Ultimate underdogs???

Tiny Iceland is in the World Cup with a team that only has 11 members, all from Iceland…

Yesterday, they played Argentina to a draw!

A 1-1 draw with impressive World Cup newcomer Iceland is far from a fatal blow to Argentina’s chances of advancing from a well-balanced group that also includes Croatia and Nigeria.

Full article, HERE.

Considering the odds, and the lack of practice time the Icelanders get, this is an amazing Cinderella story. Sadly, I doubt they will advance very far, but you have to give them credit for trying and staying in the mix. Icelanders have NO give in them. Growing up there, they are stubborn as hell. Their fire department is the ONLY one in the world that has put out a volcano! If they can do that, who knows how far these guys may go?

Best of luck to them!

Bleg…

As y’all know, us authors live and die by reviews. It takes a minimum of 50 reviews for Amazon to start giving you a little free PR/recommending a book to folks.

I’m asking for help on two books.  One is TGM- Twilight. It’s sitting at 46 reviews, so I’m close.

The other is Calexit- The Anthology. It’s been stuck at 39 for a while. Folks either like it, or hate it, but it’s still selling! 😀

On a positive note, I finally got to 100 reviews on TGM-Payback!!! Yea! That will help it get even more exposure!

The rest of the books are creeping toward the 100 mark, and for that I thank you, for two reasons. One, you liked the book, and two, you were willing to take the time to give me a review!

One final thing, PLEASE give honest reviews. If you don’t like the book, tell me why. I DO listen. If you like it, I listen to those too!

Ummm… Not sure what the hell to call this…

The muse decided to hang a left, and go haring off across country the other night…

So this… whatever ‘this’ is going to be…

Danny looked up blearily from his drink as Daniella slapped a mug down in front of him, “Mapper says he needs you sober to do something for him. Said this one is on him.”

      “M’kay, whut…”

      Daniella took the fizzy green drink out of his hand, “Dunno, but what Mapper wants, Mapper gets.”

      Danny, even drunk on his ass, still had manners, so he picked up the mug, pivoted slightly, Heh, didn’t spill a drop! And raised the mug in the direction of Mapper’s table in the back of the Lounge. Whether Mapper noticed or not, Danny didn’t know, as Mapper never raised his head.

      Setting the drink back down, he cautiously sniffed it, then stuck a finger in it, not trusting the Andromedan behind the bar. His finger came out cold and wet, and didn’t fall off. Surprised Danny thought, Sumbitch tries to kill me on a routine basis, doan trust that sumbitch as far as… Ah shit… Might as well get this over with… He took a deep breath, took the mug in both hands, and slammed the drink down the hatch before he could think of a reason not to.

      He wasn’t sure whether he screamed out loud or not, but he knew he was pounding his head on the table, because the empty mug bounced off the table and shattered on the floor. He sat back, now stone cold sober, and shook his head, mumbling, “The shit I do for people…” Getting up, he walked, nay strode, Gotta keep the image up, back to Mapper’s table. “You got something for me?”

      Mapper looked him up and down, “Yeah, got a quadrant I want you to look at. Might have a gate. You stink. Go clean up. Be back here in eight divs.”

      “Where?”

      “Eight divs.” Mapper’s head went back down, and Danny was staring at the bald spot above the green eyeshade Mapper wore.

      “Right.” Danny turned wove his way through the bar, and out into the P-way, then glanced at his comp, “Where’m I parked?”

      23-W-MOD 3 popped up in the window, and he nodded. The Lounge was at 40-E-12, so it would be a bit of a hike, but he needed to walk to finish clearing his head, besides, there wasn’t a mover on this part of the station, they only ran every ten P-ways from the rim inward. 15 segs later, he cracked the hatch on Ghost, and walked into his ship. “Hi Honey, I’m home.”

      The AI replied, “I’m not Honey, I’m Estrella. Drunk again? I detect ketones. And your nourishment levels are low.”

      “I’m sober as a rock miner! I’ll grab an E-bar in seven. We have a job. Where are we on status?”

      “Reprovisioning is completed, reactor mass is green, EM engine green, Star Charts updated. Your credit balance will drop below two hundred-fifty thousand within a week, which will put your credit on hold again. You have not put your bedding through the fresher in nine days. I am running the scrubber on high to keep the ship from stinking like you do.”

      “S’a money trip. Mapper’s paying. We fly in eight divs, if you’ll let me get some sleep.” Danny walked forward to his cabin directly behind the pilot’s station and sat carefully on the mussed rack. He got one boot off, then passed out, one foot on the floor.

      Back in the Lounge, Daniella brought a fresh cup of real coffee to Mapper, and asked, “Why do you use Danny?”

      Mapper looked up at her, then waved his hands over the pieces of paper littering the table. “Do you know what cartography is?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “I’m trying to map the Rift. I’ve been working on this for over thirty years. There are so many anomalies out here, I fear I may never finish. All these are maps of various sections of the Rift. Time warps, gravity warps, Gnu knows what other kinds of warps. I’ve documented over thirty gates in there. Danny is the only one willing to go back in there time after time. And Ghost is the perfect ship for it.”

