You go off in search of food in a Startown bazaar you’ve never been in. Lots of smells, lots of words shouted in a babel of languages. Searching for a quiet place, you stick your head into a door… and dozens of Vargr, their snouts wet with blood, turn to look at you.

You slowly back away….

You ar relaxing at a beach, enjoying the surf and the palm trees, supposedly “imported all the way from the tropics of Terra!”, when something you read spoils your appetite: a mother and three daughters was stabbed because of their scanty dress on the beach. (Of all places!)

You shrug noncommittally: if you don’t take the time to know your environment, you will pay for it.

(True story, of course)

You are in a car ride down a dirt road, practicing your limited Vilani, when you see a woman down the road, hanging from a lamp pole. You try to ask your driver what’s going on, but your bad Vilani gets in the way, so you get your driver to stop, pull out your translator writing pad – deemed “less revolutionary” than verbal translators on this world – and show your driver, then give the driver the pad and stylus to write back his thoughts to you.

If your translator pad is right, it seems that the poor woman refused to speak in proper Modern Vilani speech in public, and was hung to remind the others of the importance of Conforming to Established Norms. “Not every Vilani society can afford the personality-rewrites equipment, after all.”

After two years of family pressure, you finally get together a care package, and go to visit your imprisoned brother ten parsecs away. It takes you an additional two months to get through the paperwork and slip the bribes into the right hands, but you finally manage to get to the military penitentiary, and see him face to face – well, through a plane of thick glass anyways.

He’s ecstatic about the food and sweets, the paper books, the letters & photos, and the money you got for him (a mix of Imperial credits, local currency, and commissary money). But mainly, he’s happy to finally have someone to talk to, someone he knows, in his own language.

In your own language, you ask how he got here. It seems that your mercenary brother was part of the Starburn Strike Company, which was hired to help depose the local president. But the local units that were supposed to support the Company never showed up, and in the end they were beaten back and forced to surrender.

From what your brother was able to piece together, it seems that the coup attempt was a suspiciously pathetic, sloppy failure, with the ruler – backed up by millions of his supporters – able to use the emergency to sweep away all the remaining opposition to his rule in the courts, the media, the schools, and the military.

And all thanks to a bunch of easily-demonised unbelieving, deviant outsiders – “some of them not even human!” – with their high-tech equipment unable to stand up to the Faith of the People… and the gruesome images of the civilian deaths quickly becoming part of the now-unified national school curriculum.

Time’s up. As you stand up to go, you notice that the prison guard has been joined by another man in civilian dress, watching you keenly, saying not a word. Some kind of local spook. Well, you knew that you’d never convince your captain to risk his ship in a prison break, so the locals never had to worry anyways. Still, you’re going to make the effort to keep in touch, and raise up the money you’re going to need to free your brother.

“The way you launch a coup is pretty straightforward. First you grab the leader, then the media outlets, then you exhibit the humiliated leader in the media. Instead, these people decided to throw the coup while Erdogan was on vacation and apparently didn’t even attempt to secure him. By the time the coup began, he was already taken to a secret location. Then the whole thing went straight to hell very quickly. The coup told people to go home, while Erdogan told his people to go to the streets. So the coup supporters were at home, while the Erdogan supporters were out on the streets. The coup also reportedly fired on civilians, which is also something you definitely do not want to do. That makes even people who were inclined to support it turn against it. In short, the whole thing could not have been better arranged for Erdogan himself, who now looks like a hero of the people. As such, it seems to me the most likely possibility is that Erdogan — presumably with the blessing of Western forces — worked with some of his own people in the military to arrange a coup hoax.” – from Al-Monitor

So it took about a month, to convince the small-town mayor to let you convert the abandoned farm fields as an unofficial port for your starship, but it finally got done.

It’s still going to be risky, shipping in the food and consumer goods that the planetary government has officially banned… but your contacts insist that the local honchos just doesn’t have the money to keep the local SDBs up to snuff and properly maintained, and the number of patrols continue to dwindle.

You only hope that you and your local friends are able to stay off the radar of the government: even a weak army is still an army, and you’re here to make money, not to fight. But if everything comes together, this is going to be quite the money-maker…


About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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