Deep Space One

Confusion on the Docks

...As Alex Assigns his Crew...

…To Sort out Allison’s problems…

…And Paddy has trouble getting onto the Lucy.

Alex O’Reilly watched Nancy – from the posted crew – drop her forehead onto the bar.

“Rose, you are still sick after that last bar hop?” she said into her Comm. “I’m not built for psychology. this is on your head.” Smiling darkly, she added “However, this might be fun.”

“Just see what you can figure out about Allison psych profile,” he asked her. “We need to know if we can work with her.”

The CO of the unposteds – Alex wasn’t sure he liked the title, but it was his – asked Allison where she was going.

“We want you to stay put.”

She did need to go to the bank to establish accounts here on Pell. She insisted. And he could see she was right.

When she left the bar, he could see she was not heading for the row of offices where the banks might be found.

“She’s going back towards the docks.” Towards her ship.

Alex panicked. And decided to follow her.

But when she saw the militia guard on her ship, she abruptly changed. He saw she was now headed for the bank.

Megan told him she was going to round up Nancy.

“Good, we’re going to need her for the crew meeting.”

Once his entire watch was gathered – plus Nancy, posted Medical – he told them all they were going to get organized.

“As I see we have six tasks.” Some more urgent than others. “We have to get Allison out of legal jeopardy. We have to get her a Psyche Eval. We need to get the ship unlocked. Then, check the ship, make sure it’s ship shape. We need to figure out what the Alliance people want with her. And finally – this may be the hard one – talk her into some sort of mutually beneficial agreement.”

Paddy was snickering from the back.

“I’ll try to address the legal issues. Paddy, you work on checking out the ship.” He knew Paddy was the one the address whatever safety or engineering issues the Lucy might have. He was not so sure who could get that customs seal off it. “Allison is working on the customs seal.”

And, hypothetically, the militia guard.

He saw Keiran gesturing at the screen behind the bar.

The chyron read, Merchant Vessel, Lulubelle

A photo of a medium sized Merchant ship took up most of the screen.

The bartender saw they were looking and turned up the volume.

“…the complaint appears to have come from a Merchanter just in from across the line, the Lulubelle, The ship in question is well known to our viewers as its comm channel was broadcast yesterday. The captain’s solo run from Mariner was the talk of the station. That apparently attracted the attention of the crew of the Lulubelle. They say the ship is under sanction at Pan-Paris for bad debts.”

He sighed.

“Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. Finbar, I want you to look into the economic opportunities on this side of the line. Allison doesn’t seem anxious to go back.” He rolled his eyes toward the screen. Nancy is going to get Rose started on the psychology stuff. Kieran, you’re doing a good job with the press."

“Not really my thing,” his security officer noted.

“Still, the press is often a security concern,” he told Kieran.

He noted that Paddy was no longer snickering. In fact, he was no longer even there.

“I guess I should head over to the bank and help Allison.”

Not waiting around for the rest of his orders, Paddy O’Reilly went straight to the docks. He had a theory about the Lucy.

“If it’s a spotter ship for the pirates – or a marginer with similar need for speed and power, dealing in illicit trades at deserted null-points – it might have a powerful hyperdrive hidden within its tiny exterior.” Those kinds of ship didn’t need a lot of cargo space.

Paddy was always looking for an engineering explanation.

As he approached the customs seal, two militiamen intercepted him.

“Excuse me, where are you going?”

He saw badges identifying them as belonging to Norway, the only ship in the militia fleet capable of interstellar jumps.

Paddy tried to convince the militia a jumpship which came in on a solo run from Mariner was at risk of blowing up. They tried to convince him they had no authority to let him aboard.

“Oi laddie!” he shouted. “If that ship blows let it be on ’yer ’ead then!”

Taking a more conciliatory tone, Paddy explained how a coolant leak could compromise the integrity of the fusion drive.

This did not convince them to let him onto the ship.

“It did convince them to take my retinal prints.” Now they apparently thought he was some kind of mad bomber. “Time to baffle them with BS.”

He launched into a highly technical explanation of the dangers of explosion, which was sufficiently persuasive that they called for backup.

He was still contemplating this success when a batch of Norway marines showed up with an engineering officer at their head.

“So,” the officer asked the militia, “what’s this about a threat to blow up a ship?”

Nancy went back to the Dockmaster’s office to see if she could find Allison.

