Lucky to be Alive
The Shocking True Story of a Galactic Gangster
Mankind had no business being on Krakatoa. It was mean, nasty, god awful hell-hole of a planet, full of lava and volcanos and damn near constant earthquakes. The only scrap of the place that you could reliably set foot on was one giant island in the south. Even there you weren't sparred the noxious air and ruined sky.
The only reason anyone was even there was because know else wanted the damn place. Way back in old days, when we were first starting to colonize space, people found this goddamn place, and everyone with half a brain steered clear of it. But there was this group, called themselves The Way or something, real religious nut jobs. No one wanted them around, and they wanted a place where they could oppress each other in peace, so they got Krakatoa. They got to live out their lives in misery, and no one else had to hear from them. It's what they call a win/win situation.
Well, about two hundred years back they found that it actually had a point. See, there's this thing called agrathicite. It's something you mix in with clear aluminum they use for ships and stations and the like, makes the sunlight better or something, easier to grow crops or work on your tan or whatever. They can make it a factory, but apparently Krakatoa was just full of this crap. So, the Crops came knocking, and pretty soon the guys in charge started thinking that maybe ascetic misery wasn't all it was knocked up to be. So, anyway, now it's a rich planet. I mean, they don't do anything with the agrathicite, they’re too lazy or stupid to make stuff there. They just dig it up and ship it off and pocket the money.
Still, there's a lot of money there, and a big old port for the ships, and a lot of rich bastards with expensive tastes, and a group of religions police who hate the idea of anyone enjoying their lives. Also, a bunch of monks barely able to survive didn't know a damn think about the 'verse, so they had to open their borders, let in people who knew what they're were doing. They call them Lao's. So, that was how I got there.
See, I grew up on a green planet. Blue water, open air, real dirt, and rivers that didn't want to kill you. I hated Krakatoa--living underground, the fake air, the hydroponic gardens. Everything about the place is fake, but I was stuck there, and it was "home." My Aunt and Uncle went through the process of becoming citizens of the place, took them years, but when the paperwork finally came through, we were one of the lucky ones. Full rights, medical benefits, everything. I mean, we were still outsiders, but we were bona fide.
I think that's why Dehaan liked me. I was a citizen, so I could get anywhere, so the cops wouldn't harass me. But I also wasn't a Follower, so the religious cops didn't have anything on me either. Dehaan was the boss--anything the government or the church or the corps didn't like you doing, he helped you out. Most of it was legal, to one extent or another, just not, you know, 100% legal. Rest of it, well, that's where the real money was. For a price, Dehaan and his Organization could get you just about anything you wanted.
I was a fixer, someone who righted things when they went sideways, someone who kept the kiddies in line. Sometimes all it took was a sympathetic ear, others a slap on the wrist. Others, well, I did whatever needed to happen to keep things running smoothly. Anyway, everything really didn't start getting odd until about a year after the Galban War. You ever heard of it? Nah, of course not. Almost a hundred thousand men dead or disfigured, and no one wants to talk about. Drop in the bucket. Just one of those things. Anyways, I had gotten out the hospital and was ready to get back to my old life. There had been a "restructuring" while I was gone, and now Dehaan was in charge, and I was his guy. He had a lot of guys now, though, and I wasn't entirely sure where I stood with him. So, when my phone rang one day, I was ready for anything.
(The game begins. Initial inspiration is “The main character must [Fight] [Technician], at [Entertainment District], but have to contend with [Trap] while being confronted by [Corporation]. My initial scene is "Move Toward A Thread, Betray/Dispute.")
It was Trong, one of Dehaan's messengers. Nothing was ever really spoken over the cells, unless we could arrange it with scrablers and point to point lasers. There's too many people who like to listen in. He invited me to a noodle shop for luch, and I think it was around lunch time. Anyway, I knew it wasn't an invitation, and we weren't going to meet at some noodle place. I headed over to the tube--the tube was the only way to really get around Krakatoa. I mean, I had my own car, everyone who was anyone had a car, but it took you three times as long to get anywhere trying to get through all those damn tunnels. The tube was faster, and a lot more subtle.
I sat on the right train for about half an hour. Most people on the tube shut everything out with their SmartGoggles or implanted music players or something, but I hate the distraction and the noise. So, I sat there, and waited. I wasn't impatient, this run around and wait thing was just part of the job. If you have a problem with it, go do something else. Anyway, eventually Trong sat down next to me and told me what was going on.
