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214
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Story - Diary of a Trader

Diary of a Trader

Storms hide the surface of Shiva from view and from what I am led to believe they never break. Ganesha, also in this system has a starbase though there is a promise to blow me out of orbit should I ever return, so Shiva seems like a better idea all told.

Turbulence hammers us as we set down close to one of the vast greenhouse farms at the base of the volcano that forms the only continent on this world. Communication with local authorities has been the usual fiasco and I get ever more frustrated at the delays.

Next comes more than a day of marking off items as they arrive from different sources and having to haggle over substitutions. I swear that here the phrase 'everything is as expected' is synonymous with 'yeah, its gone tits up'.

When things turn up, I oversee the crewmembers loading of the local consumables. This is the term we captains use for cheap junk that people at the other end of the galaxy think of as exotic. The manifest breaks it down into no less than sixty-five categories including things like local dried eanchui flowers, trinkets made from seven different coral reefs and what the hell are gobey-balls and why three sizes? Honestly I don't care as long as I have a buyer.

Personally I prefer to buy consumables. Yeah I know that luxuries take up a lot less room, but then you risk getting greedy. That's how I got my scar. The first ship I signed on was the ill-named Fool's Fate. It was smaller than this freighter. The captain, eager to maximise profits used to do 'The Run'. No less than five systems on a round trip. Yeah it took the best part of two months but it filled the hold with top end luxuries, all unique. We were heading between Celt and Brittanicus and out in the middle of space when it got nailed by pirates. Our hold was still pretty much empty so we had bugger-all ejection mass. They boarded us, taking the ship, the cargo and even selling the survivors, including myself into slavery. Anyway, that's in the past. Now I try to go for consumables. That way I tend to have a full cargo - enough to dump and flee - while not losing a vast fortune if it comes down to that.

Time drags. I don't know what is worse, the boredom, the aching gravity or a bunch of dirt grubbers waxing lyrical about their miserable ball of water covered rock. Give me a starbase to trade at any day.

Eventually we are finished and I spend the return to orbit in the can renewing my vow not to touch local food. Still I get the satisfaction of dumping on the world from a great height.

While a course to the next world has been plotted I have already found a buyer for this batch and intend to meet them along the way. After heading out beyond the inner jump ring and performing the jump transition into the Hittite we head back in, stopping only to transfer the merchandise to a privateer freighter. I have dealt with the captain a few times so this one goes very smoothly. I believe that the she works for the Detinus Republic though she prefers the privateer flag out here as it attracts less attention.

A day or so later (a very loose term in space) we land in Westfall by Farmwich. It was dark and raining. I can't remember the last time I landed on a world when the weather wasn't shitty. Give me space anytime.

The ground crew are reluctant to leave the shelter of their office and do the security checks remotely. I can't blame them, I was here to meet the locals anyway and do a private deal. I could have landed elsewhere on the planet and avoided security altogether but I would rather face a few hours here in port than land outside a settlement or bunch of farms. At least here you know where to go, who to meet and the terminal has all the right loading gear.

Security personnel guarding the gate into the inner port section of the base consists of a couple of big aliens with guns. They don't pay us the slightest attention. We quickly make our way to the merchandising zone, having already checked the available deals on the descent. Captains prefer the speed of dealing in a starport so the merchants come here to trade directly with the captains. Civilian merchants prefer dealing directly with captains as they don't like the idea of being ripped off by selling through the starbase. It's worth them paying the starbase tax just to get in the port. This suits me fine as I can get in, get a shipment and get out without having to eat any local food.

We split up. I go onto the exchange hall while the others, my crew, go on to the designated warehouse holding the merchandise I am looking to buy. The exchange hall proves little more than a filthy prefab shelter partly open to the elements with booths, tables and a few vendors clustered down one end.

The deal has been agreed in principle though I loiter around waiting for confirmation of merchandise by my crew. It does not take long, just a quick inspection of random items on the list. After I get it I approach the table with a half illuminated sign and a short squad native. He grunts a few words I have no idea the meaning off and we touch datapads. Stellars are transferred in exchange for retrieval protocols.

The transaction takes only a few seconds and we both leave in different directions. He does not seem inclined to shoot the breeze. It's likely he was just a hired local representing a group of civilian merchants.

