A couple of  ‘torture’ implements for those old farts out there…

Bonus points if you remember the shift pattern… LOL

And something ‘some’ of us grew up with…

And yes, it still works! Son-in-law uses it in the very small front yard.

Random MilSF chapter…

Here’s another one for y’all to look at/bleed on… 🙂

Comments/recommendations appreciated.

Chapter 11

Danny sighed as he walked back aboard, and Estrella asked, “Is there a problem that I need to be aware of, Captain?’

Danny threw up his hands. “Not unless you can tell me where I can hide those…objects, discs, whatever the hell they are where no one can find them.”

Estrella’s voice bristled for lack of a better word, “You no longer trust me, Captain,” she asked icily.

“No, no, it’s not that. It’s…somebody wants these discs pretty bad. And I’d rather they be off the ship and safe, but I don’t have any idea—”

Estrella paused for a few seconds, startling Danny, then said, “Well, I now have an account at GCU, and I just leased a box that should fit them.”

Danny jerked. “You what? You’re not—”

Estrella said coldly, “Not what? Am I not crew? Am I not a certified pilot, navigator, and?”

“What prompted this?”

“Dani and I talked. I’m drawing a commensurate salary for my position and needed someplace to keep the money.” Three packages came floating down the passageway, and he reached up to grab them. “There is a messenger drop at 21-X-30. Put these in there, and they will be delivered to my box at GCU.”

“Um, just out of curiosity, how did you get an account at Gal Credit Union?”

“It wasn’t hard. I did it online. They don’t require you to actually be present to start one, and they use a security code for access. And you now have forty-five segs to make your appointment with Mapper.”

Befuddled by what was going on, Danny carried the three packages back to the module where Efrot stood at the end of the module in his radiation suit. “You okay with the watch?”

Efrot nodded. “I stand watch, Captain. I let no one aboard other than crew.”

Danny said, “That’s right, no one else, not even station security is allowed onboard. If they try, run for the ship and let Essie lock it down.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Danny dropped the packages, noting that the messenger drop appeared to be unmonitored, then rode the mover into the main hub, paid his docking fees, and went by the chandlery and ordered another bot. He also scheduled a reprovision, since he how had a crew that was eating onboard, and grumpily added a food pack, not knowing where he would find a cook.

He made it to the Lounge with five segs to spare and slumped at a table next to Mapper’s as he was deep in discussion with LT Brisker. He ordered a coffee from the autowaiter, sipped it glumly, wondering where Daniella was. A seg or two later, Mapper growled, “Get over here, Danny.”

Danny got moved over and sat facing an obviously unhappy Mapper as he activated the privacy screen, then asked, “What the hell happened at Gany? Did you deliver the book to Abraham Rabin as I instructed you?”

Danny shook his head. “No, they told me that… Abraham Rabin was no longer there.”

Mapper slammed his fist down. “No! That… shouldn’t…who did they say is the new director?”

Danny shrugged. “No idea. They didn’t tell me anything, just signed for it and slammed the door in my face.”

“Not good. Not good at all. I should have heard something.” He turned to his holo keyboard and typed rapidly, mumbling to himself as he looked at things, swiping randomly. He finally sat back, disgust on his face. He almost spit, “They gave it to Dresden from old Earth. He hates me, and he’s known for stealing other’s research. If there is a bright nova in this, he can’t read the book, and will probably have to send it to Earth. That still doesn’t explain why he… no maybe it does. He wants the other artifacts you salvaged. He may have connected the book to Helios, and if he did, he will move stars and planets to take credit for it. Did you file any salvage rights to the ship or any ships you found over there?”

“No, I… didn’t have time. When the bot died, and I was getting sicker, I just came back.”

“Well, you’re lucky you did. But I need you to—”

“Go back,” Danny interrupted. “There is one more of those discs and it’s connected to something on the nav station. Doc Eddlestone said there was data, but he couldn’t read it, it was… encrypted or something like that. But I’m not sure about my new crew and how willing they are to go through that shit to get there and back.”

Mapper hitched his shoulder. “They signed on. They will ride it out.”

“I don’t know. And I’m not sure I want to be responsible for killing one of them if—”

“Get the radiation treatment before you leave. Have all of them do it. The sooner you can leave, the better.”

Danny said doubtfully, “I’ll put it to them. If they don’t want to go, I’m not going to force them.”

“And stay the hell away from station admin until I get some answers.” Mapper reached down and pulled a date cube out of his satchel, shoved it across the desk and added, “You might need this, it’s the previous map you made over there. I wouldn’t load it until you get back there. And do a full map and look for signs of a habitable planet in addition to photoscans and vidscans of all the ships there. I’m going to authorize Moose and Squirrel for you to use, also.” He made a shooing motion and turned away, dismissing Danny.

Danny bounced the data cube on his hand, started to say something, thought better of it and shoved the cube in his shipsuit as he got up. Stepping through the privacy screen, he looked quickly around, didn’t see Daniella, and departed with a sigh.


Four divs later, he said, “Essie, please have all crew report to the mess, including the watch.”

Essie made the announcement and asked quietly, “We are going back there aren’t we?”

Danny looked up at the camera. “How… how did you guess?”

“Your vitals are elevated, you’re distracted, and you just put that data cube back in the safe. That was the one that was sent to Mapper. You aren’t taking the crew, are you?”

Danny chortled, “That’s what we’re about to address. Mapper says take them, but I want to give them the option. And I’m not sure Adrion would survive it.” He walked slowly to the mess and was surprised to find everyone there. He walked over to the autochef and dialed a bulb of coffee. “Okay, here’s the skin. We have a job. The one that almost killed me. It’s seven jumps through different rifts. The first two are easy, there is a time dilation around point three, point four and six are gravity warps, and bad ones. Like tearing you apart bad. Point five was pretty mild, just shifted light across the spectrum. Point seven is a gravity again, into a black hole, twenty Gs to get out, and eight is heavy radiation into an odd little pocket galaxy with nineteen wrecked or abandoned ships in there.”

