Rust shooting…

First and foremost, I AM NOT AN ARMORER OR A WEAPONS MASTER. I am an NRA instructor, and 60 year shooter of multiple weapons. I have been an extra (no gun) in exactly ONE movie in my life. So take this post for what it is worth…

I did reach out to some folks that I know in the business and got the following information or references from them.

The stories are still changing hour by hour, minute by minute…

What is ‘known’ at this time is the following. Alec Baldwin discharged a pistol which killed Halyna Hutchins and wounded Joel Souza. So at least two of the four rules were violated. Why/how? The why we may never know, the how is pretty apparent…

The movies/TV/plays, etc. treat weapons differently than most shooters do, in the ‘interest’ of ‘accuracy’ (and I use THAT term loosely)… And actors (with a few notable exceptions), wouldn’t have any idea how to check an weapon to see if it was loaded, much less with what…

These are ‘their’ rules for sets…

GENERAL SAFE USE AND HANDLING OF FIREARMS 

1. Refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone, including yourself. If it is absolutely necessary to do so on camera, consult the Property Master (or, in his/her absence, the weapons handler and/or other appropriate personnel determined by the locality or the needs of the production) or other safety representative, such as the First A.D./Stage Manager. Remember that any object at which you point a firearm could be destroyed. 

2. NEVER place your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Keep your finger alongside the firearm and off the trigger. 

3. KNOW where and what your intended target is. 

4. DO NOT engage in horseplay with any firearms. 

5. NEVER discharge a firearm when the barrel is clogged. The Property Master (or, in his/her absence, the weapons handler and/or other appropriate personnel determined by the locality or the needs of the production) should inspect the firearm and barrel before and after every firing sequence. 

6. UTILIZE all safety devices until the firearm is ready to be used. 

7. NEVER lay down a firearm or leave it unattended. Unless actively filming or rehearsing, all firearms should be safely secured. 

8. ONLY a qualified person shall perform hand loading or altering factory loaded blank ammunition to work on firearms (either licensed or experienced). Check with local, state and federal regulations to see if a specific license is required. 

9. NO PERSON is to be coaxed, coerced, or otherwise forced into handling a firearm. 

10. The jamming of firearms or any malfunctions must be reported immediately to the Property Master (or, in his/her absence, the weapons handler and/or other appropriate personnel determined by the locality or the needs of the production). Do not attempt to adjust, modify, repair, or un-jam the firearm. Malfunctioning firearms should be taken out of service until properly repaired by a person qualified to work on firearms. 

11. Protective shields, eye, and hearing protection or other appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shall be issued and utilized by all personnel in close proximity and/or directly in the line of fire. 

There are also ‘statements’ out there that because they were filming in New Mexico, none of the normal rules apply. Not true. UNION rules apply regardless of which location shooting is taking place. HERE is a link to the safety bulletins recommended by Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee for the Motion Picture and Television Industry. The first two safety bulletins apply to this discussion- 1. Recommendations for Safety with Firearms and use of “Blank Ammunition”. 2. Special Use of Live Ammunition. They are both pdf, so you can download them at your leisure. Of note, there is not, to my knowledge any request for live ammunition on this set.

So going from there, the following observations/links are my look into what is supposed to happen, or not happen…

First of all, there are various ‘definitions’ being thrown around about a ‘prop gun’ and how they are supposed to be safe. There are different types of prop guns used in movies.

‘Rubber guns’- These look like a real gun, but are usually made out of some type of composite or plastic. These are truly non operational, and can be dropped, thrown, or used to hit someone with.

‘Toy guns’- These are usually airsoft type copies of weapons that look and move realistically (e.g. the slide cycles, etc.)

‘Demilled or non-firing guns’- These are actual weapons that have been rendered safe by various means (filled barrel, removal of firing pin, etc.)

‘Functional gun’- This is a working weapon, capable of firing blanks (known as 5 in 1s) or actual rounds.

According to reports, this was a functional gun period correct for the 1860s-70s. That would mean it was some type of single action (hammer must be cocked to fire) pistol.

I want to digress slightly here and talk about 5 in 1s…

These are blanks designed to be used in five different caliber weapons (primarily cowboy/western calibers). Originally developed by Stembridge, according to some old gun folks. More info HERE.  There are four ‘loads’ used in blanks as follows-

1/4 charge, normally used for inside scenes

1/2 charge, normally used for close ups, also around skittish animals

3/4 charge, normally used for outdoor scenes with animals

Full charge, normally used for outdoor action scenes

When Stembridge went out of business, a number of companies stepped into the ‘breach’ so to speak. One of those is Mike Tristano and Co.

