Queensday Firstweek, Howl's Batten, 147/32

Got round to picking up my mail today, and there was something interesting inside. I've got mail drops all over Vardia. People I trust, as much as I trust anyone. They hold the letters for me. I stay on the move a lot, and this is the only way I stay in touch. Normal people use the post office for the same thing, but I trust the post office even less than the barmen and low-lives I pay to be my points of contact. Some of the parcels I get are questionable, to say the least. Wouldn't like to turn up asking for it and find myself staring down the business end of a Navy revolver.

What I got this time was a message from a guy called Xandian Quail. He's a whispermonger that lives over in Marklin's Reach. He says he has a proposition for me. Me in particular. A proposition that might make me very rich. And that's all the detail he gave, other than I have to be there by the end of the month. That's two weeks away. Twenty days. Can't hardly stand the suspense, to tell you the truth, Log.

Of course, you can no doubt tell by my jaunty pen-strokes that I'm kidding. This whole thing is suspicious as Pinn's imaginary girlfriend. I've sold a few titbits to Quail in the past and he always pays fair, but he's a big-money information peddler. Never been able to afford to buy anything from him.

So why me? What do I have to do with anything?

The sensible part of me is telling me to ignore it. Anything too good to be true usually is. Thing is, my sensible side doesn't have the stamina that my stupid side does. It'll be tired in a few days. I might as well give up now and say I'll be going. Just to talk. I can't think of any reason why Quail would want to kill me, but he could well be working for someone that does.

Still, though. What it'd be to be rich, eh?

I also got a message from an old acquaintance, some horrible bastard called Lawsen Macarde. He's the dominant smuggler in Scarwater these days. One of the fellers I pegged to make it to the top, so I never screwed him too badly on a deal. He's in the market for some aerium, if I can get my hands on any. I could do with some myself; we're getting a bit low. I'll maybe head over to Scarwater sometime soon, see what I can do.

Desperately trying to think of anything I've done to wrong Quail. Can't.

What's it all about?
Dyersday Firstweek, Howl's Batten, 147/32

Things have calmed down a bit lately, and I for one am happy for some peace. Seems like everyone's forgotten about the freighter debacle, anyway. I should steer clear of piracy for the time being, I reckon. Sometimes a man has to accept there are things he's not good at.

What I am good at is ripping off low-level criminals and getting away with it. See, it works like a cycle. You get a small port, middle of nowhere, sooner or later the bad men move in. They swagger about a bit, running the place down, and sooner or later they get shot by even badder men or the Coalition Navy go in there and sort 'em out. Either way, they've got short lifespans, then they're replaced and it all begins again.

Way I figure it, as long as I don't revisit any town where I've stolen from the local crime-boss for a few years, chances are he'll be gone by the time I go back. Clean sheet for me. Then I rip off the next feller. The trick is to spot the ones that have got too big for their boots, the ones who are gonna get 'emselves killed soon. Once or twice I met fellers who were just dangerous enough to make it into the big leagues. Those, I left well alone.

You might call it a bit risky, making enemies like that, but it's only because my memory is so bloody patchy that I keep on stumbling across folks that want to settle a score. I should keep a list, or something.

This one was a straight theft. I persuaded this feller to let me haul a load of rare glassware for him. Top quality stuff, which he'd no doubt robbed off someone else. We were all smiles as we loaded it on, and then we buggered off out of there, never to be seen again. Made a tidy profit selling it on the other side of Vardia. Would've made a tidier one if I hadn't smashed half of it with a slightly clumsy landing. I didn't think we came down that hard, though I suppose it did make Malvery fall down the stairs into the cargo hold. I blame my mysteriously damaged hand.