Adrion snickered. “So, what’s the problem, Cap’n? There’s salvage to be had, right?”

The others chimed in, talking among themselves more than to him, until Zuckie asked, “Why are you taking this contract?”

“It pays well—”

“Bullshit. There’s something over there you’re after isn’t there? No sane person goes through that without a real good reason.”

Danny’s shoulders slumped. “It’s a Cartographer’s Guild contract. I need that work to stay solvent. Ghost eats a lot of money in refueling and maintenance, and I can’t make it on just the supply runs I make.”

Estrella said, “Captain, Moose and Squirrel are coming. Load them in their normal locations?”

“Uh, sure.”

Gronk, all four arms crossed, grunted, “What Moose and Squirrel?”

Passing a hand over his face, Danny straightened up. “They are sensidrones. They’re… big, expensive, and belong to the CG. Mapper wants them deployed in this pocket galaxy.”

“Funny names,” Adrion said, “They are over ten million credits apiece, and pretty specialized.”

Danny looked sharply at him. “How do you know about them?”

Adrion shrugged. “Handled them a time or two.”

“What else do you know about them?”

“They’re almost always paired. Moose has… probes? Horns? That extend out of the front to collect EM signatures. Squirrel has a brushy thing it extends out the back to collect particulates if it flies through atmosphere or an Ort cloud. They’re autonomous once programmed, perform both active and passive mapping, depending on tasking, and can last up to six months.”

Danny was impressed and said so, “Very good. They’re now your babies.”

Zuckie asked, “So what do we need to do? Rad inoculations and?”

“Rad inocs, full physicals, the whole thing. Guys, this is dangerous. You don’t have to go! I… I can do this by myself.”

Gronk rumbled, “Captain try to cut us out of salvage?”

He threw up his arms. “Fine! I’ll call medical right now. They should be able to get you into the autodoc today. But don’t bitch at me if we make it through and back again.” He stomped out of the mess mumbling to himself and went to the bridge. “Essie, open me a link to medical, please. I need to schedule these idi—”

Estrella snipped, “Their appointments are scheduled in one div. I have squirted their appointments to their datacomps. Your appointment is in two point five divs.”

“I need to—”

“Refueling, reprovisioning and sensor loading is complete. You need to hire a cook. I have prepared a list. Based on medical recommendation a twenty-four div wait is planned in case of any reaction to the radiation inoculations. Departure is scheduled for eighteen tomorrow, local operations.”

Danny glared at the monitor. “Fine! Send me the damn cook’s list, he grumbled. “Damn AIs are killing a captain’s ability to run his own ship.”

“As if you could run this bucket of bolts without me. You might remember that, Captain.” Estrella countered acerbically.


Three divs later, Danny moaned as he crawled out of the autodoc, “Damn. That’s not fun. I hope that shit works, because if it didn’t I’m gonna come back and haint somebody’s ass over this.”

The robomed unit squawked, “Does not compute. Please speak in standard linguistics. Is the patient in pain? Please tell the med unit where the patient hurts or point to the location.” Danny shook his head and climbed back into his shipsuit, staggered out of medical and wove his way to the Lounge.

He glanced around, saw that Mapper had his privacy screen activated, and slumped in a chair. The auto waiter trundled over and he said, “Double shot of Old MacWhinney, straight up.”

The auto waiter said, “Alcohol is contraindicated with rad inoc. Customer is allowed high fruticose liquid or protein drink only.”

Danny sighed. “Protein. Damned nanny bots.” Mapper waved at him and he got up with a groan and stumbled over, almost falling into a chair. “Before you ask, can’t leave for twenty-four divs. Gotta monitor for reaction to the treatment, which sucks. I don’t think I hurt this bad when they treated me after I got rad poisoning last trip.”

Mapper nodded and cocked his head as he looked at Danny. “You look like shit, but better than you did last time. Did you hire a cook?”

The auto waiter delivered the protein drink and Danny tasted it. He grimaced then replied, “Yeah. Olafson. He came from the stroids, so he should fit right in. I just hope he can actually cook. We’ll find out tonight, he promised to go get his rad inoc and be on the ship by eighteen.”

“Olafson? Ragnor Olafson?” When Danny nodded, Mapper called up his holo keyboard and typed for a seg or so, ignoring him. He swiped a couple of times, grunted and finally nodded. “Finished up an eighteen-month contract with AMC, came back here a week ago. Been arrested five times for drunk and disorderly. STASEC was about to boot his ass off the station if they arrested him again. No indication he ever drinks on the job though. AMC is willing to rehire.”

Danny nodded, Fucking amazing. Is there anything Mapper can’t find out? How the hell… he taps a few keys and knows more in a minute than I could find out in two divs. Dammit. “Thank you. That’s a lot more than I found out.” He took another sip of the drink, grimaced again and slugged it down. “I’m going back to Ghost and hope I don’t puke on the way. Moose and Squirrel are loaded and Adrion seems to know a lot about them, so I put him in charge of them.”

“Good call. Get as much of a scan of the galaxy as you can. Particularly of any possible civilization. There is a chance there were survivors of some of those ships if there is a habitable planet in that galaxy.”

“If I find them, what am I supposed to do? I—”

“Just get a position for the planet. You can’t do anything other than that. Now go before you fall down.”


Olafson proved to be an adequate cook the next day at lunch when the crew finally came up for air, but they were all cursing Danny with a vengeance over the aftereffects of the inoculation.