      Daniella glanced around and sat down quickly, leaning in, “But isn’t his ship haunted, for real? That’s what everybody says.”

      Mapper grinned, showing amazingly white and even teeth, “Danny found Ghost adrift four years ago in the belt, when he was working for Globus Mining. He was smart enough not to say anything until he was laid off, and rented a tug from Holcomb to go tow it in himself. Granted the AI is a little squirrely, but he’s put every penny he could into upgrades. While it’s dataplated as a DSRV four, it’s really about a DSRV eight with what he’s done. Scavenged those big engines, new control runs, new glass in the cockpit…”

      “You lost me, what’s a DSRV?”

      “Deep Space Research Vessel, They are designed for a years in space at a time, in all environments, with a crew of up to forty…”

      “But it was empty?”

      Mapper said impatiently, “No crew or researchers were found on board. Nor was there any indication that they had been aboard. No personal items, no stores, no nothing. The ship was registered out of Antares, back in twenty-eight forty-eight, and listed as missing in forty-nine. Danny found it in fifty-seven, and claimed salvage rights, as is, where is. He was smart too. He never went aboard prior to the salvage court master’s inspection and adjudication, so there was never any question of his destroying any evidence. That’s why they awarded it to him free and clear.”

      “So it’s crazy, and so is he. Sounds like a good match to me.”

      Mapper looked up, “You know, you and Danny look like…”

      Daniella threw up her hands, “I know, I know. Identical damn twins. Even our frikking names. I’m from Andromeda Colony. Danny is from the belt. He grew up on Ganymede. Can’t get much further apart.” Her voice rose, “And we are not related, in any way, shape, form, or fashion! If he was, I’d have killed him a long time ago!” With that, she got up and stomped off.

      Mapper grinned as he sipped the cooling coffee, “Ah, young love.” Returning to his precious charts, he compared numbers on his comp to his charts, moving charts in different sequences, at different angles, trying to correlate the now millions of bits of data he’d received over the years.

***

      Danny rolled over with a groan, as the lights in his cabin flashed, “I’m awake, I’m frikkin awake! Enough already!”

      Estrella replied, “Only because I can tell time, both in local and ship time. Otherwise you would be late again. Shall I have the autochef dial up your normal?”

      “Oh God, no! Just a bulb of coffee.”

      “Then you will be eating an E-rat?”

      “Okay, okay. The normal.”

      Ten segs later, Danny, freshly dressed and dipilitated, picked up the steaming meal and bulb of coffee from the autochef. Eating it standing at the counter, he realized he was hungry, and finished the meal quickly. Dumping the plate and bulb into the disposer, he said, “Prep for underway, shoot for a disconnect in two divs, standard departure to the Rift. I’ll have specifics on the actual when I get back.”

      Estrella replied, “Already done. Local operations?”

      “Local operations,” he said with a sigh. Why do I even bother. Damn AI is smarter than I am, more connected, literally, than I am, and not a failure like I am.

      15 segs later, he walked back into the Lounge, weaving through the early morning crowd, to Mapper’s table in the back. I wonder if he ever sleeps? And how did he get a light over his table? The rest of this place is dark as hell… I wonder why he keeps picking me, but he pays damn good, and he’s the most regular client I’ve got…

      Mapper looked up, “You’re early. And sober. What a refreshing change.” He picked up a bright blue data cube off the table and flipped it to Danny, “Usual encryption. One time load. Tell Estrella to do the dump as soon as you clear back into normal space. The usual fee, deposited on return.”

      Danny started to ask a question, but Mapper already had his head down, immersed in his comp and charts. Danny noticed that Mapper had funny things around the sleeves of his shirt. And that he wasn’t wearing a shipsuit like most people. Matter of fact, he’d never seen Mapper in anything but anachronistic clothing. Almost like he was from a different era.

      Danny sighed, waved to the Andromedan behind the bar, who nodded a couple of eyestalks in his direction. Going straight out to the rim, he caught a mover on W p-way, and rode it around. In the module, he made sure the area was clean and clear, and pulled down his ship tag. Stepping back aboard Ghost, he said, “Status?”

      “If you remembered the ship tag this time, we’re cleared to depart on the div. Departure corridor one to the Rift, local ops ninety-six to one hundred ninety-two divs, return will be approach corridor seven.”

      “Got the damn tag. And a cube for you to play with.”

      Estrella sing-songed, “A toy, a toy, something for me to play with, a toy!” Suddenly she switched to a little girl voice, “Can I please have a toy? I’m so lonely…” repeating over and over.

      Danny winced and headed to the cockpit. Flopping in the pilot’s couch, he pushed the cube into the slot in the instrument panel. Estrella’s voice changed once again, “Plotting.”

