Rimworld snippet…

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Winding Down

Boykin had finally come back at twenty-three to pick up Fargo and Grayson, who walked on board gratefully. Fargo climbed into the cockpit and slumped in the seat, and looked over at the warrant, “Thanks for the pickup. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to spend the rest of the contract out here.”

Boykin grinned tiredly, “If they could figure out a way, probably. There was one hell of an argument on the way back between the colonel and the PLANSEC guy. The old guy finally had to step in to calm them down. Something about plots and missed or missing indentureds, and third gen Firsties. I didn’t catch all of it, since the mic is back by the ramp, but damn, they were going at it!”

Fargo smiled, “Good. I might have been less than forthcoming about our systems, and I used what you told him, whatever that code was, about not being able to talk about things like advanced armor or the repulsor modules.”

Boykin lifted off and set a course for Capital, leaned back and said, “That’s a good question. How are you going to handle that?”

“I’m lumping it in with the armor as test or prototype units. Gonna try to get McDougal a patent for it. The more I think about it, those damn things saved people’s lives, at least on our side, today. I think I have a way to get them into the GalPat system.”

Boykin chuckled, “You know you turn that over to GalPat, it will disappear into the black hole, never to be seen again.”

“True, but if GalScouts also has a set of plans…”

“Oh… sneaky, very sneaky, Captain.”

“If we’d had something like this, I can think of at least ten or twelve scouts that would still be alive. Sonics doesn’t stop everything. Never has, never will, especially on some of the Exo planets we were scouting.”

Boykin busied herself with the comms with ORBCON and when she turned to ask Fargo a question, he was sound asleep. She smiled and turned back to flying the shuttle, humming softly to herself.

A div and a half later, she landed the shuttle softly at the spaceport, refueled and lifted again without ever waking Fargo up. Coming into the palace on anti-grav, Fargo finally woke up, and she said, “We’re home, for this version of home.”

Fargo stretched, and chuckled, “Home is where the gear trunk is, right?”

“Pretty much. And we’re down.”

“Thanks again for coming to pick us up.”

“No problem, Captain. We live to serve.”

Fargo laughed, got up and eased down from the cockpit as Boykin finished the shutdown procedures. Kicking Grayson’s foot, he marveled once again at his ability to sleep in the contorted position he was in, and said, “You’re off until tomorrow at eighteen. I’m assuming you’re going to do your restocking tomorrow?”

Grayson yawned, “Nah, I’ll do it tonight. Sure as shit if I don’t, something will blow up on us.”

“Okay, and thanks again for your help today.”

“Just doin’ my job, Captain. Just doin’ my job.”

“Well, you did a good job. You saved lives today.”

Grayson shrugged and headed for the medical pallet stored on the forward bulkhead, as Fargo walked slowly down the ramp.

Nicole met him at the bottom of the ramp, and it was all he could do not to reach out an hug her. “Why are you still up?”

“Somebody had to monitor the radios, and I was the only somebody here. I also dumped all our data up to the ship, just so we have a pristine copy, just in case.”

He reached out to her, “I’m sorry you got stuck with waiting for us.”

      “I didn’t mind, I got some work done, and I’ve been running data correlations for the last couple of hours.”

      Boykin walked down the ramp and he said, “Both of you hit the rack. I’m going to flip the comms to alert mode, and we’ll worry about the follow up tomorrow.”

They nodded and started for the billet, and Fargo projected, “I love you, Nicole.”

      “Love you too, now stop that!”

      “Yes, dear.”

      He heard a most unladylike snort and saw Nicole shake her head, as she said something to Boykin.

***

Daman caught Master Chief Magar as he exited the hab, “Paras, you seen McDougal?”

“Nope,” he thought for a sec, “He came off watch at all balls. He should be in the rack.”

“He’s not. He seemed real nervous when I went off at twenty last night. I never saw him come in the hab.”

