Mil SF snippet…

The continuing beatings by the muse will continue until I finish this thing apparently…

Comments/recommendations appreciated, as always.

Chapter 18

Danny asked impatiently, “Essie, are we ready to depart?”

“Dani is still storing the food stuffs that came aboard. Apparently some need freezer space, some just refrigeration. She has to check each package.”

He tapped the arm of the couch impatiently as Ish and Gronk argued softly at the nav table, as they had for the last two divs. “Ish or Gronk, or whomever is the nav, do we have a course laid in?”

“We have discussion of course.” Danny looked over sharply and Ish shrugged then went back to arguing with Gronk.

“Essie, we have a completed checklist, correct? And we are cleared to depart?”

“Yes and yes. Our departure window has been extended for another div.”

“Screw it.” He keyed the PA. “We are departing orbit now. We have either nine, eleven, or twelve divs before we jump, if our navigators can decide on a course.” He spun the Ghost on its axis, pushed up the power and added, “Estrella, departure corridor three please, you have the conn.”

“Departure corridor three, I have the ship.” Danny stalked off the bridge shaking his head, This isn’t going to work if Ish and Gronk can’t cooperate. But if I make a decision, I’m going to piss off a Hydra. Ish… is senior, but Gronk is my navigator and ship’s crew. Dammit…

He went into the mess and hit the autochef for a bulb of coffee, leaned against the counter and heard mumbling. Following his ears, he went into the kitchen and then into the walk-in. Daniella was cursing, mumbling, and trying to read something on her data comp as she lifted various things out of a large pallet. “Need a hand?”

Daniella jumped and whipped around. “No! What I need is some damn idea of what half of this stuff is!” She waved her hand at the pallet. “Santi sent a lot of stuff, but I have no idea what it is, much less what can be frozen and what needs to be chilled or doesn’t need either.” She blew out a frustrated breath and said, “And I’m cold. I didn’t realize that what I thought was a nice gesture was going to end up causing a major problem, much less have her give us all this, plus recipes!” She stomped out of the walk-in, snatching the coffee bulb out of his hand. “Thank you. I need this.” She took a pull on it and made a face, then handed it back, “Yech, plain coffee.”

She went to the autochef and got her preferred mix, held it in both hands and said, “Estrella, did you have any luck on what we can do with those sprouts? Can we put them in hydroponics?”

Estrella answered, “I am not sure. The translation does not cross to anything recognizable.”

Danny said, “Page the bridge, ask either Ish or Gronk to come down here. One of them might be able to help Daniella.”

“Paging.”

Five segs later, Ish came into the mess, surprising both of them. Danny asked, “Ish? Why you? I would think Gronk would know more about food.”

Ish gargled a laugh. “I was a deckhand, fisherman, and boat… captain before I left for the stars. What is the problem?”

Daniella sighed. “I have no idea what is what, and Estrella can’t find anything on the net about storage or whether or not we can plant any of what I think might be sprouts in hydroponics.”

Ish replied, “Show me. Maybe we figure it out.” Daniella led him toward the cooler and Danny got another bulb of coffee then followed them, curious. Ish quickly sorted through the pallet then exclaimed, “Koo? She sent you Koo?”

Daniella asked, “What’s that?”

Ish held a package of fillets gingerly in his hands. “Koo is… expensive. Very hard to catch, very hard to kill. I have had it… maybe twice in my life.” He reverently set it aside. “Cooler and needs to be cooked and eaten within a day.” He looked at the shoots, separated five of them out and said, “These, you can plant these, they are our versions of some spices. These all are part of the sauce you had at the meal. The others are… fresh… spices.” He separated that pile yet again, then added as he pointed to one pile, “These you chop, those you… mash?” He quickly went through the rest of the pallet, separating out their version of rice and a rice flour, then some packets of ground up spices.

Daniella said, “That must be why she sent the recipes she sent. And she said the milder sauce I showed her was well received.”

Ish shook his head in wonder. “She gave you recipes? Those are her most closely guarded secrets. You must have impressed her.”

“Huh, we share recipes freely. I guess it’s a cultural difference. And I guess we’re having fish for dinner. Thank you for the help!”

She quickly stored the things as directed, then picked up the sprouts and headed for hydroponics, talking to Estrella as she went through the hatch. Danny glanced at Ish. “Are we still having problems deciding on a course?”

Ish shook his head, “No. Gronk is your navigator. I have made my inputs, but the final course is up to her.”

“I thought seniority always was in effect in your world.”

“Normally, yes. But I am… how you call it, now supernumerary? She is crew. Big difference.”