      Danny went back to the fresher, did his business, and got another bulb of coffee on his way forward.  Patting the dataplate as he entered the cockpit, he glanced down at his cert hanging below it with a snarl, Fucking non-augmented. Cost me a starpilot job with the major lines. That fucking twit, Shannon. ‘You’re too OLD to get augs. You can always drive tugs for a living.’ “Fuck you Shannon. I’ve got my own ship, and I’ll bet you’re still pushing trainees!     

      DANIEL JEROME ORTEGA

      MASTER PILOT (NON-AUGMENTED)                                                                           

      CLASSIFICATION- ANY SHIP, ANY TONNAGE, GALAXY

      APPROVAL- GANYMEDE GALSTA 28381229 GANYTECH EDU 28381201

      RENEWED- ALPHA STATION 28481023

     Danny sat down in the pilot’s couch, strapped in, and looked around to make sure nothing loose was going to come up and smack him in the head. “Checklist please copilot.”

      Estrella started down the list, “Umbilicals.”

      “Disconnected.”

      “Power.”

      “Internal.”

      Thirty items later, she said, “Clock.”

      Danny reached up and wound the 8 day clock bolted to the top of the instrument panel, “Clock wound.”

      “Checklist complete.”

      “Okay Essie, lets light this candle.”

      “It’s Estrella, and we don’t have a candle Daniel.”

      Danny sighed, “Prepare for maneuvering. Get us clearance to undock.”

      Estrella handled the clearance and said, “You are cleared to undock at five-seven.”

      Danny watched the sweep second hand, and as it hit the top of the clock, gently nudged the controls, starting Ghost slowly away from the docking module. “And we’re underway. Shift colors to the skull and crossbones! The Ghost is alive once again!”

***

      Six divs later, Danny stretched, “Let’em know we’re going to local ops.”

      Estrella handled it, and he asked, “Okay, what’s the plan, this time?”

      She displayed a holo of the rift, projecting various entry locations in yellow and overlaying their previous tracks in blue. Once again, where Mapper wanted them to go was a black space in the holo. “Dammit, why can’t I get one, just one of these damn trips that goes back to some place we’ve already been?”

      Danny zoomed the holo, looking at various routes, discarding one after the other, and finally settling on one that was fairly straightforward, but one that crossed two gravity warps, one that he still wasn’t sure what the hell it was, and skirted one time warp that had damn near killed him. “Shit, this is gonna hurt. And I’m gonna puke my guts out.” Unstrapping he said, “I’m going down for four. Keep us in this area, but get us lined up for an entry here.” He tapped the command code for the entry he wanted, then continued, “Blinking blue track is what I’m aiming for. Once we reach point seven, I want to stop and re-evaluate.”

      “Plotting.”

      Danny hit the fresher, evacuating his bowels, and stomach, then threw his sheets and uniform in the cleaning unit. Getting a fresh set out of the storage bin, he remade the bunk, and lay down. A half seg later, he was snoring softly.

      Four divs later, he awoke, made the bunk, and hit the fresher again. Putting on a loose fitting shipsuit, he went to the galley and had the autochef make two bulbs of electrolytic water, which he dropped in a waist pocket. He stopped into the crews mess, grabbed a sick sack, and made sure it had not expired. Stretching, he moved slowly back toward the cockpit. Stop fucking around. Get your ass back up there. It’s going to hurt, and you know it, but this is what you get paid for. Man up!

      Shaking his head, he sat back in the pilot’s couch, strapped in, and took the sick sack out of his pocket, putting it under his chest strap. “Okay Essie. Let’s do this.” He started the ship forward, gently bumping the power up until it felt right. Whatever else he was, Danny was a feel pilot. He flew by feel more than instruments, much of that coming from his years in the asteroid belt, where one flew head up and out of the cockpit if you wanted to survive.

      The first three points went fairly well, other than the time dilation around point three, and he made a mental note to move the return track further out. Point four was the first gravity warp, and he pulled the sick sack out just as the ship started bucking and screaming. He concentrated on the 8 day clock, trying anything he could to lessen the feeling of being pulled apart. His legs felt like they were being bent double, and pulled apart at the same time, as the feeling reached his midsection, he projectile puked what little he had left in his stomach, then they were through that point. Point five was pretty mild, that one just shifted light across the spectrum. Point six was another gravity warp, and he puked again, wondering if he’d find his toenails in the sick sack. At point seven, Estrella said, “Point seven. Loiter?”

      Danny wiped his mouth, “Screw it. Manual control. Let’s go see what’s out there.” He quickly squeezed one bulb of electrolytic water into his mouth, and bumped up the power. It felt like the ship was stretching, and twisting at the same time. “Huh, that’s wier…”

      Suddenly Danny felt like he was being torn apart. He’d never hurt so badly in his life and he screamed, or at least he thought he did. A seg or two later, he regained consciousness, “What the everloving son of a Venusian Sea Cow was that?”

      Estrella answered, “Data indicates a lack of light, and strong gravitational pull 237, down 56. Possible dark star, or black hole. Recommend course change 053, up 134.”

      “Make it so. Full power.”

      Danny could barely lift his arm, and managed to look at the G meter, “Five Gs? How many are we really pulling?”

      Estrella replied, “Twenty. We are making progress.”

