The arrival of the Lone Wolf

Note: This is from my T20 PBEM game Pulp Hunters. The person playing Conrad Jones disappeared off the net right before he was going to meet the other characters. This forced me to scramble a bit for a different ship for the players to use.

I put this together from a series of emails between Jone's player and myself.

The Lone Wolf arrived in the Rikhani system on Day 17 of 1000. It had been a lonely couple of weeks in the ship by yourself. You didn't stay lonely for long....

A flight of IN fighters gave you an escort for a while. Long enough to verify your IFF signal and give you directions to the IN High Port.

As you bring the ship in on its final approach, you run through your mind what is going to happen. It is the familiar drill for a detached Scout (you never really retire from the IISS). You'll be met at the airlock by a young Naval Officer (at best a Lieutenant) who be very polite and ply you with good Navy chow and coffee as she debriefs you on your travels since the last time you checked in. It is all part of the price the IISS demands for letting you have Lone Wolf. The Navy will even top off your fuel tanks and life support. If you're lucky, you can get some minor maintenance thrown in for free too.

Docking the Lone Wolf with practiced ease, Conrad grumbled to himself about Navy protocol. Salute this, debrief that, where ya been, what'cha been doin while you were gone... He hated that aspect of being a scout, some snotty nosed, wet-behind-the-ears Officer debriefing him. "Shit, I've seen more in the last 10 years than most of these 'Naval Officers' will ever see.." he muttered to himself. Oh well, least he'll get refueled and maybe he could get something done about that smell coming from the air scrubbers. It really wasn't that bad once you got used to it, he grinned as he thought about it, kinda reminded him of home.

He'd read the astrogation computers brief of the Rikihani system while enroute, so he knew that while downside, he couldn't carry any of his weapons 'cept his dagger. He wasn't expecting any trouble so he left his auto pistol and 12 ga. in his cabin, changed clothes, and freshened up a least his hair was combed, though he'd forgotten to shave again.

The sound of the Lone Wolf settling into the docking clamps brought him out of his thoughts and back to the real world. He methodically went through the landing procedure checklist, finally powering down the engines and any other nonessential systems on the ship. As he walked back to the airlock, he smiled to himself, "Maybe I'll be greeted by a beautiful Lt." , it had been awhile since he'd seen a 'beautiful' anything now that he thought about it.

IN Lt. Khaani Gnehaziirike meets you at the airlock. A very attractive woman of what looks to you, pure Vilani decent. She looks in her early twenties, but it is hard to tell with Vilani. She's in an IN ship's jumpsuit. The rank tabs show her to be a full Lieutenant, and a member of the Line Branch of the Navy. No surprises there, but she is better looking than anybody who ever debriefed you at a Scout base.

She didn't break her smile as the smell of your ship drifted out the airlock.

"Captain Jones, welcome to the Rikhani Naval High Port. If you will please come with me, we can get the paperwork out of the way so you can go planet side if you wish."

Smiling broadly as he exits the airlock and sees his escort he says, "Well now, your a pleasant surprise Lt." Sounding genuinely honest, he adds, "Haven't seen a beauty like you in quite some time.", he smiles again and gives her a wink. Conrad shuts the airlock and turns to wait for the Lt. to lead the way.

She's obviously dealt with Scouts before, she only reacts with a slight, and mildly condescending, smile and says, "The Imperial Navy does try to do its collective best."

She points down the corridor, "There is a small mess hall this way. I figured it would be more comfortable than an office and you can get some coffee and chow if you like."

Conrad follows the Lt. to the mess hall, whistling softly as they go. Once they get there, he grabs a tray, utensils, and cup. After a short debate, he opts for the stew, gets a cup of coffee, and then finds an empty table where they can get down to business.

Business is short and pleasant for a chance...Lt. Gnehaziirike is efficient, and smiles at your jokes.

