Amber Nebula Campaign Log

1. Deep Freeze in Deep Space


25 April, 2775. 10:37 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

Having taken posession of the free trading vessel Legacy following the unexpected death of our eccentric, yet fortunately generous, mentor, Mirrinlaralee, my friends and I have decided to seek our fortunes amongst the stars. Our intrepid band consists of:

Iki Piki, a Pachekki. Iki has a kind of odd background, having been trained in science and the art of diplomacy. He's currently in his laid-back male phase, so even the prospect of beginning this new adventure of ours isn't really enough to get him excited.

Spanners, a Chatka. Well, his real name sounds more like a short buzz followed by two clicks, but it's a bit hard to pronounce in English. He's a whiz-bang electronics expert and engineer, just itching to get stuck into the systems on our new ship.

Ogier Spacebourne, a human. Our pilot, and a better one would be hard to find. Although it would be more confidence-inspiring if he would cut back on the alcohol consumption a little. Okay, a lot. I've made sure to pack several boxes of sobriety pills.

Myself, Serron, a Sparrial. I'm the one with the merchanting and trading skills. I'm looking forward to the thrill of cut-throat bargaining, as well as the opportunities to acquire the portable valuables that should make our trading enterpise a success.

We've just finished loading up our first cargo. A perusal of the available goods and expected selling prices on the nearest few planets has led us to take on a cargo of spearmint and royal jelly. Unfortunately the ship didn't come with any working capital, so we've had to take out a loan. GalBank has given us Earth$250,000, issued against the Legacy as security, at an interest rate of 10% per annum. A security transponder chip has been attached to the Legacy, which debits our interest every time we dock at a spaceport with GalBank facilities (unfortunately every class IV and better port within 100 parsecs of Earth). In order to smooth out possible price drops since the last report from our destination, Lyrane, we've split our initial cargo up into equal-valued portions of spearmint and royal jelly.

Since $250,000 doesn't buy a whole lot of cargo, we have most of our cargo bay empty. Spanners suggested we check the net to see if anyone was after passage to Lyrane. We found one Dr Phineas Rutherford, a retired surgeon apparently, willing to pay Earth$2000 per day for passage, plus Earth$5000 for transport of his luggage. Iki Piki is making arrangements to load Dr Rutherford's luggage later today, and then we should be able to make our first trip!

15:23 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.

We've just finished packing Dr Rutherford's luggage into the hold. It wasn't as straightforward a job as we expected. The four large metal cases (each about a metre square and two metres long) and two wooden crates (a bit smaller) were easy enough to secure to the bulkheads with velcro strapping, but the antique mahogany desk took some creative thinking. Spanners got some quick-setting aerosol packing foam and we sprayed it until it was pretty much stuck to the wall.

Rutherford made a bit of a fuss, pointing out our contractual liabilities for any damages due to neglect on our part. Serron estimates the desk is 300-400 years old and worth about $8000, so we don't want to end up paying for it! He made a pretty close inspection of it, checking the drawers for any small items Rutherford might have left in them accidentally...

Turns out Rutherford was born on Lyrane, and is looking forward to living out his retirement there. Lucky for us he was keen enough to get back there that he's offering about twice the fare a spaceline would have charged. Of course, we get him there about four times faster.

In fact, Serron's just completed the astrogation calculations. Looks like the trip will take about 3 days and 17 hours in hyperspace. Everyone's just about strapped in, and we have clearance from Sydney spaceport. Here goes our first hyperspace skew.

15:28 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.

As a matter of record, Ogier became violently ill upon hyperspace skew. Serron had to scramble out of the way to avoid being hit by the vomitus. Ogier is still a bit sickly, but we have cleaned the mess up.

19:20 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

I've checked the cargo bay and all appears well. None of the cargo containers have shifted in the weightless conditions, and Dr Rutherford's desk is solidly restrained. Ogier has regained his composure, perhaps partly with the help of a bottle of Scotch I saw him drinking a short while ago.

Should be an uneventful flight.

21:03 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

In an effort to be friendly, I have tried conversing with Dr Rutherford. Unfortunately, he seems to prefer to be left alone in his cabin. I did manage to ask him what was in all those crates he is taking with him to Lyrane. He replied, "books", and left it at that.

26 April, 2775. 05:13 UTC. Automatic computer warning.

Non-critical warning.
Atmospheric nitrogen level increasing slightly in cargo hold.
Suggested cause: Unknown.
Suggested course of action: Maintain monitoring.

11:16 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

I've just had a most unusual conversation with Dr Rutherford. He approached me in the corridor and asked if we had any liquid nitrogen on board. The answer being no, I asked him why he wanted to know. He then asked if we had any way of making any. I'm pretty sure we don't, and told him so, then asked again why.

Then he said one of his containers was leaking and there was liquid nitrogen floating around in the hold. I went in and checked, and sure enough he was right. I had to dodge blobs of liquid nitrogen floating through it and slowly boiling away. I notified the rest of the crew, at which point Iki says "that explains these nitrogen levels".

11:25 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.

Spanners has been placed in the automed after sustaining frostbite to the upper left arm while attempting to repair a cracked cryogenic containment vessel in the hold. His arm was exposed to a spray of liquid nitrogen as he sealed the cracked vessel with a polymer sealant. I had to put on a vac suit to enter the hold safely and drag him out.

The vessel has been sealed and the remaining liquid nitrogen is boiling away, so there should be no further danger once that's gone. Spanners should be all right with a few hours in the automed.

11:48 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

Well, I don't believe a word of it. Rutherford has told us that the cryogenic vessel contains the body of his wife, recently deceased, and now frozen for the trip to a state-of-the-art medical facility on Lyrane where he hopes to revive and cure her. He's also told us that the three other steel containers hold nothing more than books and personal effects. My instincts tell me he's not exactly telling us the whole story.

