Random MilSF chapter…

Here’s another one for y’all to look at/bleed on… 🙂

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Chapter 11

Danny sighed as he walked back aboard, and Estrella asked, “Is there a problem that I need to be aware of, Captain?’

Danny threw up his hands. “Not unless you can tell me where I can hide those…objects, discs, whatever the hell they are where no one can find them.”

Estrella’s voice bristled for lack of a better word, “You no longer trust me, Captain,” she asked icily.

“No, no, it’s not that. It’s…somebody wants these discs pretty bad. And I’d rather they be off the ship and safe, but I don’t have any idea—”

Estrella paused for a few seconds, startling Danny, then said, “Well, I now have an account at GCU, and I just leased a box that should fit them.”

Danny jerked. “You what? You’re not—”

Estrella said coldly, “Not what? Am I not crew? Am I not a certified pilot, navigator, and?”

“What prompted this?”

“Dani and I talked. I’m drawing a commensurate salary for my position and needed someplace to keep the money.” Three packages came floating down the passageway, and he reached up to grab them. “There is a messenger drop at 21-X-30. Put these in there, and they will be delivered to my box at GCU.”

“Um, just out of curiosity, how did you get an account at Gal Credit Union?”

“It wasn’t hard. I did it online. They don’t require you to actually be present to start one, and they use a security code for access. And you now have forty-five segs to make your appointment with Mapper.”

Befuddled by what was going on, Danny carried the three packages back to the module where Efrot stood at the end of the module in his radiation suit. “You okay with the watch?”

Efrot nodded. “I stand watch, Captain. I let no one aboard other than crew.”

Danny said, “That’s right, no one else, not even station security is allowed onboard. If they try, run for the ship and let Essie lock it down.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Danny dropped the packages, noting that the messenger drop appeared to be unmonitored, then rode the mover into the main hub, paid his docking fees, and went by the chandlery and ordered another bot. He also scheduled a reprovision, since he how had a crew that was eating onboard, and grumpily added a food pack, not knowing where he would find a cook.

He made it to the Lounge with five segs to spare and slumped at a table next to Mapper’s as he was deep in discussion with LT Brisker. He ordered a coffee from the autowaiter, sipped it glumly, wondering where Daniella was. A seg or two later, Mapper growled, “Get over here, Danny.”

Danny got moved over and sat facing an obviously unhappy Mapper as he activated the privacy screen, then asked, “What the hell happened at Gany? Did you deliver the book to Abraham Rabin as I instructed you?”

Danny shook his head. “No, they told me that… Abraham Rabin was no longer there.”

Mapper slammed his fist down. “No! That… shouldn’t…who did they say is the new director?”

Danny shrugged. “No idea. They didn’t tell me anything, just signed for it and slammed the door in my face.”

“Not good. Not good at all. I should have heard something.” He turned to his holo keyboard and typed rapidly, mumbling to himself as he looked at things, swiping randomly. He finally sat back, disgust on his face. He almost spit, “They gave it to Dresden from old Earth. He hates me, and he’s known for stealing other’s research. If there is a bright nova in this, he can’t read the book, and will probably have to send it to Earth. That still doesn’t explain why he… no maybe it does. He wants the other artifacts you salvaged. He may have connected the book to Helios, and if he did, he will move stars and planets to take credit for it. Did you file any salvage rights to the ship or any ships you found over there?”

“No, I… didn’t have time. When the bot died, and I was getting sicker, I just came back.”

“Well, you’re lucky you did. But I need you to—”

“Go back,” Danny interrupted. “There is one more of those discs and it’s connected to something on the nav station. Doc Eddlestone said there was data, but he couldn’t read it, it was… encrypted or something like that. But I’m not sure about my new crew and how willing they are to go through that shit to get there and back.”

Mapper hitched his shoulder. “They signed on. They will ride it out.”

“I don’t know. And I’m not sure I want to be responsible for killing one of them if—”

“Get the radiation treatment before you leave. Have all of them do it. The sooner you can leave, the better.”

Danny said doubtfully, “I’ll put it to them. If they don’t want to go, I’m not going to force them.”

“And stay the hell away from station admin until I get some answers.” Mapper reached down and pulled a date cube out of his satchel, shoved it across the desk and added, “You might need this, it’s the previous map you made over there. I wouldn’t load it until you get back there. And do a full map and look for signs of a habitable planet in addition to photoscans and vidscans of all the ships there. I’m going to authorize Moose and Squirrel for you to use, also.” He made a shooing motion and turned away, dismissing Danny.