      “Understood.”

      He concentrated on the 8 day clock, as seg after seg wound by. Finally the G forces lessened and Estrella said, “Unknown warp ahead. Sensing both gravity and radioactivity in large quantity…”

      Four divs by the 8 day clock later, Danny regained consciousness. There was light, and the ship drifted silently through a star filled expanse of space. “Where are we?”

      Estrella didn’t answer.

      “Estrella?”

      Still no answer.

      “AI, talk to me. Where are we?

      A dull male voice answered, “Unknown location.”

Thoughts? Comments?  No I wasn’t smoking anything, OR drinking either… Is this worth pursuing???

TBT…

Sigh, I like my shipmates… I really do…

But some people… One of the guys in one of my squadrons took a pic of his fish tank…

And posted it in one of the FB forums I’m on. And the guessing games began. Well, actually not guessing. The first ten answers were all correct. USSR Golf Class submarine.

And then it got nuts… Identifying ‘which’ Golf it was…

And then people started chiming in that they’d flown on that particular boat…

Does the Glomar Explorer ring a bell???

Sigh… I like my shipmates… But there are times… 🙂

‘My’ perspective…

Since this got posted over at MGC yesterday, I figured I’d stick it up here for those that don’t read that blog.

Perspective…

Watching the various meltdowns over the last couple of weeks has caused me to take a hard look at ‘my’ background and reactions to people. I’m an old white guy. I didn’t grow up rich, or even well off. My first job, after mowing yards, was literally shoveling shit in a veterinary clinic. That more than anything else told me I wanted an education. Growing up in the south in the 60s, during the Vietnam era, tended to focus one’s mind, as we monthly heard about another death of a local boy killed in Nam. I went off to college in 69, got caught up in the lottery after they dropped the 1S deferment. Ended up in the Navy. Spent 21 years there, got shot at a few times, got the crap scared out of me a few more times, buried friends quite a few times.

                Where am I going with this? Well, it’s a big part of who I am, and what I believe today. Whether you’re in 4 years or 40 years, the military changes you. You’re taught personal responsibility, teamwork, work ethic, and cooperation. In the military, skin color is NOT an issue. Male/female, or other ‘orientation’ is NOT an issue, neither is religion or lack of it. It is the person’s ability to do their job. Even more critical in aviation, where your lives literally depend on those on the airplane with you, much like the battle buddy in the foxhole, your ONLY concern is that they know what they are doing, and take personal responsibility for their own performance. Another part that plays heavily with me, is in aviation, one admits their mistakes. Honesty is necessary to keep your happy ass alive. The last thing you want is a rule named after you, because that means you did something stupid and died as a result. In a multi-place airplane, that means you took others with you.

                Do we have egos? Yes. If you’re good at what you do, you’re proud of that. You don’t necessarily flaunt it, but it comes through when dealing with people that are not professional, don’t/won’t admit their mistakes, or won’t listen to reason. The other thing that plays into our attitudes is that most of us have traveled extensively outside the US, sometimes to places where the natives do not like us, and are doing their damnest to kill us. We’ve seen the brutality and the capability of people to actually do inhumanities to man, in any number of ways. We’ve seen the repression of societies, of women (especially in the middle east), and other countries. We’ve seen the crackdowns on free speech, we’ve seen the changes in the world over the last thirty years or more. We’ve encountered good people and bad people from multiple cultures, and dealt with them appropriately. We tend to follow the world news, because we want to know what is going on (because that did impact how/when we did our jobs).

                We tend to pitch in to get things done (teamwork, remember), tend to lead by example, and don’t bitch about how bad we feel, because we know it’s not going to do any good and we don’t really want sympathy. We know others that are much worse off than we are, or died. We tend to be early, find humor in ‘strange’ places and things, and tend to like our backs to a wall, so we see what is coming at us. We’re ‘comfortable’ with who we are, and tend to gravitate to folks that we see exhibiting those same qualities.

We’re also ‘short’ with people that don’t measure up to our standards. We have better things to do with our time than waste it on them. We will go out of our way to support friends, or people we don’t even know, if they need help. We don’t ask for honors for that, and actually don’t want people to know we’ve helped out. We’re an anathema to many, especially those in education and the pundits, simply because they can’t put us in a neat little box and ignore us. We know too much, have seen too much, and done too much. We can be your best friend, or your worst enemy, and we have no problem confronting you if we have issues. That is what we were taught. That is who we are. We are proud to be Americans. That oath we took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic doesn’t have an expiration date, and only death will release us from that.

Kicking the soapbox back in the corner…

I know I reflect a lot of this in my writing, in that I don’t write ‘perfect’ characters. They make mistakes, and live with them. I also don’t write wallflowers. I know some don’t like the way I write females, basically saying they are nothing more than men with tits. Pretty much all of my characters are based on composites of real individuals that I know. And I DO wish I could shoot as well as some of the women I know!!! 🙂

Yes, I do work hard to make sure the gun stuff is correct, or possible in the MilSF series (Rimworld). I also try for believable situations in both books, that pass the ‘smell test’…

Also, a lot of credit goes to my alpha and beta readers, who point out my errors, give me honest critiques, and are not afraid to call me out when I screw up. I DO research. I have ‘driven’ the areas I talk about in the books, and in some cases have been there, boots on the ground.

