010-1117 – Venad – Adar/Hinterworlds

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

I slept late again this morning. Eventually I got up and checked the various news and comm feeds. Everything looked good.

After a while I packed up and left, heading back to the starport and the Grayswandir. Then I pinged the entire crew, telling them to get ready to leave and asking them to meet me at the Garan again. Finally, I had the remaining trade goods transferred from the warehouse to the ship, told the owners of the various general cargoes to go ahead and load them as well, and pinged the passengers to let them know we would be leaving the next day and invited them on board after local noon.

Once that was done I headed for the Garan. I thought I would be the first person there, but Jami was sitting at the bar, wearing what looked like the same outfit as the day before. She jumped up and ran over to me.

“Heya Captain!” she said, throwing me a sloppy salute. “We ready to head out?”

I nodded. “Close. We’ve got a full load. The cargobots should be at the ship at 1000 tomorrow. Planning on hitting vacuum around 1800 and jumpspace by midnight.”

She nodded in return. “Sounds good! I’ll be happy to get out of here.” She looked around. “Anyone else here yet?”

I looked around then shook my head. “It’s early still. Let’s grab a table.”

We wound up at almost the same table as the other night. We had just grabbed our beers when Do’rex and Varan came in, saw us and walked over. Varan was wearing his full jumpsuit and jacket while Do’rex just had the jacket on over street clothes.

“A Vegan!” Jami said, hopping up. “I’ve never met one of them… um… one of you before.” She suddenly looked around, embarrassed. “Hi,” she said, more subdued. “I’m Jami Wistina, the new engineer. Good to meet you.”

Do’rex looked at her, his tentacles twitching in what I knew as embarrassment. But he extended one and tapped her outstretched hand with it.

“Kapan Do’rex,” he said, “pilot of the Pha… Grayswandir. Glad to have you aboard.” He ducked past her and slid into the booth, sliding around to sit next to me.

Varan nodded. “Yeah. Varan Hort. Steward.” He gestured towards the booth and she slid back in. He followed.

“Anyone heard from Saahna?” I asked as everyone settled in.

Varan shook his head. “Haven’t seen her. She hasn’t been with you?”

I shook my head. “No. She thought that with me being the captain it would make things awkward.”

He frowned slightly. “You OK?”

I shrugged. “We were never ‘together’ together. It just worked out that way sometime. We’ll both be fine.”

Varan gave a sly smile. “So… you won’t mind if I try to move in?”

I almost laughed at that. “Be careful; she’ll kill you if you try something out of line.”

He did laugh and even Do’rex clicked in amusement. “Yeah, I got that. Trust me.”

Do’rex clicked. “She is here.” he said.

I looked to the entrance. Saahna had entered, accompanied by a stocky local. Once they had their masks off she looked around and, seeing us, gave a quick wave in our direction then gave her companion a quick kiss. He headed for the bar while she came in our direction.

“Sorry I’m late,” she said, sliding in beside Varan. “Hope I didn’t miss anything.”

I shook my head. “Just getting started.” I paused. “You can invite your friend over if you want.”

She lowered her eyes but smiled, then turned and gave the man at the bar a wave. “Yeah, that’s Melant. I… met him a couple of nights ago. We’re planning on making a night of it after this since who knows when we’ll be back after today.”

I felt a slight twinge of jealousy but smiled. “I’ll try not to keep us that long.”

“Melant…” said Jami, frowning. ”He’s with Controlled Crash right?”

Saahna looked at her with a frown. “Yes. He is. And who are you?”

Jami flushed as I waved in her direction. “She’s our Engineer,” I said. “Jami Wistina, formerly of the Cygnarus.” I gestured the other way. “Saahna Denan. Gunner, Security and most valuable Crew-member.”

Jami tried to cover her embarrassment and held out her hand. “Good to meet you!”

Saahna shrugged, smiled, and extended her own hand. “Welcome aboard. If Derek… the Captain wants you on board then I’m sure you’ll fit it. Just watch out for this guy…” she indicated me. “He thinks he’s a ladies man. I haven’t had the heart to tell him he’s wrong.”

Jami glanced at me and flushed slightly again. Varan laughed and Do’rex gave his clicking approval.

“OK,” I said, flushing slightly myself. “Let’s get to it. Don’t want to keep your singer waiting.”

“Drummer,” she said, tilting her head slightly. “It was good to meet someone with a sense of… rhythm.”

Everyone at the table laughed or clicked a bit more at that. I felt myself flush a bit brighter.

“OK,” I said again. “Here’s what we have. I need everyone on board and ready by 0900 tomorrow. The rest of our cargo should be showing up around 1000 and the passengers starting about 1200. I’ve got a launch window for us at 1800.”

Everyone nodded. “Anything I should worry about?” asked Varan.

I hesitated, then nodded. “Yeah, we may have a bit of an odd one.” I told him about the visit from Korvusar.

“I can’t help but feel that she’s up to something,” I finished, “but it’s a guaranteed High Passage every Jump. Just… keep her happy but keep an eye on her as well.”