At seventeen, Danny sat down in the pilot’s couch, strapped in, and looked around to make everything was secured and glanced over at Gronk, ensconced at the navigator’s chair. “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 instrument panel, “Clock wound.”

“Checklist complete.”

“Okay. You ready, Gronk?”

“Gronk ready. Courses reviewed, plotted and inputted to AI.”

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

Estrella handled the clearance and said, “You are cleared to undock at seventeen fifty-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.” He toggled the PA, “Crew, Ghost is alive and we are underway. Set maneuvering watch.”

Zuckie answered, “Maneuvering watch set, all stations.”

Danny zoomed the holo, looking at the route Gronk had plotted and moved on position skirting the one time warp that had damn near killed him at a slightly different angle. He turned to Gronk, “Moving this point to mitigate this warp. I want a little steeper angle when we cross it.” Gronk grunted and made a note on his holo screen as Danny toggled the PA, “Six divs to first warp crossing. Recommend you void bladder, bowels, get two bulbs of electrolytic water. Make sure your spaces are secure for penetration and prepare to strap in fifteen segs before we get there. Sick sacks are a necessity, I say again, necessity. Anybody that misses has to clean up their own mess. Captain is off the bridge.” He clicked the PA off and pointed to the holo. “You have the conn, Gronk.”

“Gronk have.”

Danny headed to his cabin and racked out for four divs. After that, he hit the fresher, evacuated everything that would evacuate, and steeled himself for going back through the rift. He prowled the ship, rechecking everything and mumbling to himself. He walked into engineering and saw Zuckie checking the powerplant remotely. “Where’s Efrot?”

Zuckie selected a camera in the power section and pointed. “He says he’s going to ride back there. He doesn’t want to be far from the hot section if there is a problem. He modified a couch with Estrella’s mech and installed it right by the hot section access.”

Danny shook his head. “Estrella, did you authorize this modification?”

She replied, “It is within spec. There is adequate support in that area for a ten G couch, and Efrot is well within limits for any leakage of radiation. I do not recommend removal at this time, as Efrot has put a number of speciesdivs into the design and fabrication of the installation.”

“Okayyy, it’s on him.”

“We are one div from the rift, Captain. I would suggest you assume your position on the bridge.”

Danny looked at Zuckie and rolled his eyes, then turned. “Aye, Aye, AI. Off to the bridge I go.” Danny picked up a sick sack and two bottles of electrolyte on his way and stepped into the bridge. “Any changes, Gronk?”

“No, Captain. We are in position as you directed. I have performed evolutions you suggested.”

Danny nodded as he strapped himself in and keyed the PA, “Fifteen segs to penetration. Secure yourselves and call bridge when completed.” He keyed the PA off, turned to look at Gronk and said, “My intent is to complete all transitions on AI pilot. We may or may not remain conscious through all of them, and the next to last takes us into a black hole system.”

Gronk jerked its head in a motion that could have been a nod. “Gronk will not lose consciousness.  Gronk will monitor navigation. Gronk authorized to override if necessary?”

“Gronk is authorized. Checklist please, Essie.”

14 segs later, everyone checked in, strapped in, and checklist completed, Danny said. “And we are entering rift now. Bend over and kiss your asses goodbye, this is gonna be a helluva ride.” Danny lasted through the first six transitions before he passed out, listening to the screams of the others, while Gronk merely grunted a couple of times.


My son-in-law is an avid fisherman, and has multiple rod/reels for a variety of types of fishing. They also have two small children. And those two items DON’T mix!

He was also trying to figure out how to better use his wall space in the garage, and had some left over PVC from a project.


Ceiling mounted rod/reel track! It freed up six feet of wall space, has different sized holes for various rods so they don’t get confused, and it’s on the ceiling, keeping those expensive rods/reels out of danger, and the kids safe from hooks and tangling the line and/or breaking anything.

He’s done an amazing amount of work at the house since they bought it, and continues to come up with good ideas that improve their lives!

In a PP update, drug her to TWO doctor’s appointments yesterday 4 hours in the car, both surgeons chewed her ass for doing too much… Sigh… But I kinda knew that was coming. BUT both are impressed with her progress, so that’s a plus.


Either marketing genius, or somebody was smoking something…

Star Wars Instapots? Really???

star wars instant pot release
Apparently the ‘new’ latest and greatest sales pitch to all those fans…
I would really hate to see what their ‘decorations’ in their houses look like if they are willing to go to this level of… whatever you want to call it.
From Food and Wine, HERE.
Kinda reminds me of the guy, I think in Britain, that started to build a ‘model’ of the Millennium Falcon cockpit. It ended up taking over something like one floor of his house, or his garage, I don’t remember which, and he spent WAY too much to do it. These fans are almost as bad as Trekkies… They obviously have no lives.


A day late…

But still worth repeating. Thanks to Alex at Ammo.com for the info.

Oliver Winchester was born in Boston, on November 30, 1810. He started his career with a clothing company based out of New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. After successfully running this aspect of his business, Winchester began to look for new opportunities. Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (yes, that “Smith & Wesson” who later formed the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company) acquired and improved a rifle design with the help of shop foreman, Benjamin Tyler Henry. Talk about a genius cluster! In 1855, they began to manufacture what would be known as the “Volcanic” lever-action rifle. The company would become incorporated as the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company; its largest stockholder was Oliver Winchester.

After limited success with this new rifle, Winchester seized the opportunity to take control over the failing company and renamed it the New Haven Arms Company. Although initial returns were slow, Benjamin Henry, the company’s leading engineer, improved the Volcanic repeating rifle’s design by enlarging the frame and magazine to accommodate the all-new brass cased .44 caliber cartridge. This ingenuity put the company on the map, and in 1860, the patent for the infamous Henry rifle was issued. The next  six years of production produced over 12,000 Henry, many of which were used in the Civil War. In the following months, Benjamin Henry, angered over what he believed was inadequate compensation, filed a lawsuit for ownership of the company. Oliver Winchester hastenly reorganized the company as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to circumvent this issue. 

