Rimworld snippet…

Well, the muse is ‘kinda’ back under control… For now…

As always, unedited, etc…

Settling In

Fargo dialed up a bulb of coffee, and a high protein breakfast from the autochef as he tried to stretch his aching muscles, Damn, I’d forgotten how bad Fleet beds could be. I swear I’ve slept on softer rocks. Jiri came in smiling as usual and Fargo grumped, “Guess you slept well?”

Jiri laughed, “Of course, my captain. Nobody was shooting at me!”

The autochef spit out Fargo’s breakfast and bulb, and he carried them to a table off to the side, as Jiri selected his breakfast. Slumping down, Fargo winced as his back complained about the hard chair. He sighed, and juggled the bulb, waiting for it to cool. Reaching out cautiously, he sensed Colonel Zhu coming down the hall, and cocked his head toward the hall as Jiri started to say something.

The colonel came into the mess, saw them, and crossed to their table, “Morning gentlemen. What is your status?”

“All four sites are up and on line, Colonel. Insertion was done without any problems. There was a fairly large crowd at Feeder three, but they took no action. We have initiated video surveillance and I’ll be getting those downloads every twelve hours. Whom do you want us to pass them to?”

The colonel thought for a second, “Let me think on that. I’m not sure we necessarily need to let the administration know we’re doing that. It was also brought to my attention that your shuttle pilot didn’t use standard approaches when the modules were emplaced.”

Jiri interrupted, “Colonel, we weren’t told we had to use any particular approaches, and she used the most secure approaches to the sites. Not overflying populations, and minimizing any potential interactions with any flights.”

Zhu nodded curtly, “Makes sense. If there are any reactions or protests, notify me immediately, any time.”

They chorused, “Yes, sir.” And Zhu headed for the door.

Jiri mumbled, “Damn marionette…”

Fargo coughed to cover a smile, “Garrison folks are a little different.”

Jiri smiled wryly, “Give me the field and a real enemy anytime. Them I can deal with. Backstabbing and politics, not so much. It’s not in our genetic makeup to deal gently with those.”

Fargo coughed for real as he snorted coffee out his nose, “Damn Jiri… You said that with a straight face… Don’t do that to me.”

Jiri’s smile broadened, “We are what we are. Granted our reputation proceeds us, but that is who we are. Deity knows, we deserve it.”

WO Boykin and Senior Grayson walked in together, and Fargo marveled at the size difference. Greyson almost made two of Boykin, and their personalities couldn’t be much different. But, in the situation they were in, he was happy to have them both, and he knew they were both professionals. That was all that mattered.

Fargo waved them over, and they sat as soon as they’d gotten their breakfast. He turned to Boykin, “Well, you got caught out on the surveys. How did they colonel put it? It was brought to his attention that you didn’t use standard approaches when the modules were emplaced.”

Boykin shrugged, “So?”

“Jiri covered you nicely. Today is probably a good day to go make nice with the pilots here, and see what else you can find out.” Turning to Grayson, he said, “You getting settled in?”

Grayson nodded around a mouthful of food, holding up a finger. “Yes, sir. I’ll check out the facilities today. Got the spare stuff stashed in the shuttle for a quick react.” Plucking at his sleeve, he said, “These grays are pretty nice. You sure I won’t get in trouble?”

Jiri replied, “In accordance with GalPat Rule thirty-one, three-eighteen, blah, blah, you’re authorized indigenous uniform when temporarily additional duty to indigenous forces. Which we qualify as. Voila, greys. And yes, they are probably better than your issue ones.”

Fargo got up, “Time for morning reports. I’ll go collect those. Jiri will you follow-up with the colonel? WO, Senior, y’all are on your own.”

They all nodded, and Jiri got up, “Since the colonel is already here, I might as well go beard him now. You know where our office is, right?”

WO and Senior both nodded. As Jiri walked away, Grayson asked, “So if I’m in greys, why aren’t you, WO?”

