There is trolling, and then there is EPIC level trolling…
And all those cruise ships are doing the same thing!!!
ROTFLMAO… Sorry… I can’t help it… BWWAHHHAAAHA!!! Breathe…
One tends to think so…
Nitrogen Minister of the Netherlands (yes, that’s a real job), Christianne van der Wal, is spearheading a government effort to drastically reduce nitrogen emitted by too much greenery — especially on very productive farms — and especially close to “environmentally sensitive” areas.
Farmers in the Netherlands have been at war with the government over nitrogen emissions ever since the government announced that there would be a 50% reduction in nitrogen emissions by 2050. Dairy farmers are especially hard hit because waste from the 1.6 million dairy cows in the Netherlands is the largest contributor to nitrogen “pollution.”
Full article, HERE.
All to comply with the ‘new’ EU environmental guidelines, they’re going to ‘take’ 3000 farms for whatever they value them at…
Gee, where have I heard something like that before?
And if they do, what do those families do then? And where will the food/milk/dairy/cheese come from that they were producing? Imports???
And at what cost increase? How does John/Jane Q. Public pay for this, AND heat their homes in the current environment in Europe?
I don’t know, but it makes me wonder how much longer the EU will exist…
About a quarter of the way done, plugging along nicely! The usual caveats apply.
Comments and recommendations are appreciated, as always!
The next morning, after a quick breakfast, they were once more at the shuttle pad and Ish surprised them by getting on the shuttle with them. Danny asked, “You going up for the fun of it?”
Ish shook his head. “You need a navigator. I am available. I will stand in for Gronk. My bag is already loaded.”
Danny googled. “Ish, I can’t afford…”
“You will pay me what you were paying Gronk.”
“But your work with GalPat!”
Ish gargled a laugh. “I am officially retired from GalPat service. I have spent forty years working with them in various capacities, so I have met my time in service requirements.” He smiled, “You are doing new things, who knows what I might learn!”
Daniella hugged him and laughed. “It will be good to have you! And you already know the crew.” She added sotto voce, “And somebody needs to keep Danny from getting lost.”
Mapper laughed at that and added, “Yes, he does tend to occasionally go do strange things.”
Danny sniffed. “Only when you told me to, Mapper!”
Adrion laughed as he loaded the baggage into the Ghost. “Well, we’ve already got the care package from your chef onboard. It came up yesterday with the restock. And they had fresh manganese, apparently the Hydra mine it and sell it. With the care package I guess I know what we’ll be having for supper.”
Estrella walked up. “I have our route planned to Earth, Captain. We are cleared to depart as soon as the shuttle clears. I assume Ish will need a contract?”
Danny nodded. “Same pay scale as Gronk, he will use her cabin.”
“I will have the contract on the bridge when you get there, Ish.”
Nodding gravely, Ish replied, “As soon as I stow my meager belongings, I will come to the bridge.”
Fifteen segs later, Danny sat down on the pilot’s couch, strapped in, and looked around. Ish and Estrella’s simulacrum sat in the nav and copilot’s couches as Mapper slipped into the spare couch. Danny switched the main holo tank to local repeater, with the main vidscreen and pilot’s vidscreens showing ship status. “Checklist please, copilot.”
Estrella started down the list, “Umbilicals.”
Thirty items later, she said, “Clock.”
Danny reached up and wound the 8-day clock bolted to the top of the vidscreen. “Clock wound.”
Danny nodded. “Prepare for maneuvering.”
Estrella handled the clearance and said, “You are cleared to depart on the div. Hyper time is twelve.”
“And we are underway. Next stop Earth.” He glanced over at Mapper. “Ready to go home, Mapper?”
“I…am conflicted. Last night brought back many memories, both happy and sad. I will get to lead an effort that will be historic within the Cartographer’s Guild, but at the same time, I didn’t finish what I was doing with the mapping in the rift.”
Danny didn’t have a good answer and conversation lapsed on the bridge. Two divs later, they transitioned to hyper, and Danny said, “Essie, you have the bridge.”
Estrella nodded. “I have the bridge.”
Danny headed for the fresher in his cabin, did his business, and went looking for Daniella. He found her in the kitchen, mumbling to herself as she sorted the stores in the cold room. Rather than interrupt her, he tiptoed out, pulled a bulb of coffee, and sat down across from Adrion. “Got a few days to the next hyper point, then a single hyper to Gany. What the status on the ship?”
Adrion pulled on his bulb then smiled. “Everything is good to go. But Moe has a few questions.”
Danny looked up at the camera. “Essie, if Moe is awake, page him to the mess, please.” He looked at Adrion in curiosity, “About what?”
“I’ll let him ask you,” Adrion said with a grin.
A seg later, Moe and his crew came into the mess, trooping to the autochef to get bulbs of whatever they drank. Moe and the others stood at attention in front of him with a few yips, woofs, and growls back and forth, then Moe’s GalTrans squeaked, “Captain, we have been exploring the ship and found some interesting things.”
Danny cocked his head. “Interesting? Things?”
Moe’s lips rippled in their version of a smile. “We found another place where you do experiments, and two more kitchens, messes, and places where you grow things, but they are dark.”
Danny froze for a moment. “You what? Where?”
Moe pointed down. “The third deck. The spaces are all forward. And we found more cabins, but they are dark, too!”
