Silver & Ice - The Stars of Perdition

What has gone before... Liftoff

Having just committed arson and many counts of theft/kidnapping, with their hold full of more than ninety escaped indentured anthromals, this would be a terrible time for a spot inspection by the port authorities. But try telling that to the nice men with guns who are now surrounding the ship…

Darion has to act quickly. He and the crew come up with a plan to stall the authorities and hide their extremely illegal cargo of runaways. Darion, Rex, and Portia (the most authoritative of the human crewmembers) will try to buttonhole the fuzz at the airlock door. Meanwhile, Daphne and Rakesh will hide some people in the gap between the ship’s hulls while Artesielcha and Willie wreck the ship’s engines a bit, enough to put out a lot of smoke and sparks so that they can conceal the rest of the runaways in the engine room. Arakawanne will wander around eccentrically as a distraction, while Lukas can provide further stalling.

Miraculously, the plan works. The Enforcers search the entire ship, but thanks to some clever misdirection they don’t find the hidden escapees. They do require a full mechanical inspection before the ship takes off; a sizeable bribe gets the technicians to come back later (after Sakidanaraya comes by to pick up the “cargo”). Also, Darion owes Daphne a backrub.

The crew set to work repairing their ship, buying food, medicine, and other supplies (on more money loaned to them by Sakidanaraya), and getting ready for an eventual deep space trip. Sakidanaraya sends a truck with a shipping container on it to pick up all the rescuees – she refuses to say where she is taking them, only that they are being put “on ice”, and will be brought somewhere safe where they won’t be enslaved again. Artesielcha and Willie make what repairs they can to the ship (FTL diagnostic, leaky airlock seal, slow leak in the forward section, galley lights, spotlight that got shot out back at the farm, broken salvage gear, etc). They fix two of _Perdition_’s FTL pylons, and try to get the FTL harness working (Holly uses her tricks of the trade to bodge 3 of them back to working condition, and Darion successfully salvages one at the scrapyard).

At one point, Darion finds Daphne up on top of the ship with a golf club, hitting golf balls at the huge container ship parked next to them (trying to hit containers of a particular colour). She and Darion talk, and Daphne opens up about her childhood as the adopted daughter of human parents, how she is estranged from her community and her culture, and never got a proper Ghost Child name. Darion vows to find a way to get Daphne a name.

Darion emails his contacts – Admiral Kaerwyn, Kace, Dawningdragon – and updates them on his progress. He remarks at how differently things are run here in the Border, that he is still getting used to paying bribes, dealing with shady characters, and breaking up fights between his crewmembers. He asks if any of them have job leads they could give him. Darion also grabs Portia and Lukas and sets them to work incorporating a salvage business for him.

One night, as their launch window approaches, Darion throws a dance party for the crew (under their ship), complete with food, drinks, music, etc. Many of the crew take to dancing with one another, though some (notably Rex and Lavender) do not join in. There is more awkwardness when Darion dances with Daphne, and Lukas dances with Arakawanne (causing Lukas to remark “Awkward, at least on my part. She appears to be having an okay time.”).

As they creep closer and closer to their launch window, Darion and Daphne are called to the Port Master’s office. Darion is asked to take the captain’s oath, and sign his commission (the Port Master is very speciesist and doesn’t want to acknowledge Daphne’s existence, but Darion insists that she sign as his First Officer). The two of them make tracks back to the ship, and manage to make it in time for their launch window.

Darion and Daphne take their seats on the bridge; Artesielcha has the engines warmed up. They take off from the spaceport, and fly up into the sky and out into the blackness of space…

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What has gone before... As the Dust Settles

Status Report:
Holly: Shitfaced
Zelysithea: Unconscious, possibly dead
Where they just came from: On fire
Mission: Accomplished

Daphne is pissed off at the guards for shooting at her ship (and breaking one of its floodlights), so she buzzes them. The engine wash overturns their truck and scatters them. She opens up the engines and they fly away from the farm. Daphne switches on the autopilot, jumps up and yells “Yeah baby, that’s how it’s done!” and so on. Corey reaches over and switches off the autopilot, and nervously takes the helm.

Darion leaves the bridge to check on his crew. Lavender is in the infirmary treating Zelysithea, who is alive but unconscious. Lavender says that Zelysithea over-exerted herself during the farm heist, and she passed out due to lack of oxygen. Lavender says they will have to wait until she wakes up to see if there is any permanent damage. She tells Darion that Zelysithea needs medication if she is going to keep doing strenuous work on the ship – it will cost 36G for a month’s supply.

Artesielcha works with Lakedanearie to get everyone settled. They separate the 23 who were part of Sakidanaraya’s shipment and takes them to Darion’s office. Darion meets them there – he tries to get them to tell him where Sakidanaraya is taking them, but they either don’t know or won’t tell him. Darion then addresses the other 70-odd rescuees in the cargo hold – he doesn’t get the warmest reception because he addresses them in a formal (human) way like he is talking down to them, ordering them around. Artesielcha introduces Darion to Lakedanearie, and he tries to shake her hand – not recognizing the gesture, she rubs her face against Darion’s hand. Darion arranges for Fennel to cook food for the rescuees, and gets blankets for them.

When Darion gets back to the bridge, Daphne is in his chair, asleep, drooling on the armrest. Darion wakes her up but she doesn’t give up the captain’s chair. So Darion just sits on her lap, causing her to remark that he has a bony ass. Then she decides to find out if he’s ticklish. They end up in a tickle fight on the floor. Cory wishes he was elsewhere…

Lukas overhears some radio chatter – the authorities issue an APB on a ship suspected of kidnapping the farm workers, but are not able to give a description – only that it “has a crane”. They think it is a cargo ship. They are sending out coast guard helicopters to search because they don’t have a spaceship until morning.

Artesielcha checks up on engineering – everything is fine, but the engines sound laboured – likely a fuel system problem. Then the fuel mixture warning light goes on. Artesielcha and Corey troubleshoot the problem and get some improvement, but the engines need to be shut off before they can really fix anything. Corey wants to bring the ship up higher so they have a margin of safety if they suddenly lose power. Daphne says no – flying higher will make them easier to detect. Corey says safety comes first; Daphne stands firm. Lukas chimes in that it’s best to not be spotted; Daphne says listen to the professor. Lukas calls the captain when it looks like Daphne and Corey are about to come to blows. Darion comes on the bridge and breaks them up – Daphne gets pissed at him for not letting her handle it and questioning her judgment, and storms off.

Darion has a talk with Corey, and tells him that Daphne has experience in these sorts of situations and that he should listen to her. Corey says he’s not going to put the ship at risk. This triggers Darion’s PTSD and he flashbacks to the Halifax – he only comes back when Corey has to make a course change and has to shake Darion out of it because Darion has a death grip on the controls. Corey brings them in for a landing on their pad (with less up-and-down this time).

Rex shows up in the bridge and asks to meet with Darion. He is upset about something. In Darion’s office, he says “I told you so” about Zelysithea, and demands that Darion take her off of his salvage crew. Darion agrees that she won’t work on Rex’s crew anymore, and won’t be on any heavy machinery until he can be sure that she is medically fit. Rex thanks him for keeping their deal, and asserts that he doesn’t want her on the cranes.

Darion knocks on Tom and Portia’s cabin, and asks them to stand bridge watch since they are the only ones who have had some sleep and are not drunk or hung over. He checks in at the infirmary one more time. Willie is asleep on a gurney; Darion wakes him up and sends him to bed. Lavender is still working; Zelysithea is still unconscious. Darion tells Lavender to get some sleep; she says she is fine (she did seven days of sleep deprivation training with the special forces). She eventually agrees that if Darion can find someone with first aid training to relieve her then she would catch some rack time. Darion goes to cargo bay to check on the rescuees and talk to Lakedanearie – she says that one of the rescuees’ grandmother knows healing, but she doesn’t speak English.

Darion finally gets to bed, wobbles for a while, then falls into a dreamless sleep. He is woken sometime later by the intercom – Tom tells him to get to the bridge. When he gets there, he sees Tom looking out the window. Outside are a couple Enforcer armoured trucks with soldiers walking around. Tom tells Darion that Portia is downstairs talking to them. They want to come on board to do an inspection.

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What has gone before... Down on the Farm
The Perdition crew's first job goes up in flames

Darion gets a text message while he is having his breakdown. Sakidanaraya is wondering why Callianessa has been standing outside the ship for ten minutes with no answer to her knocking. Darion goes down and answers the door; he and Calli talk in his office. She gives him the details of the job, and tells him to memorize some GPS coordinates. They are to fly to the coordinates (a factory farming operation about 900km from the spaceport) with a pallet full of supplies that was left off of the last supply shipment. They should arrive after sunset, so they have an excuse to stay the night. Darion must go to the post office and ask for Lorne Harris, and he will arrange for the cargo. Load the cargo, fly back to the spaceport, wipe ship’s computers, and wait for further instructions. She asks that he tell no one anything that he doesn’t have to.