Boykin laughed, “Well, if militias had combat shuttles, I would be, but since I’m flying the latest and greatest combat shuttle, it’s kinda hard to say I’m not GalPat.”

Grayson leaned over, “Have you seen their damn armor?”

Boykin nodded, looking quickly around. “Yeah.”

“It’s a helluva lot better than ours. And ours is supposedly the best in the universe. How the…”

Boykin interrupted him, “Gray Lady. They do testing for De Perez.”

“De Perez? But why in the back of beyond on a dirt ball like Rimworld?”

Boykin shook her head, “You really don’t pay attention, do you Grayson?”

“Huh?”

“Have you looked, I mean really looked at who is in this particular militia company?”

Grayson shrugged, “Little, old guys. And they all carry those funky antique knives.”

“You don’t get out much, do you?”

“What?”

“You ever hear of Ghorkas?”

“Yeah, the CSM in boot was one. Why?”

“You ever see any other ones?”

“Not really. Treated a few when I was with the Fleet.”

“Never did a ground pounder tour, did you?”

Grayson sighed, “Where are we going with this, WO?”

Boykin put her hands on the table and looked directly at him, saying softly, “Those little old men with the funky knives as you call them, have an average, average of over forty years of service, and an average rank of E-nine. You never see them anywhere but in combat outfits for the simple reason that they love to fight. And they smile when the do it.” She leaned back, “And that is why they’re here, and we’re here. And why they are doing testing for new armor. They have more combat…”

Grayson held up his hand, “So, what you’re telling me is I fucked up, right?”

Boykin smiled, holding her fingers about an eighth of an inch apart, “Just a little bit. There may be hope for you yet. Go on the net and look them up. You might learn something.”

Grayson nodded, “Will do, WO. As soon as I finish breakfast.”

“Good man. Now I have to go see a pilot about a schedule.”

***

Fargo sat down in front of the communications suite, made sure the data logger was on, and started calling the four sites.

Shanni at Feeder 4 noted they had seen evidence of at least one disturbance higher up on the mountain behind Coventry, but it didn’t appear to have fresh tracks in or near it. They had hooked the location, and would continue to monitor video. They had also dropped a Ferret near the location and their 2 man patrol was out for another 2 divs.

Feeder 3 reported in, with Daman identifying what appeared to be an observation post, watching the feeder and their operations. He squirted a vidcap, and Fargo pulled it up. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he said, “That looks almost like a sniper’s hide. Are you getting any transmissions from there?”

“Nothing in the RF band, we’ve got a patrol out, talking to mostly shopkeepers in the area.

When they get close, they’re going to launch a Ferret, and we’ll fly it up to the window, and see what we get.”

“Copy all, update at sixteen unless something happens between now and then. Good catch, guys.”

Horse reported in for Feeder two with no unusual activity, and very little movement around the site. Barun reported in for Feeder one, and due to their more remote location, their patrol had already been out and back. The closets village was over a mile away, and nobody had reacted to them at all.

Fargo wondered again about the feeder placement, Should have asked Mikhail about that. Their layout is entirely different than Hunter’s. Which reminds me, I need to get with Ivan and   get the maps for the cross feeds, sub-feeder links, and links to the remote farms. Don’t want to have the warrant inadvertently flying into those. Maybe task her for some overflights of the outlying areas around the locations. Totally different feel than Hunter.

Jiri came in with a worried expression, “Are we running armed patrols?”

“Why?”

The colonel is apparently already getting complaints from the ‘natives’.”

Fargo picked up the mic, “Site three, base.”

“Go base.”

“Daman available?”

“Standby one.”

“Sites one, two, and four, listen up.” He heard double clicks from the other sites, and fidgeted as he waited for Daman, “Colonel pissed?”

“He wants to know what kind of patrols we’re running.”

Fargo scrubbed his hands over his face, “Well, apparently the locals have some kind of organization that is intent on making our job interesting.”

The radio squawked, “Daman for Fargo.”

Fargo keyed up, “Daman, give me a description of the patrols you’re running.”