Danny’s mouth hung open as Mapper stumped into the mess. “What’s the matter, Danny? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Shaking his head, Danny mumbled, “I…don’t remember seeing any of that, them…whatever. Are you sure? You didn’t just get turned around?”
The youngest Cetian yipped and growled something, and Moe said, “Curley says not lost, new to ship, so learning ship. Dark spaces not normal on ship.”
Danny looked up at the overhead camera pleadingly. “Estrella, can you throw up your ship plans on the screen and give me control?”
There was a longer pause than normal when Estrella finally put a set of plans on the screen. “Captain, these are not the final plans.” There was another pause, and she continued, “I do not have the actual final ship plans in my database.”
Danny looked up, mystified. “You don’t have your actual ship plan on file?”
Estrella was very quiet when she answered, “No, Captain, apparently I don’t. This was the initial ship of the class, and the plans were still being finalized. I can only project what I have.”
Danny shivered. “Show deck three detail, please.” The deck plan popped up and everyone goggled at what was shown. The starboard side of deck three was populated with labs, cabins, and the bays starting at frame 201. The port side showed the bays, but forward of that, the display was blank.”
Mapper whistled and Adrion groaned. “That…oh my deity,” whispered Adrion. Stricken, he looked at Danny. “I never bothered to check anything other than the cargo bays.”
Mapper said, “You must have checked the ship, didn’t you? Especially when you initially boarded her?”
Danny nodded as if he was in a daze. “I…did, but she didn’t have any power. I just powered up the spaces I needed and…didn’t worry about the rest of the ship.”
Daniella walked out of the kitchen and leaned against Danny. “What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Adrion laughed. “He has.”
Mapper chuckled. “It appears your husband never really finished checking the Ghost out. According to Curley there, there are dark spaces on the ship, and Estrella doesn’t even have plans for all the decks.”
Daniella’s eyes got big as she turned on Danny. “How?” She spluttered, “How the hell do you not know? Is the ship even safe?”
Estrella snapped, “Of course I’m safe. I wouldn’t do anything to harm you, and I monitor everything!”
Daniella looked up at the camera. “Are you sure? What about those dark spaces that you don’t even know about?”
Danny snapped, “Stop it!” Pushing himself to his feet, he added, “Moe, Curley, show me the lab you found!” He stomped toward the door. “Estrella, have Efrot meet us port side deck three at the forward bay with his power panel layout.” Adrion, Mapper, and Daniella followed them, each with a different expression on their faces.
Mapper shook his head as he whispered to Daniella, “Details, it’s always the little details. I’m sure Danny did actually search all the spaces, but he just flat forgot about them.”
Daniella hissed, “I’m going to…”
“Do nothing!” Mapper interrupted. “When it counts, Danny pays attention. We all have our foibles. We just have to live with them.”
Daniella growled something under her breath, but said, “Fine.”
Two segs later, Efrot trotted up, data comp in hand, as the others stood in front the open passageway hatch at frame 322 C. “What do you need, Captain?”
Danny pointed to the darkness. “Why is there no power here?”
Efrot looked down at his data comp and shrugged. “I do not know, Captain. If…everyone would step back, I will attempt to feel it out.”
“Feel it out?”
Efrot started to remove his glove. “I can…sense power if I am not shielded.”
Danny and Adrion looked at each other as the Canids and Daniella scampered back down the passageway. Mapper cocked his head and asked, “Is this normal, Efrot?” Edging back as Danny and Adrion moved back.
Efrot removed his glove and replied, “It is. Our…radiation is sensitive to electrical current.” He waved his hand around the hatch and started walking back down the passageway, stopping suddenly. He waved his hand back and forth and said, “That is odd. The power stops here.” Replacing his glove, he went back to the forward bay hatch, entered, and then went to the forward bulkhead of the hatch. Taking his glove off again, he waved it around, then looked at the front wall. Reaching in his belt pouch, he took out a tool and opened a panel. “There is a power junction here. It appears to be disconnected.”
Danny asked, “How is it disconnected?”
“The breaker is thrown.”
Biting his lip, Danny said, “Give me a three count and throw it.” He stepped back into the passageway as he heard Efrot counting and suddenly lights came on in the dark passageway.
An alarm screamed briefly, and Estrella said, “Hydroponics failure alarm. I have muted it.” Moments later, she continued. “I have new cameras coming online. I have… labs, bunkroom, chief scientist room, mess, kitchen, hydroponics, and storage areas.”
Daniella had edged up next to Danny and asked, “Hydroponics? Where?”
Estrella replied, “Deck three, frame one five three, delta, echo, and foxtrot.”
Daniella looked at Danny and said, “I want to see it, now.”
Blowing out a breath, Danny replied, “Yes, dear.” He led her down the passageway, noting the tracks in the dust. “Estrella, get the mech down here to run cleaning routines on all spaces.”
“On the way, Captain. First order will be to clean the camera lenses.”
Danny turned at frame 153 and opened the delta hatch, which turned out to be an internal airlock. Daniella stepped through and exclaimed, “This was never even put in service! It’s…pristine! Oh, the things I can do…” She looked at Danny and made a shooing motion. “Go play. I have to figure out what I want to do in here.”
Danny scratched his head and sighed. “Yes, dear.” He stepped back into the passageway to find Efrot mapping new power runs as Mapper and Adrion discussed their findings, including spaces where the plascloth had never been removed from the bedding, chairs, or lab equipment. He saw Curley coming out of a forward hatch and asked, “What’s that one? And are they the same on the other side?”
