Rimworld snippett…

The usual comments apply…

Comments and recommendations appreciated, as always!

Chapter

Fargo sat at the kitchen table in the cabin, quietly musing, I hate leaving like this. Nicole is…pissed, to put it mildly. And she wouldn’t even come stay the night. Why the hell is everybody blaming me for Ton? I…shit…whatever. At least he’s alive and getting treatment. He shrugged as he finished the last of the cup of coffee, rinsed it and put it in the cabinet. Glancing over, he saw Cattus and Canis watching him with trepidation. How the hell do they know I’m leaving? The go bag? He sighed and reached out. “Go to your packs. Eat well, I will return.”

He sensed an almost muttering between them as they paced quietly to the door, looking back at him. He opened the door, knelt, and hugged them both. “I will miss you,” he sent, and they both licked him, crowding close to him. He stood, and they looked up as he sensed them communicating. Then they bounded off the porch into the snow and disappeared. Stepping back inside, he made one more pass through the cabin, making sure he had everything, and set his go bag next to the door, along with his rifle and ammunition.

Ten segs later, he heard the whine of a shuttle descending into the field. He shrugged into his coat, picked everything up, and stepped out the door. He debated for a second or two about locking the door, but decided against it and walked down the steps, slogged through the snow to the shuttle and up the ramp. Evie met him at the top of the ramp. “We decided it would be easier to pick OneSvel up, then you.”

“What about Garun and Shan?”

“They are at the Enclave, along with Hyderabad. We came down this morning. They should have everything loaded by the time we get there.”

He nodded to OneSvel. “Are you ready for this?”

Their GalTrans twittered. “We are. Adventure awaits!”

Fargo shook his head and smiled for the first time in three days. “I swear you just aren’t right, OneSvel. This is probably going to be boring as hell.”

“We think not.” Fargo stowed his gear and sat across from them. OneSvel extended a pseudopod. “GalScouts are interested in what is happening. I have their files on Myoto. You can review them.”

“Good. I…didn’t think about pulling them. I’ve been…a little distracted.”

“Distracted is not good, Fargo. Not now, especially. Ton’Skel will survive and be stronger for it.”

“He may. I’m not sure I will. I have, for lack of a better term, destroyed my credibility with the Ghorka, Nicole, and deity knows who else.”

Evie interrupted, “Lifting. ETA one div.”

***

At the Enclave, Evie slid the shuttle smoothly into the bay and said, “You are cleared to debark. We assign your usual cabins gentle beings.”

“Where are Garun and Shan?”

“Next cabin down from OneSvel. They are currently in the mess. Captain Jace has just finished briefing them.”

“How long before we lift?”

“As soon as you quit bothering me,” Evie said with a smile.

Fargo snorted. “My apologies. Let me schlep my gear up to my…” Evie effortlessly picked up the rifle and ammunition.

“Allow me to assist you, sir,” she said with a grin.

“Women,” was all he said, as he followed her up to his cabin, where she set the gun and ammo on the deck without breaking stride. He quickly stowed everything and walked into the mess. “Garun, Shan, Jace, good to see you.” They all shook hands and he said, “I need some coffee.”

Captain Jace replied, “We managed to get a good cargo for Myoto, so we will make credits on this leg. Ten days in transit, five hyper jumps on a slightly different routing. I have six days of local news from there, pulled from the net.”

OneSvel came in and added, “We have the GalScout surveys. Nothing in them indicates any unusual in the way of local fauna or flora.”

The days passed slowly, with Jace pulling news every time they came out of hyper. Videos seemed to always be shaky, or too far away, until the last update three days before they arrived. The thing, for lack of a better description, was a Chimera. A vid showed a group of them coming from the water, four legs, but the ability to stand on the back legs, what appeared to be bony plates down the backs, and long, almost prehensile tails that appeared to be used for balance or as a weapon. The head was covered with what looked like bony plates, two eyes on either side, and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Everyone sat in the mess studying the vid, frame by frame. Garun finally said, “That…looks like something out of an ancient movie.”

Shan shook his head. “Whatever it is, I’m not sure our puny little rifles will penetrate it, and we don’t know a damn thing about its guts. Where do we shoot it?”

Fargo leaned back, biting his lip. “That…is a damn good question,” he thought back to the Silverback’s internal structure. We’re going to have to kill a small one somehow, and skin it out. How the hell are we going to do that? Massed fire? Hell, I’m not sure I brought enough gun. And the bead rifles…may not be enough. Plus, we have to figure out how to deal with the whole no weapons thing. I still don’t have a suitable answer for that.

OneSvel remained strangely silent, until Garun turned to them and asked plaintively, “Have you ever seen anything like this?”

Their GalTrans twittered, “No, nor have we ever seen a description of anything that comes close. But it appears to be an air breathing water being. The question is, why are they coming ashore?”

Jace snorted. “Nothing I’ve seen or studied comes anywhere close.”

Fargo thought, So Jace has searched the entire net, and these things have never been seen? Oh just lovely…But OneSvel’s question is a good one. Why now? What is different? Seventeen years since the initial survey, ten years since the first colonists. Two main…towns for lack of a better term, one spaceport at New Tokyo, one geosynced space station. Forty thousand, give or take a few colonists, all from the Japanese home islands. All of them subscribe to mushūkyō, or generalized religion. Strange, but that’s the way they want it. GalPat det at New Tokyo, the bigger of the two near the equator. New Sapporo is further north, up around thirty-five degrees above the equator. Appears all the issues are around New Tokyo. Huh…

***

The Hyderabad docked at the space station at one of the cargo docking bays and was met by security, cargo handlers, and an anonymous bureaucrat that everyone else deferred to. He minced aboard and Fargo almost laughed at the size differential between him and Captain Jace. He dropped that thought when the bureaucrat looked him, Garun, and Shan up and down, sniffed, and sneered. “Are these the killers?”