“Standard two man patrols. In greys, sidearms and slung rifles.”

“So GalPat standard, right? Rifles slung down the back?”

“Correct, no overt show of force. Just introducing themselves to the shopkeepers. Vidcams on the lapels. Handing out the holocards of what we are here for.”

“Anybody doing anything different?”

Barun reported from site one, “Well, we’re not giving cards out. Only thing out here is animals and I don’t think they are sentient, much less able to read.”

That prompted a round of chuckles, and Fargo keyed up, “Thanks Daman. We’ll handle it from this end.” Fargo got up, “Well, lets go see how unhappy that makes the good colonel.”

Ten segs later, they were finally admitted to the colonel’s office, and he waved them in peremptorily, “Well?”

Fargo replied, “GalPat standard two man patrols. In greys, sidearms and rifles slung down the back. Strictly non-threatening. The patrols are introducing themselves to shopkeepers, and giving out these,” he handed the colonel one of the holocards.

The colonel tapped the card to activate it, watched it in silence, then looked up, “Non-threatening?”

Fargo reached out very tentatively, sensing worry on Colonel Zhu’s part, and the fact that he had already been called by the landholder he’d seen once before, Perez. “Non-threatening. No riot gear, no protective gear at all. Standard comms devices, lapel vidcams. So we have recordings of every interaction.”

“That’s not what is being reported.”

Fargo was getting frustrated, “Colonel Zhu, I need details to be able to see if we have an issue anywhere.”

Zhu reacted, “Well, I don’t have details. You people haven’t even been here a day, and already causing problems.”

Fargo sensed Zhu’s frustrations overlying his worries about who was doing what on the planet. It was obvious that Zhu wanted to have control, but he didn’t know who to try to control, much less what the underlying issues were. “Sir, if you get specifics, I’ll be more than happy to investigate them. But in the meantime, I plan on continuing random patrols, non-threatening, boots on the ground, which is well within the ROE we’ve agreed to.”

The colonel glared at him, “Dismissed. When I have more information, I’ll call you.”

Fargo and Jiri came to attention, executed precise about faces, and left the office. Fargo stalked back to their office waved Jiri in, and closed the door. “Well, that didn’t go well.”

Jiri slumped in a chair, “Not like we had a lot of options there. We are in compliance with the ROE, but something tells me we’re upsetting what is it they say, somebody’s cart?”

Distracted, Fargo said, “Apple cart. Don’t know why, but it’s an ancient English saying. My mother used that one a lot. Especially when people were unhappy.”

“What do we do?”

Fargo pulled up the manning list, “Double up on patrols, at least every other, or every third day. Randomize the schedule twenty-four/seven. Still should give the folks enough rest. Need to go find Boykin. I want her to do some more flying.”

Jiri nodded, “I’ll man the radios.”

Fargo got up and stalked out, getting the feeling that they might be in trouble. There was a lot more going on than was being admitted to. He reached out with his psi sense, deciding all was fair in love and war, and this sure as hell didn’t look like love.

TBT…

Back in the day… We had crew hats that were done in theater… Japan, 1976-77

 

But the real reason for this is a picture one of my shipmates sent me, asking, “Remember this?”

The ubiquitous electric skillet… Every crew had at least two of these, some crews had three (although I’m not sure where they plugged the third one in). We would draw what was called ‘unprepareds’, which was basically uncooked items to make a meal, provided by the flight kitchen, that we prepared inflight. Our other option was to chip in and go to the commissary and get better stuff, which a lot of crews did.

Now if you had a GOOD cook, you got some great food, if not… well 12 hours is a LONG time to be hungry… Sometimes the crews took turns cooking, other times there was a designated cook. I was lucky on my last crew, our Ordnanceman loved to cook, and was actually a chef part time. Yep, we ate GOOD!!!