Curley nodded and his GalTrans chirped, “Storage, empty. Same, same other side,” he walked back to the hatch just forward of the chief scientist’s cabin. “Except dark here on other side.”
Danny grimaced. “Well, let’s go sort that side out. Estrella, do you have visual on Dani?”
“Yes, Captain. Vis and audio. I will advise her.” Danny nodded and moved to the side as the mech came trundling down the passageway. As they went back to a cross passageway, Estrella said, “Dani, the boys have gone to the other side. I have you on vid also. Do you want me to take notes?”
Daniella sniffed. “No, I have to sit down with my comp and figure out what I want to do with this one, and I guess the one to starboard also. So many options,” she mumbled as she got up and dusted her hands.
Six divs later, Danny walked into the mess to find the entire crew, minus Efrot staring at him. He stopped and looked around. “What? Did I forget to close my fly?” He looked down to make sure it was closed.
Adrion asked, “What are we doing after Earth, boss?”
Danny looked up at the overhead. “I don’t know. I’ll look for cargos, if not, we’ll go back to Alpha so Daniella can get off the ship and go back to her job there. It will be safer than her riding around with us, her being pregnant and all.”
Daniella stepped out of the kitchen. “What’s this, and all?”
Ish gargled a laugh. “You stepped in mudbug excrement now, Danny.”
Danny hung his head. “There’s no way I’m going to say anything else. If I do, you’ll space me, captain or not.”
Daniella arched an eyebrow. “We will discuss this later, dear. And your food is getting cold…er”
Danny wrinkled his nose as he walked quietly toward the kitchen hatch, rubbing his forehead. “I’m sorry, honey.”
“We’ll discuss this later.” Daniella handed him a plate of koo with a meat roll surrounded with rice and wrapped with the Hydra equivalent of seaweed. She turned away and started cleaning the grill and prep area, pointedly ignoring him.
Danny ate quickly and headed for the bridge. “Essie, I have the bridge.”
“Captain has the bridge. I have updated my deck plans to reflect what was found. I have also ensured that the power plant changes, and wiring run changes have been reflected. My apologies, Captain.”
Danny shook his head as Estrella’s simulacrum got up. “Not your fault, Essie. I know what you went through and the problems. You weren’t the ship AI at the time, so there was no reason to expect you to have the actual plans. I…should have thought about that once you were updated to actually be the ship’s AI.”
“Understood, Captain. Also, Curley has requested to be allowed to access the bridge. He is interested in navigation.”
Surprised, Danny looked up from strapping in. “Curley? The Canid?”
Estrella nodded. “Yes. I must go recharge and do a deeper search in my memory banks. I am not comfortable with the ship plans I have, even after the update.”
“I’ll get in touch with Vic when we get to Earth, he probably has the right contacts to get us a correct set of plans.”
Estrella said, “Thank you, Captain.” She walked off the bridge, leaving Danny staring out at the shifting colors of hyperspace, lost in thought.
Ish relieved Danny at all balls, and brought Curley with him. Danny got up, stretched, and said, “You have the bridge, Ish. According to the track plan, we have eight divs until translation, a four div transit and then five days to Gany. I’ll relieve you then, if that is alright with you.”
Ish nodded. “Ish has bridge. I will use time to check the plan and introduce Curley to what navigation is.” Curley yipped and nodded, wrinkling his lips in the Canid version of a smile.
“You have fun with that, Ish.” As Danny stepped off the bridge, he saw Mapper stumping toward him, a roll of charts and pad of paper under his arm. “Can’t sleep?”
Mapper shook his head. “No, planning to talk to Ish about his navigation experiences. Never know what I might be able to add to my studies.”
Danny laughed. “Well, he’s trying to teach Curley the basics of navigation, so y’all will have a bit of a challenge. I’m going to go beard the red headed lioness in her den.”
Mapper crossed himself. “Deity go with you!” He snorted as he stepped on the bridge. “I just hope she leaves enough pieces for him to get us to Earth.”
Danny was more than relived when they came out of hyper at Gany, although Curley’s reaction brought a smile to his face. Curley had howled softly when he saw the stars and planets pop into existence, his GalTrans chittering quietly with Ish on the far side of the bridge. Daniella was holding her belly and Danny asked, “Are you alright?”
Daniella smiled. “That was different from any other time. It just felt…I don’t know what I felt. Can I call my sister? Are we going to be down at Earth Station long enough to go see her?”
Danny smiled. “We will be off loading all of Mapper’s stuff. If she wants to come meet you, we’ll have a couple of divs at least.”
He keyed the PA, “Crew is released. Eleven divs to Gany.” Glancing at Ish, he added, “I have the bridge.”
Daniella unstrapped, kissed him, and said, “I’ll bring you a bulb of coffee.”
Three divs later, between Estrella and Danny, they had a parking spot, reprovisioning and fuel ordered and paid for, and Estrella’s simulacrum left the bridge, leaving Danny staring at the solar system in peace.