After showing Calli out, Darion puts everyone to work. He tells Zelysithea and the salvors to get the pallet loaded; tells the deckhands and Lavender to secure the ship; orders Artesielcha and Willie to the engine room; sends Corey and Arakawanne (and Zelysithea when she’s done) to the bridge. He texts Daphne that they have work to do; she says she went out for a few drinks and she’ll be back in an hour. Darion talks with Fennel (after Lukas finishes cleaning up some spilled caesar salad) and tries to explain his worries around his and Daphne’s relationship. Fennel tells him that he might have to try different things, but also that she wouldn’t be bothering with him if there wasn’t something there she liked.

Daphne returns, and Darion briefs her about the mission. She asks if they are going to keep not talking about what happened between them, and Darion tries to apologize on his way out the door. Daphne follows him and stops him, saying you don’t just say that and walk away, you apologize to my face and then wait to hear what I have to say. She asks if he wants to try that again. Darion leads her back to the office and apologizes again, and hopes that they can run the ship together. Daphne says she’s still mad, but she’s glad he apologized and she thanks him for the lollipops, and hugs him. Then he has to run because he has a ship to get off the ground; Daphne goes to the kitchen for some dinner.

On the bridge, Darion takes the second pilot seat and lets Zelysithea have the captain’s chair. “Engage!”

Corey takes off, and Darion coaxes him to fly a little bit faster; this only really happens after they’re out of the city’s airspace. Darion turns off the running lights and has Arakawanne monitor an Enforcer radio channel (that Daphne told him about).

They land at the factory farm after dark; Corey circles around for a while and then takes two tries to land (the first time there was an irrigation pipeline in the way). It is a soft landing. Corey is still shook up from landing off-airport, which he has never done before.

Afterwards, Darion marshals the crew in the cargo bay. They rig the pallet to unload it. There is a knock on the cargo bay doors; Darion and Daphne go answer (Daphne with a hand under her jacket on her SMG). Outside there are three farm workers and a flatbed pickup; Darion explains their cover story, and the guys buy it. The crew unloads the pallet onto the truck, and the ploughboys drive off with it.

Darion dismisses the deckhands, the salvagers, and Fennel and Willie off to have a couple drinks in the town watering hole, and relax for the night. The remaining crew have some skulduggery to do…

Lavender pulls Artesielcha aside and asks her not to tell the captain about what happened in the infirmary storage room. She acknowledges that she gets these “episodes”, but says she is close to finding the right medications to keep them under control. Artesielcha says you have to tell the captain soon, or I will – Lavender says she will tell the captain, but wants something to bring to him first so he doesn’t just kick her off the ship. Artesielcha agrees as long as Lavender tells the captain before they lift off for space.

Darion leaves Lavender in command, and grabs Daphne and Artesielcha and heads towards town for the meeting.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew don’t know which way to beer. They see a couple mechanics working on a tractor in one of the big buildings, and Rex sends Lukas in to check it out. After some banter they give him directions to “a place that serves alcohol”. The crew finally get off the factory farm grounds and into the “town”. It is three buildings – a post office, a locked building that looks like a shop, and a single-story house with blankets over the windows, with some light visible. They go inside there. It’s lit by lanterns and candles, and has more blankets hung from the ceiling dividing it into partitions. Many provocatively clad ladies are visible. Yep, it’s a brothel. But sure enough it does have a bar, even if the “bar” is a few 2×4s on top of some sawhorses. Rex comments that he has been in worse places, and goes about finding a drink and some pleasurable company. Holly makes a beeline for the bar and proceeds to get wasted. Tom and Portia find the place uncomfortable, and after a little while they leave to go for a walk. Lukas also feels uncomfortable, but hey, it’s a bar, right? He gets a drink. The others do similar.

Darion, Daphne, and Artesielcha reach the post office, and tell the postal worker (Charity) that they are here to pick up a package for Lorne Harris. She goes in the back and phones him, and after a while he walks through the front door. He takes them next door and opens up the shop, and they talk in the back room. He says he works for Sakidanarya – or more precisely, he does favours for her in return for the goods that keep his shop open. When her ship went down, he hid the cargo – 24 escaped indie anthromals – among the indentured farm workers. However, he doesn’t know how to tell anthromals apart. They also won’t be able to just walk in and take them, since that will look like they are kidnapping the farm labourers. He tells them that the anthromals sleep in converted shipping containers out in the fields, and there is armed security patrolling in trucks and ATVs. Lorne shows them a map of the grounds, and tells them that they could talk to Otis Wilson, the personnel manager, to try and negotiate a deal, but is unable to provide further help. They call Otis and arrange a meet; Darion calls Lavender and asks her and Zelysithea to meet them there.

Darion goes across the street to the brothel to check on his crew. He finds Lukas getting chatted up by one of the girls, and goes to rescue him (and get a drink himself). The girl’s name is Trderyuuu, she is a coyote who was born to this place, she worked in the kitchen until she was old and pretty enough to work here. After talking for a bit, she gets up and eventually sits next to Willie.

Artesielcha sits down with some of the other crew. A little while after, three security guards walk in to unwind after a shift. One of them still has his radio tuned in, so Artesielcha tunes in with her ears and eavesdrops. She learns that there are at least three mobile patrols at a time, and there is an electric fence around the field where the anthromal shacks are. She also gets a rough idea of how long the guards take to do their rounds. Then the guy with the radio heads into the back for some company, and turns it off. Artesielcha texts Daphne: “My radio … it found a girl.”

Darion, Daphne, and Artesielcha leave to meet Otis. Otis meets them in the office of one of the storehouses, along with a guard and a functionary. Darion is late on purpose (to show he is important). He says he is looking to buy a few indies, and his schedule is too busy to look around the city for them, so he wants to buy them here. He wants to have a look around the barracks. However, Otis is offended by this outsider dragging him away from his dinner, showing up late, and talking down to him in a condescending manner. He says this is wasting his time that he would rather be spending with his family, and leaves.

Shortly afterwards, Lavender shows up with Zelysithea. The five of them start walking back to the ship and brainstorming. A few ideas are tossed around before Daphne suggests using the ship’s cranes to yoink up the shipping crate where the anthromals are kept. After all the ship has no registration number yet … They decide it would be better to lower a platform for all the anthromals to get on, so that nobody misses the crate and thinks that the anthromals made a break for freedom. But then how to stop everyone from noticing what is going on and tracing it back to them? That’s about when someone suggests fire…

Daphne agrees – the farm owners would be very afraid of a grassfire and would probably pull everyone away from their other jobs to fight it. They also would not think it unusual that a ship would take off then, and wouldn’t be watching what it did. Darion asks Artesielcha to rig up a timed detonator and an incendiary. Lavender chimes in that, when she was in the navy, the radical militias would use remote detonators made from old cell phones. Darion asks the two of them to make one. He also calls for volunteers to infiltrate the farm workers and find out where the anthromals they need are sleeping. Lavender volunteers, being ex-special forces. Artesielcha also agrees.

Darion and Daphne return to the whorehouse to collect their crew while the others return to the ship. He finds Holly passed out drunk at a table, and no sign of Rex, Tom or Portia. Daphne proceeds to wake Holly up with a bucket of water, while Darion tells the others that they have work to do. He finds out that Rex is in the back getting sexed, while Tom and Portia didn’t much like the surroundings and went for a walk. When Darion talks to Willie, the latter hints that he is next in line to see Trderyuuu, the coyotess. Darion tells him they have to go back now. He is thinking that they might be able to help some of the girls here escape too, but he needs a way to communicate this to them without anyone else hearing … Daphne says just send the kid. So Darion relents and allows Willie to get some tail after all.

Darion returns to Perdition with Daphne, Artesielcha, Lavender, Holly, Lukas, and Zelysithea. Artesielcha surfs radio frequencies until she finds the one the guards are using, then sits Lukas down to monitor it. Artesielcha and Lavender assemble an incendiary bomb out of Artesielcha’s phone (she emails everyone telling them NOT to call her!). They give it to Corey to go out and plant, since he has dark fur and is athletic enough to run for it if he’s spotted. He successfully plants the explosive, though he is nearly discovered when a security patrol passed close by him (nearly giving Lukas a heart attack). No one can find Tom and Portia though. A frantic search on the ship’s cameras ensues – Darion ends up having to go out and bring them back himself, since they didn’t take a radio. He chastises them for going out without telling anyone; they are apologetic and a little frightened.

Artesielcha and Lavender change into grubby clothes and fill their pockets with tools and bricabrac (Artesielcha sews a wire cutter and small cutting torch into her clothes). Their cover story is that they were fixing something and could not return until it was done. Darion and Holly escort them back to the whorehouse. There, Darion fakes getting drunk (Holly does it for real) while the feline bartender takes Artesielcha and Lavender out the back way. She escorts them toward the field where the anthromals sleep; there is a security truck parked near the secret entrance, so they have to go in the front door – their new cover story is that some humans grabbed them for some “fun” after work, and they only just finished. The guards examine Artesielcha and Lavender, and rough up Lavender a bit, but they get through and head to the anthromal barracks.