What made it ‘really’ fun was cooking in turbulence… Sometimes you ended up with ‘interesting’ one pan meals… Because the cook was basically holding the lid on with one hand and a leather flight glove, while hanging onto the overhead bar with the other, just trying to stay in place…

 

Which brings to mind another funny story… On the 76-77 deployment, we got a brand new kid on the crew, straight out of, I think, Nebraska. Never seen the ocean, much less eaten fish… Or Japanese food EVER…

We go out for a crew dinner to a nicer little Japanese restaurant in Misawa, JA. Not as fancy as the picture below, but they had the ‘demonstration’ plates up on top of the sushi bar.

So we go down the line and order…

And he has a tray full of food when we get to the end of the line, the rest of us…

Not so much. He didn’t realize they were plastic, and thought THAT was dinner. Much hilarity ensued, and what was even funnier, was when his food did come, he took the plate back up and compared it to the plastic display. More laughter, and the chef even came out of the kitchen and watched, a smile on his face.

Every other time we went out to eat, we always would remind him, “Don’t eat the plastic.” 🙂

Snerk…

Tired of paying outrageous prices for burnt coffee served by ‘baristas’ with an attitude?

Apparently you’re not the only one (I don’t buy ANYTHING at Starbucks, ever).

Starbucks is closing 150 stores in the next year…

The coffee behemoth is retrenching in its home market as it contends with sales growth that Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson acknowledges isn’t fast enough. The cafe chain said Tuesday it expects comparable sales to rise just 1 percent globally for the current quarter—the worst performance in about nine years. That’s well below the 2.9 percent analysts were expecting, according to Consensus Metrix.

Full article, HERE.

In other news, looks like Page was smarter than her lover. She  bailed from the FBI earlier this year…

Anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok was escorted out of the bureau’s headquarters Friday, one day after an explosive report by the Justice Department inspector said his behavior had hurt the venerable law agency’s reputation for fairness.

Full article, HERE. Not fired, yet, but he should be.

Thoughts…

Yeah, yeah, you smell something burning… 🙂

Discussion yesterday with a young lady at the library who is breaking in as an author. In the two hardest possible genres, romance and young adult (YA). She indie too (self-published via Amazon). And does everything including her covers herself. I have nothing but admiration for her. I can’t/won’t do that…

It got me to thinking how lucky I am, to have a group of folks that I can bounce ideas off of, throw chapters at, and get HONEST feedback (along with speling erors, and stuf).

You can read a bunch of books on writing, how to write, how to plot, how to yada, yada, yada.

BUT, the bottom line, IMHO, is we’re all different in how and why we write. THAT is the bottom line, words on ‘paper’, either literally, or metaphorically, on the computer. Sparse, verbose, how ever you write, it’s WORDS ON PAPER.

Whether you’re a plotter, outliner (short or long), or write by the seat of your pants (pantser), you have to actually write. I don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, etc on the first pass, I’m just trying to get words on paper. There have been books where I wrote the prologue first, then the epilogue, THEN had to go back and write the middle. Another thing is never EVER throw anything away. If it doesn’t work in ‘this’ book, it may work in ‘that’ book. I keep those chapters, ideas, etc. in a spares folder.

How much you write is governed by your lives. 8 hours a day, 1 hour a day, 3 hours a week. It doesn’t make any difference, as long as you’re writing. 200 words, 2500 words, do what you can.  I wrote on airplanes and in hotels before I retired for the second time. Not saying that was the ‘best’ way to do it, but it saved me money on the bar bills… LOL

And you’re not going to get rich… Times have changed in so many ways. Indie did us all a favor, but it has also widened the ‘pool’ if you will. From 2 million to over 8 million books available on Amazon.

So… That wheelbarrow full of money?  Here ya go…

John from over at No Lawyers- Only Guns and Money gave me this years ago, if I remember correctly, he’d had some of them done when folks were talking about monetizing blogs… We know how well THAT worked out…

Anyhoo, back to writing. The old saw is write what you know. Not doing that, Leavenworth doesn’t hold any attraction for me. Okay, what ELSE do I know. Hrmm… Guns… A little bit about law enforcement… A little bit about surveillance… A good bit about south Texas… A good bit about military… And away I went.