The Model 1866 soon rolled out as the first Winchester rifle. Based on the Henry rifle, it came with an improved magazine and a wooden forend. In the following years, larger caliber rifles such as the infamous Model 1873, “The Gun That Won The West”, brought more notoriety and foundation to the company. Although Mr. Winchester would miss the opportunity to see his company’s greatest achievements; he passed away in December of 1880. 

Winchester Repeating Arms Company’s collaboration with John Browning brought about much success with a host of shotguns, including the still produced Model 1885. The turn of the 20th century hosted a series of new arms developments, many from the top engineer at the time, T.C. Johnson. But it was the start of the First World War that set development and production requirements into full force. The company became a major producer of the .30-06 M1917 Enfield rifle for the United States military, and worked once more with Browning to develop the .50 caliber BMG.

During the war, the company borrowed heavily to finance the expansion. In an attempt to pay down its debt following the war’s end, they used their surplus production capacity to manufacture consumer goods such as kitchen knives, roller skates, and refrigerators. The strategy was a failure, and the Great Depression sent the company into bankruptcy. John M. Olin’s Western Cartridge Company purchased the Winchester Repeating Arms Company at auction in 1931, with plans to restore the brand to its former glory. The Second World War helped this cause tremendously as Winchester produced the U.S. M1 Carbine and the M1 Garand rifle during this time period. 

Over the following decades, the Olin Winchester-Western division struggled with rising labor costs and other companies’ cast-and-stamped production methods. By 1980, Olin decided to sell the company back to its employees, which re-incorporated as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company. Olin retained the Winchester ammunition business. U.S. Repeating Arms went bankrupt in 1989, and after a number of sellouts to forgien holdings companies, the New Haven plant closed its doors on January 16, 2006, after 140 years of producing rifles and shotguns. 

In August of 2006, Olin Corporation, owner of Winchester trademarks, entered a new license deal with Browning to make Winchester brand rifles and shotguns once again. The Model 1885, Model 1892, and Model 1886 are all produced by Miroku Corporation of Japan, then imported to the U.S. by Browning. Currently, Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (FN) makes the remainder of Winchester’s rifle and shotgun lineup in various locations around Europe, having moved the lineup from Columbia, SC, where they were made until 2013 at the FN plant there.

Winchester-branded ammunition continues to be produced by the Olin Corporation. Some of the most successful cartridges ever invented have been under the Winchester name: the .44-40 WCF, the .30-30 WCF, the .32 Winchester Special, the .50 BMG, the .270 Winchester, the .308 Winchester (the commercial version of the 7.62x51mm NATO), the .243 Winchester, the .22 WMR (aka the .22 Magnum), and the .300 Winchester Magnum. In North America, the .30-30 and .308 Winchester are some of the best selling cartridges in firearm history. 

Through its history, the Winchester name has experienced great successes and significant failures; but it’s truly an important story to know in the realm of firearms. Here’s to the man that started it all, happy birthday to Mr. Oliver Winchester.

I have two Model 70s in the safe, one is a 1940 in 30-GOVT-06, the other is a Columbia, SC mfgr. 30-06 with the pre-62 design, but built on FN’s CNC machines. Both are well under 2 MOA, which is more than acceptable for stock rifles. I also have my 1962 Model 94 that was my 12th birthday present. It’s taken a few deer over the years too!


Spammers and an attack against my little blog are ongoing. Thankfully, my blog host has GOOD security. Something over 1000 SQL attacks, and all of a sudden I’m averaging 100-150 random spams a day. My ‘normal’ count is 15-25.

I can’t help but wonder how much of this is because I don’t ‘toe the line’ well enough for the POS out there…

In other news, PP is recovering fairly well from her surgery. No complications so far (knock on wood), and I take her back to the doctor on Monday for her follow up. Problem is, both kids are running a low grade fever and GRUMPY…

And the dogs have gotten wise to me trying to wear them out. They’ll chase the chew toy five or six times, then it’s dropped and they sit and look at me. Alternatives are now being attempted, but I don’t hold out much hope.

In other GOOD news, I got to see my great grandson. Pictured with my grandson and his significant other. Sucker’s got a grip! He got hold of my beard, and I though he was going to pull half of it out… LOL


Puppers are brother and sister, neutered and homed with PP and family.

This is my lame attempt to tire them out…

Koda usually beats him to the chew toy, but she ‘waits’ for him to grab an end (they do this with pretty much anything thrown that is big enough for both of them to get their mouths on it). Then it’s a race back, followed by a tug of war. And if either drops their end, the other one pauses long enough for a regrab.

She’s stronger on the pull, but Karl will usually try to overpower her, throwing his paw over her and bearing her down. I ran them 10 laps of this yesterday, so they wouldn’t play fight in the house (which gets interesting on slick wooden floors). When they play fight, they will both go for the off hind leg hamstring, growling and snapping… LOL

I can’t get a good video, because as soon as I get up, they stop and want me to pet them. PP is recovering slowly, trying to do too much, and I have to send her to bed sometimes…

The grands are basically doing pretty well, although they both tend to run to momma or daddy when they know they’ve done something that I’m displeased with.