Lavender and Artesielcha start checking the shipping crates where the anthromals are staying. They meet a feline named Noelakhwed who is somewhat in charge. They quietly spread the word that there is a jailbreak about to happen, but realize not everyone can go. Noelakhwed suggests that the rest of them make a break through the fence and run for the hills. The 24 people they were sent to rescue, along with the sick, injured, families with young children, etc. will go on the spaceship. Noelakhwed and his daughter Lakedanearie begin organizing the anthromals. Artesielcha gives him her wire cutters.

Darion orders the incendiary triggered. The dry grass quickly catches, and the fire begins to spread as the wind blows it back towards the farm. All of the security guards are soon pulled away to help fight the fire. Perdition takes off with Daphne at the helm, and no one asks questions. She flies over the farm towards the rendezvous point near the anthromal field. Artesielcha and Lavender start the jailbreak; their group uses the cutting torch to get through the fence, and after a tearful goodbye with Lakedanearie, Noelakhwed’s group runs the other direction. Darion, Holly and Willie lead the girls from the brothel, minus the feline bartender who decides to stay behind so she can help those girls who will be brought in to replace the escapees. About 100 anthromals run for the ship.

On board Perdition, Zelysithea takes control of the heavy lift equipment and lowers a platform that they had previously rigged up, including railings and metal plates welded as barricades. While Daphne hovers the ship, all the escapees climb on to the platform, and Zelysithea starts pulling it up … then it suddenly stops. A security patrol on their way to the fire happens to notice what’s happening, and tries to raise the alarm, though there is too much confusion for it to attract much notice. They do start shooting though. Darion pulls out his pistol and fires back, shooting out the truck’s windshield. Tom and Portia, gone to see what happened to Zelysithea, find her unconscious and slumped over the controls – she is not breathing. Tom restarts the cranes and pulls them the rest of the way into _Perdition_’s cargo hold as Darion provides cover fire, and Daphne puts the hammer down.

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What has gone before... Part Six

Artesielcha and Willie work to get the ship’s engines repaired. They spend a lot of time fixing a fault in the cooling system caused by corrosion which causes the ship to spray coolant like a whale.

Darion, Daphne, and Rex go to meet with Rakesh Devji, the salvor who responded to their job posting. He is currently on a different salvage crew, but his racist coworkers are making his life difficult. He and his brother Hajit need to keep working in order to send money back home to help support their family, as their father is disabled and not able to work. Rakesh would be willing to quit his job in exchange for work on a different ship that will treat him better. Darion explains that theirs is a mixed crew and totally non-judgmental – they can’t pay very well, as they are just starting out, but the profit will be fair. Rakesh agrees. Darion gets Rex to grudgingly agree to hire Rakesh, despite the latter’s relative inexperience. Darion tells Rakesh to meet them at the spaceport tomorrow, and gives him the berth they have reserved.

Darion decides to reward his crew’s hard work by taking them for a night on the town. They head to a club after dinner for some drinking and dancing. Some (like Rex) are only interested in the former. Well into the evening, a dance-off is thrown down between Daphne and Fennel and Darion and Lukas. Losers owe the winners a lap dance. They pair off and dance two songs, with the audience determining the winner. Lukas has some dance skills picked up from university parties, while Darion relies in pure stubbornness in not letting Daphne one-up him (even though she is getting well into his personal space after having taken off her shirt). Crowd claps determine the winner – and it is Darion and Lukas. Darion puts his arm around Daphne, and doesn’t break contact for the rest of the night. The crew stumbles back to the ship, stopping only to pick up some liquor on the way.

On the ship, everyone staggers back to their quarters. Daphne tells Darion to come to her room – when he gets there, she has changed into some sexy red lingerie. She sits him down and gives him a drawn-out, sultry lap dance, ending up straddling him in the chair, looking into each other’s eyes. She whispers “fuck it”, and kisses him. They make love.

Meanwhile, Lukas defers when Fennel also offers to make good on their bet. They each go to their own rooms for the night, with Lukas trying to sort out his feelings and Fennel wondering why Lukas rejected her – isn’t he always going on about how much he likes anthromals?

The next morning, Artesielcha gets up early to test the engines. The cooling system fix holds up, and she gets the engine fully running and test-fires the main thrusters. The deafening roar shakes the entire ship. Lukas jolts awake and hides under the bed; Willie and Corey both wake up unconcerned and nonchalantly get ready for the day.

While Artesielcha, Lavender, and Zelysithea chat in the kitchen, waiting for breakfast, poor hungover Fennel wanders in wearing a t-shirt over her underwear. She mumbles about coffee and starts drinking straight from the pot. Willie and Corey come in and say hi – Fennel realizes she didn’t get dressed and leaves embarrassed, running into a very awkward Lukas along the way.

Meanwhile, Darion and Daphne enjoy warm morning snuggles. They both realize yep, that happened – although they both enjoyed last night, there will be no hiding their liaison from the crew with so many keen noses. Daphen gets up to shower, and tells Darion to bring them some of Fennel’s chocolate bacon pancakes. In the galley, Fennel is not around; Corey notices and gives him a look, while Lavender points out that he is bleeding and asks if he needs medical attention. Zelysithea doesn’t appear to notice anything, as she lost her sense of smell in the mining accident. Fennel arrives and starts making pancakes; she asks Darion if there is something wrong with Lukas and why he is avoiding her, but Darion can only shrug and say he doesn’t know Lukas that well. Darion takes pancakes and coffee back to Daphne; he tries to camouflage one cup of coffee against his chest to make it look like he is only carrying his own; he flubs it and spills scalding coffee all over himself, but his pride will not let him show pain. He returns to Daphne’s room where he can finally show pain. She emerges from the bathroom all floofed out from the dryer and starts licking the coffee off his chest, which soon turns into more sex. Afterwards they have pancakes. Darion clumsily tries to tell Daphne that last night meant a lot to him; she tells him to stop being mushy, kisses him, and smacks his ass towards her door. He pulls her tail.

Arakawanne is missing again. Darion asks Fennel find her after breakfast, as he would like to call an all-crew meeting. A while later Daphne shows up; Fennel shoos her into the kitchen and demands details.

Artesielcha searches for Arakawanne, rather than Fennel. She finds Arakawanne lying stretched out on top of the ship, over the engineering section. She is warm, happy, and says she loves how the ship sounds and feels when the engines run. Artesielcha sits with her and they talk; Artesielcha offers to bring her some breakfast and says that the captain wants to speak with her. She brings Arakawanne some breakfast.

Darion calls the crew meeting. He tells the crew that they will be moving the ship to the spaceport, and that they will be doing a job for Sakidanaraya after that (retrieving some cargo from a farming village). Rex asks if they will be doing recovery; Darion says no, but they’ll still get paid their share and be expected to help with the work, even if it isn’t salvage. Holly asks what kind of cargo; Darion says they will know more after they land at the spaceport. For now they have a deadline to keep. Darion gives a speech about how this is an opportunity for them all to come together as a crew; it goes over well. Afterwards, he gives out marching orders and tells everyone to report to their stations. He asks Rex to check up on the greenhorns to make sure that they know how to stow everything for flight. Lavender tells him she has found some medication she would like to try for Zelysithea – it is an aerosol that she breathes through a face mask, which improves her lung function and over the long term can encourage regeneration of damaged lung tissue. But it is expensive. She has a report on his desk. Darion begins to think Zelysithea will cost him more than she will make. He spend some time talking with Arakawanne and Zelysithea. Darion reiterates that Arakawanne will be treated well and won’t be forced to have sex. She hugs him. He tells her he wants her to take over communications; she is hesitant but willing to try. He also gets Zelysithea to observe on the bridge so that she can hopefully learn how to pilot some day.

Darion gets to the bridge. He asks Holly to check that all the airlocks are closed; he also asks Lavender to check outside the ship and make sure nothing got left. Corey and Daphne are in the two pilot’s chairs, going through the pre-flight checklist (rather, Corey is doing it while Daphne is complaining that it isn’t necessary and they should just go). Darion takes the captain’s chair while Zelysithea and Arakawanne take the two consoles beside and behind him. Holly radios back that the ship is secure; Lavender comes back with a bag of dog feces, saying the ship next door left them a parting gift that they would have burned into the warehouse floor if they’d taken off without removing it. Darion says it’s too bad they don’t have time to toss it under their ship instead.

Darion radios to the warehouse that they are leaving. He also contacts aerospace traffic control and tells them they are transiting to the spaceport, and gets instructions. Corey and Daphne bicker about going through the checklist a second time – Darion tells Corey to cut it down to the essentials. After more bickering, he gives Corey 5 minutes to wrap it up. 7 minutes later, Corey is willing to be finished. The engines are warmed up by now, so Corey engages the belly thrusters and hovers them up, then eases them out of the warehouse. Outside, he fires up the thrusters and they gradually rise out of the city to 20,000 feet. Then he fires the mains and off they go.

