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Kursis Charter

14. Bear Necessities

Date: 149-993 Imperial.
Location: jump space, aboard the free trader Avarice Rewarded.

Two days into jump, Silea had given up on teaching Luan to use one of the hostile environment suits they'd taken off the Malfeasant's crew. 40kg was just too much for her, she was better off with the emergency soft suits. Sir David adopted the other environment suit for the time being, finding it pretty heavy going himself. He extended the shopping list he was building between cooking and cleaning for six passengers.

Fish missed the video games. With not much else to do, he eventually got around to looking at the portacomp he'd taken from the captain's cabin on Malfeasant. It had sat in his suit in the drive room ever since. He hadn't bothered mentioning it. It turned out that it was some sort of video diary rather than a personal organiser. Fish looked through it a couple of times then showed it to the rest of the crew.

It was entirely recorded in the Ursa's tongue, which was beyond any of them. But some things were obvious. He and his crew had modified and equipped their ship specifically for a salvage operation deep in the atmosphere of a gas giant, and a particularly corrosive atmosphere at that. There were a few hints that Honora was some sort of trial run, not the main target. The final entry showed the captain stood outside the ship's drive room, not in his environment suit, but talking rapidly and subconsciously gesturing at the engineering section behind him. He was already moving forwards, towards his cabin or the bridge, as he clicked the diary off – the first time in forty minutes of video that he hadn't held still as he cut the recording.

The diary ended. Luan, who didn't normally have much to say about spacefaring matters, spoke first. "So they had some problem with their drives... and they couldn't fly out normally... and they went for that blast upward in the hope that somebody would rescue them at the top of their arc?" The others nodded. "But it didn't quite work out."

"I wonder what they were out to salvage," said Fish after a pause, "it must've been pretty special for a job like that..."

"I'll see if the computer can translate" said Sir David. But the Ursa language of grunts, whistles, whines and facial twitches was too much for their software. "Anyone met any other Ursa lately?" he joked.

Silea, as usual, had done her homework. "There are about ten thousand on Miip. It's an Imperial Ursa World. Some of them must speak Galanglic."

Sir David picked the portacomp up and smiled at it quizzically. "Looks like that's where we make the next collection for Kursis, then."

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