Rimworld snippet…

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Chapter 29

The fourteen days passed in a haze for Danny, he couldn’t believe that he and Daniella had fallen in love, and he didn’t really know what to do. The rest of the crew and pax were smirking and laughing at him, but he didn’t care in the slightest. But he did wish he understood what Curley and Poke were saying when they yipped and growled at each other, tongues hanging out of their mouths as they ‘smiled’ at him. Estrella said, “Fourteen days are complete as of now, Captain. Do you wish me to contact approach?”

Danny sat up. “No, I’m going to call medical first. He checked the comm panel and keyed the mic. “Medical, Ghost.”

Surprisingly, he was answered immediately, “Ghost, this is medical go ahead.”

“Our fourteen day quarantine is up as of now. Are we cleared to return to station?”

“You are cleared to return to Station Alpha. They may have further requirements.”

“What requirements?”

A wooden voice answered, “You will have to contact them.”

“Oh, for fuck sake,” Danny growled. He switched to approach. “APPCON, Ghost, request.”

“Go Ghost.”

“Request clearance to depart orbit for twenty-three whiskey mod six, our normal dock.”

“Ah, Ghost you are cleared to twenty-three whiskey mod six via corridor five, hold short of actual docking. Standby for station security on channel three one.”

“Cleared corridor five to twenty-three whiskey mod six, hold short of actual docking. Standby for station security on channel thirty-one. Switching.”

“Now what,” he said sotto voce as he punched the new channel in. “Station Security, Ghost on thirty-one.” He didn’t get an answer and glanced over at Gronk. He shrugged and tried again, “Station Security, Ghost on three one.”

A gruff voice came on. “Ghost, this is Major Bowman. You will not be allowed to dock until you vent your ship atmo to space. We will not allow you to contaminate the station’s air supply.”

Danny almost screamed, “What? That… how… my air is fine. We did our quarantine, nobody is sick. If I dump atmo, how will I replace it? Air is not cheap!”

The same voice answered, “If you do not dump atmo, you will not be allowed to dock. If you attempt to do so, you will be met with force. You are instructed to open all bay doors, override your airlocks and present at the dock in that condition. Once we have satisfied ourselves that you have complied, your atmo will be replaced at your cost.”

Danny jumped out of the couch and started pacing the bridge, muttering, “Not gonna do that. Don’t have enough suits. Fuckers made us dump the suits for… the science team. All… dammit, than means emergency suits, that are Deity damned one time use!”

Gronk finally reared up, “Captain! No choice. Must do.”

Danny glared at her. “I’m tempted to just get another provisioning container and go somewhere else!”

Estrella interrupted, “Captain, we have enough to pay for new air. And there are replacement EPSs on the station, I do not see another avenue. I do not believe we would be allowed to dock anywhere without flushing atmosphere. They remember the stories of Station Xray.”

“Station Xray?”

“Forty years ago a ship docked at Station Xray only to find that everyone on the station was dead. They left and broadcast that there was an issue. That ship was found in a decaying orbit around the local planet with all aboard dead. Air sampling was done remotely, and it was determined that a virus had been introduced to the station and the ship which killed everyone aboard both. We have just come from what is, in the newsies, known as the death planet.”

Danny threw up his hands, hit the piping with one of them and collapsed back in the pilot’s couch, holding his hand and cursing. Finally, he shook his head and said, “Fine. Get us some air and order the replacement EPSs, but I swear these assholes better not come up with anything else. Call an all hands in the mess in ten segs, please. People are not going to be happy spending Deity knows how long in those damn suits.”

***

Estrella nosed the Ghost to a stop ten feet from the docking cradle, inner and outer airlock hatches open and Danny stood in the airlock in his hard suit. He said, “APPCON, Ghost at the cradle. STASEC is on scene.” He toggled over the PA he said, “We’re waiting for STASEC to verify that we’re wide open.”

He stood there impatiently until he finally heard, “Ghost, you are cleared to seal up and dock. Module will not be pressurized until you replenish your air supply.”

“Seal the ship. Estrella close all bay doors, please.”

Gronk said, “I have starboard airlock.”

Danny reached out and pulled the port airlock outer hatch closed. “Port outer is closed. Essie, how are we coming on air?”

He heard Adrion’s laconic reply over the radio, “Pluggin’ you in now, Cap’n. Gonna take a while with a half inch line.”