Danny bounced the data cube on his hand, started to say something, thought better of it and shoved the cube in his shipsuit as he got up. Stepping through the privacy screen, he looked quickly around, didn’t see Daniella, and departed with a sigh.

***

Four divs later, he said, “Essie, please have all crew report to the mess, including the watch.”

Essie made the announcement and asked quietly, “We are going back there aren’t we?”

Danny looked up at the camera. “How… how did you guess?”

“Your vitals are elevated, you’re distracted, and you just put that data cube back in the safe. That was the one that was sent to Mapper. You aren’t taking the crew, are you?”

Danny chortled, “That’s what we’re about to address. Mapper says take them, but I want to give them the option. And I’m not sure Adrion would survive it.” He walked slowly to the mess and was surprised to find everyone there. He walked over to the autochef and dialed a bulb of coffee. “Okay, here’s the skin. We have a job. The one that almost killed me. It’s seven jumps through different rifts. The first two are easy, there is a time dilation around point three, point four and six are gravity warps, and bad ones. Like tearing you apart bad. Point five was pretty mild, just shifted light across the spectrum. Point seven is a gravity again, into a black hole, twenty Gs to get out, and eight is heavy radiation into an odd little pocket galaxy with nineteen wrecked or abandoned ships in there.”

Adrion snickered. “So, what’s the problem, Cap’n? There’s salvage to be had, right?”

The others chimed in, talking among themselves more than to him, until Zuckie asked, “Why are you taking this contract?”

“It pays well—”

“Bullshit. There’s something over there you’re after isn’t there? No sane person goes through that without a real good reason.”

Danny’s shoulders slumped. “It’s a Cartographer’s Guild contract. I need that work to stay solvent. Ghost eats a lot of money in refueling and maintenance, and I can’t make it on just the supply runs I make.”

Estrella said, “Captain, Moose and Squirrel are coming. Load them in their normal locations?”

“Uh, sure.”

Gronk, all four arms crossed, grunted, “What Moose and Squirrel?”

Passing a hand over his face, Danny straightened up. “They are sensidrones. They’re… big, expensive, and belong to the CG. Mapper wants them deployed in this pocket galaxy.”

“Funny names,” Adrion said, “They are over ten million credits apiece, and pretty specialized.”

Danny looked sharply at him. “How do you know about them?”

Adrion shrugged. “Handled them a time or two.”

“What else do you know about them?”

“They’re almost always paired. Moose has… probes? Horns? That extend out of the front to collect EM signatures. Squirrel has a brushy thing it extends out the back to collect particulates if it flies through atmosphere or an Ort cloud. They’re autonomous once programmed, perform both active and passive mapping, depending on tasking, and can last up to six months.”

Danny was impressed and said so, “Very good. They’re now your babies.”

Zuckie asked, “So what do we need to do? Rad inoculations and?”

“Rad inocs, full physicals, the whole thing. Guys, this is dangerous. You don’t have to go! I… I can do this by myself.”

Gronk rumbled, “Captain try to cut us out of salvage?”

He threw up his arms. “Fine! I’ll call medical right now. They should be able to get you into the autodoc today. But don’t bitch at me if we make it through and back again.” He stomped out of the mess mumbling to himself and went to the bridge. “Essie, open me a link to medical, please. I need to schedule these idi—”

Estrella snipped, “Their appointments are scheduled in one div. I have squirted their appointments to their datacomps. Your appointment is in two point five divs.”

“I need to—”

“Refueling, reprovisioning and sensor loading is complete. You need to hire a cook. I have prepared a list. Based on medical recommendation a twenty-four div wait is planned in case of any reaction to the radiation inoculations. Departure is scheduled for eighteen tomorrow, local operations.”

Danny glared at the monitor. “Fine! Send me the damn cook’s list, he grumbled. “Damn AIs are killing a captain’s ability to run his own ship.”

“As if you could run this bucket of bolts without me. You might remember that, Captain.” Estrella countered acerbically.

***

Three divs later, Danny moaned as he crawled out of the autodoc, “Damn. That’s not fun. I hope that shit works, because if it didn’t I’m gonna come back and haint somebody’s ass over this.”

