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42 - "Friends" in low places

Station Security called me in at Moissan as a witness for the prosecution against El Bandito Peteo, a member of a gang called the Ruins Rats. They seem to have a presence on every station and make merchandise of ordinary citizens who are just passing by. The hope is that, if the penalty is severe enough, perhaps he will provide some names and information that may help find these ruthless, uncivilized people.
I wish we could get these folks to go after Void.
The Ruins Rats are so bad that the Consortium and the Gaule are actually collaborating in their efforts to merely contain them, much less capture them and bring them to justice. That's a funny term, justice. Just what does it really mean, anyway . . . Well, officially?
After the interview, I discovered that the Gaule no longer distrust me but consider me as an average person. I'm not sure if it has something to do with their soldier, who may actually be a member of their elite SAG, having followed me to capture El Peteo, but I do know he could have given me a lot of trouble over that incident and chose not to.
Perhaps I should have been content with that, but then I saw my old friend from Tau Station, "Thief," (an appropriate name, probably a gang-related nickname), grabbing the tip off a table at the lounge. I followed him out the door, into the alley and into the sewer, where I nailed him with an un-aimed shot from my Malinese Trusty Field Hand. He tried unsuccessfully to return fire, but I overtook him and gave my new sword a taste of his blood.
Security was waiting at Sick Bay when he arrived, which would explain why there was time to pursue so many of his fellow gangsters through the stench-ridden maze of sewers beneath the station. About midpoint, I was feeling a bit weak, so I went back to my storage unit and grabbed some of the stims I have collected along the way, and by the time I got back, the gang was looking for me.
I took them out, one at a time, emerging with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises.
A local merchant had offered a reward for their capture, and these Ruins Rats had some rather interested and official company awaiting them when the doctors were finished with them. I approached the merchant, and she was so overjoyed that she wept, kissed me on both cheeks, the way that starry-eyed girl at Nouveau Limoges does, hugged me and insisted that I sit down to dinner with her friends.
I was nervous, thinking she might turn me in as a trouble-maker, but the aroma of whatever that food was . . . I don't know what "Lescar Gozo Veng" and "Calamaree Free" are, but they were even better than the "Soop Dazon Yong," "Ahnloof Doo Pen," "Sonweesh Doo Buff" and "Kwah Song Doo Mayzohn" I bought last week for two days' wages.
They were almost offended when I turned down the wine they offered me, but when I explained what happened the one time I'd tried a glass of it, I think they understood. The "Pwarr Bellalane," though, was simply not optional (as if I wouldn't have crossed the galaxy to taste that). With that, we all drank "Cafe Doo Montane Blooh," which opened my eyes to how wonderful coffee can really be. I thought I knew before.
After we had sat around and talked for a while, they brought me a fancily wrapped present. Each of my hosts had contributed money as a reward for catching and stopping the thugs (one of them NAMED Thug) who had been terrorizing them. I left later in the evening, perhaps in the morning, I don't know, feeling happy, full, appreciated and several hundred credits richer. I went to the bank to find that they had also wired me 40 bonds. Now I was ready to pick up where I had been so rudely interrupted last time at Gadani.


  1. My friend, I am happy that you have joined the good cause, and started to weed out some of these questionable characters from the ruins.

    On the other hand, I can't help but feel the emptiness surrounding this task.

    I've been doing the same thing for a full cycle now, each and every day. Mostly on Yards of Gadani, sometimes on Tanugoo or KĂžbenhavn; and each day, six more bandits oppose me, and show them the way to the Sick Bay, presumably followed by some Brig time. But often the same face shows up each day, and occasionally I noticed that they have learned some new skills, or trained their physical abilities a bit.

    Why do I keep doing this? At first, I told myself it was for the greater good, for the poor, helpless citizens that thus are safer from attack. But does it show in the crime statistics? I couldn't find any evidence. So that can't be it.

    I think I must admit that it is for fun, to hone my combat skills, and for those 15 bonds bounty that I get each day -- a nice addition to my salary. I have also been less aggressive towards others since I started to give a beating to those shady characters.

    But have I sunk so low, that for the burst of adrenaline and some bonds, I have subdued (and sometimes gravely injured) some people a total of 600 times? Does it make me a better person than Void or Zoffix that we call them "Thug", "Thief", "Bandit" or "Gangster"?

    Maybe I wouldn't doubt it if I had seen their crimes first hand.