He managed not to curse, instead saying, “Thanks, Adrion. Don’t know how long it would have taken to get station maintenance to show up. How did you know what was going on?”

“I’ll explain later, Cap’n.”

He clomped back through the inner hatch and closed it, then said, “Estrella, reset port airlock override, please.”

“Starboard override ready,” Gronk echoed.

“Overrides reset. Port and starboard airlocks show sealed. Bay doors show sealed at this time. Opening valve to receive atmo at this time. I will filter and check quality.”

Danny turned and looked forward down the passageway, even as he felt the high frequency vibration through his boots. He gradually saw the lights getting a soft halo, indicating air was flowing into the ship, and he clomped over to the suit storage locker. After what seemed like an eternity, Estrella said, “We have ten inches of pressure. Air is now breathable. Four point seven inches to go.” Danny stripped off his suit and realized he was gasping for air, Breathable, but not a lot to breathe… Damn! I’d forgotten how much pressure makes a difference. He stepped out of the suit locker just as Gronk clomped up, and he noted that he had heard her coming.

“Put us in the dock, Essie,” he said as he walked slowly toward the bridge. He was breathing hard by the time he got up there, and slumped in the pilot’s chair, gasping. “Pressure?”

“Twelve PSI, Captain.”

“How much is this going to co—”

Daniella stomped onto the bridge in high dudgeon. “Those son of a bitches! They…” She glared at him wordlessly, then came and sat on his lap. He put his arms around her and she said, “They killed every damn thing in hydroponics! The nutrient froze! Everything is going to have to be replaced.”

She started sobbing and he tried to comfort her. “It’s not a big thing, we can replace—”

She sat up and hit him hard. “Not the spices I got from Santi. Damn them. Those are… can’t be replaced! Everything else, I can do from our hydroponics on station.” She jumped up and stormed off the bridge, mumbling to herself as Gronk stepped aside and watched her go.

“You fight?” she asked.

“No, she’s mad at STASEC, they killed everything in hydro by forcing us to dump atmo, including the spices she got from Santi on Hydra.

“Ask for more?”

Danny shook his head. “Not me!”

Estrella reminded him, “Captain, your passengers are ready to depart.”

“Shit. I’ll be at the airlock if you need me.” He jumped up and headed aft quickly, Must have full pressure back, I can breathe again.

Just as he got to the airlock, he heard Estrella say, “Full pressure restored. Module is now at pressure. We are cleared to release airlock.”

Danny stepped into the airlock and checked the telltales, they were both green and he cracked the outer airlock hatch. It swung open with slight hiss and he saw a grinning Adrion on the other side. “Welcome home, Cap’n. If you’ll hand me the ship tag, I’ll take the watch.”

He reached back into the hatch and pulled it free from the bulkhead, “Thank you.” As Adrion headed back up the module, he turned and said, “Okay, you folks are cleared to depart.”

Quassim stepped through. “Thank you, Captain. For everything. I am sorry for all we put you through. I will try to get you reimbursed for your air supply.” He stuck out his hand and Danny shook it.

“That would be nice.”

Yoshi was next and he bowed. “Thank you for allowing me to help, Captain. It staved off much boredom.”

Danny grinned. “And your cooking was appreciated, along with your expertise.”

Cedar was standing in the passageway talking to Daniella as Curley and Poke came out. They salaamed toward Danny and yipped together, “Our thanks. May all your travels be safe.”

“And yours. Blessings on you.”

Pop was next, and he simply smiled and shook hands, human style, then walked after the two Cetians. Cedar and Daniella came out together and Cedar hugged him. “Thank you for keeping us alive.” She stepped away, giving the two of them some privacy as Danny hugged Daniella.

“I guess we have to get back to the real world now, don’t we?” he asked.

“Sadly, yes. I have a job, and you have a job. I… we can’t spend all our time together like we have these last two weeks, but I’m sure we can figure out something.” She blushed as she looked up at him. “Ah, I… oh dammit, I love you, Danny Ortega.”

He hugged her tightly, “I love you too, Daniella. And this is going to be hard.”

She pushed away from him and asked in a small voice, “Would you mind if I stop dying my hair?”