There was a problem down at the docks. One of our techs down there was screwing things up. See, getting stuff on and off a planet is tricky--everyone is looking at everything and every damn kilo matters, so no matter what you're bringing in you gotta make it look legit. And that means a whole mess of people--people who can ship it with the right documents, people who can scan it and verify, pack it, ship it, scan it on board, scan it when it lands, scas it when it leaves the port--all this so that the Soma we actually are shipping looks like dog food to anyone who isn't supposed to know. That's a lot of steps, and a lot of people who need to work together and not know any more than they need to. And all it takes is one of them screwing up to bring the whole damn train to a crash.
So, this tech of ours, Gerritt Thein, had been "misplacing" shipments. Hey, you lose one or two, no big deal. No point risking your neck for the law, and our margins are good enough that we don't need every shipment to come in. But you keep misplacing them, and we start getting worried. Are you stealing to line your own pockets? Selling us out to a rival concern? Or are you just a damn idiot? None of these are questions you want me asking about you. I told Trong I'd take care of it, got off at the next station and grabbed a different Tube to get me to the docks.
(First scene is Lucky getting is quest. Chaos Factor is 5, and I get an Altered Scene "Waste/Status Quo")
There were over a dozen different ways to get into the docks, and I knew all of them. But today I was just there for a chat, so I went through the main entrance like a good citizen. I knew a bunch of guys there. Some from when I actually worked there, back when I was still trying to be straight. Others I met later. They knew me, so it didn't take me long to find out where Thein was. Or, at least, where he was supposed to have been.
The area he worked should have been a quiet sector, where non-critical and non-perishable items were stored while they were inspected. But as I walked down there, there was noise, and lots of it. And lights. Lights are never a good thing in my line of work, especially the red and blue flashing variety. I kept going forward, just a nice ordinary citizen being naturally nosey. For some reason people never seem to believe there's "nothing to see here." At least, not when its spoken by five or six guys in armor and assault weapons with sirens and lights, and I certainly wasn't the only one trying to see what was going on.
The cops who weren't looking at the crowd were busy tearing through boxes, and smashing every piece of contraband they could get their hands on. And it wasn't just the normal cops, the religious ones were there too, giving the whole scene their "blessing." This was bad--we can afford to lose a shipment or two but not this. This was going to be expensive, and you can probably guess what Dehaan thought about things that were expensive.
I took my gaze from the breaking bottles and burning piles of 'lace, and saw the man I had come here to have a chat with--Thein was sitting in the back of the cops armored vehicle. At first I thought they had nabbed him--stupid idiot had tripped up somehow. But no, he was just sitting there, uncuffed, talking to one of the religious cops. If the raid was bad, this was worse. I don't know how much this Thein knew about the entire operation, but if he gave them this, there's no telling where else he could point them.
I hung to the back of the crowd, waiting to see how everything turned out. These guys weren't just going through the motions, they were serious about their work. Eventually most of the rest of the crowd either got bored of the scene, or started taking the armored boys more seriously, or their lunch break was over. Now, I was a citizen, but the cops knew I wasn't exactly what you'd call an upstanding one, so when the crowd began to fade, I faded too. I had seen enough.
I got out without attracting any attention, but I knew I couldn't just leave. Dehaan was going to be pissed, and want answers. Answers I didn't have. Yet. I asked around down at the docks, talking to the folks I knew. Apparently, there had been some kind of fight or something between Thien and someone else, his supervisor or something. Things got out of hand, security got called in, and everything went from bad to worse. Something about this didn't seem right, but I wasn't going to accomplish much more nosing around with all the cops around, so I headed over to one of our friends to make a call. Like I said, communicating anything important on Krakatoa was a pain, and in the docks more so than anywhere else. But, we had friends, and certain ways to communicate that we knew the cops couldn't over hear in case of an emergency. This was definitely one of those.
(CF 6. Chaos roll: 3 ALTERED SCENE Move toward a thread -- Abuse/Realities)
Well, Dehaan wasn't happy when I told what was going on. He made it very, very clear that I wasn't too leave the docks until the damn mess had been cleaned up. I had no idea what he thought I could do--this was a job for the lawyers and accountants. I handle employees going behind our back, not half the Inspector Squad combing through out prized possessions. He didn't care, he wanted it done. And what Dehaan wants done, gets done.