45K words into the first Rimworld Series book.
Here’s a teaser for you, since I’m out of pocket for a couple of days.
As usual, not spell checked or punctuation checked… Feedback is appreciated.
Drogan and Fargo sat at the table, holograph live in front of them as Drogan explained the TBT configuration and the red lines crisscrossing Hunter. Zooming in, Drogan continued, “See, here is the terraformer, the white line is the e-comm coming down from the satellite to ride the beams. That’s where we’re drawing all the power for this region from,” pointing to the terraformer on the expanded holograph. “These repeaters,” pointing to the six main lines radiating from the terraformer, “provide the feeds for the rest of the region. They are all at higher altitudes on the edge of the Green.”
Rotating the view to a vertical slice, he continued, “See the altitude differences?”
Fargo nodded, “Yep, you’re going up to get range, then coming back down. Subfeeders on the highest building or structure, right?”
Drogan replied, “Yes. The subfeeders also balance power requirements for the individual locations, whether houses or businesses. It’s all based on kilowatt hours, but it’s fairly cheap too.”
Switching displays, Drogan brought up a flight plan route, “Okay, here is how you will have to fly to and from your place. There is a ten mile ring around the spaceport that is TBT free, we feed it underground from this substation, here.” Tracing the route he said, “By eight miles, you need to be five hundred feet AGL or better, which clears everything except the main feed beams here, here and here. For those you need to be under two thousand or above five thousand feet AGL.”
Fargo asked, “AGL? Above… Above ground level?”
Drogan nodded, “That’s it. Now this flight plan route will automatically display on your nav panel in the lightflyer, and it will automatically deviate to a safe altitude unless you physically override it.”
Fargo smiled, “Good! I’m not the greatest flyer. I can fly one, but not well.”
Drogan finished the briefing and they loaded up the runabout with Fargo’s trunks and trundled out to the spaceport. Off to one side were small pads with little hangars constructed out of leftover containers. Going to one at the end of the second row, Drogan thumbed the hatch open and pointed to the yellow lightflyer on the right, “That’s yours. It’s a convertible, either four place or two place and cargo hold.”
They pulled it out and Drogan walked Fargo through the configuration sequence, helped him load the trunks in the back, and ran Fargo through the BIT check.
Drogan asked, “You want me to fly the route and show you, or do you want to do it?”
Fargo smiled, “I’ll bow to your experience, and your local course knowledge. Lead on, kind sir!”
Drogan laughed and jumped in the left seat. Fargo gingerly got into the right seat and closed the hatch as Drogan powered up the lightflyer, “Tower, LF four-six-one, NE departure, destination as filed in the Green.”
Tower replied in a bored electronic voice, “LF four-six-one, cleared for departure. No ship ops scheduled for the next twelve hours.”
Fargo glanced over, “Automated tower and local control?
Drogan grinned, “It is, until it isn’t, then the fall back is one of the GalPat controllers having to do actual work. That happens, they are grumpy!” Lifting off smoothly, Drogan selected the autopilot and crossed his arms. Looking at the groundspeed readout, he said, “About an hour at two-ninety-five indicated. You can do it faster if you push up to high cruise or emergency power. Just be aware if you go to emergency power, it also sets off an alert and starts sending tracking information to anybody that will listen.”
Fargo nodded, “Okay. So speed runs are emergency only.” Pointing to the control panel and a red line paralleling their line of flight he asked, “Main feed?”
“Yep, actually that’s the one that feeds your cabin. It goes up to a repeater that was a PITA to install, but it’s up almost seven thousand feet, and covers a pretty large area. Your place is only about three thousand feet up, so we’ll stay under that feed.”
For the next hour, Drogan explained the ins and outs of the community and their interaction with White Sands, which was technically the world capital. Drogan was very happy that White Sands was over four thousand miles away, and the administrators didn’t like going out in the field, so to speak. Fargo listened with one ear, and drank in the rugged beauty of the Green as it rose in front and to the side of the lightflyer.
Roughly an hour later, Drogan pointed, “Off your side, two o’clock. That is your one hundred-sixty acres. It encompasses the falls as you wanted, and the plateau all the way down to the tree line. The edge of the ridge is basically the eastern edge, so you’ll get some nice sunsets and moon rises with Celeste and George.”