A short flight later they are above the spaceport. Talking back and forth with ATC they find their berth and begin descending through the clouds. There is a lot of traffic around them and a strong crosswind. Corey finds their berth and begins lowering them; however he doesn’t like how their approach is looking and aborts, rising up to reposition and try again. This doesn’t meet his standards either, so he fires the thrusters and repositions again. Once more, he doesn’t like how they are positioned and doesn’t think it is safe to land, so he lifts back up and repositions again. ATC radios them and asks if they are having mechanical trouble, since they are going up and down without landing. Darion says no. ATC says they have to get on the ground in two minutes, or else abort and return to cruising altitude because another ship needs that airspace. Darion acknowledges and tells Corey to get them on the ground. Corey goes in again, hesitates, and is about to lift again when Daphne snaps, grabs the thruster controls, and slams them back down. The ship falls the last few metres with a heavy thud, throwing everyone and everything against their restraints (or against the ceiling). In engineering, warning lights come up across the landing gear’s systems – hydraulic ruptures and possible structural damage. Corey is angry at Daphne, and she fights right back – Darion tries to get them to calm down, but Daphne storms out. Darion stays and talks with Corey while he shuts everything down – Darion tries to tell him he doesn’t need absolute precision and pretty flying, he just needs Corey to get them on the ground. Corey says he doesn’t want to compromise safety. Darion tells him he can’t do three attempts for everything and asks him to come up with an abbreviated preflight checklist, and to do safe but less perfect flying. Corey says he’ll try his best.

Holly radios for Artesielcha and Darion to come to the cargo bay. There, some ground crew are standing by an open airlock. They are here to do the hookups and fuelling. Darion approves, and Artesielcha signs for them (she reads the work order at Darion’s urging, and gets the ground crew to remove a useless anti-corrosion treatment). The crew gets to work, and Art starts on the landing gear. Darion goes to talk to Daphne about the fights in the cockpit. Willie goes to sickbay to get checked out (he hit his head on the console during the landing).

Lukas unbuckles himself and checks his bruises. He gets a call from Tasha Quentin with the Anthromal Liberation Front protest group. She is calling to check on Lukas after seeing him on the news coverage of the hostel shooting. She is convinced it is a speciesist terror attack. When he says they seemed to be shooting at him, she remembers the writing on the wall and asks if this could be about last August’s protest outside the UW Ministry of Natural Resources over the treatment of anthromal miners, in which Lukas participated (and chained himself to a statue of Minister Park, earning himself a night in jail). She tells him that while he was on a spaceship, the new regs came down with improved living conditions and safety requirements for anthromal miners, due in part to public outcry and political fallout from the protest. Possibly the merchant’s guild went through the Humanist gangs and put a hit out on Lukas? She says the ALF has Lukas’s back if he needs help.

Darion has his talk with Daphne; he tries to impress upon her that she did something dangerous and possibly damaged the ship, and that she isn’t a one-woman enterprise anymore but she has to be accountable to and responsible for others. Daphne accuses Darion of being naive, and says she did what she had to do to stop Corey from screwing up the landing completely. She is angry that Darion is taking Corey’s side (she perceives), and tells him to get out. Darion is upset – they were in bed together hours earlier and now she is royally pissed at him! He tries to find Lavender but he can’t find her in the sickbay. So he goes to Zelysithea and asks if she wants to go buy new clothes. He also asks Fennel to come along; she agrees and goes to get changed. Darion and Zelysithea hang out in his quarters while he chats with Dawningdragon. Zelysithea makes Darion feel better.

Corey comes into the bunkroom where Lukas is working on his thesis. He grumbles about how Darion is going to fire him, how he doesn’t care about safety (just like Corey’s previous bosses), and accused Darion of favouritism because he’s sleeping with Daphne. Corey starts packing, then decides to go for one last meal in the galley.

Willie radios Artesielcha (who is fixing the damaged landing gear) and says he can’t find Lavender. Artesielcha comes inside and they both look. Willie says hi to Lukas (who is still shaken) and assures him that all landings won’t be this rough. Artesielcha hears something in the infirmary store room, which is a mess – lots of stuff was tossed around during the landing, and there are spilled and broken bottles all over the floor. She opens a cabinet, and Lavender pounces out and knocks her to the ground, and almost stabs her in the neck with a shard of glass. Artesielcha dodges, escapes, and tries to appear non threatening. Lavender soon comes to her senses and curls up into a ball and cries. Artesielcha waits for her to calm down, and realize that her hand is badly cut. When Lavender is back in doctor mode, Artesielcha asks her to take a look at Willie and herself (she has broken glass in her back from the fall). Lavender does so, being as curt as possible; Willie happens to walk in when his boss is topless (while Lavender treats the cuts on her torso), and does his best not to look. Afterwards, Art and Willie go back to fixing the hydraulics.

Darion tells Rex and Holly to take the deckhands and check the ship over for anything that was shaken loose. Rex agrees but says if Darion doesn’t have any salvage work for them then he can find some elsewhere.

Time to look for Arakawanne again. Darion and Fennel find Arakawanne sitting naked in the kitchen sink, wrapped in one of Darion’s sheets from the dirty laundry, her clothes arranged on the drying rack. Fennel freaks out at the crazy person; Darion tries to convince Arakawanne not to sit in the sink again. After convincing her to get dressed (at first she comes back having made a skirt out of his bed sheet, so he gives her his bomber jacket to borrow) the four of them go out shopping. First they stop by Jules’s military surplus shop and pick Darion’s spacesuit that his navy CO had reserved for him (and while they are there, they make a deal for 4 rock suits and 9 emergency bubbles), then they they go buy some clothes for Zelysithea. Lastly, they stop at a candy shop so Darion can buy apology lollipops for Daphne (and some treats for the other girls too). Then it’s back to the ship.

Lukas gets a call from Olavio while he and Tom are working under Rex’s supervision. Olavio wants news, and tries to impress on Lukas the importance of the game and how much money is at stake. Lukas says there isn’t much law enforcement out here and to bet on the long time. Olavio asks him to do more digging. After he gets off the phone, Tom thanks him again for keeping their secret.

Rakesh arrives, and Rex gives him the tour & orientation. Rex shows Rakesh where his bunk is, and Rakesh starts getting unpacked. He and Lukas chat about Lukas’s work; Rakesh thinks Lukas shouldn’t focus only on anthromals, since there are many humans who are exploited on the border ring as well.

Darion returns from shopping, and gives Zelysithea a tour of this ship before showing her where her bunk is. During the tour, Darion finds Arakawanne lying on the top shelf of the food storage room. He fails to coax her down, and eventually decides to just leave her up there since she isn’t hurting anything. Afterwards, he knocks on Daphne’s door, but there is no answer. Darion goes to his office to start the ship registration paperwork, now that Artesielcha’s forged credentials have arrived.

Fennel calls everyone for lunch (she is still trying to figure out the ship intercom). Daphne is not there. Darion asks Fennel to bring her some lunch. Afterwards everyone goes back to work; Darion finishes up the ship registration and files the paperwork, then sits down for some fuel efficiency calculations, but he doesn’t get far before flashbacks from the Halifax cause him to have a breakdown.

Lavender continues with the crew physical exams. She examines Lukas, Portia, and Tom – Lukas is very uncomfortable having an anthromal poke and prod him (she doesn’t even use a stethoscope; just puts her ear to his chest). Portia just doesn’t like doctors. Lukas and Tom chat while cleaning, about racism and speciesism. Meanwhile, Artesielcha and Willie finish repairing the hydraulics on the landing gear.

Fennel calls everyone for dinner. Daphne also doesn’t show.

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What has gone before... Part Five

Darion wakes up the next morning snuggled up to Arakawanne. He is immediately awkward again. The two have more awkward conversation when Arakawanne continues to offer sex to him. Darion maintains that Arakawanne doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to; Arakawanne flips his logic and says if it’s her choice, then she should be able to choose to. After some discussion in which Darion tries to get Arakawanne to tell him what she really wants, not just what she thinks he expects her to do, eventually she says she wants to go to the galley for something to eat. Darion convinces her to wear one of his shirts rather than go out naked. They go to the galley, where Arakawanne tries just hugging Darion. At that point, Lavender walks in – she is surprised and embarrassed to catch them like this. Darion says it’s not what it looks like; he is just able to convince Lavender, and Arakawanne hugs Lavender. Lavender briefly has a flash of pain on her face. Then, Arakawanne goes and says “shall we go back to your bed now?” and Lavender is back to believing they’re sleeping together, and awkwardly excuses herself. Darion and Arakawanne return to his cabin and go back to bed. Darion asks her if he can touch her tail, and she lets him. They go to sleep curled up.

Artesielcha gets up early and goes to the bridge to run some tests. She finds Lavender there staring off into space. Lavender asks if the captain is up yet; Artesielcha says she hasn’t seen him. Lavender helps Artesielcha test the ship’s pressure vessel. Lavender asks Artesielcha to show her how the airlocks work – she says she might as well learn something while they are working, and as the ship’s medic she might have to operate the airlocks in an emergency. Artesielcha agrees. They find two leaks in the pressure vessel – one at a malfunctioning airlock and another below the ship’s prow (likely structural – it probably existed before and the last crew just ignored it).