Thanks again to those who’ve help me put out a better product, and to those who’ve been willing to part with hard earned dollars to buy my books.

 

In other news…

Dana Loesch pushes back against the Parkland narrative… And it makes a lot of sense, if one bothers to look beyond the sound bites and blaring headlines…

Those blaming the deadly Parkland shooting on the National Rifle Association need to take a harder look at the Broward County school superintendent and sheriff, according to NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch.

“He was sending death threats to other classmates through social media platforms which under Florida law, under the state statute, that’s a felony,” said Ms. Loesch. “But because of that Promise program which he was enrolled in, none of it was reported. It was all under the radar. He didn’t have a criminal record because [superintendent] Robert Runcie and [Sheriff] Scott Israel prevented him from having one.”

Full article, HERE. From the Washington Times. This is the stuff the MSM refuses to carry, as it goes against their ‘agenda’ for gun control. They are also NOT talking about all the money that the school district had for security upgrades, that never got done…

And this one… From ‘gun free’ Britain…

A masked gunman shoots his victim at point-blank range at dawn on a quiet residential street in the most shocking image yet from ‘Wild West Britain’.

Seconds later the gunman had fled the scene in suburban Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in a van. 

Police believe the shooting was a ‘targeted attack’ and yesterday released shocking images from a resident’s CCTV camera as they hunted the gunman.

Full article, HERE from the Daily Mail.

This is what the Dems/left want to happen here. Only the criminals will have guns. And Britain’s borders are porous as hell. Guns are freely available on the black market in Europe, and the Chunnel and ferries are lightly checked. The Brits really have no idea now many guns are actually in Britain, much less how many illegal ones come in on any given day.

Much like Australia, there is a thriving ‘trade’ in illegal weapons. A few years ago, I flew from Sydney to Perth sitting next to an ER doc who worked with the NSW police. He was telling me that over 17,000 illegal guns had been taken JUST in NSW in the previous year, including fully automatic Sten guns that were being made by a motorcycle gang in a garage!!!

 

 

Book Pimping!!!

Peter Grant, our own Bayou Renaissance Man, has the second book in his Cochrane’s Company series out!

Click on the cover to get it!!!

The blurb-

Andrew Cochrane and his mercenaries have warded off a deadly onslaught by asteroid thieves. Now they’re riding high, buying more ships and looking for more contracts.

However, the criminal Brotherhood isn’t about to accept defeat – not after Cochrane’s Company killed their Patriarch. They’re out to rebuild, rearm, and get revenge.

What started as a simple patrol job in a deserted binary star system explodes into a multi-planetary arms race, with survival on the line!

I was an alpha reader for this one, and enjoyed it! Peter expands the characters and escapades from book one in a believable fashion, with twists and turns that keep you wondering what is going to happen next! 🙂

It’s about time…

Remember this asshole from last year???

His ass is GONE! That stain has been erased from the Army rolls!!!

Recently, Spenser Rapone re-tweeted a post on Twitter which announced that he would be speaking at a socialist event in July as he was being processed out of the Army this June with an other than honorable discharge. This was likely the harshest punishment the Army could give Rapone unless they decided to charge him with something like sedition. With an other than honorable discharge, Rapone will not be entitled to VA benefits, the GI Bill, and may have difficulties in finding employment. 

From SOFREP, HERE.  They are on the blogroll, and well worth checking daily!

Rimworld snippet…

Another piece of the puzzle… As always, unedited…

Surprise

Fargo groaned as they spit out the far side of the hyper gate, Deity, I truly hate transitions. I can’t understand how people put up with this time after time. It’s like being torn apart and put back together every time… I wonder where we are, this time.

The IC came on with a pop, “Translation successful. We have a six div transit to the next gate. Passengers are free to move around for the next five divs. Clean up crew to compartment C-23-4 starboard, again.”

Fargo winced in sympathy, apparently Devi had even more problems with hyper translations that he did. He puked every time, and apparently missed the sick sack every time too. Fargo got up, stretched, popped his shoulder, and rotated it slowly. Not forty-one anymore. I know the surgery was successful, but dammit, it still hurts when the weather changes, or I do shit like this. He dilated the hatch and headed for the mess, glancing at his wrist comp to see if it was lunch yet.

Nicole pushed him in the back, and he jumped. “Hurry up. I need coffee.” He stopped and turned, pulling her into his arms. He kissed her, and she pushed him away. “Coffee, not kisses. Cofffeeee,” she caroled.

Fargo laughed, “Okay, okay, coffee.”

Evie chuckled, “I saw that PDA, Captain,” as she stalked down the passageway. “The captain would like to see you at your convenience.”

“Okay, let me get some coffee in me first.”

Evie nodded, “I will pass that along.”