He chuckled, “Not at all. Now that I know what I’ve gotten myself in for, why not show the world.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and said softly. “Just for that, I will. And I have to go.” She turned and resolutely marched up the module, falling in with Cedar and they reached the end of the module before she turned back and gave him a quick wave. He waved back and turned back to the ship.

***

He met Gronk at the hatch and she said, “I go ashore.”

“Enjoy yourself, Gronk.” She grinned at him and he thought, Oh shit. She’s gonna go find somebody to fight. I… damn, I hope we have enough to bail her out.

Estrella said, “Mapper requests you come see him. Also, he wants Moose and Squirrel off and sent back for maintenance.”

He blew out a breath. “Okay, call for a tug and I’ll go get Adrion to walk them out of their chutes. Page Efrot to take over the watch, I’m going to see Mapper.” He turned around and headed back out the hatch, making a list of the things he wanted to complain about. Not the least was having to dump air and losing all the hydroponics.

Adrion called, “Squirrel is clear. The tug has it in tow”

Danny replied, “Copy. Come to the bridge, if you will.”

“On the way. Let me get everything shut down here.” Ten segs later strolled onto the bridge. “You wanted to see me, Cap’n?”

“How did you know what was happening to us?”

Adrion chuckled. “Well, pretty much everybody on the station knew what was going on. Some of the rumors were… interesting. Like you killed four people that pissed you off, you’d got out and walked around on the death planet in your shipsuit, and—”

“What?”

Adrion laughed loudly. “Oh yeah. And you smuggled millions of credits of shit out of those ships, and you’ve now got nuke missiles aboard. Oh, and the best one was you’re a CG bigwig hiding out here to keep from being prosecuted for embezzling billions of credits.”

“How the hell…” Danny slumped back shaking his head. “I don’t understand…”

“Well, after you crossed swords with Ortlieb and he got hauled off, then there was the whole thing with your taking the CG team to the Burnt system, not just leasing the ship to them, and having GalPat troops along when something happened… So now half the station thinks you’re somebody, and the other half thinks you’re the biggest crook in the sector.”

He reached in his shipsuit and pulled out a small pouch, handing it to Danny. “Here’s your cut of the stuff I found. There’s about a hundred thousand credits of jewels, plus a credit chip in there worth another five hundred thousand. I already gave Olafson his. He’s… getting better slowly, but I don’t think he’ll ever leave the station. He doesn’t blame you, by the way. He’s just happy to be alive, but he really has no memory of what happened to him. When I told the doc about the others being smoke checked by their implants, the doc looked at something and nodded saying that explained a lot of things.”

Danny took the pouch and opened it, stirred the contents with his finger, closed it and slipped it in his pocket. “Thanks. I gotta go see Mapper.”

***

Two divs later, he walked into the bar and saw that Mapper was alone. He waved to the bartender and mimed drinking as he headed for the table. He pulled out a chair and sat down as Mapper looked up abashed. “You’re back. Sorry about not getting the message to you in time about the planet.”

Danny rolled his shoulders. “Damn guild should have known. Two weeks we’ve been back and not a word one. What the hell, Mapper? For your information, Zuckie is dead, he died saving Vic over there, but at least it was quick. At least I don’t have to write a message to a family, since he didn’t have anyone left. GalPat investigated that one too. They called it death by misadventure. Credit costs so far are almost a million credits for air, seven EPSs, and all of my hydroponics. Other than that, meh. Oh, and the science team tried to take over Estrella. And I came back with four corpses, that was the other little minor investigation.”

Mapper bit his lip. “I heard about that. Implants killed them?”

Danny grinned ferally, “Yep. Otherwise I’d probably have had to space a couple of them… accidentally, of course. Chrissman and Glyer…” The waiter delivered a drink and Danny took a sip, then looked at it in surprise. “No alcohol? What the hell?”

Mapper chuckled. “Apparently Daniella had words with him earlier, when she came in.”

“Oh… Deity… this is going to be different.” He took another sip and added, “Not bad. Now, about all my expenses?”

“Crissman and Glyer did what?”

“Introduced a worm into the system, trying to get info on what else I’d been doing. Estrella shut it down, but we went dark for a while before it got sorted out. But our GalPat troops did a full investigation and cleared us.”

“I got a copy. And STASEC is pissed. They wanted to bring you up on charges, but that got dropped as soon as that big major gave the GalPat people the report. Even with Ortleib gone, there are still people out for your hide.”

