The new Beluga Liner has been a great addition to the ElderRook LLC fleet, generating a steady income of credits since first going into service. I've established a regular route that seems to be popular with a variety of tourists. It passes through the Robigo system, stopping off at Hauser's Reach. The orbital there sits among the asteroid ring above a beautiful gas giant that has the most amazing storm systems.
After that it loops through the Sothis system where it stops above the fifth planet of the system. This was one of the first worlds terraformed by Sirius Corporation, and draws a nice crowd. There's a casino in orbit there that gives every tour ship a small bonus for bringing in tourists, so it's a good place to include in the route.
I've gone along for the trip myself while pretending to be just another traveler. Of course the crew knew who I was. Still, it gave me a chance to mingle with our customers anonymously and really get a feel for what they think of the trip. Everyone I spoke with seemed pleased with our efforts. The ship is state of the art, a real top of the line vessel. There's a gym, a spa, tons of exotic foods, entertainment equipment of all kinds on board. I suspect it will be a while before I get tired of the idea of running my own cruise liner.
- - - -
Since my last entry, I've taken a closer look at the group calling themselves 'the Engineers'. At first glance, you would think that they're a tight-knit group of technical experts working together for whatever reason they choose. That impression is the face they put forward to the public, but the reality is far different, and a bit more sinister than I realized.
There are four separate groups within the Engineers. Five if you count the three that went off to Colonia. I'm not familiar with any of those, and won't be discussing them. I've identified twenty-one other primary members, and each of those belongs to one of the four factions within the Engineers as a whole.
Let's start with the 'Good' Engineers. This group is in direct conflict with other members of the Engineers, but seem to have more altruistic goals. The one in charge is Professor Ishmael Palin, founder of the Palin Institute and recognized spearhead against the Thargoid incursions. He works to create technology to stop the Thargoids and to give humanity a fighting chance at defeating them.
Other members of the 'Good Engineers' include Chloe Sedesi, a former apprentice of Prof. Palin before she left for the Witch's Head Nebula; Lei Cheung, a scrapper and former Tramp Freighter. Lei maintains close ties with his family as they continue the life of Tramp Freighters; The legendary explorer Felicity Farseer who is part of the Federation and Didi Vaterman of the Alliance complete this group. Didi lives the most luxurious lifestyle of all the engineers I've met, not being afraid to flaunt her wealth. She's a connoisseur of fine liquors with a particular taste for Laavinian Brandy.
The next group is the 'Bad' Engineers. They seem to have an agenda but I haven't been able to discover it yet. It seems as though I've fallen out of favor with this particular group. They still assist me when I ask, albeit somewhat reluctantly. I'm sure they've begun moving against my interests in the shadows.
The 'Bad Engineers' take their cue from Bill Turner. He's loyal to the Alliance publicly, but rumor has it that he leads a double life. Behind the scenes, he's loyal only to his own motivations. He belongs to a highly secretive society known as 'The Club'. I've not been able to learn much about them or their goals beyond the fact that Bill Turner is the de facto leader of that group as well. He's a dangerous man and has already made one attempt on my life. He was behind the mercenaries who were posing as raiders in the Shinrarta Dezhra system a few months ago. I can't prove it, but I'm absolutely certain of it.
Other members include the mysterious figure known only as 'The Dweller'. He's a fixer for the Aganippe underworld and has an extensive criminal network supporting him. Elvira Martuuk was a former assassin before becoming an Engineer. She works to be self sufficient. She and her disciples grow and raise all their own food. She's also a known relic hunter.
The remaining two members both have ties to the Empire. Liz Ryder is a demolitions expert with connections to the Blue Mafia, and Hera Tani grew up as a member of the Jet Rats. She has a mysterious Imperial benefactor that helped her get where she is. Likely that individual also has some control of her as well. She's known for smoking Kamitra cigars.
Finally we have the 'Ugly'. These are the members whose allegiance isn't as clear. That's not to say they don't belong to one side or the other. I simply haven't observed them working directly either way. Zachariah Nemo, the half cyborg freakshow who calls his followers the Nemo Cyber party; Tod 'the Blaster' McQuinn is a former CQC champion turned ruthless bounty hunter; Tiana Fortune, Imperial electronics expert who is rumored to be the illegitimate daughter of an Imperial Guard officer; Juri Ishmaak, a former mercenary pilot. The final member of this group is 'The Sarge'. Little is known about him other than he was a member of the Federal Navy before retiring with honors.
The fourth group I mentioned are what I refer to as the 'True Engineers'. This group is obviously aware of the strife among their members, but hold themselves above it all. They simply refuse to get drawn into the political infighting like the others. To them, it's all about the technology, which was what the Engineers were supposed to be from the beginning.
This core group consists of Bris Dekker, a former Fed Navy Recon officer who still maintains relations with the Federation. He was actually born on Sol; Broo Tarquin founded Dead-Eye Defense systems before retiring. He has a taste for exotic tea; Selene Jean was an innovative former miner. She grows the most amazing vegetables I've ever seen; Ram Tah has travelled to more places in the galaxy than anyone I've ever known. He's an expert with drone technology as well.
The final member is Lori Jameson. She holds a special place in my heart. Although our relationship has cooled off, we still remain friends. She's also steadfast in her refusal to help me with Bill Turner. She simply won't take sides. I can't say that I blame her.
So there you have it. My summation of the Engineers. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, as well as the True Engineers. I never expected them to be so complicated when I first got involved with them a few years ago. Somehow, I've gotten involved in their little schemes, and I need to figure out why before one of them decides to try to remove my piece from the board of their little game. They may see me as just another pawn, but they're going to find out why I earned the nickname 'Rook' if they don't back off. I protect what's mine, and don't back down from confrontations.