Willie wakes up Lukas to go to breakfast. They arrive at the galley where other crewmembers are gathered but there is no sign of food. Lukas goes to have a shower instead, and finds Corey just getting out. They chat for a while. Lukas learns that Corey was going to study political science, but realized that there was no way there was going to be independent anthromal government under the current regime, so Corey got his pilot’s license instead so he could make money.

Darion wakes up to find Arakawanne curled up on top of him, with her tail in his face. He rubs her ear, and she wakes up and freaks out and bites him on the hand. Then she realizes what she did, and throws herself onto the floor, curling up against the wall and begging for Darion not to hurt her. He doesn’t know what to say and fails to reassure her, so she bolts for the door and flees naked from the room.

As Darion goes to clean his wounded hand, Daphne walks into his door and demands to know why she just saw Arakawanne running naked and crying from his room. Darion tries to explain what actually happened; Daphne doesn’t really believe him – she has heard the “lusty anthromal tries to seduce human, but human nobly preserves her virtue” story before. Darion wants to go find Arakawanne and set things right, but Daphne tells him to stay where he is and she’ll go find her. Daphne leaves, and punches the wall in anger. Lavender hears the noise, and goes to check it out, but by then Daphne is gone. Lavender decides to go down to the infirmary anyway just in case, and to check on Zelysithea.

Artesielcha checks her email – she got an email from Delindsie saying he will write a letter so that her hours are counted towards a mechanic’s certification; he also found a school on Vespera that is basically a diploma mill that offers distance courses that will get her certified after a few all-nighters… for 1500G.

Darion chats online with Dawningdragon – he asks if she can forge a mechanic’s license for him. They go into a secure online meeting room (embedded in a backdoor in a popular My Little Pony MMO game) – Dawningdragon says she can forge one for 75G, but warns Darion that both he and Artesielcha will get 2 years indentured servitude to the Merchants Guild if they are caught.

Darion showers, then goes down to sickbay. There he meets Lavender, who is even more stiff and formal than usual. They talk in her office, where he tries to explain what happened in his quarters last night. Lavender says his story makes sense and she’ll believe him until she sees evidence otherwise. She says Daphne is outspoken, protective, and used to fighting for everything – if the truth is on Darion’s side then he doesn’t have anything to worry about, so he should just give her space. Lavender bandages his arm, then Darion takes her into the office again and asks her about her flash of pain when she hugged Arakawanne last night. Lavender stays tight-lipped, and says it is nothing that will affect her ability to carry out her duties. Darion chats with Zelysithea for a bit and then goes up to check on breakfast. But when Darion gets up to the galley there is still no breakfast. He tells Holly to go check on Fennel. Sure enough, Fennel is in her room asleep. At Holly’s urging, Fennel goes to the kitchen and starts breakfast.

During breakfast, Rex approaches Artesielcha and asks her to let him know when she tests the FTL, so he can test the harness at the same time. Lukas sits at Portia and Tom’s table and they chat. Darion receives word from Sakidanaraya that she doesn’t want to put anyone in danger, but she would like the entire crew to come to the meeting, including Tom and Portia. Darion asks Portia if just she can come. She and Tom discuss the risk of this – the authorities are looking for both of them, but maybe out here in the Border they are only on the lookout for Tom (the ones looking for Portia might not have caught up yet). Portia agrees to go.

While everyone eats, Darion talks to Fennel about a cooking schedule. She reminds him that they are late for a meeting. Darion hustles everyone out to the bus (except for Lavender, Zelysithea, and Tom, who stay with the ship). Daphne and Arakawanne are waiting in the cargo hold. Darion and Daphne talk while the others go outside. Daphne says she talked to Arakawanne, and although she believes Darion could have handled the situation better, she does not think he abused Arakawanne.

They all get on the bus that Darion chartered for this trip. On the bus, Lukas sits with Portia and Darion sits with Daphne and Arakawanne. Darion sketches the two ladies as dragons (he asks them to come up with dragon names). Portia and Lukas talk; Lukas reveals the wanted poster that Olavio sent him and tells Portia about the game, and strongly hints that he knows who she and Tom really are, but that he won’t tell anyone else. He is trying to show good faith. Portia, however, is afraid that their cover is blown.

The bus drops them off in front of a commercial building, at the address Sakidanaraya had given Darion. The address that Sakidanaraya gave them has a nameplate reading “GFY Holdings Ltd.” They go inside to find a neglected reception area with an empty desk, scattered boxes, and shelves full of old dirty, dusty hardware (which Artesielcha and Willie go to investigate). Eventually, a big white ursine anthromal comes through the back door and tells them to follow her. She leads them through the warehouse, which appears to be filled with food, household goods, construction materials, and medical supplies, among other things. The bear shows them into an office at the back of the building.

Sakidanaraya, a snow leopard anthromal woman, meets them in the office, and offers the four chairs that she has. She confirms the loan (100,000G) that is owed by Darion personally, with an interest rate of 16%. She also says she may have jobs for them from time to time, which they can choose to take and which will count somewhat towards their loan. She goes through the remuneration plan with Darion, asks Artesielcha about the ship’s mechanical condition, and speaks with each of the crew.

Afterward, Sakidanaraya shoos out everybody except Darion, Daphne, Artesielcha, and Rex. She tells the four of them that she has a job that they can do with an atmosphere-capable ship. She tells them that one of her ships suffered mechanical failure and had to ditch in a field; the crew managed to hide the cargo in a nearby farming town before the authorities arrived, and she wants Darion’s crew to go back and get it and bring it to her. She will have more details forthcoming, once Darion moves his ship to the spaceport. Once they are done talking about the job, she says goodbye to Darion in the traditional anthromal way (touching her muzzle to each of his cheeks) and sends them back with Callianessa. Darion asks if that kind of gesture is normal; Daphne says it is the usual greeting/farewell, and that if Darion wanted to he could demand that everyone on the ship lick under his chin (since he is the boss).

On their way back after Sakidanaraya dismissed them, Lukas sees a group of Sakidanaraya’s men (one of them armed with an AK-47) open up a shipping container and help some anthromals out. Lukas decides he doesn’t want to know.

On the bus ride back, Portia decides to sit elsewhere from Lukas. Daphne, Artesielcha, and Darion talk.

Back at the ship, Darion and Daphne and Rex go off to interview the potential new hire. Artesielcha gathers Willie and Corey to go work on the engines. Lukas corrals Portia and tries to talk things out.

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What has gone before... Part Four

Where we last left our heroes: Artesielcha and Willie were working on the ship’s electrical wiring, Portia and Lukas were cleaning one of the communal washrooms, and Tom was painting some interior walls. Darion and Daphne had just purchased two anthromal Indies – Zelysithea and Arakawanne – and are returning home with them (with Zelysithea leaning on Darion because she has trouble walking that far)…

Corey, the newly hired pilot, arrives outside the ship. Artesielcha goes to answer the door, but while trying to extricate herself from the tangle of wiring she is working on, she touches a live wire and electrocutes herself, needing Willie’s help to pull herself free. She is not badly hurt, but is all poofed out. She smooths down her fur as much as she can and answers the door to let Corey in, then gives him the tour, saying the Captain will be back in a while.

Lukas and Portia talk some more about Lukas’s thesis and their respective university experience, and such. Neither know much about cleaning and use too much bleach, and start getting high off the fumes. Artesielcha comes by and tells them to take a break and get some air, and opens up more ventilation.

Darion and the others return to the ship, but Zelysithea can’t go near the ship because the bleach fumes hurt her lungs. Darion sets her up on a workbench, where she sits on his coat and plays games on his handheld. He and Arakawanne go inside for a meet & greet. They meet Corey and continue the tour. Artesielcha goes back to fixing things while Lukas and Portia go outside to clear their heads. Meanwhile, Darion gets a text from Sakidanaraya, giving him an address and telling him to be there with his crew at 9:45 the next morning. Also, Daphne says she has been in touch with another salvor who is currently on another crew but is unhappy and looking to change jobs. She agrees to set up a meet.

After being confined in the pens, Arakawanne needs a bath (as does Zelysithea when she is able to come inside). Darion shows her the communal bathrooms, and goes to his quarters to get a towel; she follows him, and when sees his shower she starts undressing. Darion is much embarrassed, but eventually agrees to let her shower in his quarters. But both of them quickly realize there is no soap she can use. Darion is embarrassed again and calls for Daphne. She tells him to go for a walk and she’ll handle it (after chastising him for not knowing that anthromals can’t use human soap, as it damages their skin and fur). Darion goes to the bridge to wait.