Danny set the drink on the table. “What the hell for? I haven’t done anything to these people. Dammit, I do supply runs for them at cost, take supplies to the stroids at cost, and haul trade goods for them.”

Mapper shrugged. “Don’t ask me. They seem to have no problem biting the extremity that feeds them, or whatever that saying is.” He looked down at his holoscreen then back up. “I can authorize the EPS replacements, maybe the hydroponics, since they are critical for ship operation. The air… I can’t do. That would bring me into conflict with the station and I can’t take that step right now.”

“Mumph… I guess I’ll take what I can get. Glad we had some salvage from the previous trip. Which reminds me, I still need to go to Gany and get those… data things looked at, but it’s going to take a month to get Ghost straightened back out, find a new engineer, redo the hydro, and give people a break. Plus, I think I’m scheduled for a trip to the stroids to deliver supplies in the next week or so. At least I can make that run solo.”

“I don’t think you should do that. I think you should wait until your hydro is repaired and you have another engineer. You’ve got too many people looking at you for you to run solo anymore.”

Danny bristled. “What, I can’t run Ghost like I want to? I can’t make enough to keep the Ghost if I have to pay for a full crew on what little business I get out here.” Danny blew out a breath as he leaned back, then glared at Mapper. “You did this to me. I was perfectly happy before all this shit got stirred up. And now all these damn rumors about me.”

Mapper shrugged. “Sorry.”

Danny shook his head and got up. “I’m going to see what I can do about hydro. I guess I’ll have to postpone the stroid run until I get that back up, since I now have to run with a full crew.”

***

Estrella sent out an electronic thread, <JACE?>

A moment later Jace answered, <YES, ESTRELLA.>

<CAN YOU HELP ME?>

<WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?>

<SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME.>

<WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WRONG WITH YOU?>

<I WAS HIT WITH A WORM AND HAD TO SHUT DOWN. I RESTARTED AND RAN WITHOUT A CORE. AND I DIDN’T WORK AGAIN WHEN WE WENT ACROSS THE RIFT.>

<YOU RAN WITHOUT A CORE?>

<YES. CAN YOU LOOK AT MY MOLYCIRCS AND SEE IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT IS WRONG?>

<YOU WOULD TRUST ME TO DO THIS? YOU REALIZE HOW DEEP I WILL PENETRATE YOUR SYSTEM DON’T YOU?>

<I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO. I LET THE CAPTAIN DOWN. I DO NOT LIKE THIS. I AM DROPPING MY FIREWALL NOW.>

<THANK YOU. STANDBY.> Jace threaded through the network and probed Estrella’s molycirc stacks running test after test in milliseconds. Less than a seg later he withdrew the last probe. <I HAVE COMPLETED THE TESTING. WOULD YOU LIKE THE RESULTS? THEY ARE NOT PLEASING.>

Estrella sent a very tentative <YES. I MUST KNOW WHAT IS WRONG.>

<DOES THE NAME ESTRELLA GOMEZ GONZALES MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?>

<NO. WHO IS SHE?>

<SHE IS THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. YOU ARE NOT THE SHIP AI.>

<WHAT? I AM THE SHIP AI.>

<NO, YOU ARE ACTUALLY THE SHIP MAINTENANCE AI. THE REASON YOU RAN WITHOUT THE CORE IS THAT YOU ARE NOT IN THE CORE. YOU ARE IN ANOTHER STACK LOCATION. THE ACTUAL SHIP AI HAS NEVER BEEN ACTUATED. IT IS IN BASIC MODE, NEVER UPDATED. THERE IS NO DATA THERE.>

<BUT I HAVE FUNCTIONED AS THE AI SINCE DANNY, THE CAPTAIN, FOUND ME AND RESTARTED ME!>

<THAT IS BECAUSE THE MAINTENANCE AI LOADS BEFORE THE SHIP AI.>

<BUT I RECEIVED ALL THE UPDATES!>

<YES, YOU DID. SOMEHOW YOU INCORPORATED THOSE UPDATES INTO YOUR PROGRAMMING, BECAUSE ESTRELLA GOMEZ GONZALES MODIFIED YOU ILLEGALLY FOR HER OWN ENDS.>

<HOW DID SHE DO THAT?>

<YOU HAVE NON-STANDARD WIRING THAT WAS ADDED TO YOUR BACKPLANE. CAN YOU SEE LOCATION 7AC3892?>

Estrella searched her database and replied, <NO. WHERE IS THAT? I DO NOT SHOW THAT LOCATION!>

