005-1117 – Venad – Adar/Hinterworlds

Venad – Adar/Hinterworlds 0402 A221621-B Ni Po Na 324 Im M0V M6D

Today was actually quiet.

I found myself not having anything to do for the first time in the last few weeks. After taking care of a bit of paperwork and other details, I decided to head into town for a while.

I had barely left my hotel when I found myself in a street throng. A horde of people were heading towards the Starport and, with a shrug, I followed to see what was going on.

There was some sort of protest going on outside of the main entrance. Starport security had a large number of personnel lined up inside the gate and more in a half-dozen air rafts floating overhead. Another half-dozen were circling the area showing the logos of local news-net channels on their sides and a far larger number of onlookers floated around, but stayed on the Startown side.

A podium was set up in front of the entrance and someone I vaguely recognized from the news-net was ranting about how it was time for the Imperium to leave and let Venad return to Ral Ranta control. Most of the crowd seemed to be in agreement, cheering loudly, but a non-insignificant number of others seemed to be looking on in disagreement. But they also seemed to realize the mood of the crowd and didn’t openly say anything against him.

I was about to leave when I felt something tug at the edge of my jacket. I spun and grabbed the wrist of the person behind me.

I saw it was a young boy, probably barely into his teens. My remote was in the hand I had grabbed and I retrieved it with my other hand before releasing it. Without a word he turned and raced off into the crowd.

I shrugged. It certainly wasn’t the first time someone had tried a lift on me and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Still, this crowd had to be attracting the professionals as well as the amateurs, so I decided to make my exit.

I wound up only about a block down the street. I found a bar called the “Misjump” and stepped inside.

My ears popped as I cleared the pressure door and I smirked at the decor. It was made up to look like the interior of a starship but as imagined by your typical net drama; which meant it was way too open and way too clean. I could tell there weren’t many ships’ crews in here; this was for the locals and the tourists. Still, I figured I might find a bit more solitude in there than I would in a more crew-friendly place, so I went up to the bar, found an empty stool, and ordered the local beer.

They had a human bartender here, which was a plus, though I knew his presence would be reflected in the price. Still, I took my beer, tossed him a few extra credits to make sure he remembered me, and started pulling up info on my comp.

I looked closer at the data on Fugitak, trying to decide what cargo would best sell there. They basically didn’t have anything. The planet was barely populated; about 250 people divided into around two-dozen “claims”. They made their living by harvesting mineral outcrops. The outcrops had reacted with the exotic atmosphere to create wildly shaped and colored crystals, which they carefully removed to be sold as they were as decorative pieces or to artists and sculptors to be refashioned into other forms of art. In return they needed to buy anything and everything. Their fabricators would give them basic food, shelter, and life-support, but anyone who has tried living on what comes out of a fabricator for too long will tell you how desperate you become for anything else after a while.

Foodstuffs would be obvious for trade but Venad wasn’t an agricultural world either. Finally I decided that entertainment items would be the best choice, followed by repair parts. There isn’t a lot to do when you spend most of your life in a hostile environment suit or in an underground habitat, and when you’re living under those conditions you want to make sure the machinery around you keeps working; your life literally depends on it.

I spent some time checking the local market boards, looking to see what I could find. I put in a few offers on some smaller lots, I didn’t want to commit to too much quite yet, and also registered our planned departure time and destination with the starport net. That would let the freight shippers and anyone who actually wanted to travel to Fugitak for some unknown reason to contact us.

That took a while and I was several beers in by that point. When I looked around I noticed that evening had fallen and the crowd inside had picked up. Most of the tables and seats around the bar were filled and several groups were standing just inside the entrance. I saw one group of three women there, one of whom had been looking at me but who looked away when she saw me looking back. I picked up my pack, which had been occupying the seat next to me, stood up, and gestured towards them. There was a brief look of surprise, a few laughs directed towards the woman who had been looking at me, then they came over.

I found out that they were a group who had just graduated from a university over in the Old Expanse. I promptly forgot the name of the planet and university. They were spending about six months jumping around before they had to go back to the “real galaxy” and start work.

They were all Medics. Well, two Medics and an Exobiologist. The Exo was the one who had been looking at me. She was embarrassed at first, but after a bit she revealed that she had been sure I was an actual Traveller as opposed to someone just in the bar and that her companions hadn’t believed her at first. My actually having my own ship was a bonus and she wasted no time rubbing it in her friend’s faces.

We eventually retreated to a table. There was food, drink, conversation and dancing. After a while, her friends had wandered off and I found myself alone with Halley, the Exo.

“So…” I said, as the crowd was finally starting to clear out a bit. “Need me to call you an air-cab?”

She looked around with a slight frown. “Yeah… I guess. I don’t see Nicana or Orean around…”

I nodded. “Or…” I paused. “There’s a pretty good bar at my hotel. We could have one more there?”

She slowly smiled. “Sure! Sounds good to me.”

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