Stars Without Number
58 days of life support remaining
Debt remaining: 400,000 credits.
Finally I’ve started moving forward.
After escaping The Sikarat I managed to stow away on a small Yotsubishi cargo ship, captained by one Eddie Niccals. He brought me as far as he could, The Abraham station; a large ship orbiting the planet of Hachiman. I offered him what little pocket money I had on me as thanks and to ensure his continued discretion regarding my whereabouts. He accepted about half of what I offered, standard fee for a trip like that, no more, no less. A professional. It is good to see that at least the employees uphold the company’s name.
Stepping on to the Abraham station I immediately went to the local Exchange affiliate to withdraw sufficient funds to secure my position and buy a decent ship to begin gathering what I would need to get return to Daikoku. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my brother had been considerate and emptied my accounts before I could get to them. That left me stranded on a foreign ship ruled by for all intents and purposes, a cult, with nothing but the credits in my pocket and the clothes on my back. Luckily that was quite sufficient.
Most people overestimate the importance of having wealth and power. What is far more important is appearing to have those things. With the right confidence and attitude, by showing others that you belong and deserve to be treated in a certain way, most people will take it for granted and act accordingly to get into your good graces. Therefore after leaving the consulate I went to get bathed, shaved and made myself more presentable in general. Then I made towards the inner hub of the ship, Jericho. While there I made sure tip everyone generously, met with the right people, cashed in old favors and before long I had my own suite and a fresh supply of clothes, payed for mostly through social currency. Then came the hard part.
I began searching for potential allies, I had heard about the dishonorable treatment of Hoshiko Kaito, a warrior who had pledged herself to my family and the company. A woman who repeatedly risked her life in her service to us and who we simply discarded when we no longer had any use of her. We failed her. I began looking in to what happened to her and what I found was not promising, she seemed to have joined up with a known rat, Solomon Harford. He seems to have recruited her on a supposedly legitimate operation on the outskirts of Amaterasu. Perhaps because of how her treatment by the company mirrored my own, or the nagging feeling that something was wrong with Harford’s operation, I decided that my first order of business should be to see if I could help Hoshiko, and hopefully recruit her and if not, then hopefully at least help her to lessen the shame of my family for their treatment of her. But to do all that I needed a ship.
That line of thinking eventually brought me to Cheng. A man donning himself in leopard pelts and other wildlife, presumably to try and hide the fact that he is no jungle cat, but a snake. He is a viper waiting to sink his teeth in to those less fortune. In other words, a businessman not unlike myself. Getting him to see me wasn’t so difficult; the important thing was not to let on just how desperate I was. So I greeted him warmly, equal to equal and began discussing the purchase of one of his ships, The Iskandar Shah. From what I could tell it was little more than a rust bucket, but he swore that it would be at least serviceable. He sent in the ships mechanic, Cassidy Retsu, to vouch for it. After an awkward first impression, she began listing the strengths and weaknesses of the ship and it quickly became noticeable that listing the flaws and weaknesses took far longer than listing its strengths. Even so, she spoke of the ship fondly and it was clear that she cared for it, and according to Cheng the ship would likely need her to keep it functioning properly. Cassidy’s description helped me in my negotiations and I managed to settle for buying the ship for 400,000 credits. Clearly more than the ship was worth but I didn’t dare to press Cheng any harder since if he called my bluff it would become clear how much I needed the ship.
After meeting with Cheng, I moved on to discuss things with Miss Retsu. Her interview was far simpler, I needed her and she needed the ship. I hired her on as a mechanic and navigator for the cost of 20 credits per day. A wage far lower than standard fares, which was somewhat unprofessional of me, but considering the work place, her desire to stay on the ship and my own financial situation It would have to do. It even seemed as though it was an improved salary compared to what she was used to. She made preparations to the ship while I concluded my business aboard The Abraham.
The ship was…even worse than I had feared. Exposed wiring, a continuing whirling sound from inside the walls which occasionally shook the ship as well as of course… the manure, a parting gift from the church of Prosperity I imagined. But, true to Retsu’s word, the ship flew and that was what mattered. She planned the course for Amaterasu using the fastest route possible. It made the journey marginally more dangerous but I appreciated her initiative, even more so when she volunteered to clean up the ship. A few hours later, when the initial pathing had been programmed I joined her. That was perhaps not something a branch chief of the Yotsubishi corporation should be doing, manure removal certainly never came up as part of my job description, but then again, neither did it on hers. I hired her as a mechanic and a navigator, not as a maid or a housekeeper. So keeping the ship serviceable and the living conditions acceptable is as much my responsibility is it is hers, perhaps even more so as the employer. There wasn’t much that could be done to negate years of neglect and poor maintenance but we did what we could and managed to at least jettison the manure, including a Prosperity pamphlet Retsu had been reading, it only seemed fitting.
