Four days off Endiku IX Station, Endiku System
Although many are still shaken by the Junkers’ bloody slaughter, the crew and passengers of the Farmer’s Daughter are starting to settle into their new roles, responsibilities, and routines.
Together, they’ve swabbed the bloodstains and patched most of the bullet-holes. With the help of Teapot (the ship’s steward and sometimes-engineering assistant), the bridge crew (Pilot, Co-Pilot, and Com Officer) have gotten a feel for their stations. The Engineer and his helper have not only familiarized themselves with their Engineering Deck, they’ve already elbow-deep in overdue maintenance and repairs. Every crew member has learned basic operation of the ship’s modest gunnery stations, should they be called upon to defend the ship from another attack.
Although no clear Captain has emerged, the crew’s comradery and united purpose have served well enough in the interim.
In the ship’s special cargo locker, the former Captain Grizzy Collins remains in low berth cryo-stasis. The crew finally reaches a consensus regarding his fate. A legal technicality allowed the current crew to claim this 200-ton Beowulf-class Free Trader as a salvage prize, a fact they fear the former Captain will will not take with good grace. Wishing to avoid conflict, while at the same time wishing the old Captain no ill will, they plan to deposit Grizzly at the Koschei IV trade station’s well-regarded medical facility, along with enough credits for passage home upon recovery.
In the ship’s upper deck, three passengers remain. The dapper Victor Alured Swan, the nervous Gregor, and his troubled son, Aidan. “Swan,” as he’s known to his associates—continues to show the crew courteous gratitude for saving his life. As an incredibly successful prize agent, trade broker, and financier, he explains to the crew how he is in a unique position to assist them. He offers his ongoing services in facilitating profitable cargo transactions, seeking employment contracts and other “less formal” opportunities, and—perhaps most importantly—information from Swan’s web of agents and other contacts, a communication network that spans half-a-dozen sectors.
The crew has become increasingly curious about Gregor and Aidan, who themselves have become even more jittery over the last few days. Like Swan, the two show gratitude, and seem to look forward to their arrival at Koschei. But after several interactions, the crew strongly suspects that the pair is hiding important information about themselves; specifically, that they’re running from someone or something, and are utterly terrified of whatever that is. The crew, becoming increasingly worried about the attention these two might attract, feel it wise to press Gregor for more information whenever the opportunity arises.
After a close call with a pair of Junker shuttles—apparently bagmen for the failed hijackers—the Farmer’s Daughter finally reaches its jump point. The bridge team performs the necessary astrogation plotting and other calculations, and the engineers spool up the ship’s FTL drive. After completing one last series of systems tests and route recalculations, the crew initiates its very first splice into the slipstream. In a flash, the Free Trader vanishes from the Endiku System, beginning its journey through the very same skeins of space and time that first brought the Solarians to Terra Norma.