It's mostly just a quick review of your past few stops with a few follow up conditions on things like the availability of supplies, conditions as the space ports, and the general attitudes of the local population. During other interviews at Scout bases, you wondered why they just don't download your logs and spare you the pain of the interview. This time, there was no pain involved, and you even gave a chuckle over one of her subtle jokes.

You're just settling into your second cup when she sets aside the data pad, signaling an end to the, well the whole thing never seemed very formal, interview. "I see you are currently operating without an engineer. While your ship appears in fine shape, some detailed oriented Spaceport Manager may give you some trouble over that. If you are looking for an engineer, I know of a very good one looking for a ship. He's retired Navy, but I have a feeling you two would get along well enough."

"You must'a read my mind, cause I was going to ask you if you new of any good Engineers need'n a ship.", he says chuckling. "Also, I need a few supplies for Lone Wolf I need to ask you about. I need 4 standard HE missles and 3 sand canisters, if possible. Just have'm put the stuff in the hold, then we can settle up my account."

Lt. Gnehaziirike actually frowns, just slightly and then recovers, "Allocating ship's weaponry is a bit outside my area of authority, but I will pass your request on." "I've cleared your ship to land at the Naval downport. We'll take of your refueling and standard maintenance there. We're expecting some ships soon from the front. Refit as well as R&R for the crews."

She pops a small datcrys from her data pad and hands it you, "Here is contact information for Mr. Spruance. He's currently staying at a small hotel near the base. He is spending his evenings in a tavern called "The Jump Dragon". It's been adopted by the local members of the Black Gang. He's been swapping stories mostly. Mr. Spruance seems to be waiting for something. Perhaps you and the Lone Wolf."

"You might try placing an order through LeBlanc Memorial Downport. That's the commercial port."

He smiles and takes the datcrys from her. "If you could check into me purchasing those missiles and sand, I'd greatly appreciate it, if not, don't worry 'bout it. And thanks for the info and pleasant company." He smiles again and adds, "Meant no offense with the mind reading comment." Conrad stands and pockets the datcrys,

"Thanks again Lt.", he strolls off, back to the Lone Wolf, whistling a childhood tune.

She walks with you back to your ship, "Enjoy your stay in system."

Rikhani IN Downport, 017-1000 1630 hours

On the way dirtside, it hits you just how much you told that Navy Lieutenant. You shake your head and determine that you have been in space too long by yourself.

The approach and landing are straight forward. By the time you get the airlock and open it, there is a ramp there. There is a Sydite Petty Officer and a small crew of ratings at the base of it.

At 2 meters if he's a centimeter, he doesn't look up very far as he waves an upper hand at you, "Welcome Rikhani, Mr. Jones." "Permission for my crew to come aboard? We got the word from the High Port to give you the Gold Star treatment."

Conrad steps out of the airlock and inhales deeply, smelling the fresh air. Even though the fresh air was mixed with the smells of the Downport, it was still better then what was coming from the life support.

"Permission granted", he says to the Sydite as he walks down the ramp. He pauses part way down, so that he's roughly eye level with the Sydite, "Lone Wolf's in pretty good shape, even though she's been without an Engineer for a little while. One word of warning though, there's one hell of a smell coming from the air scrubbers..."

The Petty Officer smiles, "We've worked on these beauties before. We'll have her smelling like a daisy. Can't say how long that will last..." He identifies a ABS (Able Bodied Spacer) with a wave of his lower left hand. "Hynde here will drive you over to Ensign Wulf. He's handling incoming transients today. If you need a break from your ship, he can get a room in the BNCOQ (Bachelor NCO Quarters) for you or point you toward a shuttle into town." "Make sure he doesn't forget to link your comm into the local net so we can get a hold of you."

He nods a mild approval at the two Spacers hooking up the port umbilicals to the ship and returns his full attention to you, "Anything else we can do for you?"

Story © Copyright 2002 Mark Urbin
Pulp Hunters
Space Vermin Fiction

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