Amber Nebula Campaign Log

16. Absent Friends

19 July, 2775. 10:17 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.

En route to Arawne, we should arrive in another four days. A careful examination of our financial situation shows we are not in the best of shape. We have a total of just under Earth$18,000 in readily negotiable currency. We also have 135,000 Rubulith sovereigns, which we were unable to exchange on Inverness as the local markets had suspended all trade in the currency following the overthrow of Queen Natasha's Government. We paid Captain Smith in advance for 20 days of passage on her ship, anticipating a simple return trip from Arawne to Rubilith - but our detour via Inverness has resulted in a total trip of some 28 days, meaning we owe her another Earth$2400.

Queen Natasha has promised us a reward for her rescue equivalent to another several hundred Rubilith sovereigns, but she is still in no position to command the necessary funds. We anticipate having to pay around Earth$8000 once we get to Arawne to hire engineers and mechanics to install our new engine in the Legacy. With any luck, currency markets on Arawne will still be trading Rubilith sovereigns, though it seems almost certain that the exchange rate will be extremely unfavourable.

23 July, 2775. 11:52 UTC. Log entry by Captain Paris Smith.

Successful re-entry to realspace within four hours travel to Arawne. We should be landing at the spaceport in the city of Planteth around 16:00 UTC, which will be just before sunset local time. Although it has been an eventful past few weeks accompanying my passengers on their escapades, and not always in the positive sense, I shall miss them once we part our ways.

19:03 UTC. Planteth Spaceport, Arawne, Operations Office security recording.

Serron: Hi, we're wondering if you can help us. We're part-owners of the free trader Legacy, just arrived from Inverness. We've been trying to locate our fellow crew members who we left here a few weeks ago to look after the ship while we went to buy parts: Ogier Spacebourne and Sirene Song.

Operations Officer Darneld: Legacy, huh? Let's see... Yes, here we go. Crew members Spacebourne and Song have not been contactable for the past six days. Docking fees for six days are overdue to the value of Earth$10 per day, plus 10% late fee.

Iki Piki: What? Do you have any idea where they are?

Darneld: Says here nobody's heard from them since they paid the last berthing fee a week ago. No forwarding address or messages. They paid for twenty days of fees in advance and then came in here to pay on a daily basis after that, up until last week.

Spanners: Well that makes sense. They expected us to be away only twenty days. They probably figured we got held up when the news of Queen Natasha's overthrow came through, and were keeping up daily payments until we got back.

Serron: But that doesn't explain where they went. They had the access codes to the Legacy... can we get into the ship?

Spanners: I know how to unlock it.

Iki Piki: I know how to breach the hull...

Darneld: Now hang on a minute. Your ship is effectively impounded until you pay the berthing fees. We can't allow you access to it until the overdue fees are paid.

Serron: Well that's not much of a choice... Here you go...

19:58 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

Ah... it's good to back aboard the Legacy. This simple homecoming is not without its dramas however.

Queen Natasha and her guards have left us, being escorted into special accommodation arranged by the Government of Arawne. Having our own ship here and pressing matters to deal with, we declined to accompany her this time, but are assured of being able to contact her again if we wish to do so. By all accounts so far it seems Arawne is a much better place than Inverness for Queen Natasha to advance her requests for help in restoring the Government of her planet.

Serron has exchanged our 135,000 Rubilith sovereigns into more useful currency. The exchange rate has dropped from 0.61 to about 0.44 in the past two weeks, so we actually ended up making a loss of about Earth$1000 on the cargo of rare woods that we bought here to take to Rubilith.

It seems from the Legacy's log and internal security logs that Ogier and Sirene have not been aboard since a week ago. Their daily pattern of activity appears to have been sleeping in late, then either leisure activites aboard ship or going out for shopping or sightseeing during the day, followed by nightlife activity at the nearby casino. Ogier has apparently gambled away a significant fraction of the Earth$5000 we left them with to look after the ship while we were away, although there are no indications that they got into financial trouble.

Nobody has been into, or attempted to get into the ship since they vanished. Serron has been out scouting any spaceport workers in the vicinity who may have seen anything suspicious, or who were familiar with their daily movements and thus might shed some light on the situation. He found a cargo loader who seems to have seen them leaving the ship on their way to the casino on the evening they disappeared.

Meanwhile I have been searching hospital and police databases for any indications that they may have been injured, killed or arrested. There are no matches to either their names or descriptions. Starport records also don't list then on any outgoing passenger manifests.

We've decided the best thing to do may be to go have a look at the casino and see if any of the staff there recognise Ogier or Sirene and can tell us anything about their activities that night.

21:17 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

We are now at the Planteth Casino. Serron is showing great restraint - I don't think he has picked anyone's pockets at all yet! The obvious existence of high security equipment and personnel may be helping him keep his fingers to himself.