Sigh… And the little one is 3 going on 30.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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

A bit of history…  From Plimoth Plantation living history museum

What Was on the First Thanksgiving Menu?
Little is known about the first Thanksgiving dinner in the Plimoth Colony in October 1621, attended by some 50 English colonists and about 90 Wampanoag American Indian men in what is now Massachusetts.
We do know that the Wampanoag killed five deer for the feast, and that the colonists shot wild fowl—which may have been geese, ducks, or turkey. Some form, or forms, of Indian corn were also served.
But Jennifer Monac, spokesperson for the living-history museum Plimoth Plantation, said the feasters likely supplemented their venison and birds with fish, lobster, clams, nuts, and wheat flour, as well as vegetables such as pumpkin, squash, carrots, and peas.
“They ate seasonally,” Monac said in 2009, “and this was the time of the year when they were really feasting. There were lots of vegetables around, because the harvest had been brought in.”
Much of what we consider traditional Thanksgiving fare was unknown at the first Thanksgiving. Potatoes and sweet potatoes hadn’t yet become staples of the English diet, for example. And cranberry sauce requires sugar—an expensive delicacy in the 1600s. Likewise, pumpkin pie went missing due to a lack of crust ingredients.
And the whole food coma thing?  Well, that’s yet another myth…
It’s not the tryptophan in the turkey, it’s the booze, the amount of food (those second and third helpings of Granny’s sweet potato casserole and the pumpkin pie), and the sheer relaxation (other than the family fights/looney Uncle) and not having to work the next day…
And please, when you do sit down for your Thanksgiving, say a prayer for all our men and women serving in the military wherever they may be, and remember too our LEOs, Fire and EMS folks that are on the front lines here at home every day.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours…

Random MilSF chapter…

Got a little writing done while the kids are at school/pre-school and PP is napping…

Comments appreciated as always. Edited to fix first round of comments...

Chapter 10

Eight divs out of Gany Station, and three segs before hyper, Estrella said, “Captain, there is a message coming in requiring you to return to Gany and turn over all artifacts to the Cartographer’s Guild.”

Danny jerked up on the pilot’s couch, “Have you acknowledged receipt?”

“Noooo. Is it your wish that I not acknowledge receipt?”

Danny thought for a second, “Ah, that would probably be better. If it’s not delivered, then we have no obligation to respond. And the artifacts actually belong to us, anyway. We turned over the one artifact that we had contracted to deliver.”

“Concur. Transition in one seg. Comms are off.”

Danny keyed the PA, “Transition in five, four, three, two, one, execute.” He felt his guts twist, but not as badly as usual. Am I getting used to this, or is the Rift just that much stronger… That’s a stupid question, of course the rift is stronger. It’s nothing but wild transitions. Nothing normal. Once he’d confirmed the course and condition of the ship, he’d released the crew and one passenger from their restraints. Two divs later, he headed for his cabin, turning piloting over to Estrella and the nav to Gronk.

Danny woke up and sniffed, “What the?” Dressing quickly, he headed for the mess, and found everyone eating breakfast except Efrot. He looked over at Zuckie, who grinned around a mouth full of eggs, “Efrot’s got the watch. I relieve him in fifteen. You need to refund the lady’s fare. She’s doing more to keep this crew happy than you will ever do.”

Danny gaped at him, “What?”

“She feeds us. She’s nice to us. She doesn’t care where we’re from or who we are. You might want to remember that, Stud. If it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t have a ship right now.”

Daniella called out, “Bacon and eggs? Or an omelet. I can’t do eggs benedict, whatever that is. No sauce mix. And there are biscuits.”

“Biscuits?” Turning back to Zuckie he said, “You’re getting paid. That is what you do. That she’s feeding you better than you’re used to is… a bonus. I don’t pay you to be my friend. I pay you to be my engineer.”  He looked over at Daniella, “Uh, eggs mixed up, scrambled? Yeah, scrambled, bacon crispy. And I’d love a couple of biscuits.”

Zuckie dumped his plate and utensils into the recycler, waved, and headed for engineering, “I’ll send Efrot as soon as I get a turnover.”

Daniella put more bacon on the grill, even as she poured the equivalent of a dozen eggs on the grill, then added a couple of pieces bacon and two more eggs off to the side for Danny, “Cheese?”
Danny asked, “Cheese what?”

She sighed, “You want cheese scrambled in the eggs or not?”

He shrugged and she shook her head, “Men.” Dumping some cheese into the eggs, she seasoned them and flipped the bacon, dribbling a little of the grease over the eggs, as she put two biscuits in the microwave to heat.

Curious, he asked, “Who’s all that for?” As he pointed to the rasher of bacon sizzling on the grill.

“Efrot. I’ll fix him a dozen eggs too. As a heavy worlder, he needs more calories than we do. You don’t need more than what you’re getting, since you never exercise.” She dished up his breakfast, took the biscuits out of the microwave, and plopped them on the plate. “The rest of the stuff is on the table. Hope you like grape jelly, that’s all there was.”

Danny sat down and ate, watching her as she cooked up a massive amount of food for Efrot, then served him with a smile when he came in. He noticed she didn’t shy away from him and asked him if that would be enough. Efrot seemed stunned that she cared, and thanked her profusely, before retiring to a table away from everyone else, then dousing his meal with manganese as usual.

Danny finished up, dropped his plate and utensils in the recycler and asked, “Need any help?”

She looked up in surprise, “No, I’ll take care of it. How many days ‘till we’re back at Alpha?”

Danny thought for a sec, then said, “With the translation early, and dropping Moe and his crew, twelve days. Why?”

“That gives me time to work with Estrella on the hydroponics, upgrades to her system, and a new program for the mech that maintains it.”

“I didn’t authorize that!”

Moe and his crew slunk out as Danny’s voice went up, leaving the two of them across the grill from each other.

“Estrella did. And you signed it. So yes, you did authorize it.”

“I… Arghhh. Women. I swea…” He threw up his hands, “Do what you want. But it’s up to you and Essie to maintain it.”

