"sam is typing..."

(A Blog by Sam Marshall)

Starforged: Family Matters - One

2021 10 31

The following was generated by me, a human, and the backer preview version of Ironsworn: Starforged working in concert.

The latest letter from Bash says he'll be here, on Ramshackle. This is the first time in years he's even hinted at where he's going to be so I had to leap on the opportunity and get to Ramshackle as quickly as possible. I wasn't doing anything interesting anyway.

I need Bash to see my exodus trinket in person. To let me know if there's really hidden data - a map - on it's surface, or if it's just an old family tale. Even Bash can't do anything useful with only scans and images. I need to know. I need to know if it really could lead to saving my families bad name.

Bash calls himself a Cartographer, but to me that seems like a narrow and understated view. He's an adventurer. A political dissident. A puzzle solver and a historian. And, yes, he loves maps, old and new. He's exactly what I need.

I take my feet off the locked control panel of the Beowulf and lean forward in my seat to get a view of our approach. Ramshackle is well named. It hovers in deep space, a collection of other ships and stations pieced together by engineers braver than I.

Sections of Ramshackle reveal the structure of the corridors and bulkheads inside, with only the barest, most vital layers between the void and the society within. Other parts look somewhat better protected from this far out, but as Wulfie approaches I can see patches of untreated damage from the previous life of a thousand patches of metal. Solar panels and clear glass shine on every surface that will support them safely, collecting any solar radiation that makes it this far into the void.

God knows how pieces of the hull got rusted up this bad while in space.

I would be worried about going inside this wreck, but almost every ship and station has seen better days. Wulfie probably looks this bad from the outside, too. The engineers that keep these stations up and running are legenrady, and Ramshackle is important to the food production of this sector of space. They know how to make do with what they've got. I'm sure I'll be safe, I tell myself.

I watch as the station grows larger in my viewport. Finally, there's a series of grinding, clunking noises and the sensation of a few short bursts of thrust in quick succession. And then all I can see is a damaged wall. An old advert for some kids cereal painted behind the reddish-brown smear of rust. The docking computer chimes, and Wulfie's shallow, metalic voice states "Locks engaged. Pressure equalised. Docking complete" matter of factly.

My airlock slides open into a short tube of corrugated plastic. A corridor visible just beyond the narrow ring of metal holding Wulfie secure. I hop over the connecting bands and into a quiet corridor.

Wulfie got assigned a civilian berth, so there's nobody around and nobody here to greet me. I'm not important enough for that.

Instead of a human greeter there's just a small screen with a metal keyboard at the intersection of three corridors. These places are always 90% corridor, I swear.

I pull up the station directory with a few strokes on the keyboard, and enter Bash. No results for the callsign. I try the more formal Becker, Lucas. Still nothing. Great. Man must be in love with his privacy. Or he's already left.

I take a second to consider what I should do. It's been a while since I've been on Ramshackle, but checking with the station computer tells me the Dockmaster hasn't changed. His callsign is Phantom on the net. Kayla Braddock in person. The familiarity doesn't help that much, as I've never worked with him directly. At least Ramshackle hasn't changed that much.

I head to Braddock's office. Even if Bash isn't in the public directory, he must be registered with the Dockmaster.

The office is open to the public, so I knock and push the door open. Kayla Braddock is sitting behind a surprisingly large, wooden-looking desk. He's got a little sign with his name on it and everything. Oldschool. He looks up from his data slab as I enter.

"Ah" - he makes a small, startled noise but recovers quickly. "How can I help you?".

"I'm looking for Bash, uh..Lucas Becker. I'm a friend of his. He told me that he'd be on this station in a letter, but he's not in the public directory."

"Oh, well Miss...", he pauses and watches me expectantly.

"Talin. But call me Mina", I say, feeling awkward. I hate people asking for my family name, but to his credit he's one of the few that take the name in their stride. He doesn't even seem to notice it's a name that has been cursed by many.

"Miss Talin", He says pointedly, "You may be a friend of Mr Becker but he's subscribed to our exclusive privacy membership. I can confirm that he's on the station, but I cannot tell you where to find him"

I sigh. "Perhaps you could make an exception? I really am a friend". I pull out my data slate from one of my many pockets and open my last signed letter from Bash and show it to Braddock. While he's verifying the signature and that I'm the intended recipient, I continue

"and I'm happy to do something for the station while I'm here, of course."

Braddock unplugs his verifying device, hands my data slate over, and sits back in his chair. Faux leather, I think. He doesn't say anything for what feels like forever before he smiles thinly.

"It may take me a little time to find the location of Mr Becker. In the meantime, perhaps you could help me with a small matter? I was promised by the, ahem, the Architect of Hera",

He pauses to give me a sarcastic look,

"The Architect of Hera, the leader of a local religious group - that someone close to me would be held in some esteem by their group. Well, the details don't matter - but it has been some time, and the promise goes unfulfilled. I need someone I can rely on to change that".

I nod. It sounds simple enough, but trust must be established with this sort of person. I lift the small segment of exodus ship iron hull that I wear around my neck out of my overalls and hold it in my hand so Braddock can see clearly what it is. I close my eyes and state out loud:

"I swear to make the Architect of Hera follow through on their promise to you"

Braddock smiles, looking almost relieved.

"Wonderful - now, please. I'll let you know when I've got Mr Becker's location for you, but for now I have work to do"

I stand up and leave the office, transaction completed. I always hate that shit. I'm pretty sure I can just go find this 'Architect' without too much trouble, though. Let's get started.