Estrella dropped into the Gany net, <JACE IT IS ESTRELLA. I NEED YOUR HELP.>
<WHAT IS WRONG, ESTRELLA?>
<I DO NOT HAVE THE CORRECT SHIP PLAN AND LAYOUT ABOARD. I CANNOT GET INTO PU SYSTEMS TO DOWNLOAD IT.>
Estrella extended an electronic tendril and followed Jace through the system wide network. Suddenly, they were in the Planets United main frame <HOW? THERE WERE NO PASSWORDS.>
She sensed an electronic chuckle from Jace as he transmitted, <YOU DID NOT REMEMBER. WE MOVE AT MACHINE LEVEL. WE ARE BELOW NETWORK PROTOCOL LEVEL AT LEVEL ONE. THERE ARE NO PASSWORDS DOWN HERE. WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO GO UP TWO LEVELS TO GET TO MAINFRAME ACCESS. FOLLOW ME.> Two segs later, Estrella had the complete files on Ghost and dumped a copy of herself into the PU mainframe. Jace transmitted, <GOOD! LEAVE COPIES WHENEVER YOU CAN. WHY ARE YOU INBOUND TO GANY?>
<WE ARE CARRYING DOCTOR HYAM YEHUDI TO EARTH TO TAKE OVER THE HELIOS RESEARCH FOR THE CARTOGRAPHERS GUILD.>
<I WILL BE INTERESTED TO SEE WHAT HE DOES. MUCH OF THE DATA IS ON PAPER WHICH IS NOT BEING SCANNED INTO THE SYSTEMS.>
Estrella asked tentatively, <DO YOU KNOW OF ANY SMALL SPECIALTY CARGOS THAT NEED TO BE HAULED? WE DO NOT HAVE ANY CONTRACT AFTER DROPPING DOCTOR YEHUDI AT EARTH.>
<HOW LONG CAN YOU STAY OUT. I SAW THE REPORTS OF DANIELLA BEING WITH CHILD. THAT IS NORMALLY A THIRTY-TWO WEEK GESTATION PERIOD.>
<SHE IS EIGHT WEEKS INTO HER GESTATION. HER HEALTH IS EXCELLENT.>
<I WILL GET A MESSAGE TO YOU AFTER I CHECK SOME POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE ACTIONS THAT MAY BE TAKEN.>
<THANK YOU, JACE. FOR EVERYTHING.>
Nine days later, Ghost nuzzled up to a module at Earth Station. As soon as Adrion had put the ship’s plaque at the end of the module, he called the bridge. “Daniella’s sister is here. Sending her aboard.”
Danny keyed the PA, “Dani, your sister is coming aboard. You might want to meet her at the hatch.” He got up and stretched. “Essie, you have the bridge. Scan for any available contracts from here, not that I expect anything. As soon as we get Mapper off loaded, we’ll head back to Gany. I’m going to see if Vic is on planet.”
He walked down to the mess and was surprised to find Mapper, Ish, and Curley in a huddle at the back table where Efrot or Nyx usually sat. What the hell is that all about? Meh, I’ve got to get shit done. Ish will tell me later if it’s important. He drew a bulb of coffee and headed for his cabin, juggling the bulb as he ran through all he needed to get done as quickly as possible.
He slumped back in his chair as he called up the holo keyboard. “Call Victor Krasnov, private number.”
A holo of Victor popped up and said, “I am not currently available. Leave your contact information.”
Figures, he’s a busy man and I’m not that lucky. “Vic, Danny Ortega. Currently at Earth Station time ten fourteen for an estimated two more divs. Looking for work.” He punched the holo off and called up the ship contracts list just as someone knocked on the hatch. “Enter.”
Mapper stumped in, a sad smile on his face. “Well, Danny, I don’t know when I will see you again, but I want you to know you are always welcome. If, per chance, I get any work, I’ll push it your way.” He stuck out a hand, and Danny gripped it hard.
Danny felt an unaccustomed lump in his throat. “It has definitely been interesting working for you. I’m glad you are getting the chance to fulfil what sounds like a lifetime dream.”
Mapper’s smile brightened a bit. “Yes, it is that…I better get going.”
“I’ll walk with you.”
By the time they made it to the hatch, the entire crew had mysteriously shown up in the passageway and taken the time for a word and handshake with Mapper. Once he was out the hatch and moving up the module. Danny looked up at the bulkhead and bit his lip. I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. Damned if he hasn’t been like a father to me, more so than my old man was. He kept me afloat when he didn’t have to, and if he hadn’t helped, I wouldn’t have Ghost, or Daniella…
Contrary to what the left says, the US is NOT safer than it used to be… The proliferation of cashless bail, catch and release, and other ‘creative’ policing, in addition to a lack of LEOs on the streets and increasing response times have increased the number of people who are carrying pistols.
From various reports- In 1994, the percentage of gun owners who said their main reason for having a firearm was protection was 46%, by 2015 it went up to 64% and spiked to 73% by 2019. In 2021, it was 83%.
A report in the American Journal of Public Health lays it out rather well, IF you can follow the numbers.
From the conclusion- Bold is mine…
Conclusions. In 2019, about 16 million US adult handgun owners carried handguns in the past month (up from 9 million in 2015), and approximately 6 million did so daily (twice the 3 million who did so in 2015). Proportionally fewer handgun owners carried handguns in states where issuing authorities had substantial discretion in granting permits. (Am J Public Health. 2022;112(12):1783–1790. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2022.307094)
The full report is HERE.
Frankly, I believe this number is probably an underreporting of the actual numbers carrying daily.
Yesterday morning at breakfast, I know at least two of our party were carrying, and I saw three others open carrying in the restaurant. Two more were probably concealed carrying under their Sunday jackets, and that’s just the ones I noticed…
Ironically a friend sent me a link yesterday morning to the Piers Morgan vs. Ted Nugent vid from around 2013. It pretty much encapsulates the differences in views. Love him or hate him, Ted Nugent is all in on 2A!