“I need to let her know Rose is going to speak with her.”

She hoped the marginer wasn’t afraid of shrinks.

“Not that Rose comes across as one.”

Megan heard Alex order to pursue Allison when they spotted her leaving the bank.

“And heading for the Dockmaster’s office.”

Just then, her CO was mobbed by teenyboppers.

“It’s him,” they shouted, pushing forward for autographs.

“Fortunately, they don’t recognize me,” she told him as she headed for the administrative offices after Allison.

Kieran wasn’t really happy with the assignment Alex gave him. Sure he had stepped up when the reporters had mobbed them.

“But I’m not good at this.” The reporters all wanted the story to be about romance. “By which, they mean sex.” Stationers all thought of spacers as sex-crazed libertines.

What he did know was how to create an advantage.

“Friendships with the press.”

He heard Finbar in the corner, cursing at his PADD.

“At least someone else has an assignment they are less that suited for.”

Finbar was supposed to be setting up a business plan for Lucy’s operations on this side of the Pell-Mariner dividing line.

“What used to be the other side in the war.”

“Nevermind,” the cargo officer told his Marketing Computer.

Kieran knew most of Finbar’s cargo experience was on the stevedoring side of operations.

“Sure, he’s a good negotiator.” But most of Finn’s diplomacy skills came from negotiating with entertainers in dockside bars.

He got a text from Alex saying Nancy was helping him escape the fangirls.

“Nancy? Fangirls?”

His reverie contemplating the head nurse helping Alex escape fangirls was interrupted by Megan.

“Alex sent me to help Finbar with the business plan,” she told him.

“He’s over in the corner cursing out his PADD. Or the marketing computer back on the ship.” Kieran wasn’t sure which.

“Alex told me Allison is very protective of her ship,” he heard Megan telling Finbar.

“And Allison wants to hire a crew.”

“Which has to be us. And we’re expensive. More than she’s used to be paying.”

“Sounds like she needs a loan,” Kieran told them, texting the same message to Alex.

He heard Finbar, still cursing.

“50K?” Alex texted back. “That’s what I offered her.”

Kieran knew Alex didn’t have that kind of money.

“That means convincing the Council.” Dublin Again required approval from the ship’s council for loans. “They may want to just purchase the ship outright.” Then they could staff it with posted crew.

“She’ll never go along with that.”

“May not have a choice.”

Megan was looking into trading routes that are common in the Alliance.

“I want to find the most profitable.”

She decided to drag Finbar along with her to the Merchanter’s Guild to see what she could find.

Which gave Kieran a chance to go back to the reporters.

Immediately a complication arose.

“They’re each gonna want their own story!”

They mobbed Alex when he showed up.

“At least he’s willing to help me.”

And Alex was willing to use his fast talk.

“Maybe it’s not his strong suit.” But his CO was willing to risk the complications.

Finbar was texting now.

“Megan’s got a party going. Now we got our advantage.”

Friends at the Merchanter’s Guild.

“Couldn’t hurt.”

Finbar joined the party at the Merchanter’s Guild.

“Using some persuasion.” He wasn’t ready to adopt Megan’s tactics wholesale. The friendship she was forging might have helped.

He went back to his market computer when that came up short.

“The mothballed stations on the Hinder Star are key,” he texted to Kieran. He was making some progress. “Still no breakthroughs, though.”

Scrutinizing the data from Megan’s friends, he discovered trade was not yet re-established with Sol.

“And Earth.”

“Got a breakthrough on the products from the Cyteen side,” he texted.

All he got back was Kieran’s complaints about losing his friendship with the press.

“Alex is taking a firm line with the reporters. Getting them lined up for individual interviews.”

“Things like rejuv or scientific breakthroughs are very light and portable.”

“Just the thing for a small ship.” Kieran was getting it.

“Like a marginer,” he texted back.

Megan was having so much luck with her party-all-out strategy, Finbar decided to join the fun.

“At least we know I’m good at that side of things.” No computers involved.

They headed back to the sleepover with the last piece of the puzzle.

“To pull off a deal that gets unposted crew our own ship,” he explained to Alex when he met them there, “we need to convince Dublin Again to loan Lucy money.”

“A lot of it,” Megan added, “if they are gonna cover any unknown debts.”

Finbar was impressed with the way his CO explained the deal – firmly – to Allison.

“And got her agreement.”