Outside Perdition, another crew shoes up and sees Zelysithea sitting on “their” workbench. They take issue, and toss her off onto the concrete. Lukas in turn takes issue with this and – still high as a kite – picks a verbal argument with them, throwing his thesis in their faces (which mostly just confuses them). Lavender comes out to check on Lukas and Portia, and sees what’s happening – after making sure Zelysithea is okay, she takes down the ringleader and almost dislocates his shoulder. The other crew retreat back to their ship. Darion sees what’s happening from the bridge, and comes out; they carry Zelysithea inside to the sickbay, while Lukas and Portia (still tripping balls) follow along. All are checked out and treated – Zelysithea is a little bruised but not badly hurt (they also cracked Darion’s handheld’s screen).

Darion, Daphne, Fennel, and Artesielcha go clothes shopping. Artesielcha buys a blue robe with dark blue and silver swirly designs. They get clothes for Arakawanne.

The entire crew has dinner together. Darion delivers an inspiring speech. Daphne follows up with “when you’re going through hell, keep on going”. Darion shares a bottle of vodka. Artesielcha and Rex compare notes on what needs fixing. Lukas, Portia, and Tom do to the dishes.

When everyone goes off to bed, Darion discovers Arakawanne in his bed. She believes she is expected to have sex with him. He sits down and tries his best to convince her that she can do whatever she wants. He will treat her fairly, and pay off her contract so she can one day be free. She cries in his arms, then says that right now she just wants to be with someone, to put her ear next to a heartbeat – this reminds her that there is someone else alive in the universe, and gives her hope. Darion swallows his embarrassment and lets her cuddle naked with him, with her head resting on his chest.

Artesielcha tinkers with electronics in her room before going to bed. Lukas lies in his bunk and has an awkward moment when Corey undresses in the bunkroom.

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What has gone before ... Part Three

Back on the ship, Artesielcha and Willie and Tom install the regulator. Portia is not feeling well – she has a bad headache – so Artesielcha lets her keep resting (she and Tom were in an observation room on an old mattress). The mechanics get the regulator working, and finally the ship has hot water again.

Darion and Daphne go to meet Lukas, and they negotiate a final agreement to hire Lukas. Lukas still looks like hell – Darion wants an opportunity to determine if he is dangerous or just accident prone. He will rent a cabin on board so he can travel around and do research, and on the ship he will work as a deckhand to help pay for his passage. Then Daphne says it’s Fennel’s last day at the bar, and it is karaoke night, so they should all go. Darion calls Lavender and tells her to meet them there; he and Daphne go back to ship to get Artesielcha and Willie. Meanwhile Lukas goes back to his room at the hostel to salvage what’s left of his effects (someone took his toothbrush!) and then meets them there.

They all have a fun night at the bar. Daphne buys some drinks and snacks, and they all sing some karaoke – Lukas wins the nightly contest with his rendition of “Born to be Wild”, and earns the table a free round of drinks. They all get together to sing a reprise of Queen’s “Princes of the Universe”. All but Fennel go back to ship; Lavender checks out Artesielcha and Lukas in the sickbay. Darion requests full physicals and psych evals for all crew – Lavender says she’ll get started.

That night, Darion can’t sleep, so he wanders the halls and starts working on the bridge computers. Artesielcha can’t sleep either (she had a scary day), so she knocks on Daphne’s door looking for comfort. Daphne invites her in and sits her down for a pep talk and a story about when she got trapped in an airlock, and then they snuggle in bed; Artesielcha feels safe. At about 3-4 am, Fennel shows up with the food she’d been storing at work – she stashes it and crashes for the night.

The next morning – Artesielcha squirms out of Daphne’s bed without waking her, and gets up to start her day. She sees Lavender in the galley staring into a cold cup of coffee. Artesielcha thinks she’s asleep and gets her a blanket, but when it touches Lavender she freaks the fuck out and just about claws Artesielcha’s face off. Then Lavender gets horrified; apologies; and goes into the kitchen for a towel to clean up spilled coffee. Artesielcha makes sure she’s okay, then leaves to start the repairs.

Today is Fennel’s first day on the crew. Darion gets up and goes to the galley to see how breakfast is coming, but Fennel is not there. He goes to find her, but there is no answer when he knocks on her door, so goes in. She is fast asleep. Darion wakes her up, and she freaks out – she gets mad that he just came into her room, and yells at him. He eventually apologizes and asks what he can do to make it up – she says I’ll think of something, and goes off to start breakfast.

Rex Roman shows up with two salvors – Holly Takeda and Rick Snyder. Artesielcha gets the captain, and he and Daphne go down to interview them. Holly seems on the level, but Rick (although the best in the business apparently) seems bigoted against anthromals. Rex tries to convince them that he’ll do his job, and he mostly keeps to himself otherwise (he builds ships in bottles), but he refuses to look Daphne in the eye or even acknowledge her even when she is asking questions, so she doesn’t like him. Darion in the end hires only Rex and Holly and sends Rick packing, much to Rex’s chagrin. Rex says he needs at least one more and he can’t find someone else on this short notice. Darion says he’ll get someone else. Daphne thanks him.

Darion starts looking at what he’ll need to register his ship. Turns out he needs proof that he has a licensed pilot, and a licensed mechanic on board. He doesn’t have the latter – Willie is an apprentice still, and Artesielcha is not licensed. She has the requisite number of hours, but the problem is getting them counted (and finding a way around the requirement for classroom lessons). Artesielcha emails her old boss Elros Delindsie asking for his opinion. Delindisie emails her back, saying that he’ll try to find a way to get around the regulations, but she shouldn’t hold her breath.

Darion also books a fuelling for his ship in anticipation of moving her to the starport. This will cost 800G.

Darion goes about confirming the rest of his crew. He and Daphne go to interview Telemachus Stone at the Debonairs’s clubhouse. He is a very good-looking, well built guy with expensive tastes. He says he is an ex-cop who came to the Core to get away from the corruption on the force, and to try to clean up the town. His goals don’t really align with Darion’s, and he wants too much money, so they decide not to work together and part ways amicably. On the way out the door, Daphne loses it and starts laughing, asking if this guy was for real and joking about him saving the world with his well-oiled chiselled abs.

On the ship, Artesielcha gets Tom, Lukas, Portia, and Willie started on the day’s tasks. Lukas meets Tom and Portia for the first time – he and Portia chat about the way that anthromals are treated (they are both from the Core, and after all Portia is in a relationship with an anthromal). Portia lies about where she and Tom are from (she says they are from Earth).

Next Darion and Daphne go to look at some Indies. Daphne has identified one particular Indie – a raccoon type named Zelysithea (zel-ih-sih-tay-ah). She was an ice miner on Loreley, mostly a heavy equipment operator, but sometimes working the drills on the face. One of these times she was caught in a cave-in that breached her suit, and she took a lungful of methane and nitrogen that damaged her lungs. Now her contract is being sold on the cheap for G500. Darion and Daphne wander through the showroom where the Indies are being displayed for sale; on the way they are accosted by another anthromal, a haunted mangy-looking lupine female who begs them to get her out of this place. She says she doesn’t owe anything on her contract, and she shouldn’t be here. Daphne tells Darion that everyone says that … because it is probably true. Darion walks on; the wolf woman is despondent. They talk with Zelysithea, whose voice is extremely raspy and her breathing shallow. Darion gives her a video game to test how she will respond to operating machinery controls – he wants to make sure she won’t overexert herself and pass out (this was one of Rex’s concerns about her). He also calls Lavender to ask for a medical opinion; Lavender gives him an assessment over the radio, and Darion asks her to come down.

While Zelysithea is playing, Darion and Daphne go back to the other anthromal woman. She brightens up when they come back, and again begs them to get her out of there. She seems a little unhinged. She says her name is Arakawanne, and that she was “entertainment” for the miners on Umberton. But before she was indentured, she worked for the Merchants Guild as an “asset recovery” specialist – she found ships and cargoes that went missing, and got them back. Darion tests this by giving her his handheld and telling her to find a ship for him. She takes several minute scrolling through the web, looking like a woman possessed, then gives him back something. The ship Guildenstern’s Bounty went missing years ago, with a large crew and a valuable cargo. She was never found. Arakawanne has a good idea where the ship is – deep in an asteroid field well off of the ship’s flight plan. Her theory is that the ship was hijacked (or mutinied), and taken deep into the asteroid field where she wrecked somewhere. Darion asks if she will stake her contract on it – she says yes. Lavender arrives and looks over both Arakawanne and Zelysithea. Lavender says Zelysithea’s lung damage sounds worse than it is, and that Arakawanne has some deep-seated psychological damage, but both will improve with proper food and rest and are probably okay to fly (she wants to examine them in the infirmary before she says for sure). Darion decides to buy them both, and negotiates G1200 for both of them (basically getting Zelysithea for free). Darion gets the paperwork, and the Indies are brought out the loading dock at the back of the building. Both are grateful; Arakawanne gets down on her knees and hugs Darion’s legs. He says he was lying about selling her off if she can’t find ships for him. She howls for joy.