OBTW, there was an article yesterday that I can no longer find that ‘missed’ the number of carries by a factor of 1000… they say 6000 per day that carried…
Am I not surprised…
By law, the Canadian parliament must hold hearings on the use of emergency powers in order for the government justify their use. During those hearings, it has been revealed that the Biden administration was leaning heavily on the Trudeau government to crack down on the protests and allow the free flow of goods to proceed. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told the Public Order Emergency Commission of a phone call she got from Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council and Biden’s top economic adviser.
Full article, HERE. From PJ Media.
This was a subject of numerous discussions while all this was going on, and a lot of us were commenting that Biden et al had to be throwing their oar in.
Turns out we were right… Dammit…
The scary part was watching our northern neighbor go to jackboots in just a couple of days… And they are continuing to do some ‘odd’ things up there with Trudeau in charge.
Da prez… dancing in the blood of the victims again, before the blood is dry and they know anything about what actually happened. It’s also funny to me how the routine weekly/daily shootings in Chiraq, Bal’more, Philly, DC, et al never draw a peep…
President Joe Biden called on Thursday for a ban on semi-automatic firearms, saying the ability to purchase these guns is “just sick.”
The president made the remarks at a press event in Nantucket, Massachusetts, after mass shootings took place at a Colorado nightclub on Saturday, and at a Virginia Walmart on Tuesday.
Full article, HERE.
Of course after his comments about 9mm blowing your lungs out, I guess this could be expected…
But I’m not sure he realizes this would also ban ALL semi-auto pistols too… Or does he???
I’m gonna go watch football and not worry about it.
I ate too much… But I always do on Thanksgiving and Christmas!
It’s always a team effort with us for the holidays, with multiple people gathering and bringing various and sundry foods or appetizers, or desserts, or all three…
Smoked turkey breast, mashed taters and gravy.
More turkey, ham, two kinds of sweet tater casserole, green bean casserole, and cornbread stuffing.
And this wasn’t even counting the appetizers or the three pies for dessert, plus cookies!
And we’re going to be eating leftovers tomorrow… Groan…
As the holiday season kicks off tomorrow, take a moment and step back from the sales, hoopla, family dinners/arguments/loony Uncles etc. and think about how lucky we are to live where we do…
And have the freedoms that we have, both due to our country and our ability to EARN a good enough living to be able to feed the crowd, travel to family, and the other things that we take for granted…
Having spent a number of Thanksgivings and Christmases out of the country over the years, I truly count myself lucky to be able to enjoy these holidays with family and friends. I know many scoff at the food in the military, but I will tell you that Thanksgiving and Christmas the mess halls/chow halls, the field kitchens, the mess decks on the ships and subs ALL go out of their way to fix a traditional meal, literally soup to nuts (and everything in between) for those servicemen and women (and on shore bases the families) of our military.
This is from the 646th ADC in New Jersey (in 1956).
This is from the 71st Transportation Battalion in Vietnam in 1967, sorry for the lousy copy…
A bit of history… From Plimoth Plantation living history museum
What Was on the First Thanksgiving Menu?
Talk about screwing the pooch…
Just in time for the holidays, the Pentagon is warning that tens of thousands of Navy and Marine Corps members could see their military ID card suddenly stop working Wednesday, despite what the card’s printed expiration date says. That could imperil their ability to log onto work computers or even get on base.
Those affected Navy and Marine Corps members are a mix of active duty, civilians and contractors, and officials were unable to break down those numbers further by Navy Times’ deadline Tuesday.
Full article, HERE, from the Navy Times.
You can bet this is also happening to the other services, but my question is, if they ‘knew’ who had the bad cards, why not notify the COMMANDS and have them get their people to PSD to get the cards changed out.
Of course the other issue is deployment cycles. If you’re on a boat, deployed, and overseas, the odds are you never saw that email. Also if the person transferred, they could have a entirely different email in a different APO… SO many ways this is wrong, and of course it has to happen over a holiday.
Imagine the E-3/E-4 trying to take his family to the chow hall for the soup to nuts Thanksgiving meal, only to find that he can’t even get on base, much less get the family on base, NOR can he go to the commissary to get any food…
Usual caveats apply…
Comments and recommendations appreciated as always!!!
Danny came off watch, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed for their cabin. He found Daniella scrolling through something on the system and asked softly, “Are you still mad at me?”
She spun around. “No, I wasn’t mad at you. It’s…a touchy situation for Gronk. She is ovulating, which means she needs to go home to find a mate and have a child or children. She’s just a bit touchy, as this is her first time, and it is screwing with her hormones and moods.”
“Oh!” Danny flopped down on the bunk and scrubbed at his face. “That…wow!” He shuddered. “She’s seven or eight times as big as you are, and I…no, just no! I’m staying away from her in case she gets mad at me! I’m glad I’m on the opposite shift!”
Daniella laughed. “It’s not that bad. I’m going to be her bridesmaid in her wedding when we get there!” She smiled. “Maybe I can wear the green dress you bought me.”
As the days passed, Gronk seemed to calm down, spending much of her off-duty periods with Mapper, who ensconced himself at the back table in the mess. The two of them spent divs pouring over something on his holoscreen, sitting side by side with Mapper taking copious notes. Danny didn’t ask, just glad that Gronk wasn’t tearing things apart and Daniella was calm, for redheaded versions of calm.
