Rimworld snippet…

The usual caveats…

Star Center

When Ton’Skel came out of the med box, both Captain Jace and Fargo were there, along with Lherson. When the med box was opened, Jace leaned in and placed the portable GalTrans around Ton’s neck. He immediately looked at Lherson and asked, “My matriarch?”

Lherson nodded, “She is aboard and safe. She has been transferred to a special compartment onboard with two of the troops who died.”

Ton started trying to sit up, and Fargo extended his hand. Ton looked up at him, then put his hand out. Fargo gripped it and said, “When you are ready.”

Ton pulled himself to a sitting position and asked, “Where are we?”

Jace answered, “We are on the way to Star Center. Our understanding is that was your destination before you were attacked.”

Ton nodded, “I… I was to get a medical… pro… procedure? There. Am I a prisoner?”

Jace looked at Fargo who said, “No. If your parole is still good, you are not a prisoner.”

“You make that decision?”

Fargo nodded, “I can, for the troops on board. The rest is up to Captain Jace and you.”

Ton stood shakily, then looked squarely at Fargo, “I, Ton’Skel, heir to Ton’Mose do give my parole.”

“Parole is accepted. You are allowed anywhere on the ship except the bridge and engineering,” he replied with a side glance at Jace. “My troops will not harm you.”

Jace said, “You can eat in the crew’s mess, if that is more comfortable for you. That way you are not among the troops.”

Ton nodded in understanding. “Food?”

Fargo said, “AI, please page Senior Grayson to the crew’s mess. It’s not an emergency.”

The IC clicked on, “Senior medic Grayson, Senior medic Grayson, please go to the crew’s mess. Non-emergency.”

Fifteen segs later, Grayson was working with the autochef and Ton’Skel to come up with food that he could eat, as Grayson fed him bulbs of enriched water to keep him hydrated. Fargo had gone down to the troop mess and was sitting with Jiri, Horse, Nicole, and Barun. “Here’s the plan. We’re going to deliver Ton’Skel to Star Center. He’s given his parole, so I don’t want anybody reacting to his presence. He’s allowed the run of the ship, excluding the bridge and engineering. If he asks any questions, the troops are allowed to answer them, and if, big if, he wants to eat down here, he’s allowed to do so. Remember, he’s young, so he’s got to be curious. And if anybody gets info from him about anything related to his family or home life, let Senior Levesque know. And one more thing, the young girl Cedar considers him a friend, so nothing to see there, and no overt reactions.”

There were nods around the table, but Horse had to say something, “You do realize that GalPat is going to have slashlizards when they find out who we’re transferring, and they are going to want to take him.”

Fargo grinned, “Which is why we’re not going to tell them. This is now a diplo mission, which puts it out of GalPat’s hands.”

Horse shook his head and laughed, “Ekavir you have more balls than sense. They will hang you from the highest yardarm at the academy if they ever find out.”

Fargo laughed, “Which means they won’t find out, right?”

Jiri chimed in, “Not from us. What about the woman and spacer? Or the kid?”

“Star lines has NDAs, anybody that violates them will never work in space again. I think Cedar can be impressed that it would not be in her best interest to tell the story.”

***

Three days later, Ton wandered into the cargo bay as the troopers were working out. They were just finishing the Kukri workout, and starting the hand to hand portion. Ton looked around and found Jiri leaning against a piece of equipment, coffee bulb in hand, and he walked over, “Jiri?”

“Yes?”

“I hear talk of honor and respect, but I do not understand.”

“What do you mean, Ton?”

“I hear people talk about Fargo, but with different name among troops. And respect.”

“Do your people not rule that way?”

Ton shook his head, and the GalTrans gave some sound that Jiri figured was laughter, “Oh no. Govern? Is right word? With power. Must be better than others. Honor is to powerful. Those who fight/kill.” He waved his arm at the troops, “They fight/kill?”

Jiri chuckled, “No, they practice to fight/kill. Only fight/kill enemy. Not among ourselves.” His took a sip of his bulb, then continued, “Fargo, or Ekavir in our culture, is admired for his bravery and willingness to do everything we do. He does not set himself above us. He leads by example.”

“Then what honor?”

Jiri shrugged, “It is like another word for respect. Meaning very respected. We are honored he is our captain.”

“He does not rule by fear? He does not punish? Did he fight you for lead?”

Jiri laughed, “No, he does not want to be the leader. We forced him to do it.”

Ton cocked his head in amazement, “Not leader, leader? How?”

“Because he does not like to kill. But he is very good at it. And does not want troops to die.”

“But tr… fighters are meant to die for glory of leader.”

“Not in our culture, Ton. Not in our culture. Now you might want to leave, we are going to increase gravity to two gravities to practice.”

“Twice gravity, why?”

“We never know what kind of environment we may have to fight in. So we practice different environments. Hot, cold, thin air, high gravity.”

Ton nodded, “Smart. I leave now.”

