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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...
 
******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 from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.

    The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.

    The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.

    DEN continue to strike at the Empire

    Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.

    AFT turn to piracy

    The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
    Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.

    The AFT remain silent over the attack.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Combat Special Edition

    Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.

    Felini strike back at Dewiek

    Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!

    GTT get sucked into the war

    A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”

    Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules

    A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.

    The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.

    DOM make a choice

    After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.

    DOM positions share out

    Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.

    *** Affiliations ***


    AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
    CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
    DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
    DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
    DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Urd
    DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
    FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
    FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
    FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
    FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
    GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
    GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
    GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
    HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
    IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
    KRL Krell (30) - Namica
    KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
    KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
    MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
    MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
    MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
    NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
    RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
    RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
    SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
    USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
    WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

    * Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
    ** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact

    NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS

    Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

    Deceased: CAL

    *** Submission ***

    By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

    Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

    No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

    In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****


    DEN continue to shoot innocents

    The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

    This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Return of the LiQuans

    A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

    Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


     

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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