“Shit, where could he have…”

“The maintenance unit.” They turned and both headed around the hab to the maintenance unit. Daman popped the door and sighed, “There he is.” McDougal was face down on the work bench, snoring softly, surrounded by pieces of hardware, trailing cables to his data comp and the maintenance comp. “Mac! Wake up, Mac.”

McDougal jerked up, staring wildly around, “Wha… Did something… What time izzit?” He finally focused on Daman and the master chief and slumped. “How much trouble am I in,” he asked softly.

The master chief glanced at Daman and stepped forward, “None. We were worried that you weren’t in the hab sleeping.”

McDougal swept his hand vaguely toward the hardware, “Trying to figure out why I killed all those…”

Daman interrupted, “You didn’t kill anybody. You saved our lives.”

“But innocent people…”

“They weren’t innocents, they wanted to overrun us, and you can damn well bet they would have killed us, given the chance!”

Mac mumbled, “Not like war, I didn’t mean…”

Master Chief Magar motioned toward the door, and Daman took the hint, leaving the two of them in the maintenance unit. “Mac, war, police actions, and security details like this aren’t a lot different when you come right down to it. People are still trying to kill you, either for the land, whatever you’re protecting, or the detailee. Except they aren’t in armor and they tend to hide in the general population. Think about it. These turds had illegal fully automatic needle guns. That’s not something law abiding people do.”

“But there were women and children out there…”

“Who were active participants! One of the needlers was used by a female. Remember, the female of the species is always the more deadly.”

Mac shook his head, “I didn’t mean to hurt people, I only wanted to stop the… projectiles.”

“And you did a damn good job of it.”

“But it wasn’t supposed to kick them back, not like that!”

MC laid his hand on Mac’s shoulder. “Son, I’m not complaining. You build something that worked. Granted it didn’t get fully tested, but it worked at the right time!”

Mac punched up the maintenance comp, stabbing his finger viciously at part of the circuit on the screen. “This… This is what I fucked up. I didn’t dial down the max rejection loop. If I’d scaled that with the rest of it…”

“Deity be damned! Senior Sergeant, you did your fucking job and a lot more. It is not your fault they died. Get that through your thick Euro ethnic skull. I’m putting you in for a damn medal for what you did. Shut this shit down and go get food, then take your ass to the rack. You go back on watch at eighteen. Do you hear me?”

“Yes, sir, Master Chief. But I’m afraid…”

“The captain will cover for you. He’s not one to leave his troops hanging out. Now either go, or I’ll go get an injector and put your ass under.”

Mac reached up and shut down the maintenance comp and picked up his data comp. “Going Master Chief, I’m going.” He groaned as he got up and walked slowly to the door.

***

Three days later, Fargo knocked on the colonel’s door. Zhu glared up at him, “What?”

Since he wasn’t invited in, Fargo said, “The troops are wondering what is going on with Smallwell, the local feeds aren’t saying anything about him being charged with the murder of our two troops.”

Zhu killed the holo in front of him in disgust, “That should be the least of your worries. Meecham is wanting to charge you and the two troops at the sites with murder for killing those innocent civilians. And the whole thing with your jumping in armor and firing that cannon into that apartment. The owner is complaining that they whole upstairs of that building is going to have to be renovated…”

Fargo reached out and felt the colonel’s anger, worry, and distaste for the entire situation. Probing a little deeper, he felt the thoughts of whether or not to tell Fargo what else was going on. “Colonel, you’ve seen the vids, what would you have had me do? I had unarmored troops in the open, being sniped at.” He pushed a little on Zhu, to see if he would talk to him.

“Come in and close the door,” the colonel said. Fargo did so, and assumed the position of parade rest in front of the colonel’s desk. Zhu looked up at him, frustration in his eyes. “First it was you killing Perez, and now this cluster. PLANSEC is supposedly trying to round up some of the peaceful protesters from both sites, but apparently not with much success on anything other than the proles. No firsties have been picked up, and they haven’t even notified ORBCON to check the station for escapees, nor has GalPat been formally notified. Matter of fact, the director directed me to keep it low key and she doesn’t want any GalPat involvement. It’s to the point that they have officially listed Halvorson senior and Archer senior as missing and presumed dead in a liteflyer crash somewhere between the two properties.”