The robomed unit squawked, “Does not compute. Please speak in standard linguistics. Is the patient in pain? Please tell the med unit where the patient hurts or point to the location.” Danny shook his head and climbed back into his shipsuit, staggered out of medical and wove his way to the Lounge.

He glanced around, saw that Mapper had his privacy screen activated, and slumped in a chair. The auto waiter trundled over and he said, “Double shot of Old MacWhinney, straight up.”

The auto waiter said, “Alcohol is contraindicated with rad inoc. Customer is allowed high fruticose liquid or protein drink only.”

Danny sighed. “Protein. Damned nanny bots.” Mapper waved at him and he got up with a groan and stumbled over, almost falling into a chair. “Before you ask, can’t leave for twenty-four divs. Gotta monitor for reaction to the treatment, which sucks. I don’t think I hurt this bad when they treated me after I got rad poisoning last trip.”

Mapper nodded and cocked his head as he looked at Danny. “You look like shit, but better than you did last time. Did you hire a cook?”

The auto waiter delivered the protein drink and Danny tasted it. He grimaced then replied, “Yeah. Olafson. He came from the stroids, so he should fit right in. I just hope he can actually cook. We’ll find out tonight, he promised to go get his rad inoc and be on the ship by eighteen.”

“Olafson? Ragnor Olafson?” When Danny nodded, Mapper called up his holo keyboard and typed for a seg or so, ignoring him. He swiped a couple of times, grunted and finally nodded. “Finished up an eighteen-month contract with AMC, came back here a week ago. Been arrested five times for drunk and disorderly. STASEC was about to boot his ass off the station if they arrested him again. No indication he ever drinks on the job though. AMC is willing to rehire.”

Danny nodded, Fucking amazing. Is there anything Mapper can’t find out? How the hell… he taps a few keys and knows more in a minute than I could find out in two divs. Dammit. “Thank you. That’s a lot more than I found out.” He took another sip of the drink, grimaced again and slugged it down. “I’m going back to Ghost and hope I don’t puke on the way. Moose and Squirrel are loaded and Adrion seems to know a lot about them, so I put him in charge of them.”

“Good call. Get as much of a scan of the galaxy as you can. Particularly of any possible civilization. There is a chance there were survivors of some of those ships if there is a habitable planet in that galaxy.”

“If I find them, what am I supposed to do? I—”

“Just get a position for the planet. You can’t do anything other than that. Now go before you fall down.”

***

Olafson proved to be an adequate cook the next day at lunch when the crew finally came up for air, but they were all cursing Danny with a vengeance over the aftereffects of the inoculation.

At seventeen, Danny sat down in the pilot’s couch, strapped in, and looked around to make everything was secured and glanced over at Gronk, ensconced at the navigator’s chair. “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. You ready, Gronk?”

“Gronk ready. Courses reviewed, plotted and inputted to AI.”

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

Estrella handled the clearance and said, “You are cleared to undock at seventeen fifty-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.” He toggled the PA, “Crew, Ghost is alive and we are underway. Set maneuvering watch.”

Zuckie answered, “Maneuvering watch set, all stations.”

Danny zoomed the holo, looking at the route Gronk had plotted and moved on position skirting the one time warp that had damn near killed him at a slightly different angle. He turned to Gronk, “Moving this point to mitigate this warp. I want a little steeper angle when we cross it.” Gronk grunted and made a note on his holo screen as Danny toggled the PA, “Six divs to first warp crossing. Recommend you void bladder, bowels, get two bulbs of electrolytic water. Make sure your spaces are secure for penetration and prepare to strap in fifteen segs before we get there. Sick sacks are a necessity, I say again, necessity. Anybody that misses has to clean up their own mess. Captain is off the bridge.” He clicked the PA off and pointed to the holo. “You have the conn, Gronk.”

“Gronk have.”

Danny headed to his cabin and racked out for four divs. After that, he hit the fresher, evacuated everything that would evacuate, and steeled himself for going back through the rift. He prowled the ship, rechecking everything and mumbling to himself. He walked into engineering and saw Zuckie checking the powerplant remotely. “Where’s Efrot?”

Zuckie selected a camera in the power section and pointed. “He says he’s going to ride back there. He doesn’t want to be far from the hot section if there is a problem. He modified a couch with Estrella’s mech and installed it right by the hot section access.”

Danny shook his head. “Estrella, did you authorize this modification?”

She replied, “It is within spec. There is adequate support in that area for a ten G couch, and Efrot is well within limits for any leakage of radiation. I do not recommend removal at this time, as Efrot has put a number of speciesdivs into the design and fabrication of the installation.”