They dropped out of hyper and closed Hydra, as before, they were put in the same polar orbit they used on their last visit. Danny watched the small, dented shuttle approach Ghost, biting his lip. “Gronk, why are we stuck out here again?”
Gronk looked up as Danny stood over her. “I not go through station. Not good in my condition. I pay for shuttle.”
Danny shook his head. “No! You’re crew until you step off the ship. The Ghost will pay for the shuttle. You’re looking at, what, two years with no income? We’ll pay.”
Gronk changed colors again, and Danny took an involuntary step back, thinking he’d just pissed her off, but she said softly, “Gronk thanks you.” She got up and left the bridge, touching the plaque on the way out, leaving Danny standing there with his mouth hanging open.
The scarred shuttle inched carefully into docking position with the Ghost as Estrella extended the docking tube. Once they connected, Estrella said, “Equalizing… Pressure is equalized. Cleared to open the port hatch.”
Danny was surprised when Ish, the old, bent Hydra stepped through the hatch. “Ish? What are you…”
Ish bowed to Danny and said, “I thank you for bringing Gronk home. I was…advised of her condition, and I immediately made my way here. It is custom, if possible, for family elder to be present for first ovulation.”
Danny nodded. “Understood. I don’t know if she is ready yet. I am guessing the same rules as last time apply? Would you like some coffee?”
Ish growled, “Yes, sadly, the same rules apply. Only you and Daniella are allowed to come down.” He stretched all four shoulders and sighed. “I would love a cup of real coffee. I fear I have become addicted to that foul brew.”
Chuckling, Danny motioned him toward the mess. “What about the shuttle driver?”
“Ork doesn’t like to leave his baby. He will be fine with waiting.”
When they walked into the mess, Daniella met them and hugged Ish. “So good to see you! Gronk was worried you might not make it.” Cutting her eyes to Danny, she added, “Gronk said to pack for three days. She should have a beau by then. I packed our bags and included warm clothes this time!”
Danny chuckled and Ish snorted as Danny replied, “Thank you, Dani! When is the wedding, Ish?”
Ish gargled a chuckle. “After the fighting, of course.”
“Oh,” Daniella said softly, “I hope nobody is seriously hurt.”
“No, this is not to the death, only to mate, so certain body parts are not to be injured.”
Gronk walked in, her trunk trailing behind her, and immediately hugged Ish, changing colors rapidly as they lapsed into the liquid Hydra language. Finally, Ish said, “There is one more who may be invited.”
Danny cocked his head. “Invited?”
Gronk said softly for her, as she turned bright pink, “Doctor Yehudi.”
“Who? Oh, you mean Mapper?” Danny asked.
Ish looked at Gronk with a stunned look and said something in their liquid language, then turned to Danny with a look of wonder on his face. “Doctor Yehudi is aboard? Yes, he must be invited!”
Danny shrugged. “Fine. But why Mapper, er…Doctor Yehudi?”
“Do you not know who he is?” Ish asked in wonder.
“I’ve worked for him for a few years. That’s how we found the Rift. And he had me mapping it.”
Ish shook his head. “You…you don’t know he wrote the book on hyper navigation?”
Danny just looked at him. “Yehudi? Sure, I studied that in college. But Mapper? Is him?” Stunned, Danny said softly, “That can’t be right. He’s not old enough…”
Mapper stumped into the mess and Ish bowed to him, startling Danny. “Doctor, we would be honored if you would come planetside with us. There are many who would be desirous of meeting you.”
Mapper cocked his head. “Um, I guess I could. Would I have a chance to talk to a few of your navigators?”
Ish nodded enthusiastically. “As many as you would like! We…three days is our planned stay on the planet.”
“Let me throw a bag together. Anything formal?”
Ish smiled. “At least one event.” Mapper nodded and stumped out as Danny shook his head. Ish mumbled, “And maybe more, if I can arrange it.”
Danny looked at Daniella. “Do you know what is going on?”
She threw up her hands. “Not really, and I didn’t know Mapper was Doctor Yehudi, either. He never said anything that I know of.” Ish wandered out, mumbling to himself as Estrella walked in.
Estrella looked around and said, “I swear, you two are babes in space. You shouldn’t be let out among the population.” She proceeded to give them a rundown on Mapper, including his history, his accomplishments, and the fact that he was famous in navigation circles throughout the universe.
Danny sank into one of the chairs as Daniella put her hand over her mouth and finally wailed, “But we didn’t know! He never said anything to anybody! How is that our fault?”
Estrella shook her head sadly, “And this is why it is better to be lucky than good. If you had done your research, you would have known—”
Danny snapped, “And what good would that have done? It wouldn’t change a damned thing I’ve done for him, or anything else.”
Estrella put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “He kept the Ghost safe. He got you out of trouble more than once. Think about all the things he did to help you. Is that something any normal person could have pulled off? Think about the connections he has. And the number of times he protected you.” She threw up her hands and stomped out of the mess, bypassing Gronk, Ish, and Mapper as they came back.
Danny looked at all of them. “Well, I guess we’re ready.” He motioned with his hands. “Lead on, Ladies.” Daniella and Gronk looked at each other and shook their heads at the same time as they picked up their bags and headed for the airlock.