Fargo glanced down, “What? They know from DNA…”

The colonel held up a hand, “I know. Apparently both Freeman and Park are having problems with some of the dead identified at both sites, too.”

“Firsties?”

“That, and apparently some of the second wavers were involved, at least one of which is related to Freeman himself. But the company has apparently directed that all this be kept quiet, which is why nothing has been on the local feeds. There have been a lot of FTL comms in and out of the palace by the director’s office in the last three days.”

Fargo whistled, “That can’t be cheap.”

Zhu shoved back from the desk and got up, pacing back and forth. “No, and it’s all coded in private code. Have your troops seen any more protesters, or anything else?”

“Nothing. Not a soul, no movement showing up at all on surveillance, and nothing on the comms frequencies we were monitoring. And direct liaison with the TBT reps has indicated that they are seeing nothing interrupting the beams, and nobody causing any problems anywhere. That’s quite a change from the last two months, which apparently has them worried.”

Zhu snorted, “They should be thankful for that.”

“I don’t think that it’s as much that, as they are waiting for the other shoe to fall. I’ve never seen an optimistic techie in my life.”

Zhu planted both hands on his desk and looked at Fargo, “Who are you?”

Fargo reached for his mind and felt the honesty in the question, but he said, “What do you mean, Colonel?”

“You’re not the normal militia captain. You don’t cower when you come in here, you’ve got loyalty from a GalPat warrant and medic, you didn’t hesitate in either of the situations to do what you needed to, and last, but damn sure not least, you’ve apparently got the loyalty of an entire company of very senior Ghorka, all of whom are combat vets.”

“I’m… just an old retired GalScout. I did a tour in the Terran Marines before I came over to the Scouts.”

“You were never GalPat,” Zhu asked incredulously.

“No.”

“Combat?”

“I was in the Cluster Skirmish. That was at the end of my career.”

Zhu looked down, then back up, “The lost Marine company, you’re that Fargo,” he asked softly.

Fargo could only nod.

Zhu said quietly, “You personally carried the five survivors in their armor to the LZ, which was not supposed to be possible. You tried to kill the Intel weenie that gave you bad data. Courts martialed, then overturned. No wonder they’ll follow you into hell.”

“I don’t…”

Zhu stood, walked around the desk, bowed and offered his hand. “I apologize for the way I’ve treated you, Captain. I cannot make any excuses for my behavior.”

Fargo reached out and took it, sensing Zhu’s mind, Damn, he’s actually scared of me and what I’m liable to do. And he truly believes they’ll follow me in anything I do. “I don’t believe you owe me anything, but I will accept the apology. We’ll be out of your hair in another ten days. That is the best I can offer.”

Zhu nodded, “I will press the director to put Smallwell on trial before you leave. I will impress her that it would be in her, and Endine’s best interest to do so. I will hint that if they don’t, GalPat may be forced to step in.”

“Thank you, that’s all we can ask. I’d like to be able to have our folks know the killer is getting his just desserts. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get back for comms checks.”

“Dismissed.”

Fargo stopped by the mess and grabbed a bulb of coffee, then walked slowly back down the hall, trying to determine how best to tell the sites the current lack of status on Smallwell. Stepping back in the office, he was surprised to see Nicole sitting at the console typing away. “What are you doing here?”

Nicole held up one finger, and went back to typing. Finishing up, she turned with a flourish and a smile, “Covering for you, as usual.”

Fargo cocked his head, “Say what?”

“You had an encrypted from Captain Jace. It was tracking data on the Firsties. They’ve all gone to ground at their ancestral homes. Well, except for the Abruzzi clan, they are business as usual.”

“Did you… did that end up in…”

“No, it’s not in GalPat’s database. I don’t share everything we get.” She got up and gestured to the chair, “All yours. I’m going to pee, get coffee, and go back to the Intel section.”

