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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
Is open for business...
 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."


 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 
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As part of the update outlined in the 7th February post, turn fees have been increased as from today.

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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 

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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