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What has gone before ... Part Two

That night, Lukas gets a call from his Ph.D supervisor, Professor Tino Lund. It’s like 2am on Azure, but the prof didn’t account for the time change. He and Lukas talk for a while about Lukas’s progress, his research, and how it is affecting his thesis. Prof. Lund is behind Lukas’s intention to travel the Border Ring, and he says he can submit a funding request on Lukas’s behalf if Lukas writes up the proposal and sends it to him. Lukas agrees to do so the next day or so. They sign off and Lukas goes back to sleep.

The next morning, all three wake up with vary degrees of hangover. Artesielcha has a pounding head and the light fixture above is too loud … so she gets out her tools to fix it. Darion is feeling some mild effects, and goes in search of water (and his fellow shipmates). He finds Daphne just coming out of her cabin, still feeling groggy with her fur all mussed up, wearing just a tight tank top as well as a pair of black panties that say “toys go here”. He is embarrassed at seeing her like this and confused about the reaction he has. After a quick good morning, she goes to the galley and he heads to Artesielcha’s quarters.

Darion knocks and Artesielcha answers – Darion sees the disassembled light fixture but doesn’t ask. It is much quieter now… They talk for a while, but are interrupted by a scream from the galley. Both run there, and see Daphne walk out, now soaked from head to toe, holding an empty cup. Cue more Darion embarrassment. She says “I just wanted a glass of water”. The kitchen faucet has been blown right off by the geyser of water now erupting from the water pipe and flooding the galley.

Artesielcha runs for the water shutoff, then tries to find the source of the problem. Darion gets Tom and Portia and puts them to work mopping up the galley. Then he goes to find Daphne – she is back in her quarters and there is a noise inside; he knocks several times and she finally answers, still in her underwear, holding a hair dryer, and her fur completely poofed. Cue even more Darion embarrassment. He asks her to come with him to buy breakfast for the crew.

Daphne and Darion go to a nearby diner to order breakfast for everyone. Daphne takes a phone call responding to their want ad; meanwhile Darion is motioned over by a stocky man with little round glasses who is sitting in one of the booths. He says his name is Leon, and he is a mechanic on a ship. He warns Darion about the Indie mechanic he has just bought, saying he owned her before (and was supposed to keep her), but that she was crazy and unstable and violent. They had to keep her drugged. When Darion gets offended and angry, Leon pulls his glove off to reveal two missing fingers, saying she bit them off in an unprovoked fit of rage. Leon tries to get Darion to sell her back to him. Darion refuses to listen and gets up and leaves, and he and Daphne go back to the ship.

Artesielcha finds the source of the problem. A faulty regulator has caused the water pumps to get stuck on “holy crap”, hence the catastrophic buildup of pressure. She removes the damaged regulator to show to the captain – she will need a new one in order to turn the water back on. Everyone has breakfast, and the captain decides on a plan – they will hire Willie Mizoguchi, the apprentice mechanic, and send Artesielcha and Willie to the scrapyard to hunt for a part. Meanwhile, Darion and Daphne will meet Fennel and go shopping for provisions. Tom and Portia will keep cleaning up. Daphne shares a story from when a similar thing happened on her ship, but to the oil pump regulator – while she was standing next to the blowoff valve. Darion seemed to think this was amusing, causing her to reply – “So you enjoy thinking of me covered in oil?”. Darion is embarrassed again.

Back at the hostel, Lukas is sitting at his desk typing up a funding request. Suddenly a gunshot rings out and the window in front of him shatters. He falls backwards onto the floor, the bullet barely missing him and putting a hole in the wall behind him. More shots come, blasting more holes in the wall. Lukas shelters behind the desk, not knowing who is shooting and if it is deliberately at him. He reaches up to his desk and pulls down his laptop and wallet and phone, then crawls along the floor pulling the desk along, using it as a shield. More shots come through the window, knocking holes in the desk but missing him. He opens his room door and goes out into the hall – there are people screaming, crying, and others hiding wherever they can. Lukas runs down the hall but there are windows in the hallway and a bullet shatters them; it grazes Lukas and he falls to the floor. Now wiser, he crawls along the floor and manages to reach a stairwell, where eight other hostellers are hiding.

In the stairwell, Lukas is hiding out with several others. Nearest to him are a male human, a male cat wearing a goth-style black leather long coat, and a teenage female coyote. Lukas asks if anyone has a phone. Eventually the girl gives him her phone. He tries to call the police, but there is no signal inside the stairwell. He carefully opens the door and sticks the phone out, and gets 1 bar. He dials emergency services, and gets put on hold.

At the scrapyard, Artesielcha meets Willie and the two of them start picking over starship husks. Eventually they find a regulator they can use, along with some other useful parts. They test the regulator in situ, and once they verify that it works they start taking everything apart and loading the parts into a wheelbarrow. While they are doing this, Artesielcha hears people walking through the wreck towards them. They go check it out – it turns out to be Leon Gavi and Thyra Thompson. Both are armed (Leon has a pistol and Thyra a knife), and they tell Artesielcha to go with them. Artesielcha tells Willie to “let the captain know they found the parts”, and lets Thyra tie her hands and lead her away. Wille goes back down into the wreck and calls Darion on the radio, letting him know they took Artesielcha.

Lukas finally gets through to emergency services. He has a frustrating call centre style conversation with them, before they ask for a credit card number. He asks his fellows for a credit card. The cat eventually hands over a wallet he stole earlier. Lukas uses that credit card, and the dispatcher says that help will arrive in about 45 minutes. They all hunker down to wait. Lukas gives the wallet back; the human realizes it is his and he and the cat start fighting. While everyone is waiting, Lukas takes the opportunity to interview the coyote girl. Her name is Karianeity (or Kari for short), she works as a movie theatre ticket girl and she hopes to study film at university. Her family is not indentured, but she comments on the effect humans have had on her people. She explains about the double standard, that anthromals will never be owners or bosses or paid as much as humans, and never promoted; also they don’t even know what they have lost anymore (culture, language, identity, religion, etc). She recommends some films to him – Raining on Alupitia, A Walk in the Desert, and a movie that she doesn’t know the name of because it was in the ghost child language, but she remembered it was always snowing in it. At the end of the interview, she asks that he not print her name in the book.

Out on the street, Darion receives Willie’s frantic call. He tells Fennel to look after the supplies they have bought, and he and Daphne take off to try to head Leon and Thyra off at the pass. They confront them in the street; guns are drawn. Artesielcha tries to get away by biting Thyra’s knife hand; Thyra drops the knife, but punches Artesielcha in the face. Eventually they manage to scare off Leon and Thyra. They leave, but promise they’ll be back. Artesielcha is shaken but okay. They head back to the scrapyard to retrieve the parts.

At the hostel, eventually the fight between the human and the anthromal ends with the cat getting the wallet, and he takes off down the stairs with the human in tow. The front door opens, and there is another gunshot. A short while later, sirens can be heard, and soon several big white APCs pull up outside the hostel and some guys in body armour with assault rifles get out. One of them gets on the megaphone and orders everyone out of the hostel. Everyone starts filing out. Kari looks resigned, and tells Lukas not to put away his notebook yet. Then Lukas sees the Enforcers taking all the anthromals and shoving them against the wall, and strip searching them. As a human, he is briefly questioned and then let go. But not before he sees the dead cat anthromal lying in the street, and the words “8/17” and “Welcome to the Jungle!!” spray-painted on the side of the building. Lukas tries to intervene to save Kari by claiming she is his; this only causes the Enforcers to ask for her papers, so she has to lie and tell them he has them at home. Eventually the Enforcers let her (and most of the anthromals) go, but load up a few of them into an APC, which drives off. Kari tells Lukas to stop helping, and leaves. Lukas, still covered in cuts and dried blood, goes off to meet Darion.

Darion, Daphne, and Artesielcha meet up with Willie and retrieve the parts from his hiding place. They go to pay for them – the cost is 8G, but with a 1/2 G discount for returning old regulator, so 7.5G. Darion tries to haggle, but the guy (Terrence) stands firm. Daphne pulls him aside, puts her nose against his, asks him what kind of ship he has, what kind of business, and what they do here at the scrap yard, and then tells him to try again. He tells the guy they are salvagers, and he says he opens accounts for salvagers they do business with and gives discounts every time they bring in a load – and the first hit is free. They agree on 30%. On the way back they all grab ice cream. Darion gets maple walnut and mint, Daphne orders 3 scoops of rocky road on a waffle cone with candy sprinkles, and Artesielcha gets strawberry.

Darion decides to name their ship Perdition. Daphne is pleased that he picked her name.

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What has gone before... Part One
Azure - where our crew's adventure begins.

Our story opens with Lukas Vonachen, a Ph.D student from the Core Worlds, on a space liner that has just arrived in orbit around Azure. Lukas is a political activist who believes that anthromals should be free persons, and hopes to end the practice of indentured servitude in the Border Ring. He is here doing field work for his thesis. His family is nouveau riche, having made their money in platinum mining (off the backs of indentured labourers) and does not approve of his work; consequently he has severed ties with most of them. Lukas joins the throng of passengers as they get onto shuttles and transit down to the surface. Here, he sees his first anthromal in the flesh – he cannot help staring. Lukas takes a bus from the spaceport to the city, and starts looking for accommodations.

