Monday, 16 July 2012

Chapter 4 : Last Stand at TK1075A, Part 3

Following on from  Part 2 in which the party captured two members of the Slodi Clan, tied them up and drugged them to keep them quiet...

A mining robot, now working properly
Ragnar, Ansgar and Granzh retrieve the malfunctioning mining robots and spend a few hours cleaning the dirt out of the joints and getting them working again.

Checking the robot's logs they discover that one of the robots has started following a rich vein of tantalum, a valuable metal used in jump drive manufacture. The robot has extracted several tons of it, but the accounts show no record of the material arriving at Niflhel Station. Evidently the Slodi family members who were on the asteroid when the party arrived had been shipping it elsewhere and only sending on low grade ore to be added to the company accounts.

Further examination of the accounts shows that the former owner has been spending the majority of the proceeds on the construction of a ship at Tyrfing HighPort. The account is set up to deduct monthly payments automatically to the construction company.

The party get a call from Rorik Gagnison Damsgaard, their friendly neighbourhood belter who asks how the situation is progressing. He says that the party have lots of support from the local independent belters, most of whom have issues with the Slodi Clan. Ragnar promises to keep in touch and asks Rorik to arrange a conference call with the belters to discuss their plans.

Two Gazelle Class Close Escorts
Alvar Pederson Slodi is the next to call the asteroid. He pleads for the release of his brother and uncle. He wants to make a deal - the party can keep the asteroid if they agree to release their captives and pay 20% of proceeds to compensate for killing the two Slodi family members. He once again states the asteroid legally belongs to him, having acquired it from Una Magnusdotir Hos, who he says was the Chief Financial Officer of the former owners so perfectly entitled to sell it to him to pay off the owners debt to him. Ragnar is less than impressed, despite Alvar's slightly more diplomatic overtones.

The next day visitors arrive - an Imperial Gazelle Class Close Escort. The ship hails the asteroid demanding the release of the prisoners and charging the party with piracy, murder and kidnapping. The Imperium Occupying Force are responsible for law and order within the system following the end of the Fifth Frontier War and the formation of the Border Worlds Authority. The Imperium Occupying Force have imposed the system of Extrality on the Border Worlds Authority during the occupation. However due to the peculiarities of the Sword Worlder's clan based customs of vengeance and retribution, they do not want to enforce crimes against persons such as murder and kidnapping. They do have on the other hand, a serious problem with piracy, so that will require a trial. Ragnar agrees to release the hostages and they are taken on board the Close Escort.

Lt Shad McRaven plans the defence case
Ragnar Ivaldsson Long, Magnus Olafsson Karlseffni (as Sali Hasvirsson is known to the Slodis) and one unnamed other (Ansgar Padraigson Long never gave his name away) are summoned to appear in court at Niflhel Station in one weeks time for a pre trial hearing or they will be assumed guilty and hunted down. They are assigned a legal defender, Lt Shad McRaven of the Imperial Navy. He arrives at the asteroid to meet the defendants and prepare for the case. Ragnar gives his side of the incidents, not all of which makes much sense to Lt McRaven and names one Wyatt Earpe as the unidentified third defendant who he says has now left his employment and was last seen at Niflhel Station. Ragnar also pins most of the killing on the outlaw Wyatt Earpe. Ansgar is introduced as a new employee, brought in after Wyatt left.

The legal defender leaves with the weapons captured from the Slodis as evidence, along with photographs of the interior of the asteroid, the bodies of the two dead Slodis (whose bodies were left in the airless portion of the asteroid) and a somewhat inconsistent story from Ragnar.

A chunk of tantalum
While waiting for the trial the party get stuck in to the mining. Locating where the robot was mining the tantalum, they concentrate on this area. They borrow a scanner from a neighbouring belter (it keys off micro changes in ore density) and map out the tantalum deposit. It appears to be a ship embedded in the asteroid and crushed by geological periods of time, the tantalum being part of the ships engines. The ship is far too crushed to yield anything of use, but they do manage to extract large amounts of tantalum.

Ragnar rents a secure storage unit at Niflehel Station and they transfer 2 ship loads of tantalum (26 tons, worth MCr 1.3) to it over the week before the trial. There seems to be about 174 tons of tantalum remaining in the asteroid, at that rate it will take 7 more weeks to get it all out and shipped to Niflehel Station. Ragnar looks into finding brokers who can deal with this much tantalum, the only people who could buy this quantity will be one of the megacorporations who construct jump drives, manoeuvre drives or antigrav drives - all of which use tantalum. be continued...

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