There is, however, a real problem now. Whoever is in that cryo-vessel, enough liquid nitrogen has leaked to place the body in danger of thawing out over the next few days. We need to get a source of cryogenic material, and quickly. Rutherford has been quick to point out our contractual liability in the case of damaged cargo, and Iki, who has the best law background, isn't sure whether he's within his rights to sue us if we don't find some way of preserving this body.

12:49 UTC. Automatic Computer Warning.

Potential Danger.
Cargo hold depressurising.
Warning: Internal cargo hold doors and bulkheads not rated for prolonged pressure differences.
Suggested cause: Cargo loading ramp open.
Suggested course of action: Close cargo ramp and repressurise cargo hold.

13:02 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.

Following my suggestion, Serron and Ogier are attempting an EVA to manoeuvre the damaged cryo-capsule into the airlock. With the outer door open to space, the capsule should remain cold enough for the rest of the trip.

EVA is necessary because the capsule is too large to negotiate the corridor from the hold to the inner airlock door. We have sealed the inner hold doors and evacuated the hold by opening the loading ramp. Using tethers and magnetic boots, Ogier and Serron are moving the capsule via the outer hull to the outer airlock door.

Note: Airlock door will have to sealed for atmospheric re-entry. There should be no significant degradation in the cryogenic storage for the hour or so of re-entry and glide time before landing.

15:27 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

Against my better judgement, Serron has coaxed me out of the automed by relating an investigation he has made into the three steel containers remaining in the hold. Each container looks identical to the cryo-tube now in the airlock, and each has a small electronic port on one end. I rigged up some wiring and ran a test on the ports and found them to be relaying what appears to be temperature monitoring data.

Serron then confronted Dr Rutherford and asked if we were carrying three more bodies than he'd claimed. He confessed that the other three vessels contained his two sons and a daughter-in-law. All four had been killed in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps while skiing, and he was rushing them all to Lyrane for what he hoped would be life-restoring treatment. Serron isn't sure yet whether or not he's telling us the whole truth.

27 April, 2775. 16:51 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.

Past day has been routine. The cryo-tube in the airlock seems okay, and there has been no problem with the containers still in the hold. Spanners has fully recovered from his frostbite and is spending all his time trying to assemble a cryogenic cooling system from the parts we have in the workshop. Doesn't look to me like he's getting anywhere with it.

Time to relax with a good stiff drink, I think.

28 April, 2775. 13:17 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

I'm still suspicious about what Dr Rutherford really has in those cryo-vessels. However, he seems very reluctant to talk about it.

I'm going to have another look at them - see if I can figure anything out. We arrive at Lyrane tomorrow, and I'll be damned if I don't know what we're carrying on board.

29 April, 2775. 08:40 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.

Skewback from hyperspace... now.

Oh dear. Serron is having to dodge Ogier's vomit again. Spanners is getting the cleaning gear.

Computer has located Lyrane. We appear to be about 400,000 kilometres away. Not bad astrogation. It will take us about 4 hours to approach orbital re-entry. That should give Ogier enough time to recover. I'll also give him a couple of sobriety pills before aerobraking.

09:07 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

I've mopped up Ogier's mess. We've received customs declarations forms by radio from Lyrane. Serron was filling them out, but when he came to the question about importing sentient bodies or body parts and filled in "yes", Dr Rutherford spoke up and asked us to answer "no".

Rutherford says the import tax on cryogenically stored bodies is crippling and he can't afford to pay it in addition to his passage.

09:12 UTC. Computer query by Serron.

Is there an import tax on Lyrane for cryogenic bodies?

No.
Note: All sentient beings or bodies in cryogenic storage imported to or exported from Lyrane must be declared for genetic sampling and positive identification, by order of Lyrane Immigration Control.

09:20 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.

Serron and Rutherford are still arguing. Rutherford now claims that his sons are wanted by the Mafia on Earth and risk being tracked down and assassinated. They agreed to a trip in cryo-storage as the only way to get off Earth without leaving a trail. If the Lyrane authorities DNA test them and identify them, then the local branch of the Mafia will find out and hunt them down.

He seems quite desperate. He has offered us an extra $5000 if we help him smuggle his family on to Lyrane. Sounds like a good deal to me, but Serron appears to be bargaining for more.

09:43 UTC. Radio transmission log.

Sender: Iki Piki.
Transmission description: Completed Lyrane Customs form.
Message body: separate document, available from this <reference link>

09:49 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

Serron and Dr Rutherford have negotiated a deal whereby we get to keep his antique desk in exchange for not declaring his frozen bodies. How we can smuggle them through customs remains to be seen, although Iki seems rather blasé about it.

09:52 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

Having just completed some tough negotiation with Dr Rutherford, Iki has just informed us that he has already submitted the customs form, without declaring the bodies on board! Lucky for us Rutherford didn't know that, or else we mightn't have bargained for his desk.

13:04 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.

Aerobraking successful and very smooth. We have a 40 minute glide to landing. I believe clearing customs once we land should be no more than a formality.

14:27 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.

We are now docked at Sennier spaceport on Lyrane. The landing was smooth and Lyrane Customs have just completed their cursory inspection of our cargo. Dr Rutherford is preparing to unload his possessions with the help of a hired moving company. We are also unloading our cargo and our new desk, for which Serron is in the process of trying to find a buyer on the net.

Selling price of royal jelly was a little lower than expected, but has been offset by a slight increase in the spearmint price, so we've made about as much profit as expected, plus whatever we can get for the desk.

All in all, a good trip, though we could do with something slightly less eventful next time out.

Next - Shadows of Forgotten Aliens

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