    Or maybe those folks deserve an honest attempt at rehabilitation, at integrating them into our society, give their existence a meaning beyond the mere target practice?

    I am sorry my friend, I shouldn't burden you with my doubts, when you clearly had lots to celebrate on this glorious day.

  2. You sure do know how to cut the fuel in a man's rockets. Thanks for the pat on the back and the salt in the wound. The doctors say that helps the healing process. I'm not so sure.

    Well, let me see . . . You only got 15 bonds? Mine increased by 40 . . . I had to go back and count. Yes, 20 of those bonds came in as my salary. I'm not sure where the other 5 came from, but they are good to have.
    If nothing else, I now have a sure purpose beyond equipping exploration fleets and assuring the safety of shuttle passengers (at least while traveling). If there were a station maintenance career path, perhaps that might go a long way toward improving safety during the times I am not reaching for an empty rations bag and watching rows seated travelers leap and scamper to clear away from me.
    As it turns out, you were right. They may have been booked, but they are out there again. They must have clones. I don't mean gestating clones, I mean they have a bunch of them out there at the same time.
    It's not supposed to work that way, but I guess reality trumps law and policy. Looks like we will always have a role to play.

  3. You sure do know how to cut the fuel in a man's rockets. Thanks for the pat on the back and the salt in the wound. The doctors say that helps the healing process. I'm not so sure.

    Please accept my apology, this was entirely inappropriate for me to do.

    As a small token of apology, I've sent you something. I heard you like blades :-)

    So I sent you not just any blade, but a rotating blade, in the design of which I had a tiny input. I hope you like it.

    Well, let me see . . . You only got 15 bonds? Mine increased by 40 . . . I had to go back and count. Yes, 20 of those bonds came in as my salary. I'm not sure where the other 5 came from, but they are good to have.

    Sometimes my "employers" reward me with extra bond packages for a successful missions; mostly just 2 bonds, sometimes 5. You might have been lucky on your first one.

  4. No apology necessary, although I have been eager to add that particular item to my array of hospitality equipment. You have my thanks, and although I would like to pay for the item, I also wouldn't want to offend.

    With my employers in the ruins. I get anywhere from 2 bonds now and then to 46 bonds once. Several times I have gotten between 20 and 40 bonds. The reward for ridding the sewers of the Ruins Rats was 15 bonds.

    I think my employers feel sorry for me and pay me more. I know I typically get my own row of seats on shuttle rides now. Perhaps I should capitalize on that sympathy.
    You might try wearing a less affluent outfit when you visit them. It might help you in that area, but once they see your name, I don't think anyone would feel sorry for you so much as that they would be congratulating you or thanking you for all your tireless work for the community. If they pay you less, it may just be that they think you will have an easy time getting more elsewhere...

  5. I have noticed once that the toughest opponent from the Sewers dropped a small package of bonds instead of a usual weapon. I was totally not expecting that - one would usually only get bonds from the government or from our mysterious friends, and I didn't think that Ruins Rats would deal with either. Maybe they've found some in the Ruins, I don't know.

    Nevertheless, this was pretty alarming discovery - if Ruins Rats can get access to premium services, they would be even harder to fight. If your opponent was indeed a source of those 5 bonds, this unfortunately confirms my observations. I can only hope it was just a couple of isolated occurrence that won't turn into systemic problem.

  6. I spoke to station security at Tau about this concern, and they rolled their eyes and asked if I could get them in to see my peer for help in their investigation. I think they were insinuating that I am involved with the Prometheans somehow. I broached the subject with a friend at Nouveau Limoges, and he shushed me and walked away quickly. Now he won't return my attempts at contact.
    I believe the respective governments of the two are at least aware of, if not complicit in, the propagation of multiple clones for the criminal element. However, I have not the slightest shred of hard evidence to support that except the encounter with El Bandito Peteo in the ruins, at full strength, immediately after I had sent him to the infirmery in the process of cleaning out the sewers.
    I also fear they may have their own ships, faster than the shuttles, as I downed Thug in NL upon arrival after taking him (or his clone) down right before boarding the shuttle from Tau. Either he recovered instantly and commuted or he has an active clone on each station.
    Cloning is a very sophisticated operation, and either these criminals have their own setup or they have some special arrangements with Anima and/or the governmental structure of the powers that be. It is difficult to say which is more disturbing. When you add bonds to the issue, well . . . we may well have a bigger problem than we thought.
    We may even be building up toward a clone war.