The passenger's settled in well enough. He's a bit plummy but otherwise a good sort. No idea what his deal is, and more than once I've caught him glancing over his shoulder in public places, like he thinks he's being followed. Still no sign of whoever it is, though. Malvery seems to like him. Keddle likes him as much as he ever likes anyone, the moaning little bastard. The only one Crake can't get on with is Pinn. Not that that's a bad thing. Anyone who doesn't think Pinn is an idiot is an idiot themselves. I've met smarter furniture.

Bess gave us all a shock last night. Someone tried to get into the ship. Most of us were out, and I suppose Silo and Harkins were asleep. Harkins says he got woken by this roaring noise in the hold that scared him silly. Silo went down - Harkins wouldn't, obviously - and found Bess trying to put some poor bloke's limbs and head back on, like he was a doll she was playing with. At least Silo was considerate enough to clean it all up before I got back (I wasn't back till this afternoon, by the way - entertaining a lady, if you know what I mean).

Better make sure Crake has that thing on a lead, in case she thinks about doing the same thing to us. Crake assures me she won't, but nobody's convinced.

Note to self again: Silo is still after a bunch of spares for the engines. I swear I bought some in the last port but they aren't there now. I don't know if the cat's eating them or something, but we only ever seem to have just enough to keep the Ketty Jay halfway running. Can't think where they're going but it's getting on my nerves.
Scaleday Thirdweek, Swallow's Reap, 147/32

You'll forgive me, Log, if I haven't written in you for a while. I do have a good excuse, though. My right hand has been out of operation for some time. As to how it actually happened... well... your guess is as good as mine.

We picked up the freighter. I mean, we actually did. That poor guy I beat the information out of was dead on. It came cruising over the Splinters with two piddling little Caybury Interceptors as escort. They crossed at night, following a course between the mountaintops, trying not to be noticed. Probably it's worked up till now. But we knew their route, it was a clear night and we had the moon.

Pinn came screaming out of the mountain pass and blew one of the outflyers out of the sky before they even knew what had happened. Harkins was a bit slower than Pinn - he always is, but that's still quick in most people's book. Quick enough to empty his machine-guns into the other outflyer's flank, anyway.

The freighter had some guns on it, cannons big enough to do the Ketty Jay some damage. But they were occupied with the smaller craft and they didn't see us coming up on their blind side. The bigger the craft, the easier it is to sneak up on. I raked my guns across its underside, right where the aerium tanks were. Perfect shooting, even if I do say so myself. Holed the tanks and the craft started venting aerium, faster than they could pump it back in.

The art of it is to make them leak enough but not too much. You don't want to rip the tanks apart or they'll dump all the ultralight gas and drop out of the sky. But a steady leak is like a slow puncture. They start losing altitude, and the pilot has to make a choice: set down while he still can, or crash his craft hard. Most of them choose the first option. Ours did, anyway.

Once it was down, we boarded them. They were pretty cooperative, all in all. They opened the door rather than make us blast it open with dynamite. Then we were all in there with our guns, the whole crowd control routine, everybody down, show us the stuff, etc.

But there was no stuff. See, the guy I met knew the route alright. But that shit-wit, accidentally or on purpose, had me intercept them on the return route. After they'd delivered the money. We'd boarded an empty cargo ship.

The mood soured after that.

The boys were giving me dangerous looks on the way back. I really think that we got close to mutiny that night. I don't mind admitting I got a bit worried, but then I hit on an idea. I told 'em that I'd take 'em all out on the town, and I was paying for everything. So we did. At first they were still grumbling, the ungrateful bastards, and things were nasty for a while. But then Pinn and Malvery started singing, and everyone joined in, even Crake. Soon we were all best friends, at least temporarily. Soon after, we'd forgotten who we were.

At some point in the night, long after I'd lost the capability to make sound decisions, something happened to my hand. I think I got it jammed in a door, or some fat sod stamped on it, or something. Either way, it hurt like a bitch and went sort of purply blue. Taken a week or so for the swelling to go down, but I'm pleased to report that the incident with the freighter has been all but forgotten, and all is normal again. As normal as it gets, anyway.