“Okayyy, it’s on him.”

“We are one div from the rift, Captain. I would suggest you assume your position on the bridge.”

Danny looked at Zuckie and rolled his eyes, then turned. “Aye, Aye, AI. Off to the bridge I go.” Danny picked up a sick sack and two bottles of electrolyte on his way and stepped into the bridge. “Any changes, Gronk?”

“No, Captain. We are in position as you directed. I have performed evolutions you suggested.”

Danny nodded as he strapped himself in and keyed the PA, “Fifteen segs to penetration. Secure yourselves and call bridge when completed.” He keyed the PA off, turned to look at Gronk and said, “My intent is to complete all transitions on AI pilot. We may or may not remain conscious through all of them, and the next to last takes us into a black hole system.”

Gronk jerked its head in a motion that could have been a nod. “Gronk will not lose consciousness.  Gronk will monitor navigation. Gronk authorized to override if necessary?”

“Gronk is authorized. Checklist please, Essie.”

14 segs later, everyone checked in, strapped in, and checklist completed, Danny said. “And we are entering rift now. Bend over and kiss your asses goodbye, this is gonna be a helluva ride.” Danny lasted through the first six transitions before he passed out, listening to the screams of the others, while Gronk merely grunted a couple of times.


Comments

Random MilSF chapter… — 17 Comments

  1. “He also scheduled a reprovision, since he how had a crew that was eating onboard, He also scheduled a reprovision, since he how had a crew that was eating onboard…” suggest …since he now had a crew…

    Love this, especially “Moose and Squirrel.” My misspent youth showing. LOL

    • So it isn’t only me that read. “Moose and Squirrel” in a heavy Russian accent!

  2. During and after the crew meeting:

    ‘He threw up his arms.’ Even a mess compartment may have a low ceiling or key lines and conduits. Also a badd habit for other places with sharp or hazardous edges to the air. Maybe a different frustration technique?

    Surprised that none of the crew start with salvage but then dig into the adventure and glory of digging up their own pocket universe. With those stories, they’ll never drop another credit for a bulb. This will frustrate a scout loner more, by keeping him stepped up to Old Man.

    Curious about when and how Estrella will manage to “oopsie” Danielle back on as crew.

    • I have two thoughts about clearances and overheads, coming from military submarine background. Eight foot clearances aren’t impossible on a ship designed to hold larger races. Danny probably can’t reach seven feet high unless he stretches so just raising his hands above his head shouldn’t hit anything.

      Also, we normally think in two dimensions but this is a space ship, so all surfaces are probably kept smooth with cover panels to avoid snag hazards in zero gee. I’m thinking of photos inside ISS.

  3. A few things to consider :-

    “module where Efrot stood at the end of the module in his radiation suit.”
    Suggest cutting “of the module”
    * * * * *
    “Mapper reached down and pulled a date cube out of his satchel,”
    — “data”?
    * * * * *
    “to collect particulates if it flies through atmosphere or an Ort cloud.”
    — Should that be “Oort cloud” ?
    * * * * *
    “But don’t bitch at me if we make it through and back again.”
    –“if we don’t make” ?
    * * * * *
    ” come back and haint ”
    — “haunt” ?
    * * * * *
    “strapped in, and looked around to make sure everything was secured”
    * * * * *

    And so to bed.

  4. You, sir, are a horrible tease. I congratulate you!

    Suggested edits –
    He walked slowly to the mess and was surprised to find everyone there. He walked went directly over to the autochef and dialed a bulb of coffee. “Okay, here’s the skin. We have a job. The one that almost killed me. It’s seven jumps through different rifts. The first two are easy, there is a time dilation around point three, points four and six are gravity warps, and bad ones. Like tearing you apart bad. Point five was pretty mild, just shifted light across the spectrum. Point seven is a gravity again, into a black hole, twenty Gs to get out, and point eight is heavy radiation into an odd little pocket galaxy with nineteen wrecked or abandoned ships in there.”

  5. Been ruminating on this. Danny as captain is a very controlling person. (as he should be!) He has on hand items v. valuable. Yet he puts them in a safety deposit box *out of his control*. Estrella gets wiped in the upcoming fun ‘n games, he can’t get to them. So maybe couple extra sentences where joint access is set up, or a passcode, ex. code word, “Magellan” will get him access to recover the items.

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