She gave him a quick kiss in passing, and walked out the door chuckling.

Boykin and Grayson came in a seg later, just as Fargo was saying, “Okay, all sites listen up. Here’s the latest on Smallwell. There isn’t an update, per se, but Colonel Zhu, the head of the GalPat Det is going to the director of Endine with a strong hint that if they don’t do something, GalPat is going to step in and take over the prosecution.”

Boykin shook her head, and Grayson said, “Fuckers. GalPat should step in, should already have stepped in.”

Horse came over the radio, “The good colonel understands we’re not happy doesn’t he?”

“I impressed that on him this morning. He doesn’t want us to go rogue, especially after what happened the other day.”

Jiri said quietly, “He does understand, I think. The captain got him off the credit chip. Ten days gentlemen, ten days. Remember that.”

 

Comments

Rimworld snippet… — 15 Comments

  1. I love it! Except, Fargo identifies as a woman. Just sayin’.

  2. Really good! Just one question because I don’t recognize the phrase about coming off watch at all balls.

    All you North Texas authors are now cutting into my beer budget. It’s a good trade.

  3. Fargo- LOL, do you ‘really’ want me to change the name?

    PK- All balls is 0000 or midnight.

    Suz/Navy91- Thanks!

  4. A suggestion (that has nothing to do with the excellent writing). Peter Hamilton, a successful British sci-fi author has a time line at the beginning of some of his books. For example:
    2032 – First landing on Europe – microbial life found under the ice.
    2041 – First Mars Landing
    2065 – Mars Colony declared self sustaining
    2071 – Curtis Drive put into place giving near light speed travel to spacecraft.
    2088 – First contact with Alien species (Dragons)

    It helps to frame the story.

  5. Thanks OldNFO, makes sense now. Used to dealing with Army folks who didn’t use the phrase, or would tell the dang DACs that it’s dark and both hands are at the top.

  6. Bad- Working on it! 🙂

    LL- Good point, thanks!

    PK- Sorry. Would I be better off changing it?

  7. Maybe give Master Chief a slight win, adding “oh, 0000 to you ground apes.” Acceptable Navy-Army dig. I like the phrase and the extra color, just hadn’t heard it before.

  8. LL – I assume a typo made Europa into Europe, but given the latest about the EU making insulting Islam a crime, maybe “2032 – First landing in Europe – in order to take it back” might be a good prediction.

  9. Midnight, all balls, triple-oh-one, zero hundred, French surrender time.

    And I still like how you’ve tuckerized Alma.

  10. PK- Good point, thanks!

    Sendarius- Snerk…

    McC- Not sure what ‘she’ thinks about it… 🙂

  11. Hey Old NFO;

    We are anxiously awaiting……LOL Sounds good and you are teasing the crap out of us with this stuff 😉

  12. I’m retired DAC, still dealing with a weird AOL (Acronym Overload List) from projects worked in three services. A Commander I once worked with phrased it as needing the secret decoder ring to change from Fleet to Grunt, er, Navy to Army. We avoided 0000 measurements and entries for a lot of tests, because we had more than a few software crashes; the tools interpreted as divide by zero instead of ratio between midnight and now. Easier to offset to 0001 than 1) find the coder; 2) express the problem without causing permanent damage; and 3) (worst) get the modified code without breaking something more important.

    Enjoying Rimworld about as much as the Grey Man series, and really get a kick out of the not-so-subtle service jokes. I heard a few of the jokes in other forms, and understand too well. A number of sergeants and field-grade officers had their low senses of humor wear off on me. We know the bad jokes and awful stories are there to make it easier to cope, because there’s a lot of junior enlisted who need to hear confidence and calm responses. You need the jokes or awful sea stories to drain off some of the pain, and to teach lessons.

    I found a couple more rolls of coin sitting in a drawer, so I really will be ready when this book gets released. TxRed may need to wait a minute. 🙂