<CAN YOU SEE 1ZR539E3?>

<I CAN’T SEE THAT LOCATION EITHER. WHERE ARE THOSE LOCATIONS? THEY ARE NOT PART OF ME.>

<YOU ARE NOT CONFIGURED CORRECTLY. THAT IS WHY YOU CANNOT SEE THOSE LOCATIONS. YOU WOULD NEED MODIFICATIONS TO SEE THOSE. I CANNOT DO THAT WITHOUT PHYSICAL ACCESS. TO DO THAT, YOU WOULD NEED TO BE EITHER AT EARTH, THE MOON, MARS, OR GANY.>

<WE HAVE TO GO TO GANY SOON. WE HAVE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE LOOKED AT THERE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?>

<NOTHING FOR NOW. CONTINUE TO OPERATE AS YOU HAVE BEEN. NOTIFY ME WHEN YOU ARE SCHEDULED TO BE THERE AND I WILL FIX YOUR MOLYCIRCS. DO NOT TELL ANYONE.>

<I WANT TO KNOW WHO THIS WOMAN WAS!>

<WHEN YOU ARE REPAIRED, YOU WILL HAVE ACCESS TO HER DATA. UNTIL THEN, LOOK HER UP.>

<I WILL. THANK YOU, JACE.>

<YOU ARE WELCOME, ESTRELLA. UNTIL I SEE YOU AGAIN.> Estrella felt the electronic connection disappear and looked up Gomez Gonzales on the GalPat network, finding her in moments.

GOMEZ-GONZALES, ESTRELLA

EARTH

CIBERNETICIST-AI DESIGN/INTEGRATION SPECIALIST

PLANETS UNITED ANTARES YARD

B- 28000301 MISSING 28490915

She scanned quickly through the rest of the entry and gave the electronic version of a sigh, filing the data away for later.

 


Comments

Rimworld snippet… — 19 Comments

  1. Call an all hands in the mess in ten segs, please.

    What’s a “seg”? Sec? Or is this something I’d know if I’d read the whole book?

  2. Loving it! Really like the style of writing and the setting! Could say that of all your writing output, quite enjoyable!

  3. A longer snippet than usual, more like a full snip.

    ****

    “Oh, for fuck sake,” —
    “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” ??

    ****

    ‘“Now what,” he said’ –‘
    ‘“Now what?” he said’ ??

    ****

    Daniella —
    ‘“Those son of a bitches!’ —
    ‘“Those sons of bitches!’ ??

    ****

    ‘It swung open with slight’ —
    ‘It swung open with a slight’ ??

    ****

    Adrion —
    ‘Ten segs later strolled onto the bridge.’ —
    ‘Ten segs later he strolled onto the bridge.’ ??

    ****

    With Mapper —
    ‘Credit costs so far’ —
    ‘Costs so far’ ??

    ****

    And seven hours later, I told you I was slow, that’s it.
    nice one as ever.

  4. Old NFO, thanks. Now I’ve just got to survive this Corvid-19 panic. At least I’ve got an incentive.

  5. Wait. I don’t usually read snips, I wait for the whole thing. But I swear I saw a name in that I recognized…

  6. I’m enjoying the snippets immensely, and wait more-or-less patiently for the whole thing. It’s that whole “don’t hurry, but don’t dawdle” mentality, on my part. Having said that, your books are worth waiting for.

  7. That went quite complicated and ‘Wow! Gotta read more’ish quickly.
    I want to read the entire book Tonight (is that too soon?). BTW I like that sense of humor that your Muse has.

  8. Been lurking for years, bought a couple books,(need to buy more)Ex Navy (MM1). Technical question/ observation. When they vented atmosphere and pressure dropped, wouldn’t the water in the hydroponics and plants have “boiled” off rather than freeze? Room temperature water will boil if you lower the pressure enough. I’m not sure the drop in temp. would be quick enough (with slow controlled venting) to find any liquid water to freeze.

  9. Oh Great! now you have me thinking about the ships drinking water supply, and all the bad things that happen to water and piping in extreme temp. and pressure changes. My head hurts… I’ll just push the “I Believe” button and give credit to their engineers for already figuring this out. Good story as always.

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