The next part of the equation is the armorer or weapons master. HERE is a 2019 article from Dave Brown, a long time armorer and weapons master.

Another HERE from SL Huang, one of the female armorers out there.

Armorers or weapons masters are responsible for storing them on set. Guns are not supposed to leave their hands until cameras are rolling; actors hand them back as soon as “cut” or “wrap” is called and the cameras stop. This means someone else, e.g. AD in this case, should not have been handling the weapon or been the one to hand it to Baldwin. In most cases, if not all, armorers and weapons masters also ensure that there are NO live rounds anywhere on the set. This is one of the biggest questions that most of us have…

Per the safety rules from SAG and other organizations, gun training either at a range, or on location is a requirement for safe gun handling by the actors. Most, if not ALL of the various unions have safety requirements and reporting chains embedded in their contracts for any work on sets. Note- Most actors are anti-gun, unless they are using them to make money in a movie, so their knowledge of weapons is questionable at best (See Dance Monkey).

Rule of thumb is 20 feet for any blank cartridge, but a production safety coordinator, working with the armorer, will begin planning long before production begins. The armorer is brought on board early to analyze the script and, working with the director and prop master, decide what weapons are needed, graphing out scenes for safety zones, distances, and other requirements including blocking for actors and observers. In today’s world, remote cameras are used, often with a protective screen, if the gun is required to be pointed directly at it.

Good camera operators and cinematographers can ‘skew’ angles enough to make it look like the actors are firing ‘at’ each other, or appear closer than they actually are to stay within safety rules.

I was pointed to this twitter thread from SL Huang, which is worth the read…

Most of the backchannel chat revolves around the ‘issues’ on the set with safety, non-union personnel being used, and why/how live ammo was allowed on set in violation of safety rules. It appears there was NO application for live ammo on this shoot.

There are also questions about the NDs that occurred causing some camera operators to walk off the set on Friday. There are apparently a number of other issues around the production, but I’m not going into them. I’m ‘trying’ to stay strictly on the shooting.

Lastly, as usual, the antis are dancing in the blood before the bodies have cooled, wanting to ban ALL guns of any type from sets everywhere. “They can fix it in post with CGI.”

CGI/VFX is not cheap, even if one is just adding ‘smoke’ to the barrel, much less flash from the barrel will cost somewhere between $2000-5000 per minute, examples HERE. Most actors cannot accurately simulate recoil, so anyone with any experience is going to notice it and be thrown out of the action, unless that is added to the CGI/VFX (see cost above).

So, what is my bottom line? There were multiple violations of safety rules, apparently by multiple people. Were they ‘by direction’? I don’t know. The sad part is the confluence of those violations ended with a live round, which should never have been there in the first place, being loaded (or never unloaded if one report about the gun being used for shooting off set is to be believed), no ‘chain of custody’ from the armorer to the actor (why/how the AD got the weapon, who else had handled it in the interim from the armorer or was the armorer even on set), and no safety checks.

One person is dead, another wounded, and now ALL of those people in that failed chain of custody will have to deal with blood on their hands. The unknown (for now), are charges and lawsuits that are sure to come, and whom and how many will be banned from working again, and who/how many will suffer severe PTSD or commit suicide as a result of this.

 

Sigh…

Atlanta is at it again…

Atlanta City Council wants to fine people who do not safely store their guns. On Monday, full council passed a resolution that urges the state to give local governments the authority to issue penalties.

The resolution comes as Atlanta Police Department reported thousands of stolen guns connected to crimes across the city.

Full article, HERE.

Atlanta is notorious for passing crap preemptions that get slapped down in court, for good reason. But they keep trying…

Sooner or later, they are going to slip one through.

I’ve had a couple of emails and questions about why I haven’t commented on the Baldwin imbroglio. I will wait until 72 hours passes and some of the dust has settled. I will leave you with this to ponder…

1. Always treat every gun as if it were loaded.

It might be, even if you think it isn’t.

2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

Keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.

3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

This is the best way to prevent an accidental discharge.

4. Always be sure of your target and beyond.

Make sure you have an adequate backstop

Interesting article…

This one doesn’t pull any punches!

Knowing this history helps to understand why a state with an economy larger than most countries in the world, is swiftly heading towards total collapse. The people running California today are the same ones who for decades believed they could change the world with music and sit-ins but are joined now by millions of young “progressives” even less-anchored to reality than their hippie mentors. 

Full article, HERE.

I do remember working out of Fullerton in the late 90s on a Navy program and there were brownouts in SoCAL due to power problems. Diablo Canyon and San Onofre were both still online, and the decision was made to bring the third unit online at Diablo Canyon to help alleviate the problem.

The hippies and econazis drove up to the gates in their Volvos, blocked the gates for a bit and protested the third unit being brought on line because it would ‘destroy the environment’… Sigh…

And it would kill the whales that came into the little bay. Funny thing is, the whales ROUTINELY came into the bay to enjoy the warm outflow from the plant. And they would spy hop to spot the opening, then leave the bay on their way north or south, depending on the time of the year.

Now, San Onofre was closed in 2012 due to excessive wear on the piping, and NOTHING was done to replace the lost power output.

Diablo Canyon’s 2200 megawatt output will go away in 2024. PG&E determined it was too costly to continue operating the plant and that cheaper sources of energy could be developed to replace it. Of note, this is 8.6% of total California generation and 23% of carbon-free generation.

Of course nothing has been done to actually develop those ‘cheaper’ sources, much less get them installed.

Interesting…

The report is out on the USS Bonhomme Richard ship fire…

The Navy’s command investigation into the fire that destroyed the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard last summer stresses that failures to fight the fire lay across several commands and leadership levels.

That shared blame can be found in the report’s “accountability” section, which recommends disciplinary action against 36 Navy officials, from the amphib’s enlisted ranks up to the former three-star head of Naval Surface Force Pacific.

Full article, HERE from the Navy Times.

The article, HERE, goes into deeper depth as to the list of failures. HERE is the link to the actual report, if you want to slog through all 400+ pages.

There were four key focus areas to this final outcome:

  • Material Condition. Throughout the maintenance period, the material condition of the ship was significantly degraded, to include heat detection capability, communications equipment, shipboard firefighting systems, miscellaneous gear clutter, and combustible material accumulation. To illustrate the extent of degradation, on the morning of the fire, 87% of the ship’s fire stations remained in inactive equipment maintenance status.
  • Training and Readiness. The training and readiness of Ship’s Force was marked by a pattern of failed drills, minimal crew participation, an absence of basic knowledge on firefighting in an industrial environment, and unfamiliarity on how to integrate supporting civilian firefighters. To illustrate this point, the crew had failed to meet the time standard for applying firefighting agent on the seat of the fire on 14 consecutive occasions leading up to 12 July 2020.
  • Shore Establishment Support. The integration and support expected by the shore establishment did not adhere to required standards. Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) did not meet their requirements associated with fire safety and, in doing so, failed to communicate risk to leadership while facilitating unmitigated deviations from technical directives. Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) failed to ensure its civilian firefighters were familiar with Navy vessels on the installation, verify they were trained to respond to a shipboard fire, or effectively practice how to support Ship’s Force and simultaneously integrate responding mutual aid assets.
  • Oversight. Ineffective oversight by the cognizant Commanders across various organizations permitted their subordinates to take unmitigated risk in fire preparedness. A significant source of this problem was an absence of codification of the roles and responsibilities expected by each organization in their oversight execution.

A lot of this merely confirms what we were discussing when this happened. Dammit…

A part of the bigger picture, IMHO, is the ‘rush’ to fix things because the ships are behind in their maintenance and drydock space/shipyard space are at a premium, and have been for a couple of years due to lack of $$$$ for maintenance/upgrades of ships.

And maybe, just MAYBE, some folks will be held accountable up the chain this time! This is truly a leadership and training failure, and it is listed in print for all to see.

TBT…

Except this took place Monday…

LawDog and I headed out for breakfast before getting some stuff done. Went to a restaurant that has been in Itchy Paw for 75 years in the same location (not a chain restaurant, obviously). And the last upgrade was in the 70s…

And that included the waitresses…

Walking through the front door was like stepping back in time. Wood paneling, four old guys at the front table, kibitzing, and greeting the ‘regulars’ as they came and went.

Sat at a table where we could see the front door, exits, etc. Waitress was attentive, got the coffee to us quickly, and in big, mismatched cups! Looked around, and they still had the old built in benches!!! And the same green naugahyde covered seat cushions… LOL I haven’t seen those things in 40 years! AND, they still had the booth mounted music selectors!

Yes, they’d been updated to the CD version, but dammit, they STILL had them!

And pictures on the wall of cowboys all dressed up in their sunday go to meetin’ clothes and hats, and ladies in group pictures.

Breakfast itself was good and a lot of it! These folks breakfasts are for the working people! As we were eating, somebody put on an Elvis record and we just looked at each other and laughed. It was the perfect nostalgia trip!

And this one brings back memories of being a young sailor working on these birds. The Connie used ‘short stack’ P&W 3350s for power, and flames out the exhaust were normal. This vid gives you a great visual of how bright they were, and you wanted to see the red color, that meant the fuel/air mix was right.

This isn’t nostalgia, but one to think about… Don’t know who this gent is, but he lays it out pretty succinctly…

 

Book promos…

First up is Jeff Duntemann with an interesting little novella, Complete Sentences

The blurb-

It’s the summer of 1966. Family camping is the rage. Boomer kids are everywhere. Star Trek is brand-new. Smartphones and social media haven’t even been dreamt of yet. So summer crushes happen the old-fashioned way: young face to young face.

While scoping out sites for stargazing at Castle Rock Lake, 12-year-old Eric meets a girl from the next campsite over. Charlene and Eric are both gifted, highly articulate students: Eric in math and science, Charlene in art and composition. He shows her the constellations in the ink-black Wisconsin night sky; she sketches him and writes him poems. An attraction neither has ever felt before soon blossoms between them. Eric’s sensible parents caution him that 12 is too young to fall in love, while Charlene’s parents barely speak to each other, let alone her. She aches for the love she sees in Eric’s family, and takes strength from the attention and kindness that Eric offers her.

For Charlene has a secret, one that cuts to the heart of who and what she is. When the conflict in her family threatens to end the campout early, she must explain that secret to Eric, and begs him to accept the vision she has of her own future. Facing the possibility that they may never see each other again, Eric and Charlene struggle to put words to the feelings that have arisen between them. They discover the answer in the language they both speak, and had spoken together all along: Complete sentences.

This is a great little story about the days before technology became the center of our lives. The protagonist is at the age where awkward doesn’t begin to describe his interactions with the opposite sex, parents, and other adults.

Next up is Dorothy Grant with the third book in her Combined Operations series- A Perfect Day, with Explosions

The blurb-

Jenna Brooks is a welder, and a fashionista whenever she can afford it. AJ is a former Special Forces spacer, who finds himself completely outside his comfort zone with her. However, terrorist bombs can overcome almost any divide – the hard way.

When Jenna stumbles over a corpse wearing an important clue, she’s roped into a high-stakes counterterrorism operation to uncover a counterfeit fashion ring that’s funding the terrorists.

As the trail of blood money and knock-off shoes starts leading closer to home, Jenna’s going to need all the help she can get to stay alive. AJ’s just the man to do that – but he’s after a lot more than merely her safety. It may cost her everything she’s worked for… and also her heart.

It’s GOOD! I was proud to be a beta reader for her, and frequent commenter on various things as she grumbled about ‘military’ operations at our dinners… LOL

And a few of us are in another anthology… 🙂 It comes out 31 October. The link is to the publisher’s page for It Came from the Trailer Park

*******

And lastly, both The Grey Man series and Rimworld are now up on Audible for your listening enjoyment. The links below take you to the entire series so that you can choose your book or books.

The Grey Man series on Audible.

The Rimworld series on Audible.

And I’d like to thank all that have reviewed A Rifle A Pistol and A Good Horse. I will admit I’m frustrated by both the 1 star and 3 star ranking with NO review. If you didn’t like it, at least have the courtesy to tell me why… sigh…

Rimworld snippett…

The usual comments apply…

Comments and recommendations appreciated, as always!

Chapter

Fargo sat at the kitchen table in the cabin, quietly musing, I hate leaving like this. Nicole is…pissed, to put it mildly. And she wouldn’t even come stay the night. Why the hell is everybody blaming me for Ton? I…shit…whatever. At least he’s alive and getting treatment. He shrugged as he finished the last of the cup of coffee, rinsed it and put it in the cabinet. Glancing over, he saw Cattus and Canis watching him with trepidation. How the hell do they know I’m leaving? The go bag? He sighed and reached out. “Go to your packs. Eat well, I will return.”

He sensed an almost muttering between them as they paced quietly to the door, looking back at him. He opened the door, knelt, and hugged them both. “I will miss you,” he sent, and they both licked him, crowding close to him. He stood, and they looked up as he sensed them communicating. Then they bounded off the porch into the snow and disappeared. Stepping back inside, he made one more pass through the cabin, making sure he had everything, and set his go bag next to the door, along with his rifle and ammunition.