A few days later and for once it is not pissing it down - no, it is hot dry and shitty. I am standing under a blazing sun arguing with a bunch of nomads from a nearby settlement. I've managed to exchange the modules with an outpost for a lot of metal ingots. Yeah they want these bloody ingots but as usual, 'everything is as expected'. Seems getting the local currency together and sorting out how to get them from our cargo to their warehouse is proving problematic. Apparently the warehouse is in the middle of town and down a narrow street. They also were under the impression that metal ingots can be stacked on a small cart pulled by a large lizard. I stand looking at the cart and shaking my head - there is now way it will support the weight of even a single ingot, with dimensions of around ten metres cube.

They send out for help into one of the larger townships in this urbanised sector and while we wait offer what appears to be rendered lizard, shooing away insects - I accept as much as I don't want it. Nothing pisses grubbers off more than refusing their hospitality and I don't want to lose this deal.

By the time the trucks arrive I am still living to regret this entire farce. My guts are watery and my skin is blistered worse than when the shielding fell off the tertiary jump coupling.

The coins, notes and bonds are collected and checked while the trucks are loaded. As we are finally lifting off I can see a crowd of natives surrounding an upturned truck and what looks like half a flailing lizard sticking out from under an ingot. Thankfully the roar of the engines drowns out the noise - bloody civilians. Now to find somewhere where I can convert this local currency into nice clean electronic stellars.


Key Features  [Recruit]

Where to Trade?
Buying and selling to civilian traders can be conducted anywhere in the Peripheries. You can trade while landed in an urban sector, a cultivated sector or docked in a starport (not an outpost). Trading from a starport is significantly faster (costs less TU's).

Starbase Restrictions
Just because it is in the interests of the starbase for you to trade from their starport, it does not follow that you are welcome there. Best check first. Look at their market message (if they have one). If they specifically ask you to use the hiport, you can be fairly certain they don't want you landing and may automatically board your ship.

Determining what is on Offer
While in orbit or landed on the world (or docked in a starbase), you can use the 'Contact Civilian Traders' order. This will give you a list of standard exports and imports for the world. You can also seek private deals. This is essentially using your contacts to determine if there are any unusual goods. These can be trade items unique to the star system (and therefore worth a lot more elsewhere as described in the story above). There is also the possibility that other items are available. The deal need not be on the world you are orbiting. This is just information on the deal that has been passed to you by your contact. If a private deal is revealed it will however always be in the same Periphery.

How much can you Trade?
The export and import report gained through 'Contact Civilian Traders' order gives a list of available items that can be bought and sold directly from the civilian population (as opposed to starbase markets controlled by players). These markets are reset weekly so it may be worth checking again in a few weeks.

Buying from Civilian Traders
Civilian traders only accept stellars. The price for trade goods is indexed against the prosperity of the world. With the same ship you can conduct as many 'buy from civilian traders' as you have the TU's and stellars for. Items listed in your private deals can only be bought from the world where they are offered. What you do with them after that is up to you - though selling them to player controlled starbases is the first option. You could try to stash them somewhere (build an outpost or create a cargo dump) but that is risky.

Selling to Civilian Traders
Civilian traders only pay in guilders. Guilders are zero mass trade items (local currency). The amount they pay for trade goods is indexed against local prosperity. The same mechanics as buying from civilian traders also apply to selling to civilian traders. Once you have guilders, you have to sell them on in order to get stellars. Look at the market report to determine who is buying guilders and how much they are paying for them (and of course how close they are to you). As they take up no space on your ship you can have as many as you want but then if your ship is pirated or destroyed, you have lost the lot.

 
News
GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.

With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.

With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
 
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  Star Date: 221.30.5

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RAGNAROK COMES

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A Forlorn Hope

The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.

Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.

The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.

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Newstart is lost

 
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  Star Date: 221.27.2

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RAGNAROK APPROACHES

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End Game Lost

A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.

While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.

Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.

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ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game

 
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!

 
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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.

Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.

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Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.

We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."

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Valhalla Stargate Reopens

Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.

 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt

After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
 
News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----



(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )

Host: Naambta!
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.

This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...

(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )

... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic