Forum:The Efate Run:Prologue
Main Lounge, Spacefarers' Guild, Regina Down, 16:25 027-1120
(Local time 25:00).
With midnight approaching, the main lounge of the Spacefarers' Guild is as empty as it ever gets, with only a few dozen members whose biological clocks haven't had time to adjust to Regina's 25½ hour day going about their business. Suddenly the big bulletin board flashes amber and emits five loud, penetrating dings. Almost a quarter of the bulletins shrink to thumbnail size and a new message covering a quarter of the board appears, surrounded by the flashing border that indicates extreme urgency. Curious guild members drift over to look at the new message, which reads:
- URGENT! Uakye Transport Partners, LIC needs replacement crew for one of its ships.
- If you have a Limited Mate's License, a Chief Engineer's License, or a Cargomaster's
- Certificate and can be ready to board in ten hours, please apply immediately to Room
- 146 where a representative of UTP is waiting.
A rather ugly-looking man of indeterminate age with shaved head, dressed in nondescript clothes that look vaguely like combat fatigues, looks up from the beer he had been nursing for far longer than a single beer should last, takes in the announcement, swallows the rest of the beer, and heads off quitely and purposefully in search of Room # 146.
The dings interrupted a group of engineers talking shop over beers. The shortest one read it twice before taking another sip. He's a Suerrat, mostly dressed in pockets. After getting his friends' opinions of UTP he pays for the round. "Going to try it, Gabon?" one asks.
"I'm going to take a look. Now that Winchell has his license the Chief can do without me. Time to get an engine room of my own. Wish me luck!" He heads out to a chorus of well-wishes.
Across the lounge, the trickle of hopefuls making for Room # 146 pass a lone figure standing in the middle of the floor. He scratches an unshaven cheek while staring up at the bulletin board, reading and re-reading the UTP announcement. Finally, he seems to arrive at a decision.
"Ah ... why not?" he mumbles "There's nothin' going on here but the rent." He throws the holdall at his feet over his shoulder, sets a frayed black baseball cap squarely on his head, and ambles after the crowd headed for Room # 146.
At one of the more boisterous tables in the room, several people are sharing tales and laughing loudly. When the announcement comes on, they grow quiet for a moment discussing the news with glances. They then break out laughing again and order another round of drinks. After a few more stories and laughs, one of the group, a man of average height and brown hair with flecks of grey says his goodbyes to the group and heads down the hall.
Room 146, Spacefarers' Guild, Regina Down, 16:30 027-1120
(Local time 25:05)
Room 146 is occupied by a stocky, worried-looking woman in her fifties dressed in a rumpled business suit. She waits impatiently for everyone to enter the room.
"Greetings, everyone," the woman begins. "My name is Tatiana Larsen, and I'm the Regina factor for Uakye Transport Partners. We're in a bit of a pickle here. This evening the captain of our freighter Silver Sphinx held a private party of some kind. Most of the Sphinx officers were there. Everyone at the party was struck by some particularly nasty kind of food poisoning and are presently in intensive care. The doctors tell me it's touch and go for some of the victims, and that even if they survive, they're going to need some time recuperating. That's bad enough in itself, of course, but what makes it urgent is that the Sphinx is sheduled for departure in 19 and a half hours. So we need two watch-standing officers, a purser slash cargomaster, and a chief engineer."
Larsen pauses for a moment, then resumes: "UTP is offering three month contracts as temporary stand-ins for the regular crew. Most of our ships are engaged in regularly scheduled jumps, but some, the Sphinx among them, are used to take up the slack and fill in the cracks. You'll be shifted around as the need occurs. The jump tomorrow is to Forboldn. After that is still up in the air. Any takers?"
A fur-covered human stands up. "Maybe. How big is the crew we're going to be supervising? And is the Sphinx current on maintenance and supplies?"
"The Sphinx is a Golden Gryphon class 400 T merchant," Larsen replies. "It has a crew of nine: Three bridge officers, a purser, a sensor tech and a signals tech, and three engineers. She's berthed up on the Highport, fully supplied, fueled, and cargo loaded. All that's missing are the passengers, who'll join tomorrow morning... and four crew."
"Fair enough. I'm Gabon Roughbark, currently 3rd Engineer on Ekatur's Subsidized Merchant 7436. I've had my Chief's license for three months and I've been on starships for a dozen years. How much are you paying?"
Larsen looks sharply at Gabon for a moment before she answers: "Standard salaries with a sign-on bonus of one month's pay. For an engineer that would be... lessee... 1,800 credits." Gabon gives her a thumbs-up.
"Very well then," Larsen says, after inserting the holocrystal with Gabon's references in the desk computer and giving them a quick glance. " You're hired." She hands him two contract tablets. "Read this contract through, date and sign it and the copy, and place a drop of blood on the indicated spot. You're to report on the Sphinx no later than 8:00 GMT tomorrow. Here's a temporary UTP ID that'll let you charge the cost of the shuttle to your ship. I'll get a proper one made and delivered to you before you jump. Any questions?" Gabon shakes his head and takes a seat where he can watch the rest of the hopefuls.
"I am available... can handle the pusser slot and there are rarely complaints about my cooking." A quiet voice from the shaven-headed human that Larsen hadn't really noticed was in the room until now.
"What's your name," she asks "and do you have a Cargomaster's Certificate?".
"I'm Matthew Padfoot. And yes."
Larsen glances briefly at the content of the crystal Padfoot shows her, then hires him and gives him the same instructions she gave Gabon.
At the back of the room, a scruffy looking human raises his hand and waves a black baseball cap until Larsen catches sight of him. "Yes, the man at the back?" she says, pointing.
"Name's Bralt. I have an Unlimited Mate's License, got a few years on the bridge for Oberlindes and more than I care to recall working the Belts. I just signed off from Oberlindes a few weeks back, got references here if you care to read 'em."
Larsen accepts the crystal Bralt hands her and checks his license before hiring him without any further questions.
About 20 minutes later, after Larsen has rejected a couple of totally unqualified applicants and is begining to look desperate, a man in coveralls, clean but rummpled walks in with a set of papers in hand. Placing them on the table in front of her, he states, "My name is Gani Stennetii, and I am exactly the person you are looking for."
"Do you have an Unlimited Mate's Licence and do you breathe?" Larsen asks tiredly.
"Yes on both counts. Glad to be on board." replies Gani, perhaps a little too chipper.
"OK, you're hired. Here, sign this." Larsen hads over the contracts and jabs a finger at her screen. In the Main Lounge the big URGENT message disappears from the big screen and the messages it had displaced resumes their original size.
In the hallway Gabon walks next to his new coworkers and jokes "So the captain wiped out his officers with food poisoning but he's still flying . . . what do you think, a cast iron stomach, or was he just talking too much to eat anything?" He suggests meeting for breakfast and then shuttling up together so the new officers can get to know each other. The others nod assent and disperses to finalize preparations and catch a little sleep.