Ten segs later, he heard the whine of a shuttle descending into the field. He shrugged into his coat, picked everything up, and stepped out the door. He debated for a second or two about locking the door, but decided against it and walked down the steps, slogged through the snow to the shuttle and up the ramp. Evie met him at the top of the ramp. “We decided it would be easier to pick OneSvel up, then you.”

“What about Garun and Shan?”

“They are at the Enclave, along with Hyderabad. We came down this morning. They should have everything loaded by the time we get there.”

He nodded to OneSvel. “Are you ready for this?”

Their GalTrans twittered. “We are. Adventure awaits!”

Fargo shook his head and smiled for the first time in three days. “I swear you just aren’t right, OneSvel. This is probably going to be boring as hell.”

“We think not.” Fargo stowed his gear and sat across from them. OneSvel extended a pseudopod. “GalScouts are interested in what is happening. I have their files on Myoto. You can review them.”

“Good. I…didn’t think about pulling them. I’ve been…a little distracted.”

“Distracted is not good, Fargo. Not now, especially. Ton’Skel will survive and be stronger for it.”

“He may. I’m not sure I will. I have, for lack of a better term, destroyed my credibility with the Ghorka, Nicole, and deity knows who else.”

Evie interrupted, “Lifting. ETA one div.”

***

At the Enclave, Evie slid the shuttle smoothly into the bay and said, “You are cleared to debark. We assign your usual cabins gentle beings.”

“Where are Garun and Shan?”

“Next cabin down from OneSvel. They are currently in the mess. Captain Jace has just finished briefing them.”

“How long before we lift?”

“As soon as you quit bothering me,” Evie said with a smile.

Fargo snorted. “My apologies. Let me schlep my gear up to my…” Evie effortlessly picked up the rifle and ammunition.

“Allow me to assist you, sir,” she said with a grin.

“Women,” was all he said, as he followed her up to his cabin, where she set the gun and ammo on the deck without breaking stride. He quickly stowed everything and walked into the mess. “Garun, Shan, Jace, good to see you.” They all shook hands and he said, “I need some coffee.”

Captain Jace replied, “We managed to get a good cargo for Myoto, so we will make credits on this leg. Ten days in transit, five hyper jumps on a slightly different routing. I have six days of local news from there, pulled from the net.”

OneSvel came in and added, “We have the GalScout surveys. Nothing in them indicates any unusual in the way of local fauna or flora.”

The days passed slowly, with Jace pulling news every time they came out of hyper. Videos seemed to always be shaky, or too far away, until the last update three days before they arrived. The thing, for lack of a better description, was a Chimera. A vid showed a group of them coming from the water, four legs, but the ability to stand on the back legs, what appeared to be bony plates down the backs, and long, almost prehensile tails that appeared to be used for balance or as a weapon. The head was covered with what looked like bony plates, two eyes on either side, and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Everyone sat in the mess studying the vid, frame by frame. Garun finally said, “That…looks like something out of an ancient movie.”

Shan shook his head. “Whatever it is, I’m not sure our puny little rifles will penetrate it, and we don’t know a damn thing about its guts. Where do we shoot it?”

Fargo leaned back, biting his lip. “That…is a damn good question,” he thought back to the Silverback’s internal structure. We’re going to have to kill a small one somehow, and skin it out. How the hell are we going to do that? Massed fire? Hell, I’m not sure I brought enough gun. And the bead rifles…may not be enough. Plus, we have to figure out how to deal with the whole no weapons thing. I still don’t have a suitable answer for that.

OneSvel remained strangely silent, until Garun turned to them and asked plaintively, “Have you ever seen anything like this?”

Their GalTrans twittered, “No, nor have we ever seen a description of anything that comes close. But it appears to be an air breathing water being. The question is, why are they coming ashore?”

Jace snorted. “Nothing I’ve seen or studied comes anywhere close.”

Fargo thought, So Jace has searched the entire net, and these things have never been seen? Oh just lovely…But OneSvel’s question is a good one. Why now? What is different? Seventeen years since the initial survey, ten years since the first colonists. Two main…towns for lack of a better term, one spaceport at New Tokyo, one geosynced space station. Forty thousand, give or take a few colonists, all from the Japanese home islands. All of them subscribe to mushūkyō, or generalized religion. Strange, but that’s the way they want it. GalPat det at New Tokyo, the bigger of the two near the equator. New Sapporo is further north, up around thirty-five degrees above the equator. Appears all the issues are around New Tokyo. Huh…

***

The Hyderabad docked at the space station at one of the cargo docking bays and was met by security, cargo handlers, and an anonymous bureaucrat that everyone else deferred to. He minced aboard and Fargo almost laughed at the size differential between him and Captain Jace. He dropped that thought when the bureaucrat looked him, Garun, and Shan up and down, sniffed, and sneered. “Are these the killers?”