We have been fortunate to find Captain Paris Smith also here - apparently to enjoy herself as she says there is no better place to relax after a hard few weeks in space. We've told her of our missing friends and she is now helping us in our efforts to find out what happened to them.

Spanners has bought a cheap camera and is taking photographs of various gamblers and other people. Serron is trying to get friendly with some of the security guards and find out if they know anything.

21:34 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

I have found a security guard who recognised the pictures I showed him of Ogier and Sirene. He said he saw them in here fairly frequently over the weeks prior to their disappearance. It seems that on the night they vanished, Ogier got into a bit of an argument with one of the other gamblers. The guard pointed him out to me - a middle-aged human male, balding and rather heavy - and said his name was Levin Taksin, apparently a fairly prominent businessman here in Planteth.

Taksin is gambling on one of the high-roller tables. I tried to get a seat next to him, but the people currently in them don't seem to be moving. Paris has decided to try some of her human feminine wiles on the man in an effort to find out what he knows about Ogier and Sirene.

21:50 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

Using a public data terminal in the casino, I have found some information on Levin Taksin. He is apparently the Chief Executive of The DNAgency, a local bio-tech firm, specialising in DNA sampling, modification and cloning technology. A quick search of some of the "black" police database mirrors shows that he is listed as a suspect for minor smuggling of copyrighted biotechnology products into and out of Arawne, but the police have no hard evidence to act on. Certainly a shady character if Ogier has got himself into trouble with him.

Iki Piki and I are heading out to a nearby bar where we can do some deeper hacking of DNAgency systems to see what else we can dig up. We don't want to try this in the casino, since there is video surveillance everywhere and armed security guards who could easily be contacted by any anti-intruder systems we might bump into.

22:49 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

These human mating rituals certainly take a long time. After making some conversation at the gaming table, Paris and Taksin did some dancing. They are both drinking alcohol, but it seems Paris is trying to make sure Taksin gets at least two drinks to every one she has.

A minute ago it looked like they were moving on to the next phase of whatever it is that humans do. They left the casino together, driving off in the back of Taksin's limousine. As they went towards the doors, I brushed past them and grabbed Taksin's wallet. Not much challenge really, since he was half-drunk at the time, but it may prove useful. I've memorised Taksin's address from the details in his wallet, taken the cash, and handed the wallet in to the casino's lost and found office. A few hundred Arawne dollars should see me through a nice evening of roulette...

24 July, 2775. 00:05 UTC. Field log entry by Paris.

Finally... I thought that old fat oaf would never fall asleep. He's drowsing off the alcohol on his luxurious sofa.

I'm here in Taksin's home, and I've just done a quick search of the place. In his study I found some printed e-mail documents from some guy called Manfred. There was a photo of Ogier and Sirene and the three other crew members of the Legacy, with text saying, "If you see these people anywhere, apprehend them and send them to me." Taksin's computer was switched on and logged in, so I found the electronic copy of this mail and forwarded a copy to Spanners, since he can probably make sense of all the attached address information.

Now, it doesn't look like I can get out of here until morning, so I'm going to find a bed and get some sleep.

00:12 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

Spanners has found some real paydirt in the DNAgency systems. From the data terminal in a sleazy bar down the block from the casino, he hacked right into their main database. A quick search through e-mail addressed to Taksin found a digital photo of all of the Legacy crew members, with a note saying, "If you see these people anywhere, apprehend them and send them to me. Manfred." Spanners saved a copy on to a data crystal so we can go through the encryptd address information later.

We also got a list of other companies with stock interests in The DNAgency. Looks like a few off-world bio-tech companies, mainly. Another important piece of information we found is that DNAgency operates a small fleet of starships, and one of them, the Drosophila, left Arawne for Acropolis the day after Ogier and Sirene disappeared.

We've radioed Serron, who seems to have been having fun at the casino, and we are all heading back to the Legacy for the night.

00:49 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

Unbelievable! I spent all that time hacking into the DNAgency systems, carefully covering my tracks so they couldn't find out anyone had even looked at their files, let alone trace who it was. And when we get back to the ship we find Levin Taksin has sent me a copy of the very e-mail I was looking at!

We presume this has been sent by Paris from Taksin's home - there doesn't seem to be any other reasonable explanation. The problem is that this can be traced very easily, and points directly to our involvement and the fact that we are around - which is clearly a bad thing where Taksin is concerned. The only solution is to hack back into the system and erase the traces of the message. I don't want to do this from the Legacy, so I'm going back out to find a public data terminal.

01:46 UTC. Log entry by Spanners.

I've returned to the Legacy after doing what I could to try to erase all record of Levin Taksin's e-mail being sent to me. Now Serron has disappeared! He was here in the ship when I left about an hour ago, but he's not here now. Iki Piki has been asleep almost the whole time, and has no idea when Serron left or where he's gone. We can't raise him on his communicator... it's been switched off.

We presume he went out on his own, because there are no signs of anyone else coming near the ship, but we don't know where he's gone or when he'll be back.

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