After getting their coffee bulbs, Fargo and Nicole sat at one of the tables, “So, how’s the AAR coming,” Fargo asked.

“Almost completed. We’ve documented the actions, both at feeder three and feeder four, including videos, interviews, and diaries from the duty folks. We’re still working on the ambush of Lev and Shanni. The videos from GalPat’s surveillance cameras aren’t the best, and it was a block from the nearest one. At least they took out most of the attackers before that one asshole shot them in the back.”

Fargo’s face darkened, “And Jiri is still mad that I wouldn’t let them go hunting. I know their culture is pretty strict on retribution, but I had to bow to GalPat on that one. At least GalPat caught him, but they keep postponing the trial.”

“Shouldn’t have been a trial. He should have been shot. He admitted, hell, even bragged about it, when they arrested him!”

“I agree…” Suddenly the IC popped on, the lights flashed red then back to white. A two toned siren sounded, “General Quarters. Prepare for maneuvering. All passengers return to your cabins. Captain Fargo to the bridge, please.” It repeated twice more, but Fargo was already running for the bridge, as Nicole sprinted for her cabin, the two coffee bulbs left on the table in their haste.

As Fargo slid through the hatch, Captain Jace turned to him, “Seat please, Captain. We have a situation.”

Fargo slipped into the captain’s chair as the hatch closed and he felt his ears pop as the positive pressure system came on, “What kind of situation?”

“There is a beacon from a shuttle, pinging in free space and drifting toward the jump point. There is also a target attempting to hide behind the fourth planet. Analysis shows it to be the Ex-Ganymede, which was sent to the breakers in 2816. There is also a distant track, heading for the local sun, that appears to be a dead ship.”

“What is here? Wherever here is. Didn’t we go through this before with a phantom ship?”

“Nothing here, and yes, we did. It’s simply an intersection between two jump points. There was a habitable planet here many years ago, but was destroyed during a battle between GalPat and the Dragoons in the first war, by a planet buster. We are on a ballistic approach to the shuttle and see if there is anyone alive.”

“Ballistic approach?”

“Simply, we are coasting for about another thirty segs. We have not powered up since we dropped into the system.”

“What do you intend to do with the shuttle?”

“Depends on what we find. If there is anyone alive, rescue them. If not, salvage if possible. If not, vector to the sun for destruction.”

“Vector to the sun?”

“The shuttle is a hazard to navigation. It’s not noted on any star charts, and it could merge with a ship at the hyper point, which would not be good. Therefore, we toss it to the sun. That way it’s out of the way.”

“So why the GQ? And why Fleet tones?”

Jace grinned, “Why not. It’s something everyone on here is familiar with. As far as why GQ, we don’t know what the destroyer is going to do, if anything. But if people are strapped in, I can maneuver up to the human limits without risking killing someone for being out of position.”

“Human limits?”

“We can pull thirty Gs, but humans can only stand twelve to fifteen. The IGPs can offset all G forces up to fifteen, but beyond that, it’s a one for one. In other words, at twenty Gs, you would feel five Gs. Link with the ship, please.”

Fargo pulled his hands out of his lap and placed them on the armrests, and felt the tingle and ping as the ship interfaced with his neural lace. Data started flowing faster than he could functionally review it, and he had to remember the technique Jace had taught him to allow his mind to catch up. He also realized he was seeing all the inputs from the various sensors, including tracks, merge points, and the ranges to the shuttle, the destroyer, its estimated pop-up position, and a countdown clock until that pop up point was reached. All of the planets in the system, their tracks and the jump points were also displaying.

Fargo glanced at the screens and realized that they had flipped and were now showing the combat screens, as he thought of them. “Are you going to hail the shuttle?”

“Once we put it on the starboard side. With a tight beam, that points away from where the destroyer is. No need to let them have any warning.”

Fargo wondered where they could put the shuttle, if they brought it aboard, and he called up the ship’s schematic while they waited to close. There was another entire shuttle bay that he hadn’t known existed, aft of the forward bay. Nosing around the schematic, he saw another set of bays on the port side, with the aft one a much smaller bay. Just as he started to ask, the ship’s radio came on, “Unknown shuttle. Unknown shuttle. Ship Hyderabad hailing on Galactic distress. Is there…”

A female voice answered, “Oh my God. Yes, yes!” She screamed, “We’re alive! We need rescue.”

“How many souls and origin?”

“Four. Three human, one Dragoon. And one Dragoon casualty.”

Jace looked at Fargo, who shrugged. Jace nodded, “Per Galactic law, we are required to save them, regardless of origin. Will this be a problem?”

Fargo shook his head, as the relevant portion of the law popped up on the screen, “No. Touchy, but we’ll do it.”

“Shuttle, are you able to transfer?”

The female voice, much more calm replied, “Negative. Only one suit. We are the only survivors of Star Lines ship that was blown up by unknown parties when we transitioned.”

A male voice broke in, “Hyderabad, Spacer two Lherson, I have twenty segs of fuel left. I flew scooters in GalPat, but not shuttles. Also, I blew emergency disconnects to get us out of the ship.”