Jace broadcast a thought to him. “Chill. I will handle this.” Looking down at the man, Jace said, “The government contracted us to bring personnel to fix your problems you seem to have gotten yourselves into. Yes, these are these personnel. Is there an issue with that?”

The little man, slicked back hair and all, was even smaller than Garun or Shan, Fargo noted, even as he sniffed again. “I, Kaito Nori, the ambassador for Myoto, do not want them here. We are a pacifist world, we have no police and no weapons anywhere on the world. We stress the principle of ahimsa, non-injury, of other living things. Its teachings also emphasize that violence harms the spiritual state of the perpetrator, as well as the victim. We regard malicious thoughts or deeds as obstacles on the path to nirvana.” He looked at the three of them again, then added, “Not that any of you could possibly understand that!”

The captain looked askance at the man. “Mr. Nori, is that the official position of the Myoto government? If so, we will depart immediately.”

“I understand you also have cargo for us, correct?”

“Well, under the circumstances, I feel it is incumbent on us to depart immediately to remove these men. That would not allow time to unload any cargo.” Jace turned back to the ship. “Let’s go gents. We aren’t wanted.”

The little man deflated like a balloon with the air let out as he sucked air between his teeth. “Uh, accommodations can be made.” He looked around frantically, snapped his fingers, and an assistant stepped up with some lengths of pink ribbon. Snatching them, he went on, “All weapons must be peace bonded.” He looked at Garun and Shan. “Those weapons…must you wear them openly?”

Garun glared at him. “We are Ghorka. Until the day we die.”

Nori sighed. “Then I must peace bond them on you. Please lift your arm.” Garun complied, and he selected one ribbon, tied an intricate knot around all three hilts, and said, “This must not be removed until you depart our world.” Garun grimaced, glanced at Fargo, and shrugged. Nori repeated the tying ritual on Shan’s kukri and stepped back. “Other weapons?”

Fargo replied, “Three rifles in cases.”

“Bring them.”

Jace sent, “Just do it. This is not the time to start problems. Glad I’m staying up here, and grinned at Fargo.

“Let’s go get the rifles,” Fargo said with a grimace.

Twenty segs later, all three gun cases were sprouting red ribbons, and Nori and Jace worked out a deal where the Hyderabad’s shuttle could take the four of them to the GalPat det compound directly. That way, no locals would see the weapons.

Two divs later, Evie set them gently on the X at the GalPat compound. “All ashore that’s going ashore. Please remember your luggage. We are not responsible for lost items,” came over the PA, and Shan made a rude gesture toward the cockpit. Fargo chuckled, dropped the ramp, and the four of them stepped on Myoto for the first time. The heat and humidity slapped them in the face like a wet towel.

OneSvel said, “Gravity is nominal one G.” They sniffed and added, “Oxygen is one point five percent low by standard, but breathable. I am detecting an unusual pollen in the air, and moisture in the air is over ninety percent.”

A weary-looking GalPat colonel walked up to the ramp. “I’m Colonel Ishihara. For my sins, I’m the GalPat rep here. I have Prime Minister Yaeko Chihiro in my office. She is…both curious and afraid, and a bit fragile. She is almost two hundred and questioning her ability to govern right now.”

Fargo nodded politely. “Ethan Fargo. Former GalScout, and team lead. One sixteen mm rifle plus ammo. Four of us total, OneSvel is a Taurasian symbiote pair, here as a sifter. No weapon. Garun Rai and Shan Pun are Ghorka, retired GalPat and backup shooters. Standard six mm bead rifles plus ammo, and as you can see, peace bonded kukris.” Since nobody asked, I’m not mentioning my vibroknife.

The colonel pinched the bridge of his nose. “The Taurasian is going to be a problem. We were not expecting them. The…plan is to put you up at the temple outside New Tokyo. The priests are all down here. We were…going to move you in a lightflyer, but that’s obviously not going to work.” He rubbed his jaw for a moment, then added, “I will introduce you to Prime Minister Chihiro and get a transporter to move you four.”

Fargo nodded. “That is fine. Lead on, Colonel.”

