Mustered Out on Mertactor

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Back to Newland

Refreshed after a good night’s sleep despite having to share beds, the party members are up early and continue with their journey right after breakfast. Max drives all of the way back with Billy-Bob watching him – he’s certainly picking up the hang of driving now, even though he’s still not ready to be doing any acrobatics yet.

After four hours of driving east, they take a break to have some lunch and then continue driving through the afternoon. It’s 18.00 by the time that they see Newland ahead of them. Once they are inside the city limits, they head for the hotel overlooking Newland Bay that they stayed in previously and check in.

Taeva is anxious to check out the address as soon as possible as there are still another 24 hours of daylight ahead of them and so everyone just drops their bags in the rooms and then head off to take a look at Newland Freight Services.

With the help of GPS, it takes just 20 minutes to get there, finding Southdown Industrial Estate on the south eastern fringe of the city in the direction of the starport. It’s a rather nondescript looking estate, featuring small industrial and commercial units which are all in pretty good condition – the estate looks as if it’s less than ten years old. The working day is now over, so there are few people about in the area.

Not wanting to draw any attention to themselves, they leave Billy-Bob and Clint with the air/rafts and make the last 200m of the journey on foot, stopping as soon as they see the unit ahead of them in the distance, not wanting to get too close at this stage.

Newland Freight Services is a two-storey building. The majority of it looks like warehouse space, with offices at one side of it. There are two doors into the warehouse, both of which have heavy steel shutters which are currently closed. There are no windows on the ground floor but it looks as if all of the offices are on the upper level as there are windows along one side. All the windows are protected by steel bars and there are blinds in the window hiding what’s behind them. There is no sign of life in the warehouse, although it would be hard to tell if there was.

The building seems to be well served with security camera – with a couple on each corner pointing in both directions. There’s no obvious way to get up close to the building without being seen by the cameras, especially as there is a relatively large car park surrounding the building which is currently empty.

But that’s not the most interesting thing about the building. What’s most interesting about it is the building which is adjacent to it, sharing an adjoining wall. The adjoining unit just happens to belong to none other than… SuSAG.

A closer look at the sign in front of the building announces that it houses the SuSAG’s sales, marketing and accounting operations for Tarsus. This building is just one floor and there are windows all around it, so it would appear to be all or mostly office space rather than warehouse. There are three doors into the building – two on one side and one on the opposite side and windows around most of the building. As with the other building, they are all protected with iron bars and a lot of security cameras. Again the building has car parking around it. There are a handful of cars still in the car park.

The group spends a while watching the two premises, but there is not a lot going on there. The vehicles in the SuSAG car park head off one by one as those working late at the office finally head home. There are still a handful of vehicles remaining though. There’s no sign of any activity at all from NFS.

Seeing that it’s not going to be an easy matter to simply sneak into either of the buildings and that they are unable to learn more out of work hours, they decide to head back to their hotel to discuss the plans for the following day.

Over dinner, Max and William do a little investigating on NFS and the Tarsuline business. Max discovers that NFS is registered to Jimmy-Joe Jefferson and his wife and was registered only around 18 months ago. Their accounts show only a very small turnover – too small to really justify a warehouse of the size of the one that they have. Max is unable to find out any details about their business, such as who their customers are and what products they specialize in. The information online about the company is scant.

William finds no more information on Tarsuline than the very generic information that he picked up about it earlier. There is no mention on the network of any commercial trade in the moss at all.

While the others are checking to see what information they can find online, Grim tries the offline approach, hitting the bars of Newland City. He draws a complete blank on finding out any information on Jimmy-Joe or NFS though. People just shrug at the mention of his name and have never heard of NFS either.

Naturally everyone has heard of SuSAG. They seem to have a pretty good reputation on Tarsus – no one seems to have any scandal or gossip about them – quite the reverse, in fact. It’s common knowledge that SuSAG brings a lot of money to Tarsus for renting the space on Rond and so they are happy that much of the local infrastructure is funded by SuSAG rather than by high tax rates.

After several fruitless hours spent trying to find some information that may be of use to the situation, Grim calls it a night and returns to the hotel, where the others have turned in for the evening already.

Comments

Hah!

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(My wife, who is legally required to review my posts (usually before I post them), has informed me that my last post “sounded” arrogant, and that, to her mind, that’s “not like [me], so take it back”. Fine, here goes !haH. Whups, I just said it again, but in Spanish or something. I told her typing it backwards wouldn’t work. Oh well, y’all know what I mean! Now lets go avoid iritating a large family owned business that I’m darn sure donates generously to the Imperial Boy Scouts and that just happened to accidentally kill Taeva’s father…seriuosly, we’re gonna send one of us up to knock on the door to NFS, right?)