Daniella said, “Hey! I’m a passenger, not crew. And I’m doing you a favor, because Estrella asked me to, sure as hell not because you ever said anything! I’ll help her get it up and running, but I’m not maintaining shit for you. It’s your damn ship!”

Danny stalked out, and Efrot finished his meal and placed the remains in the recycler before walking over to the grill. His GalTrans spit out, “I thank you for the food. Captain is idiot. You are not.”

Daniella smiled at him, “Thank you. I’m sorry we are not going to be eating like this much longer. With you and Gronk, I’m going through the food rather quickly.”

Efrot said, “Then don’t feed me. I have other food.”

Daniella bristled, and brandished the spatula. “I will not do that. You are a crew member. I will cook until the food is gone. Maybe every other night. You deserve the food as much as they do, if not more. Without you… Gah… Men! Go away and let me clean up this mess.”

Efrot bowed, “Again, I thank you.” He turned and eased out of the mess, disappearing aft toward engineering.

She cleaned the grill with a vengeance, mumbling under her breath and finally had it and the rest of the kitchen area cleaned to her standards. “Done. Why do I bother. Men are useless, stupid, and think with the wrong head ninety percent of the time.”

She was startled when Estrella asked, “Think with the wrong head? They only have one.”

Daniella laughed, “Oh Estrella, be glad you don’t have to put up with them. It’s their other… The head of their penises kind of look like a head. I first heard that from my mother after an argument with my dad over something. Something about blood flow.”

“That does not compute, there is adequate…”

She laughed again, “Of course it doesn’t, but men don’t compute. Something about testosterone, and stupidity around a pretty woman or a challenge to their masculinity.”

Estrella said meditatively, “So being human is not all it is, how you say, cranked up to be? I cannot know love, hate, or any other emotion.”

“I think it’s cracked up, not cranked, but close enough. It’s probably a good thing you don’t have to worry about it, Essie.” She looked around, then said, “I’m going to bay two in hydro, can you have the mech there? I need to update its programming.”

“It will be there.”


Danny shivered as they came out of hyper, Gah, I really hate that transition. I wonder what it does to our bodies in the long term? Estrella said, “Incoming message queue is downloaded, Captain. Apparently the Cartographer’s Guild is less than happy with you. There are nine messages in queue. You have one message from Mapper, encrypted level three. Six from the guild, and two from the miners. What order would you like?

“Just put them to my comp, I’ll deal with them in a seg. How long to Xray, Gronk?”

Gronk sniffed, which was impressive, to put it mildly saying, “I plotted for a three point two div arrival. We are currently three point zero six divs out. You need to release the other crew and pax from transition.”

He keyed the PA, “All personnel are released from restraints. Two divs from the ‘stroid belt, will be docking at Xray. If you need to notify anyone, use code alpha six and the AI will transmit your message.” He turned to Gronk, “You’re released too. I’ve got it from here.” He looked down at the data comp, sighed, and pulled up the first message as Gronk stomped off the bridge.

It was from Mapper, after decryption it showed, DO NOT RETURN TO GANY. DO NOT RELEASE ANY OF YOUR SALVAGE TO CG. SEE ME ASAP ON RETURN. MAPPER. The next six messages were from the Cartographer’s Guild official he’d dealt with, with increasing levels of threating language, the last one stated, YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH THEFT OF CARTOGRAPHER GUILD PROPERTY. FAILURE TO RETURN PROPERTY WILL RESULT IN CONFISCATION OF ASSETS, GAL WARRANT ISSUED FOR ARREST/DETENTION. CGSEC-GANYSTA. “Well, well, well. Apparently somebody thinks those devices are important. But they have to know that’s salvage, or are they thinking they can override all the laws,” he mused.

Estrella replied, “In accordance with GalLaw one eight point three three, section nineteen, sub paragraph eighteen, note a point three one, salvage is the property…”

“I know, I know.” He levered himself up off the couch, quickly scanned the navigation holo, and said, “Going to hit the fresher and grab some food. Put out a call for a crew meeting in the mess in fifteen segs, all hands required.”

“I have the conn, as usual. Crew meeting in fifteen segs. I have a message in queue from Moe, and one from Zuckie, permission to release them?”

“Granted,” Danny dilated the bridge hatch and walked aft, stretching and twisting as he headed to his cabin. Refreshed and in a clean shipsuit, he strolled into the mess a few segs later, sniffing as he walked in, “What’s that smell?”

Daniella, beating something in a big bowl looked up, “It’s called loaf, I used the last of the meats in that pack. And potato mash and beans from your hydro tanks.”

“Smells interesting.”

“I seasoned it with a spice weasel I found in one of the cabinets. And I’m making sauce to put over it. What’s going on?”

“You can listen in.” He looked around the mess, and saw that the entire crew, plus Moe and his guys were all there. Daniella shoved the big bowl into a warmer, came around the counter and dialed a coffee from the autochef, then leaned against the counter behind Danny. Has she got my back? Is that what she’s… Nah, she doesn’t know enough to know what that means. Well, time to get this over with.

He glanced over a Moe, “You guys are welcome to listen, but this is for the crew, such as it is.” Zuckie grinned, and Efrot looked up from his table in the back corner of the mess, with what Danny thought might be a smile. Strange little dude. Can’t figure out why he’s here, but I’m damn glad he is. Things go to shit, there isn’t a better person to handle the hot section. He cleared his throat, and Daniella handed him an enriched water bulb, “Uh, thanks,” he took it and turned back, “Okay. We’re back in the stroids. Moe and his crew will offload here and go back to their regular jobs. My question is, what about the rest of you?” He looked around and continued, “I know there is a contract, but you were all out here, I’m assuming for your own reasons. Once we leave here, we’re going to Alpha, then probably back into the Rift. I’m here to tell you that is not pretty, nor fun. Matter of fact, it may kill you. It’s tried to kill me, and I barely survived the last trip. So I’m going to step out and allow…”

Zuckie stood up, interrupting him, “We already talked. We signed on for the duration. We ain’t leaving. Bout time for us to see something different. Ships in a lot better shape now that you have a real crew doing maintenance and shit you can’t do. ‘Sides, you’re paying us pretty good, and we like the AI, she’s a good one, and works with us. Ain’t seen that often, at least in my experience.”