Captain Jace arched an eyebrow, and Fargo saw the starboard aft bay door cycle open. “Standby, we will tractor you into the bay. Please strap into couches at this time. We are one thousand yards aft and closing.”

“Now,” the female voice asked.

“Yes, now. We will pick you up as quickly as possible.”

Fargo glanced at the destroyer track and timer, noting it was at 30 seconds and counting. “What about…”

Jace’s grin was feral, “We’re hot. Both lasers are deployed, counter battery missiles are tracking, and we have good ranging to the target exposure point. If they fire, they will die. We may, or may not.”

Fargo shook his head as he watched the screens.  So fucking glad I went troop. At least I wouldn’t have to wait to die, and see it coming. Spacers are bat crazy…

A disembodied voice that he thought of as voice one said, “Missiles away. Destroyer is max accel.”

Fargo suddenly felt like the weight of the world was pressing on his chest as the ship went from coasting to maximum acceleration and the rumbling growl he’d heard before increased in pitch.

A scream was heard over the radio before it was choked off.

Voice three said, “Counter battery away. Only two missiles inbound. Firing dorsal lasers in three, two, one.” The groaning sound increase in pitch, rising to nearly a scream, as the mechanical voice continued, “9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Cease fire.” There was a ‘ting’ and the loud noises stopped almost immediately, as the destroyer was blown to pieces when the containment failed on the power plant in an actinic blast.

Fargo turned to Jace and grunted, “Why. Accel. Like. This?” He gasped out.

“Just in case there is something else out there, like a stealthed missile. At this short a range, the missiles can’t turn, so anything would be a proximity explosion, not directly on us.”

“Oh…” Fargo slumped unconscious. Five segs later, the acceleration came off, and Fargo looked around wildly. “What… What happened?”

“Nothing. We’re proceeding to the jump point. You might want to go check on the people in the shuttle. I fear they are still unconscious.”

Fargo wobbled to his feet, mumbling, “I’m not much better.”

“I will send Klang and Khalil to assist. If you could provide guards?”

“Okay. Page Jiri and tell him to meet me at the shuttle bay with two.”

Walking slowly down to toward the shuttle bay, he knocked on Nicole’s hatch, “You moving?”

A mumbled, “Barely,” was heard.

Might need you. We apparently rescued a marooned shuttle in the middle of killing a destroyer.”

The hatch dilated and Nicole stared at him, “Say that again?”

“Com’on. There is apparently a human female on this shuttle, along with a Dragoon.”

“What in the hell? And how do you know… Never mind. Not asking.”

The IC came on with a ping, “This is the captain. We had a minor issue with what appears to be a rogue destroyer. We are sorry for the acceleration, but it was necessary to clear the area. If anyone needs medical assistance, please speak up and a medic will respond. We have four divs to the next jump.

Three segs later, they stood at the hatch to the shuttle bay with Jiri, Devi, Klang, and Khalil. Khalil had a med kit slung over his shoulder as Klang asked, “Desired is the hatch open first, Captain?”

“My preference would be that they crack the hatch, we get an air sample, then we go in. Can you plug an IC cable into the port by the hatch?”

“Plug the cable, I will. Dedicated circuit, do you wish?”

“Yes, please.”

“Comply I will.” Klang went through the hatch, pulling a headset and cables from one of the storage bins adjacent to the hatch. Striding to the shuttle, he plugged the cable in, plugged a second cable into the first one, then plugged it into a jack next to the hatch. Stepping back through, he plugged another cable into a jack, handing it to Fargo. “Live, it is. Dedicated it is.”

Fargo put the headset on, and keyed the mic. Hearing a pop, he said, “Shuttle, this is Hyderabad. Can you hear me?”

He heard a groan, but no answer. “Shuttle, this is Hyderabad. Can you hear me?”

A cough followed by a weak voice answered, “Hyd… Shuttle. Lherson. I hear you.”

Glancing a Klang, he said, “The bay is pressurized. If you’re equalized, can you go ahead and pop the hatch? We want to get an air sample before we come in.”

Another cough was heard, then, “K, give me a seg… Been in zero for… for a lot of days. Bridget and Cedar are unconscious, and Ton is really bad off.”

A little more than a seg later, they saw the aft hatch swing open, a disheveled bearded figure leaning against the door frame. Fargo turned to Khalil, “Air quality?”

Khalil looked at his data comp, “Appears to be good. Possibly some fecal matter, and… Vomit?” He cocked his head, “Yes. Vomit. I would recommend breathing masks.” He opened a compartment and pulled out six breathing masks, “Please gear up, and we will secure the hatch as soon as we go through. I will have the bridge run the scrubbers on the bay.”

Everyone took the masks, put them on, and checked the seals. When that was done, Klang opened the hatch and they filed quickly through, with Fargo in the lead. Lherson was now sitting in the hatch, and looked at them curiously as they approached.