{Grim steps forward}

“Well men, seeing as how you’re all about as socially acceptable as end stage lepers, I volunteer to go talk to the man…”

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Arvor asks Max to check on Newland Freight Services to see if it is a registered company, and who the owners/directors of record are.

Since SuSAG has a base on Rond, and a regular shuttle between Newland Down and Rond, we should set up a watch on the SuSAG/NFS offices, with someone detailed to follow any van/truck/air raft traffic from the either company office esp. towards Newland Down. I would suspect that they are shipping the Tarsuline moss from NFS to Rond for processing – probably as a raw ingredient for either a psi drug, or anagathics.

If there is a University here, perhaps William can approach the biology / pharmacy department and get an analysis on the Tarsuline Moss, with some specific tests for psi drug or anagathic related properties. We could pay for such testing with group funds.

It is probably too risky to sneak in, but I don’t know what kind of miracles Taeva can work. If she can get into the NFS building, even if she can’t stay long enough to access any records, she could plant Arvor’s one remaining bug, and exit as tracelessly as possible. I would like to complete the circuit wrt. tarsuline moss – prove its transit to Rond and thus both its value, and SuSAG complicity. Right now, SuSAG could just deny involvement, throw NFS under the bus for the murder and claim that the moss is worthless.

I agree that one strategy for dealing with these folks would be to cut a deal. It could be something like a substantial compensation package (for the Trasks), and a hefty buyout of the Trask ranch, with a relocation to another good ranching location (as accepted by Mrs Trask / Taeva), all paid for by SuSAG / NFS. In return, yet another SuSAG horror story does not have to make the holovid circuit, and they get legitimate access to the swamp for harvesting moss. Of course the package would have to include some compensation for the party for our hard work in protecting the Trasks from the predations of NFS.

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Max is quickly able to ascertain that Newland Freight Services is registered to Jimmy-Joe Jefferson and his wife. It was only established a couple of years ago.

Testing the Tarsuline is a possibility but it could take a while to get detailed reports as to what it may or may not do.

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End stage lepers indeed!!! If my SOC weren’t so abysmally low I’d whip out a snazzy comment that would be so funny that you’d spurt milk out your nose. Unfortunately I can’t think of one right now. Anyway, at this moment I have no idea as how to confront J-Joe and his SuSAG backers other then to note that he and his lackeys probably got a good description of us from previous encounters and have been preparing for us. (My recent posts will reveal that I’m OK with this) Also I would suspect that the mega corporation has probably wired the planetary inter-net (especially at universities and colleges) to alert them if anyone begins to research ‘Tarsuline’, ‘moss’ or ‘Atok Swamp’ which would make Williams information searches…dicey.

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Can you hire the equivalent of crop dusters on Tarsus? How much for a 5 × 5 km area of swamp?

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or however big the Traske bit of swamp is.

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Also does the SuSAG facility abut directly onto JJ s warehouse, or are they separate? ie if goods are tranferred this would be easier (and invisible) via an internal wall access.

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Yes, with the grav technology, it would be easy enough. You’d get a quote of Cr.2000 for the ob.

SuSAG and NFS share an adjoining wall (what we Brits would call semi-detached).

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As regards Taeva her revenge streak (if this was Gurps/ Savage Worlds she would have the ‘Vengeful’ and disadvantage) has been satisfied. However as mentioned, she needs to achieve security for the Ranch which probably means her future outlook pretty much dovetails with Arvor’s in achieving a resolution.

As regards William’s previous air raft tracking analysis- are there patterns to other areas of swamp? It might be worth contacting those other adjacent ranches to see if they have been experiencing problems also.

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There’s an alternative threat/ strategy then-especially if we can amke other ranchers aware if they’ re having problems also.

I suspect Tarsus eco legislation is non existant.

If spraying the Traske Ranch area costs on 2k credits, but loses megabucks for SuSag, that is the clear basis for a deal.

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The Traske Ranch is pretty unique in being close to the swamp. It’s only a viable location for a ranch because the ground rises rapidly from the edge of the swamp to the foothills of the Lersion Range.

The land is flat to the north of the Traske Ranch. At the end of every winter, meltwater floods the swamps and the plains are flooded for many kilometres at that time of year. As ranches are only allowed to be built at the very edge of the plain, it makes locating a ranch anywhere else on the edge of the swamp unfeasible.