Danny sighed. “So, how are we getting back to Alpha?”

Ish grinned. “My route. I convinced her it was better and saved days over her more conservative routing.”

“Speaking of pay,” Danny said, “I owe you for your time. What is your normal rate?”

“You don’t owe me anything. This was service to country.”

Danny shook his head, “No, this is not the way I do things. Would pay equal to Gronk’s be acceptable?”

Ish bowed. “If that is what you wish. But it is not necessary.”

“It is necessary to me. I believe in paying fairly for services rendered.”

“Then I will accept. Thank you. Shall we go to a three person bridge watch?”

“Twelve or eight div?”

“You are the captain, Captain.”

Danny quickly thought through the jumps and said, “Twelve divs. That way you will be on the bridge when we jump into that Dragoon space.”

Danny could have sworn the dishes she fixed were identical to what they had been served on the planet, but both Ish and Gronk said it was even better, and they kept going back for more. Daniella was happy there were no leftovers, but the most interesting response was from Efrot. He asked for only the fish, no sauce. Apparently he couldn’t stand spicy food…

***

The jumps home were going well, they even got through the Dragoon’s system with no problems and jumped out as soon as they could. Coming up on the system where they had encountered pirates, Danny went on the PA. “Okay, we are one div from the jump point. Adrion, missiles up and red/free, Zuckie, I want full power available as soon as we come out. Everybody stay strapped in and standing by for maneuvering.”

Everyone rogered up but Daniella stepped onto the bridge and asked timidly, “Can I sit up here? I don’t like being in that cabin by myself, not knowing what is going on.”

Danny looked quickly around the bridge and pointed her to the communicator’s station. “Sit over there. Estrella disable communications panels and controls, please.”

She cocked her head and asked, “Why are you doing that? Don’t you trust me?”

Danny shrugged, “It’s not a matter of trust. Ish is sitting in the captain’s couch and all those controls are disabled too. It is SOP when someone not qualified or certified is sitting at a control couch.”

“SOP?”

Estrella answered, “Standard Operating Procedures. It’s the manual or bible for operating a ship. If the captain had not asked, I would have disabled your controls myself. I will control your vidscreens so that you will see what is going on. The tank also has the big picture.”

“Oh. Thank you.” She snugged herself into the couch, fiddled with it until she had it in a comfortable orientation, then sat quietly watching Danny and Gronk interacting.

“Dropping out in five, four, three, two, now!” The transition was fairly smooth, but the collision alarm shocked them all as Danny yelled, “Full screens now! Threat axis?”

“Two three niner, down eighty-one.” Danny immediately turned and pulled 20Gs to clear the threat as Estrella continued, “Large radiation signature. Multiple large… chunks of probable ship. One anomaly, Fifty thousand miles, appears to be dead ship, dropping into grav well.” The holo tank shifted with a vector projecting from the anomaly pointing at the local sun.

The ship shuddered and Daniella squeaked, “What was that?”

“Chunk of something,” Danny replied as he looked at the tank. We’re going to have to go look at that anomaly, law of space. Scan for any other ships, escape pods, beacons. White and tight, Adron.”

“White/tight,” Adrion responded.

“Scanning, no indication of any electronic sources.”

Gronk said, “Approach entered. We have fuel for fast pursuit.”

Danny nodded. “Activate.” He keyed the PA. “Zuckie, Adrion, Efot to the bridge.”

***

Eight divs later, after a fast approach and turnover burn, they closed what they could now see was the remnants of a ship. Adrion and Efrot were in hard suits, in the airlock and ready to go as soon as Danny told them to. Zuckie was watching the approach and said, “Looks like an LCS, Captain.”

“Concur, I think this might have been our pirate. Appears to be still venting at least a little bit. Not sure what happened. My ship.” He flexed his hands, put them on the control pads and made two passes around and over the ship. “Yep, little crappy ship. You can see where they grafted on a couple of missile pods, and that appears to be a laser poking out of that dorsal hatch. Front of the ship is pushed in.”

Adrion chimed in, “Blast effect. It’s flattened across the entire bow. I wonder if those other chunks are what is left of another ship. Maybe that captain decided to do a Kobayashi Maru exit and self-destruct. Took them and the pirates both out.”

Danny said, “Cleared out of the lock. We are two hundred yards starboard stern quarter. I can see an airlock from here.” How the hell does Adrion know what a blast effect looks like? And that Kobayashi reference, that’s not something most spacers outside GalPat know…

Daniella interrupted his thoughts asking, “What are they carrying?”