“Fecal matter and vomit. We’re scrubbing the air,” Fargo said. “Ethan Fargo. Supercargo. Klang and Khalil are crew, Nicole is here for the women. Jiri and Devi to guard the Dragoon.”

Lherson coughed again, “Ton doesn’t need guarding, he needs a med comp. We’ve basically been out of water for two days. Apparently his hydration requirements are much higher than ours. He’s young too, which might have something to do with it. His mother is… well Matriarch, died after we escaped, and is in the offside airlock. She’s in a soft suit. We kept that depressurized the entire time.”

Nicole asked, “Where are the females?”

“Bridget is in the cockpit, Cedar is in the forward compartment.” Nicole was up and in the shuttle before he could finish the sentence, Khalil following closely behind. He said, “Ton… Ton, if he’s still alive, is in the aft compartment. He… he gave his parole.”

Fargo said, “We’ll get you some water. Klang, can you get the Dragoon?”

Klang nodded slowly, “Get him, I will. Place him where?”

“Med comp.”

Klang stepped lightly into the shuttle, and Fargo turned to Jiri, “Can y’all go with him?”

Jiri nodded, “No problem. The med comp is automatic, right?”

“Yes. See if you can find a shipsuit that might fit him while you’re at it. Ask one of the crew.”

Klang stepped out, the young Dragoon lolling loosely in his arms, “Good shape, he is not.”

“Med comp.”

Jiri and Devi headed for the hatch and had it open before Klang got there, as Nicole yelled, “Fargo, need a little help here!”

Lherson was mumbling, “We made it, can’t believe we fucking made it.” Tears rolled down his face, and Fargo patted him awkwardly on the shoulder, “I’ll be back, and get you some water, and a fresher, along with a clean shipsuit.”

Hopping into the shuttle, he made his way forward in the dim lighting, and saw Nicole and Khalil bent over a young girl. “Can you carry her? She’s, hell, both of them are still unconscious.”

Khalil picked up the older female, “I have this one. She needs hydration. The young one… may need more.”

Fargo scooped her up, “I had Klang put the Goon in the med comp. Do we need to pull him out?”

Khalil shook his head, “Not right now. He’s the worst of them.” I need these two to medical and I’ll get IVs and nannites going.”

***

Three divs later, Fargo, Captain Jace, Jiri, and Solly sat in the crew’s mess. Solly had just finished the story of their escape, since Lherson was still sedated in the med bay while the nannites and rehydration did their work, alongsidej Cedar. Solly twirled the bulb of liquid, “I still cannot believe we’ve survived. We were to the point that we were talking about dumping atmo, and just ending it all. I don’t think Ton would have lasted another two days, and Cedar was failing rapidly too. Dean was just amazing. He did all that with at least one or two broken ribs. And managed to set Cedar’s arm, and get Ton to not try to kill us.”

Captain Jace leaned back, “Amazing story. In many ways, simply amazing. I can’t help but wonder if that was an accidental attack, or on purpose, to kill Ton’Skel. We won’t know until somebody examines what the matriarch has in her craw. We might do an x-ray, but somebody is going to have to…”

Solly saw nods around the table, “Her craw?”

Jace replied, “If Ton’Skel really is heir to Ton’Mose, she would be carrying something that proves both her and his patrimony.”

“Is he important? I mean…”

That generated laughter around the table, and she blushed, as Jace continued, “Ton’Mose is… literally the head Dragoon. He is their equivalent of the president.” Turning to Fargo, he said, “The only thing we can do is go to Star Center, now. Effectively, we’ve just become a Diplo mission. But we’re going to have to go in quiet, in case there are others that might want to finish the job. Don’t know what, or who the destroyer was working for.”

“Oh, I had no… I mean, maybe the Captain knew who he was, but the crew didn’t.”

Khalil came in, dialed up a bulb from the autochef and leaned against the next table, “Captain, I am happy to report the Dragoon will live. I estimate another eight divs of treatment and we can pull him out and put the young girl in. I have them both sedated right now, and she is in a new plascast for her broken arm, with an IV of hydration running. Whomever set it, they did a good job.”

Bridget colored, “We both did it.”

Khalil smiled, “Well, you did good! She will only need about four divs of treatment.”

The IC popped on, “Hyper in fifteen segs. All crew report to stations, all pax report to your cabins.”

Captain Jace stood, “Well, back to work. Another nine days to Star Center. I’ll put a note on the transit file for your folks Captain, to ensure they get paid for the extra days. It’s not like they have any choice. And I’m not going to declare us as a diplo. We will only use that if we have to.”

Wow…

WWII veteran Isaac “Ike” Fabela had one wish for his 100th birthday on June 6, to receive 100 cards from people across the country.

A bunch of us jumped on boosting the signal. And I want to thank those who dropped by here and supported that call…

Not that I can take, or want a lot of credit, but he got a ‘few’ more than 100!!!

The Michigan man’s request was granted and then some, his daughter said. As of Wednesday morning, Fabela has received more than 50,000 cards and packages. 

Full story, HERE.  I think it’s pretty fitting, considering he was born on June 6th, and shares that day with D-Day.