- – -

So is the plan to try and speak with SuSAG to try and cut a deal with them? If so, how are you going to approach them? You will need to wait for the following day to do this as it’s outside usual work hours now.

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Do we know anything about moss harvesting? Is this moss being harvested by others? Was E Engineering keeping the harvest a secret? What else can we find out about NFS? What do they ship? (anything and everything? Agricultural produce, like moss?)

I’m wondering if the whole moss thing is secret or merely lucrative? If the latter, maybe E Eng was the problem and NFS (and SuSAG, if they are involved) is innocent.

William would like to investigate the business side of moss and NFS (he asks Max to help) before we start any more fires.

If the whole thing still looks nefarious, maybe we could approach JJ as moss suppliers. If it’s legit, maybe the Trasks ranch can start a side business harvesting moss.

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Since Jimmy-Joe is both E-Eng and NFS, he could be the chief culprit – although I find it hard to believe that SuSAG would not quickly have found his source for tarsuline – whatever it does. It is possible that SuSAG have been kept in the dark about Jimmy-Joe’s source, so they have not gone after it themselves.

It is also possible that SuSAG are so publicity averse that they “allow” Jiimy-joe to be the local harvester in order not to be seen to be doing stuff at ground level.

Either way, we should probably confront Jimmy-Joe before we contact SuSAG with any allegations or deal.

I also would think that this time we go for a direct personal confrontation without blowing the doors off his office or killing his secretary – but this after we have exhausted other means of gathering information.

Possible sources: communications, employees, observation (spying), hacking account transactions (bank) or social engineering at the bank. Others I have not thought of.

Arvor wishes he had the skills to build one of those laser reflective listening devices – so we could bounce the beam off a window and hear the conversation inside!

Ahah – a trojan horse!

We create a parcel – containing a local delicacy (equivalent of Belgian Chocolate – something every Tarsian enjoys). It is addressed from a local service company such as office cleaners. It is positioned as an inducement to try “Clean-O-Wiz” services – complete with brochure and covering letter – “you’ll like us as much as these chocolates”. As usual with parcels, there is too much wrapping. Concealed in the wrapping is Arvor’s bug. The parcel is delivered. Jimmy-Joe, or his secretary open the parcel. They toss the wrapping, eat the chocolates and go about their day. We now have a bug in the waste-paper basket, so we can hear whatever is going on until they toss the garbage. If they like the offer, they might even make an appointment for us to visit!

Ok, so we find a real local cleaning business. At the local Qwik-copy, create a cover letter from same company offering the opportunity to try our services free for a one-time deal. Use Arvor’s personal comm-net number (temporary based on local sim). Buy the chocolates, wrap as described, and have either max pose as courier to deliver, or same-day courier delivery.

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Holy Crap demonic that’s an ingenious plan!! If the wrapping paper the bug is in is a bright, odd color Jie is not above going dumpster diving to recover the little fella. This would show her willingness to be a team member, her lack of social etiquette and demonstrate her material frugalness. She happens to know firsthand what a Tarsus homeless person looks and acts like from her run in with one 16 days ago. She’ll dress destitute and covered face. Jie will use here limited stealth training to go to the garbage bin and hop inside, the cameras will reveal nothing about her. There she will recover the bug and shove any important looking documents or items of interest down her newly bought old tattered coat. This may also demonstrate the security level of the building. May have to watch out for that.

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“Either way, we should probably confront Jimmy-Joe before we contact SuSAG with any allegations or deal”

Seconded!

“I also would think that this time we go for a direct personal confrontation without blowing the doors off his office or killing his secretary – but this after we have exhausted other means of gathering information.”

Fine, but if we change our minds, Grim calls dibs on killing the secretary.

“{Jie} happens to know firsthand what a Tarsus homeless person looks and acts like from her run in with one 16 days ago. She’ll dress destitute and covered face.”

Don’t get dolled up on our account, we might not recognize you. Second this idea too. Also, while Will is checking the computer records, Max arranging the delivery, Jie getting dressed up, Taeva casing the joint, and Arvor readying his bug equipment, Grim will hit the local bar scene and see if he can find out any info about JJ and his wife, the businesses, SuSAG operations, and what the local hotties are particularly skilled at…(Soc 8, Int 11, Persuade 1, Streetwise 0, and he’s good looking. He’s also willing to drop a few hundred for info. More for hotties). Let me know if I can bring you back some HotRibs™ from the local NobbleGobble™?

Grim/Ian

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Great idea for the buggy chocolates Dominic! And points to Jie for taking one for the team.

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NickPendrell

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