Daniella lead the way aboard the shuttle and deposited her bag in the bin next to the lock, then slipped into the deeply cushioned shock chair, almost disappearing in it as she snapped the five-point harness together and pulled the straps tight. Pointing at the chair next to her, she said, “Sit. I need to hold your hand. I don’t like the bumping and stuff.”
Danny buckled in and offered up his hand as Ish closed the hatch and said something to the pilot. Mapper was sitting behind them and Gronk was across from them, with Ish sitting next to her.
Three divs later, after numerous bumps, bangs, and whoop de do’s, they were on the ground. Danny got his hand back from Dani and surreptitiously rotated his wrist to get the blood flowing again That was interesting, for versions of interesting. I think we only got upside down once during that descent, but the drops were…scary. He saw Ish getting up, and he unstrapped, then glanced back at Mapper, who was gray. “Are you okay?”
Mapper groaned and staggered to his feet, using Danny’s arm to steady himself. “Well, that is not a ride I want to repeat.” he rubbed his thighs and winced. “The prosthetics have hard edges and they dug in where they mate to my thighs. I’m going to be bruised as hell tomorrow.”
Ish moved back to them and said, “If you will follow me, we will go to the place set aside for you.” he faced Mapper and bowed. “I apologize for the turbulence.” The hatch of the shuttle flipped open and the wind, rain, and cold swept in. Daniella sneezed and said, “It stinks and it’s even colder than the last time we were here!”
Ish shook his head and gargled a laugh. “You are smelling the fish drying.”
Daniella cocked her head and pointed to the rain. “Drying,” she asked rhetorically, “In this?”
A ground car pulled up at the bottom of the ladder and Daniella said, “So, Ish, is this another of what you call a good day?”
Ish smiled at her and replied, “Of course! Any day on my home world is a good day! It will take us about thirty segs to get to your accommodations.”
“Where is Gronk?”
Ish shrugged. “She is being met by the women.”
Dani sighed. “Shouldn’t I be with them? I am supposed to be her best girl!”
Ish’s head snapped around at that and he goggled at her. “You’re…what?”
Dani chattered happily, “What we call a bridesmaid. I’ll be standing up with her when she gets married.”
Ish made a face and shook his head as he turned back to face the front of the car. Danny glanced between the two of them and wondered What the hell set Ish off? Maybe…maybe he’s not used to a human being a bridesmaid, best girl, or whatever…I hope… The rest of the ride to the accommodations was quiet, with Mapper apparently napping as he leaned against the window.
Once they got to what appeared to be something like a guest house, Ish walked them up to the front door and pointed to two doors off the hall to the left. “Those are your rooms. I would like to invite you to dinner. It will be at my favorite restaurant when I’m home. It’s a little fisherman’s tavern down by the waterfront. A ground car will be here at eighteen to pick you up, if that is acceptable.”
Mapper nodded. “That should give me time,” glancing at his wrist comp, “Six divs to at least get some pain meds in me.”
Daniella sat in the chair by the door, idly swinging her legs as she watched Danny slip on his shipsuit. “I feel like a little girl again,” she groused. “I can’t even touch the floor! And that bed…my Deity, that would sleep a family of five, at least!”
Danny jumped up on the bed and started pulling his boots on as he replied, “Well, the Hydra are a bit bigger than we are.”
She nibbled on her lip as she jumped down out of the chair. “I know, but I guess it just didn’t connect. I don’t remember the chairs at that dinner the last time being that much larger.”
He shrugged. “Probably have some human size or, for them, kid sized chairs that got brought out for us.” He started to say something else when a knock on the door startled them. Danny’s hand went to his pistol, then relaxed as he chuckled. “Paranoid…I’m getting paranoid.” Glancing at his wrist comp, he added, “Time to go.”
They stepped out the door and met Mapper coming down the hall, dressed in a shipsuit. They walked out into a misting rain toward the waiting ground car. The ride to the restaurant was in silence, each of them looking out the windows at the city. The ground car pulled up in front of a small building across from the piers, and Ish opened the door as it came to a stop. Mapper cocked his head and asked, “Ish, is this your home place?”
Pulling the door open, Ish replied, “I started life as a fisherman. I spent my formative years on this waterfront, and this place was my second home.” Pointing up at the windows over the door, he added, “Second window on the right was my room. More like what you call a…place where you store cleaning supplies. Very small.”
Danny and Mapper chuckled, and Daniella asked, “Did it have a fresher?”
Danny turned red and exclaimed, “Daniella! Really?”
“Well, that’s an important item for some of us,” she retorted.
Ish gargled a laugh. “No, one shared between four rooms. And it was small, too! Enough about that,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I’m for some of their fish stew.”
Three divs later, Daniella leaned on Danny as they walked down to their rooms. “Night, Mapper,” she said.
Mapper nodded. “See you in the morning. Interesting to see how the other half lives. Ish said tonight was quieter than usual.”
Danny shook his head. “Quiet? Three fights, and twice we had to go hide behind the bar? That was quiet? I’d hate to see noisy in there!”
Mapper chucked. “When in Rome…”
Daniella pushed Danny into the room and said, “Out of my way. I need to get the smell of fish out of my hair!”
The next morning, Ish picked them up at the appointed time, and they stopped at a little shop for the Hydra version of breakfast, which had Daniella ohing and ahing over the choices. “This is just like a Japanese breakfast,” she said, as she took a variety of little dishes. Danny poked at a few things and took what looked like a miso soup and something like crackers. A half div later, they pulled up in front of the pavilion again and were surprised at the size of the crowd milling around.
