time how he'd ended up here. An hour had passed and Jacrim had brought him to a much larger room. It too was furnished with the dark wood panelling and had a large fire burning to one side. During the brief walk to the room he had tried to get his bearings. They seemed to be in some kind of large house, presumably the main seat for the Overseer. Despite slaves seemingly popping up whenever Jacrim signalled, he didn't see a soul during the walk.

"So I'm understanding right. You have me knocked out, smuggled aboard a ship and flown four jumps to bring me here, jepodising my life and my business. And all you want to know is who my contract is with?"

"Yes," Jacrim replied simply, a small smile playing over his lips but not touching his dark eyes. Targh studied him, trying to work out how this new thread tangled up with the others, whilst also wondering if it was the thread that would end up strangling him. His knowledge of Overseer's was limited, but he didn't think they did more than tolerate CONCORD like everyone else. Could he know about the drugs?

It was no use, there was a picture developing but he was missing several very large pieces. Trouble was, could he afford to defy this Overseer over a big picture he wasn't sure about. Or should he just come clean.

"I need some time to think, my head is still a little fuzzy."

Jacrim frowned for just a second, but the smile was back so fast it was like it had never left.


A clap of his hands bought another slave into the room, this time a woman of middle years. Targh thought she might have been Gallente, but that was illegal, even for Ammar. What was an Ammarian Overseer doing with an illegal slave? A prisoner of war? The Ammarians and Gallente had been fighting for centuries. He filed it away for later as he was led back to the log-fire room.

*An Ammarian Overseer is the rough equivalent of a Lord. Massive land owners, slave owners (the Ammarians are the last human race to still legalise a slave trade), and business leader, they serve as the main base below the Ammarian Empress and her advisors.

** A highly tactical game played on a large hexagonal board. Somewhere in-between Chess and Go in complexity and depth.

A little late in arriving but this chapter was tricky to write.

Mart has made contact with J'iony, and we'll continue to see how they progress in each chapter to follow. Depending how things go we may see more decision points for Mart too.

But for now we're back with Targh and he's woken up to find himself in a rather unexpected situation. The decision points asks, what do you (Targh) do next?

Happy Playing :)
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Joined: 12 Dec 2006
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Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 9:05 am    Post subject:  

Well, that was a good chapter, and worth the wait. I got a little confused towards the end when the Overseer led Targh back into the room I'd assumed they were already in, but apart from that a good read.

Well we don't know much about Overseers other than from the footnote, but it is clear that it is ingrained into Targhs upbringing to show respect - by the way he winces at the directness of his questions.

Like it or not, that conditioning is going to make it very hard for him not to obey. Will the Overseer see him as a criminal? Or an informant? Targh wouldn't dare question him on his intentions. And if I suspect right, that Targh is an Ammarian, he will look very suspicious if he's caught talking to any slaves to try and get information out of them.

I think he can take courage from the fact that the Overseer has showed direct concern by physically supporting Targh and personally offering him the wine - rather than employ a slave to tend to him, meaning that he might actually have a use for him in the future. And of course, he has the knowledge that there is an illegal slave involved. Possibly more. So he has ammunition, too.

Yeah. Come clean, and see what happens.
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
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Location: UK

Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 9:48 am    Post subject:  

Cheers Crunchy...

Yep - seperate room, I've added a bit to clarify that. And yes, Targh is Ammarian. Mart I believe I said was Caldarian, will double check that.

4 species of Human in the Eve universe.

Ammarians and Caldarians are basically friendly toward each other.

Galente and Mimitars are basically friendly to each other.

The two factions are at war, but not full open warfare. A fragile ceasefire with some fringe skirmishes in the outskirts of the galaxy where CONCORD don't have jurisdiction or the manpower to stop battles.
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
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Location: UK

Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 1:20 am    Post subject:  

*coughs innocently*
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Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 177
Location: The Great Canadian Desert

Posted: Sun May 24, 2009 7:43 pm    Post subject:  

Wow, just caught up. Good story so far Smee.