A few segs later, after stops in the fresher for everyone, they stood in front of what Fargo could only think of as a porcelain doll. Prime Minister Chihiro was dressed in formal court dress, artfully made up and perfectly coiffed silver hair piled atop her head. He let his block down and sensed fear, hope, and weariness in a melange of feelings as they bowed to her. “Welcome to Myoto, gentlemen. We are a peace-loving culture and have no weapons. I would ask that you display no weapons in sight of our colonists. We have lost, as of today, one hundred thirty-one colonists to these creatures. We ask that you stop them by whatever means available, not within sight of any colonists. Are there any questions?”

Fargo could think of hundreds of questions, but said, “I believe it would be best if we coordinate with the GalPat detachment and Colonel Ishihara for the details. The less interaction with your colonists, the better, if I understand your direction.”

“That is my request.” With that, the prime minister rose and glided gracefully from the room as the five of them bowed to her.

When she cleared the room, the colonel blew out a breath and went to sit behind the desk. “That…went about as well as I could have expected. She,” he glanced up at the ceiling, “Isn’t handling this well at all.” He motioned them to chairs and turned to OneSvel. “My apologies for not having a chair for you.”

OneSvel’s GalTrans chittered, “No problem, colonel. I have ways of mitigating the stress on my buttresses. Please continue.”

“This is the wettest year recorded and some strange things are…flowering. These creatures, I have no better word, have been flowing out of the waters and through the valley like…” Ishihara threw up his hands in frustration. “A plague! All along the coastline, as far as we’ve scouted. Our weapons are peace bonded, we have not been allowed to…do anything, not even to protect the citizens.” He spat the words out, his anger plain on his face.

“How are they killing people?” Garun asked.

“Trampling them, mostly. Then they stop and feed.”

Fargo looked at him sharply. “They aren’t attacking people? What about your surveillance cameras?”

Ishihara shrugged. “There are no surveillance cameras other than our perimeter. We haven’t seen anyone attacked on them. Before you ask, we aren’t allowed to patrol either.” He cocked his head, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Your transportation is ready. One div up to the temple by transporter. It’s not really a temple, but the priests took over the area, so…temple. It’s on a high point, which should allow you to scout and get a few of these creatures without the citizens being aware of it.” He stood and sighed. “If you’ll follow me?”

***

The road, if you could call it that, degraded the further from New Tokyo they got, finally reduced to two tracks rising up the side of a relatively steep ridge. The temple turned out to be squashed hexagon of pedestrian looking containers with the secondary units stacked in the center of the hexagon, making a rudimentary open temple. Once at the main entry, the transporter turned around and backed near the entry doors, then squatted, allowing them to offload quickly. Colonel Ishihara had added two pallets of GalPat rations, since they didn’t know what they were facing for food supplies. As soon as they unloaded, the transporter hopped up and sped back down the track. Shan laughed. “Somebody wants to be back home and safe.”

Garun grinned. “With no weapons, I don’t know that I’d blame them.”

Fargo stood, hands on hips, looking back down the ridge toward New Tokyo. The yellowish orange sun was touching the ocean in the east, and he glanced at OneSvel. “I didn’t see a damn thing moving on the way up here, did you?”

“No, we did not. But the air is better here. Less pollen, if nothing else.”

“Do you see the cloud or…dust…or whatever the hell that is, it’s moving on the wind toward New Tokyo.”

“Pollen.” OneSvel extended a pseudopod, pointing down the ridge line. “Coming from plants down there. We want to find out more about those plants.”

“I want to see these creatures. If they were really rampaging like the reports said, they would be active now. Something is not right.”

“We are surprised at the lack of aggression and information from GalPat. Almost as if they are being stifled by the prime minister.”

Fargo wrinkled his lips in frustration. “Possible. But there are too many—”

Shan stepped out and interrupted. “Odd setup here. The outer containers are basically just that. Minimal comfort items. No windows on the outside perimeter. Main doors can be secured, limiting access. Three sleeping areas per container. Bottom right of the stack is where the mess is. Basic autochef appears to be stocked. Garun is thinking there might be a ladder to the roof. He’s checking that out now.” Shan glanced up at OneSvel. “You might have a problem fitting through the hatches on the sleeping containers.”

OneSvel asked, “What about the central area?”

“It is open. No problems there.”

Garun came out as the sun set, bringing a sharp decrease in the light. “No way to get on the roof, but there are windows on the second level.”

Fargo nodded. “Let’s close it up then, chow and sleep. We’ll sort it out tomorrow.”