Meanwhile, Leftenant Darion Quinn has been on Azure for a few weeks by now. He is on temporary leave from the Core Worlds Navy following a vicious pirate attack on the cruiser where he was training as a navigator, which left him with severe post-traumatic stress. His superiors hope that a holiday far from where the “Halifax incident” took place will give him time to recover and hopefully return to the Core to resume his promising career. His wealthy, old money family has the same hopes, despite the fact that he is growing apart from their right-wing speciesist beliefs. Darion is currently looking to buy a ship and outfit her with a crew so he can try his hand at deep-space salvage. He has made contact with Sakidanaraya Whispersong, a snow leopard anthromal underworld dealer. She contacts Darion and says she has found a good ship for him, and can front him the capital to buy her from a Merchants Guild auction. The ship even comes with an indentured engineer.

This indentured engineer is Artesielcha Stormchaser, a painted dog anthromal in her late teens. Her entire family is indentured, and she hopes one day to buy off all of their contracts and free them. Her former owner, a gruff but benevolent old mechanic, sold her to this ship’s previous owners to stop his asshole apprentice from selling her to a pirate ship. Now she is waiting in a Merchants Guild warehouse to be sold to her next owner in a couple of days. A few people come and see her to “inspect the merchandise” – some treat her like livestock, inspecting her teeth and her eyes and ears and other orifices; a few are lecherous (making her glad there are cameras in her cell), and a few (such as Darion) seem nice. She hopes one of the latter wins the auction.

Darion goes to inspect the ship and its engineer. The ship is a 30-year-old Universal Starworks HD2800-5 Heavy Towing and Deep Space Recovery Vehicle (basically a heavy tug). It is colloquially called a “Stroke Five” (according to the spacers, this is because it will bring you home from a job, but will give you five strokes in the process – they are notoriously maintenance-intensive, but if well cared for will come through everything asked of them). He is satisfied with the ship and with Artesielcha. Then he goes out to start looking for a crew. At a spacer bar where the navy types tend to hang out, he meets retired commodore James (Jim) Griffin, who says he came out to the Ring for a quiet retirement where he could still be near ships. He and Darion share war stories and Jim offers to keep an ear out for anything Darion might need. Darion also meets Lavender, a former flight surgeon who was honourably discharged from indenture with the Core Worlds Navy for “medical reasons”. She basically pleads with Darion to let her fly with him. He takes her resume and says he will get back to her.

In the meantime, Lukas has found a dumpy hostel room to rent, and hits the streets to do some observation and take notes. However, after dark he is a bit too conspicuous, and a gang of anthromals sees him watching and grabs him. They pull him into an alley and demand to know why a human is spying on them. He launches into a long-winded explanation about his thesis. The anthromals are not impressed and burn his notebook, then proceed to beat the tar out of him.

Darion has left the navy bar by now and is walking down the street when he comes across the gang beating up Lukas. Darion intervenes, and demands to know why they are doing this. The lead anthromal tells Darion to butt out, because it’s none of his business. Darion persists, until the anthromal gets bored of talking to him and decides that Lukas has had enough of a beating. They leave, and Darion helps Lukas up off the ground. Lukas is bruised and bleeding but not seriously injured; he explains what he was doing to Darion. Darion considers whether Lukas might make a good crewmember – he has some bookkeeping experience and a university education – but does not decide to hire him. Darion encourages Lukas to go home and lie down.

Over the next day, Darion continues his search for a crew. At another pub, he meets Daphne Bamber, a hyena anthromal who used to run her own salvage ship but went too long without a score and had it sold out from under her. She is a rough-and-tumble girl who loudly says whatever is on her mind, and she always seems to be sucking on a lollipop. Daphne agrees to sign on as first mate – she won’t accept anything less. When Darion asks for credentials, Daphne pulls her illegally modified Splinter SR-45 SMG out of her jacket and thunks it on the bar. Darion accepts this.

Later that day, Darion and Daphne and Lukas meet at a bar (Lukas had offered to buy Darion a drink in exchange for saving his ass). They talk some more about the ship. Lukas asks to buy passage on the ship so he can travel the Border Ring and take notes for his research. Darion accepts, and they agree that Lukas will work off some of his passage by keeping the books. Lukas explains more about his thesis; Daphne ends up rolling on the floor with laughter at the two humans’ naiveté about how things actually work in the Border Ring. After drinks, Lukas goes back to his apartment while Darion and Daphne continue their rounds. At a classy lounge, they meet Corey Dermitt, a wolf anthromal and former commercial pilot who was recently laid off and looking for work. Darion agrees to consider him for a primary pilot position.

Early the next morning, Darion goes to the warehouse and bids on the heavy tug. After a heated bidding war, he successfully buys the ship for 95,000G. Sakidanaraya contacts him and says to take five days and outfit his ship, then they will meet and talk terms. He decides to leave the ship in the warehouse for a few days before transferring her to the docks. He, Daphne, and Artesielcha then resume the crew search. A junior engineer, Willie Mizoguchi, responds to their online job posting and they interview him. Daphne’s contacts give her the name of a veteran salvage crew chief, Rex Roman, whom they meet at a pool hall. He agrees to sign on as a foreman, provided he has input about who is hired for his salvage team.

Artesielcha goes back to the ship to begin logging the repairs that need to be carried out before they can launch; she and Darion and Daphne inspect the ship and pick out their cabins. Darion starts making more final crew decisions – he returns to the navy bar intending to find Lavender and recruit her. He talks to Jim, who says she just left for a club down the street – the “Triad”. Darion and Daphne go there. It is an underground anthromal dance club, with open flames and tribal drum music and hallucinogenic smoke. Darion, being taller than most of the patrons, is breathing in more of the smoke and starts tripping balls. He ends up separated from Daphne and then grabbed by a group of dancers, and he finds out anthromals have very different conceptions of personal space. After thoroughly fondling him, they drag him off for a different kind of “dancing”, but before they can get him to a back room he sees Lavender trying to fend off the aggressive advances of another anthromal, and he pulls it together enough to duck away and intervene. They manage to find Daphne and get out of there, but Darion is still high as a kite. Daphne takes them to her favourite pub – the “Rock and Radium” – to get him something to sober him up.

Back at his hostel room, Lukas gets a call from Olavio Omer, a bookie and his former boss from his brief accounting stint. Olavio says there is a new game in the Core, in which players bet on how quickly law enforcement will apprehend a wanted fugitive. He says one of the criminals has fled to the Border and he asks Lukas to keep an eye out in exchange for part of the take. The criminal is an anthromal named Tycho Thomson and he is wanted for the rape and kidnapping of a wealthy heiress named Aithra Porter. Lukas agrees to help.

In the hangar, Artesielcha is working on the ship when she hears some voices. She thought everyone else had gone home. At first she hides, but one of them (a human woman) has clearly seen her and calls out to her. She wants to buy passage on the ship for herself and her fiancée (a wolf anthromal). Artesielcha says they’d have to talk with the captain. The human asks if they can wait inside the ship; Artesielcha says they can’t come inside, but she can let them wait in one of the airlocks (with the interior door sealed) until the captain comes back. They agree, even though she is a little claustrophobic.

At the bar, Daphne gets Darion something that looks like a vegetable smoothie that should counteract the drugs. Once he clears his head, he formally offers Lavender a position on the ship, which she accepts. Darion and Daphne canvass the patrons to see if anyone else is looking for work, with no such luck. It’s only when Darion goes to pay the tab (and order some food to take back to Artesielcha) that he gets talking with the bartender, a fennec fox anthromal who goes by Fennel. He asks off-hand if she would like to come on board as a cook, and she agrees. Due to a bit of a miscommunication, she also now thinks that Darion and Daphne are a couple, and no one has really corrected her yet.

Back at the ship (which is yet unnamed – Darion has a few ideas, and Daphne is suggesting they call her “Perdition”), Darion meets with Tom and Portia, the couple who want to buy passage. They plead with him to let them come on board – they are willing to work as deckhands to pay for their passage. Darion is wary, and wants to know why they would break in to the hangar and why they want off planet. Tom says that he is an indentured labourer, but he managed to escape. The two of them are very much in love and Portia says she cannot bear the thought of losing Tom back to slavery, so they are running away together. Darion finally relents and lets them sign on, after Tom gives him his Ghost Child name (Moonsplinter) to record on the crew list. Artesielcha immediately puts Tom to work helping her lift heavy things, while Portia goes to pick out a cabin for them.

On the ship’s bridge, later that evening, Darion gathers Daphne and Artesielcha for a drink of very good whiskey to toast their new venture. After the toast, Darion and Daphne open a bottle of cheaper vodka. Darion gets drunk and opens up about the Halifax incident. Daphne listens, and when he is finished she helps him get to his quarters and get his boots off. Then she goes back to her cabin. Artesielcha shuts the ship up for the night and goes back to her cabin.

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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