At Lancaster again:
Back on Lancaster, and the Lancaster Free Traders Society yearly meeting is due to start tomorrow.
The crew of 42 free traders has gathered in LFTS’s offices close to the starport. The crew of the Notorious recognizes a lot of old friends. A few new ships and crews are also present.
Stories, Valuables, Food and Drinks:
The day before the meeting is very informal.
The crew hears many interesting stories and a few interesting and valuable objects are proudly shown by some of the crews.
Their old friends from the starship Nomen Luni may have the finest and shiniest thing to display. Captain Harry Moonblaster tells the story about how they got this big blue diamond as a payment for a food delivery to the Kingdom of Skor at Hershay. The diamond is one of the crown jewels. It is supposed to be repurchased by the kingdom in a few months when they have received payment for a huge order from Philadelphia.
The crew of the Moog Five has brought a small monkey-like creature from Hanover. They had planned to sell it to the local zoo here at Lancaster, but now they have grown so attached to it, they are going to keep it.
The crew of the Iron Caramel has brought a rare 20-year-old rum that they let everyone taste.
The crew of the Orange Submarine, which is one of the new ships has brought a kind of handmade sausage from Harrisburg. These sausages are very tasty. A toast for Captain Laura Carboncore is proposed. (An observant person will see that the crew of the Orange Submarine is not eating the sausages)
The toast is made in beer that Captain Keith Pinestorm and his crew of the Radetzky has brought from New Holland.
The crew of the Imaginary Nebula has brought smoked and cured fish from Elkton. This also goes well with the beer from New Holland.
The crew of the Happy Jones has brought roe from an arthropod analogue from Hershey. It is exceptionally good.
If they want to, the crew of the Notorious can donate a few hundred kilo of cured meats and sausages that they got at Intercourse. The rest of their cured meats can be sold for Cr20,000 per ton.
These are just a few examples. The party is fantastic. Lots of stories are told. Some of them are probably true. Many crews get very drunk. If the crew of the Notorious are a bit careful with how much they drink, they may notice that some of the new crews also don’t party that hard.
Because they also have sausages to share, or because they are suspicious, or perhaps just because of dumb luck, the crew of the Notorious doesn’t eat any of the sausages from the Orange Submarine.
The morning after:
Next morning the activity at the meeting at the LFTS’s offices is quite low. A lot of crews are probably hungover.
The very hungover Captain Harry Moonblaster of the Nomen Luni barges in and announces that he has been robbed. The diamond is missing.
Soon the yearly meeting will begin. As usual a new Overmaster of LFTS should be elected. As usual, very few crews are represented. Are they hungover?
A new candidate for the position as Overmaster has appeared. In addition to Keith Pinestorm of the Radetzky, Laura Carboncore from Orange Submarine wants to be the new Overmaster.
Panic before the meeting:
Only 6 of 42 Captains are present one hour before the meeting and the voting for a new Overmaster.
Our crew becomes very suspicious. Could this be a coup staged by the crew of the Orange Submarine? Keith Pinestorm of the Radetzky is not here.
Computer searches in LFTS’s (or the Space Patrols) reputation register will show that the Orange Submarine has been present at the same time as the Curry Flames, a ship now quite well-known by our crew.
The Captains that are now present are the Captains from the Nomen Luni, the Orange Submarine, the Love Jumper, the 2000 Parsecs, the Castles in Space and the Notorious.
Captain Harold Frinkel from Castles in Space is an old well-known friend. Captain Harry Moonblaster from the Nomen Luni is also a quite friendly (most of the time).
But when Captain Harold Frinkel is asked how he is going to vote, he says that he will vote for Captain Laura Carboncore. He says that the LFTS need some new blood and that she also looks good. It seems impossible to convince him that he is wrong.
Captain Keith Pinestorm of the Radetzky must immediately be woken and brought to the meeting. Those who go to his ship will be let in, but is met by a hungover and food poisoned crew. Captain Pinestorm is quickly freshened and led to the meeting.
Two more friendly Captains need to be woken to save LFTS from Orange Submarine‘s coupe. The starships Moog Five and Iron Caramel are docked reasonably close. Their Captains will make it to the meeting.
The voting is won by Captain Keith Pinestorm of the Radetzky with 5 votes against 4.
The crew of the Orange Submarine and the other two new (the Love Jumper and the 2000 Parsecs) ships quickly leave the meeting.
After about an hour, during which the Notorious and Nomen Luni crews think about where the missing diamond could be, there are reports about an attack at the starport. Three ships (identified as the Orange Submarine, the Love Jumper and the 2000 Parsecs) are firing lasers and missiles at all Free Traders leaving the planet.
The local COACC force of Lancaster is quickly in pursuit. 2000 Parsecs is shot down, but the other two ships escapes only slightly damaged.
But what about the blue diamond? Did the pirates leave with it?
The Blue Diamond:
Captain Harry Moonblaster of the starship Nomen Luni has an idea. Although it is unclear why, there are some rivalry between the Nomen Luni and the Happy Jones. The starship Happy Jones was at Hershay at the same time as the Nomen Luni, but in a different kingdom. Maybe the crew of Happy Jones took a job to steal the diamond since it would be embarrassing for both the Nomen Luni and the kingdom of Skor?
But Harry (or his crew) isn’t feeling well enough yet to act now. Maybe the crew of the Notorious could help?
When the crew is let in to the starship Happy Jones, they are met by hungover and food poisoned crew that ask what they want.
When the crew of the Notorious looks around a bit, they see the diamond on a table. The Captain of the Notorious say something like, thank you for taking care if this during the coup attempt. Then he puts it in his pocket and leaves the ship.