People say you have to write a million words to get better, and honestly, looking back at my first effort, I can only agree. Still amazed people read that, and liked it…

I’ve been told more than once, I’m more of a storyteller than a writer, per se. That’s fine with me.  I don’t write the Perfect Character™, because that has always been one of my pet peeves. My characters are based on composites of folks that I’ve known, so no, I didn’t know your daddy, or your momma, or your sister. But if I got that close, I’ll take it! 🙂

For TGM, I’ve tried to keep the novels very realistic, and I think I’ve been fairly successful at that, without giving any current tech away. For the MilSF, I tried to mix hard SF with possibilities from research I’ve done.

That brings me to my  next point. Research is good! The more ‘realistic’ the scenario, settings, distances, etc. the better off you are. The last thing you want to do is throw the reader out of the story. BUT the last thing you want is a three page infodump. I tend to use sparse descriptions, figuring that my readers have good minds, and everyone ‘builds’ their own characters, settings, and populates the scenarios based on those descriptions I provide.

Granted, that does come back to bite me, when I get told rather vehemently that (insert character) doesn’t have THAT attribute.

The last thing may sound strange, but it’s good, IMHO, to have more than one story running at a time. That way, if you get stuck, you can always go to another story, and potentially kick start the muse on the first one.

Odd… This got almost NO coverage…

Bank of America has apparently followed Dicks, Delta, and Intuit down the rathole…

Bank of America has sold its interest in gun manufacturer Remington Outdoor Co. and made peace with anti-gun activists in the Parkland community.

Full story, HERE.

Makes me glad I dumped BofA two years ago as my bank. But I wonder if they are still invested in beer, liquor, or cigarette manufacturers??? Just curious…

On the other side of the coin, there is THIS letter to the editor up in Buffalo, NY…

Personally, I believe the real reason the SJZs, media, et al don’t want kids to learn about guns is to allow the school systems to brainwash them at an early age that guns are bad. Once they’ve accomplished that with a generation or two, they really believe they can take another run at 2A, and get it overturned…

Meanwhile, This Ain’t Hell blog has an article up , HERE that talks about how the MSM slants media coverage when a good guy with a gun is involved. If you just scan the headlines, or depend on soundbites, you’d never know the perps happened to take on two CCW carriers.

It’s not paranoia, when they ARE out to get you…

 

Ultimate underdogs???

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

Yesterday, they played Argentina to a draw!

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

Full article, HERE.

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

Best of luck to them!

Bleg…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ummm… Not sure what the hell to call this…

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

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

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

      “M’kay, whut…”

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

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

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

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

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

      “Where?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      “You lost me, what’s a DSRV?”

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

      “But it was empty?”

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

      “Okay, okay. The normal.”

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

      Estrella replied, “Already done. Local operations?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      DANIEL JEROME ORTEGA

      MASTER PILOT (NON-AUGMENTED)                                                                           

      CLASSIFICATION- ANY SHIP, ANY TONNAGE, GALAXY

      APPROVAL- GANYMEDE GALSTA 28381229 GANYTECH EDU 28381201

      RENEWED- ALPHA STATION 28481023

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

      Estrella started down the list, “Umbilicals.”

      “Disconnected.”

      “Power.”

      “Internal.”

      Thirty items later, she said, “Clock.”

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

      “Checklist complete.”

      “Okay Essie, lets light this candle.”

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

      “Plotting.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      “Make it so. Full power.”

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

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

      “Understood.”

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

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

      Estrella didn’t answer.

      “Estrella?”

      Still no answer.

      “AI, talk to me. Where are we?

      A dull male voice answered, “Unknown location.”

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

TBT…

Sigh, I like my shipmates… I really do…

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

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

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

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

Does the Glomar Explorer ring a bell???

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

‘My’ perspective…

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

Perspective…

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

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

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

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

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

Kicking the soapbox back in the corner…

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

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

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

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