Danny glanced at the main vidscreen. “Laser cutters. We don’t carry any weapons per se, but if you’ve ever seen a laser cutter at work… it’s scarier than facing a pulse rifle, because it is going to cut through whatever is in front of it.”

Zuckie surprised him by stepping on the bridge and adding, “You should ask Efrot to show you his artwork. He’s done some amazing stuff with a laser cutter on scrap we had.”

“Efrot,” Danny asked, “Efrot does art? I didn’t think he did anything but numbers.”

Zuckie chuckled, “You could do worse than buying it from him. It’d make the ship look a lot nicer!”

Adrion reported, “We’re in. Ship’s blown. No… survivors. Appears they weren’t even in soft suits. Definitely pirate ship. Found… what appears to be slave quarters. No survivors here either.”

Efrot’s GalTrans kicked in, “Found personal data chips and other. Will bring.”

“Copied all. Get out of there and we’ll head for our jump. Estrella file all vids and audio for GalPat. We’ll report as soon as we get to a system with habitation.”

“Sealed and filed, Captain.”

***

Fourteen days later, they made the last jump into hyper and Danny slumped in the couch. “Almost home.” He looked up at Ish and asked, “Where will you go?”

“I will find a ride back to my job. It will not be hard.”

“I thought you were a navigator on a ship?”

“I… actually work for GalPat on ship routing for the most effective combat routes for fleets. I also do randomized patrol routings for squadrons, divisions, and individual ships. I was on GPS Arachnid. She is a new class destroyer and we were looking at optimal speeds, distances, and stores capacity for jumps. When they have a full complement of Marines, they are actually stores limited, mainly foodstuffs and water, unless they have access to a replenishment ship, factory ship, or base. Using commercial stores is frowned on, due to cost and possibility of contamination by third party agents.”

Danny laughed. “So that’s how you got here, well to Alpha so quickly. But I’m glad you did, because in all honesty I had no idea what I was going to do with the remains.”

“The… lieutenant put the message out with a priorty, and Captain Monsey immediately made me aware of it. I was able to counsel him in what needed to be done and get time off to take care of the situation, after I described what might happen if a senior Hydra was not present.”

Danny snickered, “Yes, I’ve heard stories. So I’m glad you did.”

“And it gave me a chance to see my daughter, Gronk. She is my youngest,” Ish said with a smile.

“Gronk is your daughter?” Danny asked in shock. “Why… how… um, you could have told us.”

Ish gargled a laugh. “It is plainly apparent. Well, to any Hydra. Maybe not to you humans. And she was busy.”

Danny shook his head, said, “You have the bridge,” and walked out mumbling to himself.

24 divs later, he was back on the bridge as they prepared for the final jump back into Alpha. He keyed the PA, standby for jump in five, four, three, two, now.” He felt the familiar dislocation and was relieved when he heard the normal communications chatter and saw the holo tank resolve into the familiar display. “And we’re… home, it’s morning too! Thirty-five days round trip. That is a new record as far as I know.”

Daniella looked over from the comm couch. “Is that really all? It… seems like much longer.”

Danny, Ish, and Gronk all laughed and Danny said, “Normal routing, we’d just now be getting close. We wouldn’t even be there yet.”

Estrella interjected, “Captain, incoming vid from Lieutenant Brisker.”

“Thank you, put it on my screen.” The screen blipped and a harried LT Brisker’s face appeared. “Lieutenant, what can I do for you?”

“Captain, I have… multiple requests. Ah, can you dock at Alpha nine?”

Danny cocked his head, “Alpha nine? Isn’t that a GalPat module?”

“It is. Ah… that is an official request. Also, are you mission complete? You are back very early.”

“Yes, we are… mission complete as you call it. We have been to Hydra and the remains have been properly transferred. Also, we have a report on possible pirate action in the Burnt Sector. We recovered some documents—”

Brisker broke in, “Yes, we have that report. There are questions. Also, there are VIPs among others waiting for you.”

“VIPs? Others?”

Brisker turned away, listened, then turned back. “You are getting priority routing. What is your expected ETA?”

Gronk said, “Six divs. Route programmed.”

“Six divs. Estrella execute.”

“Executing.”

He saw Brisker nod then say, “You will be met. Any pax can be released, but I have to ask for the crew to stay on the ship when you dock.”

“Coped all. Crew will remain aboard. See you in six divs.” Danny slid down in his couch and stared at the overhead, What the hell is this? Why dock at the GalPat docks? Are they going to take my ship? Wonder if I can get in touch with Mapper. “Essie, any messages from Mapper?”