After which we cleaned up and went to bed, she oddly did not seem interested in the now available vice captain’s quarters but instead happily settled in to her old room. It is strange, the ship is old, rusted and would objectively serve better as scrap, but despite that she seems to genuinely care for it. I guess it’s a second home of sorts for her, strange…
We are closing in on Amaterasu to find Hoshiko. I can only hope I get there in time.
60 days of life support remaining
Debt remaining: 400,000 credits.
Cargo: 2340 credits worth of medical supplies
27 days until next payday
We are leaving Amaterasu behind us. The mission was a success.
When we closed in on the Amaterasian city of Magatama we were hailed and ordered to undergo a scrutinous clearing procedure as we landed. We were sent in to one of their secure hangers and were met with armed guards as well as medical staff. I knew fairly little about Amatersu customs since they were not part of the Exchange and thus frankly not particularly relevant, so I armed myself and cautioned Retsu to do the same as we went out to meet our hosts. Apparently the Amaterasians are followers of a matriarchal faith system wherein female psychics are goddesses or megamis and male psychics are viewed as feral beast to be put down or exiled. Because of this they scanned us to determine our purity, by which they seem to mean gender and psychic abilities. I was contained during this process while Retsu went to gather information. I met with one of the port’s representative megamis, Shirei-kan, who quickly cleared me and let us be on our way. Retsu returned after having met with a smuggler woman of some kind. She had given Retsu the information she needed, Solomon had gone far outside of the city borders in to an area referred to as The Wastes. The woman gave Retsu directions and apparently also offered to compensate us should we take out Solomon and his crew. A reasonable offer, killing him would turn ownership of the ship over to her, meaning that she likely would be able to compensate us reasonably well. During normal circumstances I might have considered her offer but she had offered to kill one of my own, there would be no deal with her.
I sent Retsu out to bring the necessary equipment for our travel while I looked in to getting transportation. Retsu surprised me by agreeing to come with me while searching for Hoshiko. I guess she figured that we needed each other to stay alive if we wanted to get off this rock. Even so, it somewhat impressed me, perhaps she is braver than she first appeared. Apparently Magatama kept a tight grip on vehicles going out in to the wastes, meaning finding transportation for out there would be difficult and time consuming. So I hired a taxi to take us to the outskirts. Retsu seemed displeased with the notion but soon fell in line. The Taxi took us out of the city and the farmlands next to the wastes. Inbred exiles waited for us as we climbed out of the taxi and for a moment it was unclear if we would have to fight them. Luckily, one of their own was dying from a wound inflicted by one of the feral psychics from the wastes. I asked Retsu to see to him and she was able to stabilize him. This won over enough of the villagers and one of them gave us directions to the so called dog cages where Solomon and his crew were heading. Retsu took point and I covered our back as we entered The Waste.
The travel to the dog cages were uneventful besides a stray dog getting too close to us and had to be put down. Once again Retsu surprised me by being a competent shot, it does indeed seem as though she is more than simply a mechanic. After a few hours of walking we found what must have been the dog cages, the skeleton frames of a farm or storage facility long since withered away by time. It was clear we were on the right track; outside of the cages were a pile of dog corpses, similar to the one that attacked us on our way there. The dogs had two set of wounds on them, one made by a laser rifle and one by projectile weaponry. The work of Hoshiko and Solomon’s second mercenary. I noted with some pride that there were more dogs felled with the laser rifle.
I found the remnants of a fence leading towards a mountain, assuming that was where Solomon had been going so we followed. The guess soon proved to be a good one as we found that they had set up glowbugs to help them find the way back. They were flickering out as we closed in on them, but it meant we were only a day or 2 behind them. We powered up the lights and hurried forward. Unfortunately Retsu began having problem keeping the pace so I helped her up along the mountain and finally arrived outside an old pre-tech base. There were signs of a feral psychic outside of it, but it was clear that this was where Hoshiko and the others were, so we followed.