One small crit though, I believe the word jepodising, is spelt; jeopardizing (God bless Trebek). *Look at me, correcting spelling!!*:whist:

As for Targh, obviously he can't trust the Overseer, I wouldn't trust the guy who just hired people to kidnap me from a place I shouldn't have been at. Targh, should play dumb as a sack of wet kittens and try, for the most part, to escape with all limbs and appendages attached.

Interesting story, with a strong plot. I eagerly await the next installment.
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The White Blacksmith

Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 2629

Posted: Mon May 25, 2009 4:55 am    Post subject:  

For the most part? I feel he might want to keep all of his limbs and appendages attached.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 7:51 am    Post subject:  

So why is the Gallente an illegal slave? Is it to do with some kind of political correctness to ensure the ceasefire between the Gallente and Ammarians? Perhaps this overseer has his fingers in more pies than Targh originally supposed.

A second option from me - since things are a bit slow at the mo - talk to the slaves and see what they know. But don't talk directly to the Gallente. And be discreet. I can't imagine Ammarians chatting with slaves every day. :)
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
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Location: UK

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 5:34 am    Post subject:  

Slavery is pretty much illegal throughout the galaxy, with the Gallente, Caldari and Mimitars all banning it. But the Ammarian government still allow a trade in mimitar slaves.

Originally the entire mimitar population were slaves to the Ammars until a faction of them broke free to form the current seperate people. The vast majority of the mimitar people still remain behind as slaves, and any captured mimitar rebels can be re-enslaved legally.

Taking slaves from other populations though is against even Ammarian law.

There are code of conducts for the overseers with their slaves though, it's more akin to the Lord and his serfs of middle history. They work for all but nothing, but their health, and needs are provided for. Some slaves from families who have earnt loyalty over long generations are even pretty well educated holding technical jobs (but still not paid).


Much thanks for the second poll idea, but I'm happy to wait through the quiet period for now, as I am myself busy preparing for the house move in the next 3-4 weeks.

Hopefully by then most regular readers will have caught up :)
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The Meaning Of Fear

Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 980
Location: In a deep, dark corner of the universe, plotting.

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 7:35 pm    Post subject:  

I've opened up this thread at least four times over the last two weeks or so, but I always seemed to get distracted somehow. Now that I've finished reading, though, am I glad I concentrated for long enough!

*Rubs hands together and grins a very evil grin*

Now this Overseer guy sounds like the kind of guy who'd smile at you deceptively then when you turn your back rob your house, burn it down, kill your family and stab you in the back all at the same time, but I don't see much of a choice for Targh at the moment. He'll want to "co-operate", but only to a certain extent; tell him a little of what he wants to know, but withhold every single last piece of info he can afford to.

I really can't wait... This is so very exciting.
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Joined: 31 Jul 2009
Posts: 56

Posted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:38 pm    Post subject:  

New reader here...

So Targh seems not too comfortable outside his pod and not that comfortable with other people, either. The suave Overseer is a nice contrast to Targh's introversion.

I've been enjoying the story immensely. Thank you for writing it.

The decision point seems to be dual--one for Mart and one for Targh. Does Mart leave without his friend? How does Targh deal with the Overseer?

Do the Overseer's have a rank structure? Even a four-star general "obeys orders". Why would the Overseer need drugs or money ... to fund a war, perhaps? It seems like he is working with the Empress or against her wishes. Targh is probably in too much of a panic to think, but the strangeness of the encounter with the Overseer would be even more unsettling.

Here's an idea ... If I were Targh I play my cards close to my chest. The Overseer needs Targh alive. Perhaps the name of the contact would satisfy him, but perhaps not. Clearly the Overseer is not hampered by the same sense of honor and ethics that Targh is.

I would try to think of a plausable lie that would require the Overseer to let Targh go. Maybe if he said that the contact was anonymous and was expecting Targh personally by some kind of genetic marker id and voiceprint?

Pardon me if I'm misunderstanding the mileau. I look forward to hearing more if you are so inclined. :)
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:50 am    Post subject:  


Apologies for the extended pause.

Seems I forgot a poll on this one in my absence, but rather than poll a chapter from several months ago I'm going to work from the comments already here.

New chapter will arrive asap :D

P.S Hope you're still around Zeke, that was an excellent comment.
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