Danny started to say something and Zuckie held up a hand, “And we like the cook too. She feeds us good, and it tastes good.”

Daniella blushed, “Uh, guys, I have a real job. Yes, I like to cook, but I’ll be going back to my real job on the station when we dock. But thank you for the compliment.”

Adrion spoke up, “Maybe we need to rethink this. No cook makes it a different…”

Danny jumped in, “I’ll hire a cook, okay?”

Estrella came over the PA, “Do I get a say in this? Since I’m part of the crew?”

Danny rolled his eyes, and Daniella snickered, prompting a glare from him, “Go ahead,” he said.

“I like having a real crew on board. I feel better, the ship is in better shape, and it smells better, thanks to Dani. I will miss her, but I know she has a real job. And yes, you need to hire a cook. I have a list of names.”


Danny was surprised to see the local head of the mining consortium, Hans Wessel, standing at the airlock when he opened it, “Can I talk to you a minute, Captain?”

“Uh, sure. Let me get your guys off, and we’ll go have a bulb.” He turned to Moe, “Thank you for your help, and I appreciated your dedication to your mission when station security showed up at Gany Station. You never rolled over, and if you had, I would have lost the ship. I have paid each of you crew rates from Gany back here.”

Moe made a curious gesture, between a bow and a salaam, and he GalTrans spit out, “It was our job, we take serious, protect cargo. You feed us good, take care of us. We are thanking you for the extra pay.” With yips and growls he shepherded the others off, each of them doing the curious gesture as they passed.

He led Wessel to the mess and drew two bulbs of coffee, “So, what do I owe this visit to?”

“We heard you had a little issue at Gany, but it got handled rather smoothly. I didn’t realize you’ve got GalPat connections.”

Danny’s hind brain went on full alert, “Ah, well, ah…”

“Not trying to push. But the brass were impressed that you stopped security cold, and walked away afterward. They’ve authorized me to use you as a routine courier for our product anytime you’re making supply runs back there.”

Danny sat down, “Really? I mean we’re not an armed courier, and I don’t have any…”

Wessel smiled a predatory smile, “That’s part of the reason. You’re not what anyone expects. This thing looks like a rattletrap, but Moe and the rest of the guards were impressed with your crew and your leadership. I gotta admit I never saw that when you were out here. You were a snot nosed little wise ass. And I’m not often wrong about people.”

Danny grinned, “Oh, you’re not wrong. I’m still a wise ass. I’m just a better class of wise ass now.”

Wessel shook his head, “Whatever. And since you’re not an official courier, you get a fifteen percent risk bonus.” He handed a credit chip to Danny, “That’ll buy a drink or two on Alpha. How often do you make the trip to Gany?”

“Roughly every hundred station cycles, so… a hundred twenty days? It can vary ten cycles in either direction, depending on station requirements.”

“That’s even better. No fixed schedule.” Wessel stuck out his hand, “Deal?”

Danny shook with him, “Deal!”

Wessel got up, “That’s all I needed to say. I need to get back to the ‘stroid office. Drop me a message the next time you head out.”

Danny escorted him back to the airlock, “Always nice doing business with you.”

Adrion was standing watch at the airlock and nodded to Danny, who asked, “Anybody ashore?”

“Negative, Captain. Zuckie went out and checked what he could of the exterior from the module, but he’s back aboard.”

“Okay, lock her down and let’s get out of here.”

Danny trotted back to the bridge, saying, “Essie, get us routing to the barn.”

The AI came back, “If you mean Station Alpha, it’s already filed, approved, and waiting for you to get back to the bridge, unless you want me to drive.”

“I’ll drive. I don’t want to hit anything on the way out. Give station control a five seg warning for movement, and we’re out of here.”

Twenty divs later, Ghost was locked in and umbilical’s connected to Station Alpha. Adrion was standing at the aft airlock, “Permission to crack the lock, Captain.”

Danny checked the board, saw equalized pressure, and said, “Do it. Once the lock is open, can you put our plaque out at the head of the module, please?”

“Will do, Captain.”

He keyed the PA, “Crew is cleared to debark, along with passengers. Watch section as posted and discussed. Thank you for a safe trip, and remember, muster every ship day at six.” He clicked the PA off, stretched, and got up slowly.

He was startled to hear a soft voice, “Captain?”

He turned quickly, “Daniella?”

“I just wanted to say thank you for the trip, and for letting me cook. Estrella wants me to come advise her on the hydroponics, if that is alright with you.”

Danny didn’t know what to do or say, he wasn’t processing this version of Daniella, not after her bossing the entire crew around, and their earlier confrontations. “Uh, sure. You’re welcome anytime. Uh, you going by the Lounge?”

Daniella cocked her head, “Maybe, why?”

“Could you tell, oh never mind. I’ll do it.”

“Yes, I’ll tell Mapper we’re back, and you’ll be by to see him.” Daniella picked up her bag and started walking down the passageway to the airlock.

Danny raised a hand, then dropped it, saying, “Uh, thank you.”

Efrot called as Danny turned back toward the bridge. “Captain, I see Station Security and GalPat approaching. What is your direction?”