“None. You have one message from the asteroids asking if you are going to make the monthly delivery, and an invoice from Grey Lady Investigations.”

“Can we pay it?”

“Yes, it is not that large. Do you wish to answer the mining consortium?”

“Pay the bill, hold off on the other.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Danny got up suddenly, “I’ll be back in time to dock.” He went back to engineering, found Zuckie and Efrot going over equipment that needed work and the normal maintenance schedule. “We’re going into Alpha nine in about five divs. Being met by GalPat. And before you ask, I have no idea why.”

He jumped when Adrion said from behind him, “Are we restricted to ship?”

Danny turned so that he could see all three of them. “Yes, and I have absolutely no idea why.”

“Mapper,” Zuckie asked.

Danny shook his head with a grimace. “Nothing. And he won’t answer a clear voice call.”

“Secretive bastard isn’t he…”

Sourly, he agreed. He left and continued through the ship, finally ending up in the mess with a bulb of coffee, staring at the bulkhead as Estrella drove the ship toward Station Alpha, All I want is for this crap to be over. I like my life nice and calm, especially since there are now enough credits in the bank to allow us to not have to take every little job that comes along. I don’t want to deal with GalPat or anybody else… Mapper is bad enough!

Comments

Mil SF snippet… — 13 Comments

  1. Good read, and I want more.
    Change “chucks”to “chunks.”

  2. Here’s some your fingers flew over.

    *********

    “snatching the coffee bulb out his hand.”
    — “out of” OR “from his hand”

    ****

    “then followed them curiously.”

    “followed them, curious.” ??

    ****

    “Apparently he couldn’t stand hot food…”

    “spicy food…” ??

    ****

    “Everybody strapped in and standing by ”

    “stay strapped” ?

    ****

    “is sitting a couch.”

    “at a control couch.” ??

    ****

    “Multiple large… chucks of probable ship.”

    “chunks” ?
    “pieces” ?

    ****

    “He flex his hands,”

    “flexed” ?

    ****

    “what a blast effect look like?”

    “looks ” ??

    ****

    “I was on GPS Arachnid she is ”

    “Arachnid. She is ” ?

    ********
    And so to … late lunch.

    ****

  3. All- Thanks! Sigh… I need an editor before I put these up, but at least I keep y’all busy… LOL And I DO appreciate it!

    posted from my iPhone.

  4. Why ask for an editor? You have so many Alpha readers available.:-)
    John in Indy

  5. Never mind these critics ( 🙂 ), when is it coming out?

  6. “Coped all. Crew will remain aboard. See you in six divs.”
    Copied, not Coped?

    A True Sea Story: I was in CIC with a Russian Bear inbound while a hot-shot F-14 LT was asking, nay, begging to shoot ’em down. He was told “white and tight” but I’m fuzzy on if that refers to an electronic and mechanical state. Anyone clarify?

  7. John- I need all the help I can get… sigh

    Bad- Probably May… I am shooting for that.

    Robert- White and tight is weapons. e.g. Master Arm off, nothing selected.

    • ONFO:

      Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I understand it’s weapons; I was wondering if “white” referred to, say, a selector switch, while “tight” would refer to some kind of mechanical restraint on the shackles. Or I’m overthinking it and it’s just a Navy thing of coming up with a rhyming phrase.

      • Robert- White is the verbal clue. No RED lights on the master arm panel. Tight is you’re not authorized to drop. e.g White/tight. Red/free means you can have master arm on and a weapon selected (e.g. red light) and free to drop either on your decision or higher.

  8. Y’all caught the typos I saw. My question is about Ish at the end, and him revealing his job duties. OPSEC comes to mind; I can understand Ish relating that he works for GalPat, doing ship and squadron routing, and volunteering that he was out that way to work up a new ship. Danny can ask about it, then, or get a look of “Arachnid, that new destroyer?” It’s also fun to keep the poor guy on the other side of the ‘need to know’ line a bit longer, as he tries to figure out just why everyone is beating up on him. Everyone wants his data, and wants him – but, why?

    Be a real hoot if one of the GalPat pieces of paperwork was a reserve commission at lieutenant, but its existence is classified; he would just seem to get on the wrong side of significant GalPat ships or station deputies.

    The characters, human and xeno, keep filling out well and make these fun reads. Good story development, multiple plot levels, and interlocking vignettes make these a joy to read. I got ten credits here for the Muse.

  9. PK- Still playing with it, or I should say the muse is playing with me… sigh… Thanks!