Having settled himself into his Cabin, Dirk went off to explore the public spaces of the Dalrymple’s Dream. Despite the overcrowding in the hotels back at the starpport, there were only three other passengers, all of whom were already aboard.
After a brief exploration, Dirk had the measure of the Dalrymple’s Dream layout – bridge at the front, with captains cabin and crew quarters behind, spanning the deck. Behind that were a couple of short corridoors running n the bow to stern axis with passenger cabins off them. On the port side of the passenger cabins and to their rear were the public spaces of lounge, mess deck, together with the galley. Behind this was the cargo deck, with the drives tacked onto the stern of the ship.
As scheduled lift off time approached, Dirk made his way to the lounge to strap in for takeoff. He could have stayed in his cabin, but as a naval officer he was used to a bit of company during a lift. The other passengers evidently felt the same, as all were already seated in the lounge, watching progress and external feeds on the wall vids.
Dirk introduced himself. First off was Bors Ramsey, an importer/exporter travelling to Caladbolg. Bors was taciturn and barely exchanged pleasantries, let alone engaged in small talk. Dirk had known a few businessmen like that, locked in their own heads, calculating trades and profits rather than engaging with the workd around them. Yet, Bors seemed a little odder than most. Then there was father and son, Andrew and Case Halloway. They were returning from visiting family on Penelope, nice enough folks, but there seemed to bit a bit of tension between them. Probably because, even though he was mostly silent, Case gave a good rendition of a surly teenager.
There was only time for a little small talk before the ship started to vibrate as the engines came on-line, and in next to no time, the ship was lifting slowly, but powerfully off the tarmac and heading into space.
Once clear of the atmosphere, they could unbuckle, and the steward came round serving drinks. Everyone stayed in the lounge, talking and watching the ship carefully manouvre away from Karin’s orbit and slowly pick her way through local traffic towards the jump point.
Travel to the jump point settled into the usual regime, communal dinners, sometimes with the captain, and evening entertainment of films, card games, or just conversation. It was during one such quiet evening when Andrew Holloway and Dirk had the passenger lounge to themselves, nursing drinks and chatting amiably. The hour grew late and, perhaps the little worse for drink, Andrew broached the delicate subject of his ‘friend’ whose son had been on an inconsidered trip. Nothing illegal, but if the cctv footage from resort establishment came to light on his homeworld, it could damage the fathers public career. Surely it would be possible, mused Andrew, for someone with military training to discreetly wipe the cctv footage in question. Dirk had to agree that for a person with the right training and background, it should be a relatively simple matter but, not wanting to get involved, added that he did not know of any such person.
The Captain, Connell March, invited Dirk onto the bridge as they neared the jump limit. Dirk sat next to the captain and enjoyed being back in the operational centre of a starship, even if it was not his command. His gaze fell on the traffic plot, and noticed a Fat Trader was on a similar course, aft of the Dalrymple’s Dream. The Captain did not seem overly concerned, but Dirk, out of habit, watched to determine the exact course followed by the merchant. To his surprise, it appeared to be matching the Dalrymple’s Dream, only a few hundred thousand clicks behind. Dirk knew that ships on apparently the same course can end up parsecs apart, but this seemed closer than normal.
Dirk put the incident out of his mind until a few days through jump, when one of the crew struck up a seemingly casual conversation about his naval career and if he had been involved in any anti piracy action. As the conversation progressed, the crewman was discussing the obvious temptations of piracy in terms of quick money making, and seemed sympathetic to such a viewpoint. Back in his cabin, Dirk reflected on this conversation, and realised that the crewman was fishing and that if his responses had been different, the crewman might have tried to recruit Dirk into whatever scheme was afoot. Remembering the fat trader on a matched course, Dirk began to consider what sort of plot it could be. He thought the most likely would be some form of mutiny, with the far trader pulling alongside to take off cargo and conspirators. But how could a far trader carry the cargo of a heavy freighter ? Something didn’t add up, so Dirk started to investigate.
Dirk found that the cargo manifest was accessible from the ships computer, not obvious, but not password protected or encrypted either. Either someone was not very good at their job, or the cargo manifest was not deemed commercially sensitive. At first glance there was nothing out of the ordinary in the manifest – all cotton shipments of 100-150 tons, for various companies on Iderati. Looking more closely, however, Dirk spotted one labelled Cotton abrasives – mineral. A-ha, thought Dirk, I bet someone is hiding a valuable ore in amongst this cotton – hiding in plain sight. Connell March must be discreetly transpporting high value value cargoes; by hidng them anongst a large cargo, the cost of guards would be lower and hopefully the risk of theft reduced. That must be what the plot is after, to steal this small, high value cargo – the crewmans get rich quick scheme ! But how would they do it, and how many of the crew are involved in the plot ?
Dirk managed to find time with the Captain out of the earshot of others. He probed to find out whether the captain knew, or was even involved in the plot. Dirk satisfied himself that the Captain was unaware of the plot, nor could he be nudged into taking the possibility of such a plot seriously. Dirk was on his own, so he had to come up with a counter-mutiny plan all by himself.
On his way back from seeing the captain, Dirk tried to retrieve hs laser pistol from the ship’s locker, but had to ababdon the attempt when a crewman came along. Back in his cabin Dirk tried to come up with a plan. Going through the ship’s computer, Dirk was able to find the grav plate controls, and managed to slave them to his tablet computer. Now his half-arsed plan could be triggered from wherever he was when the mutineers made their move. All Dirk could come up with was to use his presumably superior zero-g ability to take control of Engineering. The captain was on his own, but if he was lucky, the captain would retain control of the bridge, and Dirk would then control Engineering, between them they could then see what the mutineers had to offer.
The plot would be triggered some time after their arrival in the Iderati system, but how soon after jump-point translation ? Dirk could only wait and fret, hoping he would be ready when the mutineers struck.