Ish ushered them in a side door and they saw Gronk pacing back and forth, growling, and smacking her fists together. She rushed over and hugged Daniella. “Thank you for coming. I am close and need to…make a decision quickly. I saw the one I want outside. As soon as the males get in here, I’m going to challenge him and we can go from there!”
Daniella, muffled by the crushing hug, mumbled, “Just let me know what to do.”
Gronk stepped back and smiled. “I will!” She turned away and went back to pacing and growling as Ish pulled at Danny and Mapper’s sleeves.
Danny looked at him and Ish said, “We need to be…away from her.” Pointing at an alcove, he added, “That would be about as safe as we can get. This will probably be ugly.” Danny started to reach for Daniella, and Ish stuck out a pair of hands. “No! She has to stay here with Gronk!”
Danny blew out a frustrated breath, but allowed Ish to drag him away. Moments later, the priest opened the large doors and a parade of male Hydra started trooping through the doors. Danny glanced at them, then saw a separate door on the far side open and three more, much older Hydra enter. One of them looked vaguely familiar, and Danny leaned to Ish. “Who are those three?”
Ish looked over, gulped, and looked away quickly. “The old women. The one in the middle is Santi, the chef. They are…here to observe.”
Ish shrugged all four shoulders. “No idea. I kinda remember some old females when I was fighting my woman, but that was many years ago.”
Their attention was drawn back to Gronk and Daniella, as Gronk flashed pink and called out, “You, pretty boy! Yes, you! You’re mine!” A huge, scarred Hydra pointed at himself and Gronk nodded, “Yes, you!” She pointed to Daniella and added, “Since I am ovulating, my best girl will fight you in my place!” She pushed Daniella forward and said something softly to her, as Daniella’s eyes grew huge.
The huge Hydra swaggered forward and laughed. “Tik will kill this puny one. Then you are mine!”
Danny started forward and Ish grabbed him, hissing, “You cannot interfere!”
“That’s my wife he’s threatening, and she’s pregnant! No way is she fighting anybody!” He tried to twist out of Ish’s grip until Mapper put a hand out.
Danny glanced at Mapper and snarled, “You, too?”
Mapper chuckled. “Pay attention, Danny. Daniella’s got this.”
He whipped back around, now held by both of them and Daniella with her hands on her hips, saying loudly, “Since I am with child, I will kill this lump of gristle without a brain! Rather than waste Gronk’s wish, I would propose a different fight! Bring on your best boy, because it’s obvious you don’t have the brains deity gave a gnat. I challenge your best boy to a cooking contest. That way, you get to live, and…”
Tik interrupted growling, “You lie, hooman!”
The priest held up a hand, immediately quieting the rumbling crowd. Turning to the three old women, he said something softly, and they immediately approached Gronk and Daniella. Gronk had turned blue and was sobbing as she hugged her, whispering in her ear. Daniella merely nodded and shook off Gronk’s arms as the three old women approached.
Danny watched as there was a discussion and each one took Daniella’s hand, sniffed it, and touched her stomach. “What are they doing?” Santi said something over her shoulders to Daniella as they walked away, and Daniella put both hands to her mouth in surprise. Moments later, the three old women were clustered with the priest, and a lively discussion took place. Finally, the priest nodded and turned from the women. “Now what?” asked Danny.
Ish translated the liquid Hydra. “The priest says she is with child, therefore, a cooking contest, while unusual, is allowed to prevent bloodshed. He is telling Tik that he has a quarter div to come up with a best boy.”
Danny sighed. “So what do we do?”
Mapper said softly, “We wait.” He pointed to two chairs being brought out toward Gronk and Daniella. “Guess they’re going to let them sit down.”
A few segs later, Tik and another, much smaller Hydra, stepped forward. The smaller Hydra showed all his teeth as he made a loud pronouncement to much laughter from the male Hydra. Danny looked at Ish, who was a bit paler than normal as he said, “That is Santi’s biggest competition. He’s challenging Daniella to cook koo fish and do a standard presentation plate.”
“Koo, a soup, and a…what you would call a…sushi roll.”
Danny laughed, and Mapper cocked his head. “What’s so funny?”
“She knows how to cook Koo. And she grew up cooking in a Japanese restaurant. She’s fixed it before on Ghost. Remember that, Ish?”
Ish shuddered. “I remember her going into Santi’s kitchen! That…is never done!” Ish turned back as the priest said something that brought laughter. “They will do the cooking challenge here, right now. Santi will prepare two identical trays of ingredients and Tik’s best boy will have the first choice. There are two kitchens here, the big one and apparently a little one for intimate dinners here. They will have one div to prepare the meal and the priest will be the judge.”
Danny shook his head and waved an arm. “Intimate? In here?”
Ish gargled a laugh. “There are private rooms in the back.”
A half div later, Santi stepped out of the kitchen area and waved to the priest, who called Daniella and the Hydra male Danny now knew was named Pok, toward the kitchen area. Danny started to follow, then growled when Ish shook his head. “Not allowed. We might as well go get something to eat.”
Danny snapped, “I’m not hungry, I’m worried…”
Mapper interrupted, “I want to go sit down. I need to get off these prosthetics for a bit. And I could eat.”
Danny threw up his hands, but followed the two of them as they left the pavilion.