Momentarily distracted Fargo said, “What? Celeste and…”
Drogan said, “They were the first two that died out of the original settlers. So the first white moon is Celeste and the second blue moon is George.” Shrugging he continued, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
Fargo snorted, “Okay. Can we make a low pass?”
Drogan brought the lightflyer down to fifty feet over the trees coming in just inside the edge of the ridge, “This is your runway, if you will. At max gross weight, you can take off going downhill from the house and still clear the trees.”
Fargo got his first good look at the cabin and whistled, “Wow, this is much nicer than I expected! It looks like it’s been there for years!”
Drogan grinned, “Well, you said Ranger cabin, you didn’t specify which one. There were enough funds for the upgraded version, and that’s what we got.” Drogan circled the property, flying as close to the falls as he dared, then came in for a landing over a field of blue flowers, taxiing the lightflyer to the pad just outside the storage container next to the house.
Fargo stepped out of the lightflyer and inhaled the scent of pines and a sweetish smell of the flowers wafting on the light breeze, This is where I’ll die, God willing. He could dimly hear the waterfall in the distance, and marveled at the small rainbow visible in the bright sunlight. He did a slow walk around of the cabin, noting the sprayed brown plascrete walls, the green roof, and the porch extending across the front of the cabin. Going up the three steps, Fargo stopped and looked at Drogan, sensing his apprehension.
Smiling Drogan said, “Go ahead, it’s keyed to you.”
Fargo reached out tentatively and palmed the access panel, heard the door lock click, and opened the door. He stepped inside, and was amazed at how well decorated and finished the interior was. Walking slowly through the cabin, he saw the two bedrooms, the two freshers, a small office with a desk, chair and small e-tainment center. Coming back into the living room, he went through to the kitchen, seeing both an autochef and a real stove/oven/microwave combination. Shaking his head, he laughed out loud.
Looking around he didn’t see Drogan and went back to the front door, “Come in, come in.”
Drogan came up the steps, “I figured you wanted to see it by yourself first.”
Fargo laughed, “I know Luann had to have had a hand in selecting the kitchen. She got a stove put in, when I have no clue of how to actually use one.”
Drogan rolled his eyes, “Yeah, that was all her. The autochef is stocked, and she made sure there was some coffee in there.”
Fargo punched up a coffee and looked questioningly at Drogan, who nodded. While they waited, Drogan said, “The other upgrades are the living room loungers are conforming, and the bed in the master bedroom is conformal too. I took the liberty of putting you on as a TBT security employee, so your power and e-tainment are free. Also you’ll have access to all the TBT comms and alerts.”
Fargo nodded, gingerly handing a coffee bulb to Drogan, “Thanks. I do need to talk with you about what I can do to help out.” Walking into the living room, he sank into one of the lounges, sighing as it formed to his body and the e-tainment center on the far wall automatically came to life. He continued, “Looking at what was available on the ship and the newsies, it looks like you’ve got a good number of maintenance folks, but little to no security.”
Drogan sighed, “That’s correct. GalPat is supposed to provide security when I request it, but the colonel down in White Beach usually has an excuse to not provide anybody. What I usually end up doing is hiring some of the off duty troopers and paying them under the table.”
“I’m not sure. Colonel Cameron doesn’t like his troops out of his control. And he and I have disagreed on placement of some of the subfeeders. He wanted them in, so called, easier to guard locations, and I wanted them in the best feed locations, which usually meant rugged or higher elevations. Since TBT has override, I usually got what I wanted.”
Fargo felt Drogan’s anger building and chuckled, “Pissed you off, did he?”
Drogan ducked his head, “Well, it might have had something to do with it. He and Governor Clinton wanted the first service, basic settlers be damned, even if the settlers needed the service more for sonic fences than basic lighting. I only put half the team on their work, and prioritized the areas needing sonics first.”
“And they found out?”
“Clinton had a hissy fit when she found out through one of her toadies that was out joy riding in one of the shuttles and saw lights and a feed line on the autopilot. Demanded I stop all other work until she got her service.”
“Lemme guess, you refused?” Fargo asked.
Drogan faced him squarely, “Of course I did. That’s how we lost George and Celeste. Their homestead was up against the river, running off a hydro-generator while they waited for an installation. A pair of Silverbacks got inside the fence they had up, and got in the security door, killed them and killed and ate most of the stock they’d penned up. George and Celeste were compartment mates coming out here.”