***

The sun had just broken the horizon when Fargo unlocked the main doors and stepped out, rifle in hand. He cranked the holosight to its maximum and carefully scanned toward the ocean. He could see movement at the water’s edge, but couldn’t quite make it out. Scanning closer, he could see waving plants on both sides of the ridge, stretching for well over a mile toward the water, possibly further, but it was lost in the darkness.

OneSvel lumbered out of the main entry. “We would like to investigate the plants. Is there any movement?”

“Down on the coast, but I can’t tell what is moving.”

“If we go down the ridge, I can investigate.” OneSvel extended a pseudopod and touched his shoulder, sending, “There is another being here. I sensed it last night in the mess area.”

“Person or being?”

“We think person. Male. Conflicted. He watches from concealment.”

“Who would hide up here? And why?”

“We do not know.”

Garun and Shan walked out, rifles in hunter carry. Garun asked, “We go now?”

Fargo nodded. “First, down the ridge. Things are…moving, but I can’t tell what.”

Twenty segs and a little over a mile later, they were at the base of the ridge and OneSvel said, “We smell ketones.”

“Ketones?” Fargo asked.

“Alcohol, raw fermentation.” A pseudopod extended and pointed off to the left. “There.”

Another five segs and they were among a waist high group of flowering bushes with a yellowish colored bulb that stank of fermentation. OneSvel moved gracefully among the bushes, then turned back to Fargo. “We are sure this is all fresh growth. There is no sign of previous generations of this plant. It is filled with water. There is a chemical process that turns the bulbs into fermentation reservoirs. We need to move further toward the coast and see how far these plants extend.”

(C) JL Curtis 2021 All Rights Reserved

Clean humor…

You can even tell these in church…

Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil.

One said to the other, ‘What do you think about all this Satan stuff?’

The other boy replied, ‘Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It’s probably just your Dad..’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl

whispered to her mother, ‘Why is the bride dressed in white?”

The mother replied, ‘Because white is the color

of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.’

The child thought about this for a moment then said,

‘So why is the groom wearing black?’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers.

The first boy says, ‘My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.’

The second boy says, ‘That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100.’

The third boy says, ‘I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

An elderly woman died last month. Having never married, she requested no male pallbearers.

In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote, ‘They wouldn’t take me out while I was alive,

I don’t want them to take me out when I’m dead.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

A police recruit was asked during the exam, ‘What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?’

He answered, ‘Call for backup.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Sunday School teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem.

A small child replied, ‘They couldn’t get a babysitter.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ she asked, ‘Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?’

Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, ‘Thou shall not kill.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~

At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings.

Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs.

Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and she said, ‘Johnny, what is the matter?’

Little Johnny responded, ‘I have pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife.’

And one more for your ‘enjoyment’…

Unbelievable…

As if the whole cluster in Loudoun County couldn’t get worse…

Virginia law requires public schools to report specifically named serious crimes.

Rape is obviously a serious crime on that list.

But the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) has refused to report those. They have a clean record.

It is little wonder that they claimed they had “no reports” of sexual assaults in bathrooms. They have no reports of any sexual assaults — it’s their policy.

They’ve been covering up sexual assaults at least as early as 2018.

Full article, HERE from Ace of Spades.

And it appears at least one member of the school board resigned yesterday, no reason given.

In other Virginia news, it appears McAuliffe has been caught in yet another lie about CRT…

“McAuliffe’s idea that it’s not taught in Virginia schools is verifiably false. We have records, including actual contract receipts from Loudoun County, Virginia. They actually are paying six hundred and twenty five dollars an hour for consulting. That specifically references critical race theory by name…The former superintendent even admitted in an email to parents that the ideology that they’re promoting in Loudoun county are directly aligned with critical race theory. And also in Fairfax County, we have Asian-American parents that are in revolt against changes to the advanced education system, and they argue that with the implementation of critical race theory ideology in Fairfax County schools, they’re now going after merit. They’re going after advanced classes…We have actual receipts and contract data. And so McAuliffe is trying to maintain that fiction until he can kind of run out the clock.”

Full article, HERE from Town Hall.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad none of my grandkids are in school in Virginia!

Sigh… What happened to teaching the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, along with Civics and state history???

Am I that damned old?

Coming attractions…

Gah- Sorry, the scheduler didn’t schedule this morning…

There is going to be a volume 2 of Tales Around the Supper Table!

There are some new authors joining us this time around, but the usual suspects are also present…LOL

And we’re working up the cover for my next book.

The tentative title is Diplomatic Immunity. Just went over 50k words last night on it.

 

And a little humor for your weekend, with Halloween coming, who knows what costumes we’ll see this year???