After a seemingly endless week in jump, with breakfast and lunch consisting of just protein mulches and not enough alcohol to give any of the crew members much of a buzz, Unguin’s Princess finally arrives in the Grote system. The party members are finally back in the Imperium after being away for more than 10 months.
The long journey isn’t quite over yet though. Because Grote highport is orbiting a moon in orbit around a gas giant, the ship has to jump into the system a fair distance away, meaning that there is another 14 hour journey from jump to the port.
Eventually though, the long journey from Talchek is finally over as Will is given a flight path to one of the vacant docks. There are 16 other ships in port currently, most of them the conical-shaped 300-ton traders that are the traditional ships of the Groteans.
Compared to all of the boarding and stringent security checks while they were in District 268, there are few formalities needed to enter Grote highport – just a cursory glance at everyone’s passports and cargo manifest.
“It’s 8pm – perfect time for a pint,” says Max.
He doesn’t have to ask the others twice as to whether they want to join him. It’s not hard to find a bar on the highport as the first one they come across is just 200m from their dock, and so they head straight for Murphy’s Bar.
The bar is pretty crowded at this time of the evening, with most of the customers Groteans who are drinking heavily and some are dancing while one of them plays the fiddle.
“So here’s to being back in the Imperium,” Max says with a foaming pint in hand.
These Grotes really know how to throw a party. Every ship that pulls into port discharges excitement starved travelers who have heard of the famous (infamous?) reputation of this gypsy moon. The crew of Unguins Princess is no exception, ready to catch up on the lack of serious drinking during the almost dry journey from Talchek and to, once again, celebrate the fact that they are still alive.
There is no artificial lighting in Murphy’s Bar. Huge sections of the cylindrical wall/floor/ceiling are Glassteel and the reflected orange glare from the small gas giant dimly illuminates the party-goers. Gravity is simulated by its constant rotation which can fool a person into thinking that the entire universe is revolving around this bar.
Max, Autumn and Will are on the dance floor shaking to the newest music from Coreward. Will has drawn a nice sized circle of young hot groupies because he had just busted out some signature moves that were invented on the spot out of desperation. Moves like the Research Book Boogie and the Planetology Surveyor Swing and, of course, the I’m Not A Zhodani Spy…Really! Shuffle.
Jie is in a darkened corner sucking on the face of a young lad in a Grotian Spacer’s uniform. As she releases his face long enough to swig down another gulp of vodka from a bottle, he looks around in a daze trying to catch his breath. She takes a little time to admire how his long pony tail hair and gold hoop ear ring catch the cascading orange glow, than she pounces on him again like a lip hungry carnivore.
Taeva and Arvor are at opposite sides of the main room, each with a perfect view of all the exits and everyone in between. They remain in the shadows revealing little of themselves as they think about the future. A more matched pair of paranoid strategists there never was.
Grim knows the repairs will take a sober mind and a firm hand so he (egads!) has refrained from drinking too much. His social nature however, draws the attention of another traveler and they begin to talk. This stranger explains in a Reginaesque accent that he is soon to depart in his yacht and head for parts unknown. He has traveled the space lanes for quite a while, sometimes as a Temporary Acting Interim Brevet Commodore (ret.) and sometimes as a personal legal consultant (and part-time bodyguard). The two begin to banter about stories of their past, Grim tells of his engraved weapon and passes it to the handsome stranger to inspect. In turn the dark eyed man tells Grim of ‘Thumper’ his first snub nosed revolver. Grim holds the small yet deadly gun in both hands. He relays (somewhat sadly) that the Princess has crew guns but not like this. They are more…spry.
Murphy’s Bar never closes, but sometimes people leave. The well dressed man stands, bows, then turns to go. Grim, for all their talking, never caught the man’s name. He asks.
“Just call me Dev," he replies.
The partying lasts well into the small hours when Taeva and Arvor both recommend that it is time to get back to the ship.
“But the place is still packed!” moans Max.
Taeva gives him a stern look which Max knows better than to argue with and so he reluctantly joins the others as they stagger back to the ship.