Fargo said, “I’m sorry. It’s never easy to lose someone you knew.”
Drogan looked at Fargo, “How do you deal with it, I mean…”
Fargo shrugged, “I try to remember the good. At least now I won’t ever have to command troops in any kind of battle. I can’t lose anyone else. I’ve lost too many…”
Drogan changed the subject, “There is a small settlement of Ghorkas on Hunter. I’ve been thinking about contracting them for security, the ones that come down to Rushing River seem to be in shape and look and act like retired military. I’ve heard there are maybe two-three hundred of them back in the Green somewhere. Maybe you could look into that for me.”
Fargo nodded, “What time to do we need to be back?”
Drogan checked his wrist comp, “We should probably leave now. Why don’t you fly the route back, and you can come back up here tomorrow and start settling in.”
Sergeant Omar met them at the pad, asking Fargo to attend him in the administration building. Fargo followed him curiously, as Drogan said he would put the lightflyer away and wait.
In the conference room, Omar pulled two evidence bags out of his pack and laid them on the table, “Ho, lieutenant of the retired, either the gun or the wrist comp do you recognize?”
Fargo said, “Can I pick up the pouches?” Omar nodded and Fargo first picked up the gun. Turning it over and looking at it from different angles, he finally said, “I don’t think this is… I think this might be Trader technology. I’m no expert, but I don’t recognize any of the marks, nor does it have a manufacturer’s stamp on it.”
The sergeant simply nodded, and Fargo put the pistol back down, picked up the wrist comp and turned it to see various angles. “I just flat don’t know on this one. I’d have to see it powered up, and try to look at what it displays.” Glancing at Omar, he asked, “Has anyone done that?”
Sergeant Omar replied, “Power up Mrs. Levesque has done, Trader unit she believes. Security locked it is. Possible self-destruct she believes.”
Fargo hastily set it back on the desk, “What about the spacer?”
The sergeant pulled out a flimsy and handed it to Fargo, “This so far found. False identity believed.”
C&I FILE 23419- 28240614 2354LOCAL
ID- 23409852 BRINKMAN, BERNARD NMN
SYSTEM ENTRY 28240610 SSTATION DISEMBARK F/S NIGHTWING
PLANETING 28240611 0830LOCAL SHUTTLE #0342 WHITE SANDS SPORT
NO BILLETING RECORD FOUND
SHUTTLE #2451 28240612 0730LOCAL DEPT WHITE SANDS ARR RUSHING RIVER 28240612 1214LOCAL
NO BILLETING FOUND
GALPAT RECORDS CHECK NEGATIVE ON ID 23409852 PRIOR TO 28200101
GALPAT RECORDS CHECK NEGATIVE ON ID 23409852 BETWEEN 28200101-28240610
RECORD CHECK CLOSED ATT
MID-80 HUMANOID 5FT6IN 135LB B/B/CAUC/MIX/HISP
NO F/P OR RETSCAN ON FILE
NO INDC MAJOR SURG
POSS FACIAL FRAC W/MED-COMP REPAIR
PALM PAD INSTAL- BOTH PRI R/INDEX
NEURAL NET INSTAL- NON-GP INDC PILOT/CMD NODES
Fargo whistled, “So he’s a non-entity. One wonders what he was here. Scouting or transshipping?”
Omar replied, “Able to determine not. Lookout requested.”
Fargo asked, “Why was Levesque brought in? I thought she was the target.”
Omar answered, “Intelligence Mrs. Levesque did. Chief Sergeant she was. Known to us she is.”
Fargo nodded, “Understood. Am I free to go?”
Omar chittered a laugh, “Go you may. Family you may tell.”
The kids were safely out of earshot as Fargo explained to Drogan and Luann what had gone on last night. Luann was aghast that he’d killed a man and didn’t even feel it was worth mentioning, while Drogan was nodding and scribbling notes on his data comp.
Luann burst out, “But how am I supposed to know any of this? I don’t do intelligence I just work with the people that come in.”
Drogan said, “If someone doesn’t look right, or is asking strange questions, let me know. If I’m not here, let Sergeant Omar know. If we do have Traders scouting us, the quicker we know it, the better.