With young Farreach. It’s a tiny rocky world, so small you can see the horizon’s curvature and everyone lives in the “dome”. Normally the Zhodani are picky about letting outsiders onto this border planet, the farthest from their homeworld, but they maintain an outer, general starport of high quality, and for the right traders landing permits are granted. It seems that the shabby little tramp trader the IMS El Dorado is just one such, or “Big P” as he likes to be known (“P” to his friends; don’t ask) knows someone who knows someone.left behind on Clan to fix up some freight after one of his famous little turns, the rest of us have shipped out to the deadly dull, but highly secure, Zhodani rockball of
Anyway the ship has been down a day and Big P has been off into the Zhodani zone, doing a little private business – those hidden cargo areas have their uses. The Zhodani administrator he deals with and his friends will be even more happy than they all claim they usually are and there’ll be a tidy bonus towards the ship’s costs. Meanwhile the rest of us organise some freight tonnage to go to Clan, the Zhodani sector capital.
As we’re completing stowage and Joe port factor waddles up – he’s a fat little guy for a Zhodani – and asks if we also have any passenger transport berths. Hell yes! Anything that brings in the bucks. The only question is will we have to wait for this ground-pounder? We don’t want to catch a penalty on the freight.is requesting port authority clearances for boost, the
Turns out we don’t need to wait at all. A figure detaches itself from a convenient wall it was leaning against and saunters over. He’s about 6’2", tall, slender and carries himself with a subtle assurance. You don’t tend to notice him ‘til he’s on top of you, or in your face; unassuming like. Captain Jim looks him over and offers him a hand, while Euro moves over a little to assess the new meat. The guy smiles and takes Jims hand, a firm, but short shake –
bq). “James Forbes, independent business consultant looking for fast passage to Esalin. I understand you’re heading my way?”
Jim nods and asks if our ship’s security can look over his papers and embarkation pass. Mr Forbes hands over his docket, looking askance at Euro’s looming form. Many people mistake Euro for a meat brick, given his bulk and scars, but there’s a cold brain under that warm loveable exterior. He scans it, grunt’s and hands the docket back.
bq). “Looks fine Captain.”
Forbes smiles, takes his docket and addresses Jim,
bq). “I’m looking for a fast problem free passage; I have an important business meeting on Easlin and can’t be late. I believe you’re on a maximum 4 week transit and that would be perfect. I’m willing to pay well for the trip as my profit depends on it; say double the normal rate, ₵50K for a middle passage.”
The Captain blinks, but doesn’t hesitate to bite that off at the wrist; and just like that we have a passenger.
Boost goes normally with the Joes being as bland and polite as usual and a little while later we’re skimming a bucket of jump juice off the local Jovian special. Next a short haul while we shake the crap from the juice, do a little astrogation and our resident engineer, Mr Murdock (a Droyne, don’t ask about the name), tries to figure out for the umpteenth time where our “jump bobble” comes from and then we’re away. The El-Dorado gives that little inertial wobble as she up-jumps, but the Captain nurses her through it and the light show is as impressive as ever.
Next stop a little non-entity called Ao-dai, still in Zhodani space and then on to Clan, where we can earn some readies from freight shipping from Farreach before our final jump to Esalin.