Danny stopped short, Shit…I forgot about those messages from the Cartographer’s Guild. Here we go again. He turned back toward the end of the module and said, “I’ll be right there, I’ll handle it.” He quickened his steps, getting there just before the security people as Efrot stepped back to cover him, his hand near his weapon.

Sergeant Pollock and LT Brisker both spoke, talking over each other, until they realized it and laughed. LT Brisker, at a nod from the sergeant started again. “So, Danny, looks like you got your butt in trouble big time this trip! Got a message from Major Psaras at Gany that you’re officially a good guy, for now. But—”

He waved to the sergeant, who glanced at his datacomp. “Dann…er, Captain, I have an order to collect certain items that are the property of the Cartographer’s Guild that you illegally removed from Gany Station.”

Danny sighed. “Sergeant, what items did I supposedly remove from Gany Station? I was tasked by Mapper to deliver one item to the CG, and,” he tapped his wrist comp squirting the receipt to both of them, “That was accomplished as soon as I was released.”

LT Brisker watched Pollock, who shrugged. “All we got was a message to collect items, not specified. And that was from Ortlieb.”

Danny cocked his head. “Ortlieb, the station manager? Not from…was Mapper on that message?”

Pollock tapped his data comp. “Huh, that’s interesting. He wasn’t either addressed or info. That’s kinda strange, since he’s the Guild rep here.”

Danny pulled up the last message from Gany and squirted it to them, then turned to Brisker. Are you here to arrest me? Since it says, and I quote, you have been charged with theft of cartographer guild property. Failure to return property will result in confiscation of assets, gal warrant issued for arrest/detention. CGSEC-GANYSTA, unquote.”

Brisker quickly scanned his data comp then sighed. “Nothing. No warrants at all. Something’s not—”

Daniella slid the grav sled to a stop as an irate Mapper stumbled off it and caught himself. “Sergeant, Lieutenant, what in the double-sunned hell is going on?”

Sergeant Pollock stiffened. “Sir, I’m just doing what Manager Ortlieb directed me—”

“On who’s authority? I am the Cartographer’s Guild representative for this sector, and I didn’t authorize any recovery of any items that Captain Ortega may or may not have recovered other than one item he was directed to transport and turn over to the CG rep at Gany. Did you do that, Captain?”

Danny squirted the receipt to him. “Yes, sir. As specified and documented received, as you will note.”

Mapper continued, “And other items the Captain may or may not have recovered are his per GalLaw one eight point three three, section nineteen, sub paragraph eighteen, note a point three one. To wit, salvage is the property of the salvager.” He looked between the two and asked, “Do you have any other questions?”

A chorus of no’s followed by their quick departure left Danny smiling until Mapper growled, “Come see me within the next div.” He hobbled back to the grav sled and made a motion to Daniella to drive away. She waved quickly at Danny as she turned the sled and headed back the way they’d come.

Sad, but not unexpected…

Arlington is filling up too fast as WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans pass away.

From Military Times

Veterans groups have opposed the idea of severely restricting eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery coming years to ensure the viability of the iconic
landmark for decades to come. But military officials said they don’t see another realistic choice. “We are filling up every single day,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive
director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “Within the next few years, Section 60 – known for the recent wars – will be closed. This is on our mind every day.” The 154-year-old cemetery, originally established as an overflow site for mounting Civil War casualties, has become one of the most hallowed military sites in America. More than 3 million visitors travel to the site annually, and more than 7,000 service members were interred at the cemetery in fiscal 2017 alone. But Army officials said only about 100,000 burial sites are left at the site, tucked between the Potomac River and the ever-growing northern Virginia suburbs. Expansion plans are expected to keep burials on
pace into the 2040s, but not much beyond that. That has prompted discussions of eligibility for burial at the site. Currently, most honorably discharged veterans can request Arlington Cemetery as their final resting place. Proposals under consideration by the service could restrict that to only troops killed in the line of duty and certain distinguished veterans, like Medal of Honor or Purple Heart recipients. Veterans groups told lawmakers during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the topic in September that they’re not in favor of such moves. “We should save a select number of spaces for those individuals, but not change the eligibility rules at the exclusion of those serving today,” said retired Col. Keith Zuegel, senior director at the Air Force Association. Officials from the Veterans of Foreign Wars,

Military Officers Association of America and American Legion expressed similar concerns with excluding thousands of veterans who may have been planning to use the national cemetery for their burials. But an Army survey conducted last year found wider support for more exclusive rules, with more than 60% in favor of restrictions that military planners say will keep the site viable well past 2100. A second survey on the issue will be conducted next spring. Durham-Aguilera said the current space crunch means that “a veteran from the 1991 Gulf War who lives to his or her normal life expectancy will not be able to be interred at Arlington.” Plans to add more above-ground burial sites and to carve out more space within the existing cemetery
boundaries will add some short-term relief, but not significantly help the problem. Several veterans groups suggested the possibility of adding a new national burial site
with the same “Arlington” name elsewhere in the National Capital region, saying it could avoid the eligibility fight and create a second national touchstone for deceased veterans. But lawmakers on the committee expressed skepticism that a new site would carry the same national importance, and expressed their preference that service members killed in the line of duty be ensured a place of honor at the current site
well into the future. “We should put a higher priority for those individuals at
Arlington,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. and a retired Air Force brigadier general. “It seems like that place should be reserved for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.” An advisory committee for the cemetery is expected to make its recommendations to Congress on the eligibility issue later this year.

This is a discussion issue that gets pretty divisive, especially within different groups of veterans. And the expansion of Arlington to encompass what used to be the Navy Annex up the hill won’t help that much. I don’t profess to have a good answer, and I’m not sure whether I’ll request Arlington or not.