Jiri made sure to catch up with Nicole as soon as the practice session was over and reported the conversation to her. She laughed, “Nice job Warrant, you’ve probably just confused the hell out of that young Dragoon. What you’ve just told him goes against everything he’s probably been taught.”

Lherson and Solly sat in the crew’s mess each lost in their own thoughts, even as they shared a table. Cedar, now out of the cast, sat at the far end of the table, playing with a puzzle that Klang had made out of bits of metal for her. Lherson finally said, “Sol… Brigid, what are we going to do?”

“I’m not sure Dean. We’ll have to report in. I’m pretty sure there is either an agent or an actual Star Lines site at Star Center. The captain was good enough to salvage the shuttle, so we’ve got that, but there is so much neither of us knows about what happened…”

Lherson shook his head, “Nothing we can do about that. All we can report is what we did. At least we survived, which is…” Glancing at Cedar, he continued softly, “the best we could do.” He toyed with the coffee bulb, “Do you think we’ll be met?”

“Well, the captain told me he’s not telling anyone what happened to us, in case they try to… finish the job. Said he would report it after they got Ton off the ship somehow.”

“Isn’t that illegal? I mean in GalPat, our skippers immediately reported incidents to higher as soon as they could.”

She shrugged, “Commercial isn’t necessarily that way. Lots of stuff, both good and bad, stays in the company. They don’t want competitors to gain any advantage.”

“Even for safety things?”

“Well, maybe not safety.”

“I would have thought they’d report the destroyer they killed.”

“Why? They killed it. And this ship is a little strange…”

Lherson laughed, “I think this is an old military transport. It’s got all the markings. Lots of what I’d guess are reconfigurable holds, space that could be turned into billeting, and there are some suspicious bulges on the hull that make me wonder. And the extra bays.”

Klang tromped into the mess, another thing with dangly bits in his hand, “Miss little, puzzle you like,” He asked as he crouched next to Cedar.

She smiled at him, “It is hard, Klang. Can you show me? I can’t get past here,” she said, shoving the puzzle at him.

Klang too it gently, and rotated it in his massive hand, then said, “This piece, you see?” He picked one up and slid it into the center, “Like this it goes. Piece next.” A few seconds later, he’d demonstrated and explained it and Cedar clapped.

She reached out, “Let me try now!” He put it back to where she had been, and she repeated his moves, tongue sticking out the side of her mouth as she concentrated. Once she completed it, she crowed, “I did it! I did it!” She set it on the table and turned to him, “You have another,” she said excitedly.

Klang picked up the pieces and dangled them in front of her, “Once you I show. Harder.”

He carefully did one piece at a time, as Cedar concentrated intensely, then said plaintively, “One more time, please?”

Lherson and Solly both grinned at her tone as Klang promptly undid and redid the puzzle. Solly said softly, “Got every man in the crew wrapped around her little finger.”

He nodded, “And she’s got a lot of daddies now. A bunch of daddies I wouldn’t want mad at me.”

***

Captain Jace slid the Hyderabad into her docking bay without a bump and said, “Release the passengers.” As the call was going out over the IC, he turned to Fargo, can you set an armed guard? I just squirted a routine encrypted report to the local GalPat office, and I’m putting Solly on line with the Star Lines office now. I’ve also requested the ambassador from the Dragoon embassy meet the ship immediately with equipment to receive a Dragoon casualty.”

Fargo nodded and keyed his wrist comp, “Jiri, can we post a four man watch? Side arms only two in, two out on the main hatch?”

Jiri answered, “Not a problem. They will be at the hatch in fifteen.”

Jace nodded, “It will take that long to connect the umbilicals and position the module and pressurize it.”

“That’s good Jiri, thank you.” He looked at Jace, “So you’re betting the Goon will get here before the Star Lines or GalPat people?”

Jace grinned, “I might have given the Dragoon the diplo code…”

“So how long do you figure we have?”

“A half div before the Star Lines folks, and a full div before GalPat gets here. Ton’Skel and his mother should be long gone.”

Ton’Skel sat disconsolately in the bay adjacent to the main hatch, his hand resting on the casket containing his matriarch on the raised platform. He looked again at the small space underneath the casket, and shivered as he thought about having to crawl in there again, but he also understood that there might be another attempt on his life here, and the humans were doing everything they could to protect him. Lherson and Solly, both in new Star Lines uniforms stood off to the side, with Solly holding Cedar’s hand. Captain Jace and Fargo had agreed they needed to be present, and available to answer questions if the ambassador had any.

Five segs after the main hatch was opened, the Dragoon ambassador and three others with a grav sled were seen approaching the hatch. Captain Jace told Khalil to immediately admit the ambassador only. After a little bit of back and forth, the ambassador walked stiffly through the hatch and bowed to Captain Jace, his GalTrans growling, “What body do you have?”

“And your name is?”

The Dragoon visibly restrained himself, “I am Ser’Mose.”

“Are you related to Ton’Mose?”

“He is my brother,” the GalTrans snarled, as the ambassador took a step forward.

Jace said, “I am Captain Jace. We picked up a shuttle from the Star Lines mission…”

“Get on with it!”

Jace nodded, “Come with me, please.” He turned and walked to the bay hatch, “There is something you should see.”

The ambassador was on his heels as Jace dilated the hatch, and he took three steps into the bay before Ton’Skel’s presence registered. The ambassador’s steps faltered and he reached out saying plaintively, “Ton? Ton!”

Ton’s head came up, and he rushed toward the Ambassador, knocking the chair over as he ran into the ambassador’s arms. There were quiet words, not meant for anyone else, then the ambassador asked, “Who is in the casket?”

Ton answered, “My matriarch. She… She saved my life, along with these three.” He said, pointing to Lherson, Solly, and Cedar. “We are the only survivors. My matriarch lived for… a while, but we ran out of medication.”

The two of them walked slowly to the casket, and the ambassador put his hand reverently on it. Jace said, “It’s not sealed. You can open it.”

Ton stepped to the side, and Cedar ran to him, hugging him with tears in her eyes, as the ambassador slowly opened the casket, looked in, and bowed his head silently. Then he gently closed the casket and turned, surprised to see Cedar holding Ton’s hand. She said, “You can’t be mad at him. He did everything he could to save his mama. Mine… my momma and daddy died…”

The ambassador looked around anger, “Who, how?”

Jace answered, “We believe they were attacked by a rogue destroyer, which we killed. Neither Solly or Lherson know for sure what happened, but they got Ton’Skel and his mother out, along with Cedar. They drifted for over thirty days before we dropped into that sector and were attacked.” He handed the ambassador a package with six data cubes, “Here are the details from the shuttle and from our ship. I apologize for the quality of our ship data, we are a simple merchant with only basic defensive armament and sensors.”

“Have you reported this to GalPat?”

“That report is going through channels. We thought it best to notify you first in case this was an attempt on the heir. He is the heir, correct?”

The ambassador stiffened and finally said, “Yes. Ton is the heir. There have been issues at home.”

Jace said, “We have a way to get him off without anyone knowing, if you want. There is room below the casket for him under the drape. Are your men trustworthy?”

“Yes, they are family.”

“Then I suggest you bring the sled aboard and we do this. I expect Star Lines and GalPat to be here shortly. I will tell them they may contact you for further information concerning your casualty.”

He nodded decisively, “I will get them.”

Five segs later, the ambassador bowed to Lherson, Solly, Cedar, and Captain Jace. “We thank you for what you did. You will be named in our hall of honor for your fighting deeds.” The Dragoons marched solemnly back up the module and disappeared into the station.

A little over ten segs later, a harried man in a Star Lines uniform rushed down the module, closely followed by a GalPat major, with both of them requesting immediate access. Captain Jace invited them both to the crew’s mess, and pointed each of them at the stack of data cubes, then began the laborious task of answering as many of their questions as they could.

Four divs later, the Star Lines rep left, accompanied by Lherson, Solly, and Cedar, with a promise to recover the shuttle within one day. The GalPat major looked around at Captain Jace, Fargo, Nicole, and Jiri, shook his head and said, “Why do I get the feeling I’m not getting the whole story here? Again, why didn’t you broadcast and emergency and run to the nearest planet?”

Jace smiled tiredly, “Simple Major. The mission was to here, not an intermediate location. We were afraid to stop anywhere else, for fear of being attacked. The same reason we didn’t broadcast an emergency.”

Turning to Fargo he asked, “So you nor your people had anything to do with this?”

Fargo said, “No, for the umpteenth time. We were merely passengers. We assisted with recovery of the Goon, but that was it. And we provided security when we docked here. That’s it.”

“So this Goon ambassador has the body? And you gave it up without our approval?”

Jace stood, “We did what is the accepted practice in the galaxy. We notified the next of kin, if you will, and provided a dignified transfer, as I’ve shown you on the video on cube seven. To do anything else would have contravened accepted practice. In any case, what would a dead body have told you that we didn’t already note?”

The major grumbled, “Don’t go anywhere. Plan on a three day hold until this goes up the chain. GalPat will provided compensation for dockage fees.” He gathered up the data cubes, put them in his satchel, and stomped out, trailed by Jace.

At the hatch, Jace said, “Am I to assume we are not restricted to ship?”

“No.”

“Thank you Major, have a pleasant day.”

Comments

Rimworld snippet… — 5 Comments

  1. no no, all of your energy must go to publication. no fun allowed. must have more book.

    also if you see d. grant tell her more please.

    rms/pa

  2. I’m getting confused now. You’ve got two novels with ships jumping all over the galaxy.

    Finish both please so we can read them soonest.

  3. Thanks for the teases. It makes me look forward to the released book. Enjoy your time off!