Saahna was frowning. “You should have contacted me; I could have done a background check on her.”

I shrugged. “Didn’t want to disturb your leave.”

She gave me an irritated look. “It’s my job, Captain.” She emphasized the word a bit too heavily. “Remember that, OK? I’d rather be disturbed than have to have to Vargr-up while in jumpspace.”

I shook my head. “I didn’t get that kind of vibe from her. I know she’s hiding something and it seems to involve us. There’s over a hundred ships a day coming through Venad; it’s the main Imperial trade center for the sub if not the entire sector after all. She could travel with anyone. But she wanted the Grayswandir. She wanted us.” I paused and waved the waitbot back over. “I don’t think she’s wanting to endanger us. I think… I think she thinks we can help her, somehow, but won’t tell me what is going on.”

Varan was frowning at me but slowly nodded his head. “OK, Derek. Um… Captain. I know you can read people; the gods know you’ve made enough credits for us with your instincts.” He paused. “I’ll make sure she gets taken care of, but I’ll try to see what I can find out from her as well.”

I nodded. “Sounds good.”

Saahna was nodding too. “I’ll talk to a few contacts, see what I can find.”

I smiled. “I don’t want to ruin your evening.”

She smiled at that. “Hey, Melant’s got a gig in a couple of hours.” She gave another wave and smile in his direction, then turned back. “I never said they were any good. Anyway, while he’s performing I’ll do some research. I’ll say my goodbyes later.” She smiled at that thought.

I nodded, feeling that twinge again. “Sounds good.” I looked around. “Anyone have anything else?”

Jami raised a hand. “Do I get a jacket?”

I laughed. “Yeah, they should be in your cabin by now. You need a vaccsuit?”

She shook her head, seemingly annoyed at the question. “No, I’ve got my own.”

I nodded. “I figured. Just making sure.”

She nodded in return. “So… that’s it?

I shrugged. “What else is there?”

She shrugged back. “Captain Barikus liked to stretch these things out. Glad to see that’s one way you aren’t like him.”

Varan laughed. “I’ve been with this guy for almost 10 years. If it isn’t important, he isn’t going to waste your time with it.”

I nodded. “Don’t see any reason to tell you what you already know. You know your job better than me. I’m assuming you’ll do it.”

She gave me her usual sloppy salute. “You can depend on me, Captain!”

I sighed. “And will you please stop that!”

She frowned. “Stop what?”

“Saluting.” I shook my head. “We’re Free Traders, not the military.”

She nodded. “Got it, Captain!”

The waitbot showed up, bringing mine and Jami’s food and drinks for everyone else. I had stioshi pods again, of course since we were leaving, and Jami had some kind of sandwich that looked to have a dozen layers.

“You can fit that in your mouth?” Varan asked, seeming surprised.

Jami smiled wickedly. “You might be surprised what I can fit in my mouth.” Varan flushed red as she poured the contents of a bowl over the “sandwich” then proceeded to chop and mash it into smaller pieces. She took a bite and looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

Varan ordered the same thing Jami was eating while Do’rex ordered his usual salad. Saahna excused herself and stood up.

“I guess I better make sure Melant isn’t getting too friendly with anyone at the bar.” She waved at the table. See everyone on-board tomorrow. And good to meet you, Jami. She turned and headed towards the bar.

“She’s annoyed at you.” Varan said to me.

I frowned. “Why?”

He shrugged. “Maybe you were more to her than you thought?”

I shook my head. “She was the one who called it off.”

It was his turn to frown. “I don’t know then.”

“Changes,” said Jami. “New captain, new Engineer, old captain and Engineer gone…” She shrugged. “All of you have been together for a while, right? Makes sense she’d be uncomfortable.”

I looked at her. “How about you? Feel OK stepping into all of this?

She laughed. “Hey, gotta be better than my last berth, right?”

“We’ll see.” She frowned slightly at that.

I spent the rest of the evening hanging out with the crew, minus Saahna, at the bar. Varan insisted on telling some of our more “epic” misadventures, including the K’kree incident (don’t ask). Jami in return shared a few tales of her own travels. Many of those involved being someplace she wasn’t supposed to be. I worried slightly about that; she would either be bored by life on the Grayswandir or happy to be able to relax. I hoped it would be the latter.

Varan had a bit too much to drink, I think, and I overheard him inviting Jami back to his room. She declined gracefully, saying she didn’t want to “get too involved too quickly”. I could tell he was disappointed and he headed off soon after. Do’rex had already left and Saahna was long gone, so Jami and I were the last to leave.

The first aircab landed and I offered it to her. She nodded and started getting in, then stopped and looked back.

“You’ve got a good crew, Captain. Glad to get to be a part of it.”

“Wait until we’ve got a few Jumps behind us,” I said with a smile. “Then see how you like us.”

She laughed. “I’ve already got a good feeling. See you tomorrow, Captain.”

I gave her an off-kilter salute. “Welcome aboard.”

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