Soon after entering we heard gunshots. We followed the sounds and navigated by the flickering lights Hoshiko and her crew had set up. We saw clear signs of the feral and eventually it brought us to what must have once been a lab. That is where we finally found Hoshiko, alive and well. But there was no guarantee that she would stay that way if the feral attacked so apologies and business proposals would have to wait. She brought us to where she had bunkered down with another crewmate, a man named Mcmurdo. Soloman had run off after having been attacked by the feral and Mcmurdo had gotten his atmofilter busted. Retsu lent hers to him while I got to work on readjusting the filters. Hoshiko filled me in while I worked and we made plans to find Solomon.
I didn’t care one way or another if he lived or died, but as long as he was still breathing, Hoshiko and Mcmurdo were bound to protect him, so we went after him. Mcmurdo wasn’t bad off, but lack of air combined with whatever pills Retsu gave him had made him lightheaded and no good in a fight, so he followed, staggering alongside us. We found Solomon trapped in an airtight room. He had wired the lock to get in to hide from the feral but apparently hadn’t arranged a way to get out. Retsu began working the lock to see if he was still alive and that’s when the feral attacked from out of the ventilation system.
The thing was inhumanly fast, and even though we were expecting it, it still managed to take us by surprise. He went for Retsu first, planting a jagged bone-knife in to her and she went down. A cold anger I hadn’t felt since leaving Daikoku filled me. I won’t let anyone steal my employees from me again. Hoshiko and I let lose salvo after salvo on the thing but it kept regenerating. Finally however it seemed it had reached its limit and it went still. I planted a few rounds to the things skull to make sure and then went to see to Retsu.
She was alive, bit it was a close thing. Having her try and continue her work carried the risk of worsening her condition. To hell with Solomon. I ordered the group to get back to the shelter and regroup. There was no way to take Retsu across The Wastes without worsening her injury so we sealed the vents in the room and left Mcmurdo to watch over her while myself and Hoshiko went to get the ship. Hoshiko began asking questions, simple, obvious questions but questions that still fill me with shame as I reflect on them. There was no time to give her the explanation she deserved, all I could do was apologize and promise to continue when we got back to the ship.
I called up the taxi driver that took us to the outskirts of The Wastes, Taro, and asked him to come pick us up. The romance of space travel and people from other planets seemed to have made a deep impression on him and he hurried over to us. While riding back, I asked about the laws of the planet in regards to The Wastes, and confirmed that whatever we found out there, we could keep. We arrived at the ship and set the coordinates for Retsu. I let the autopilot handle part of the trip while I spoke with Hoshiko. I explained my position, my plans and her place in them. She agreed to follow me. The mission had been a success. Now all that remained was to make sure I hadn’t merely replaced one employee with another.
We landed the ship on the foot of the mountain and rushed back to see to Retsu and Mcmurdo. There had been no more signs of any more ferals and they were alright but Retsu’s condition was getting worse. Still, after Hoshiko had checked up on her, she thought it safe for Retsu to make another attempt at opening Solomon’s door. She managed it, allowing us to take the data he had taken with him, starcharts, old ones, as well as computer logs. We carried both Solomon and Retsu back on the ship and me and Hoshiko began working on salvaging what could be found. The old place seemed to have been for experimenting on MESers, controlling and speeding up their powers’ development. We found a pre-tech pod of some kind, presumably where they performed their experiments. I ran a schematics scan of it and began picking it apart. Most of it was in too poor condition or too difficult to salvage beyond one gene splicer plug which could be quite interesting to study.
We brought it with us along with nerve toxin and batteries. Not an amazing haul for a pre-tech research facility all things considered, but more than enough as the true goal was finding Hoshiko. We flew back to Magatama and we were immediately asked to see Shirei-kan. I explained to her what we had done, the fate of Solomon and explained how a planet developing their medical understanding could benefit from the post tech toxins we had found. We made an agreement where we exchanged the toxins for medical supplies as well as her aid in healing Retsu’s injury. In return we agreed to spread word to the Exchange that Amaterasu would like to begin trading with them as well as to purge the data we had found in the research facility detailing the experiments on the male and female psychics on the planet. A potential minor economic hit, but the important thing is that my employees are well and we have cargo to sell. Finally business can commence.