Jace broadcast a thought to him. “Chill. I will handle this.” Looking down at the man, Jace said, “The government contracted us to bring personnel to fix your problems you seem to have gotten yourselves into. Yes, these are these personnel. Is there an issue with that?”

The little man, slicked back hair and all, was even smaller than Garun or Shan, Fargo noted, even as he sniffed again. “I, Kaito Nori, the ambassador for Myoto, do not want them here. We are a pacifist world, we have no police and no weapons anywhere on the world. We stress the principle of ahimsa, non-injury, of other living things. Its teachings also emphasize that violence harms the spiritual state of the perpetrator, as well as the victim. We regard malicious thoughts or deeds as obstacles on the path to nirvana.” He looked at the three of them again, then added, “Not that any of you could possibly understand that!”

The captain looked askance at the man. “Mr. Nori, is that the official position of the Myoto government? If so, we will depart immediately.”

“I understand you also have cargo for us, correct?”

“Well, under the circumstances, I feel it is incumbent on us to depart immediately to remove these men. That would not allow time to unload any cargo.” Jace turned back to the ship. “Let’s go gents. We aren’t wanted.”

The little man deflated like a balloon with the air let out as he sucked air between his teeth. “Uh, accommodations can be made.” He looked around frantically, snapped his fingers, and an assistant stepped up with some lengths of pink ribbon. Snatching them, he went on, “All weapons must be peace bonded.” He looked at Garun and Shan. “Those weapons…must you wear them openly?”

Garun glared at him. “We are Ghorka. Until the day we die.”

Nori sighed. “Then I must peace bond them on you. Please lift your arm.” Garun complied, and he selected one ribbon, tied an intricate knot around all three hilts, and said, “This must not be removed until you depart our world.” Garun grimaced, glanced at Fargo, and shrugged. Nori repeated the tying ritual on Shan’s kukri and stepped back. “Other weapons?”

Fargo replied, “Three rifles in cases.”

“Bring them.”

Jace sent, “Just do it. This is not the time to start problems. Glad I’m staying up here, and grinned at Fargo.

“Let’s go get the rifles,” Fargo said with a grimace.

Twenty segs later, all three gun cases were sprouting red ribbons, and Nori and Jace worked out a deal where the Hyderabad’s shuttle could take the four of them to the GalPat det compound directly. That way, no locals would see the weapons.

Two divs later, Evie set them gently on the X at the GalPat compound. “All ashore that’s going ashore. Please remember your luggage. We are not responsible for lost items,” came over the PA, and Shan made a rude gesture toward the cockpit. Fargo chuckled, dropped the ramp, and the four of them stepped on Myoto for the first time. The heat and humidity slapped them in the face like a wet towel.

OneSvel said, “Gravity is nominal one G.” They sniffed and added, “Oxygen is one point five percent low by standard, but breathable. I am detecting an unusual pollen in the air, and moisture in the air is over ninety percent.”

A weary-looking GalPat colonel walked up to the ramp. “I’m Colonel Ishihara. For my sins, I’m the GalPat rep here. I have Prime Minister Yaeko Chihiro in my office. She is…both curious and afraid, and a bit fragile. She is almost two hundred and questioning her ability to govern right now.”

Fargo nodded politely. “Ethan Fargo. Former GalScout, and team lead. One sixteen mm rifle plus ammo. Four of us total, OneSvel is a Taurasian symbiote pair, here as a sifter. No weapon. Garun Rai and Shan Pun are Ghorka, retired GalPat and backup shooters. Standard six mm bead rifles plus ammo, and as you can see, peace bonded kukris.” Since nobody asked, I’m not mentioning my vibroknife.

The colonel pinched the bridge of his nose. “The Taurasian is going to be a problem. We were not expecting them. The…plan is to put you up at the temple outside New Tokyo. The priests are all down here. We were…going to move you in a lightflyer, but that’s obviously not going to work.” He rubbed his jaw for a moment, then added, “I will introduce you to Prime Minister Chihiro and get a transporter to move you four.”

Fargo nodded. “That is fine. Lead on, Colonel.”

A few segs later, after stops in the fresher for everyone, they stood in front of what Fargo could only think of as a porcelain doll. Prime Minister Chihiro was dressed in formal court dress, artfully made up and perfectly coiffed silver hair piled atop her head. He let his block down and sensed fear, hope, and weariness in a melange of feelings as they bowed to her. “Welcome to Myoto, gentlemen. We are a peace-loving culture and have no weapons. I would ask that you display no weapons in sight of our colonists. We have lost, as of today, one hundred thirty-one colonists to these creatures. We ask that you stop them by whatever means available, not within sight of any colonists. Are there any questions?”

Fargo could think of hundreds of questions, but said, “I believe it would be best if we coordinate with the GalPat detachment and Colonel Ishihara for the details. The less interaction with your colonists, the better, if I understand your direction.”

“That is my request.” With that, the prime minister rose and glided gracefully from the room as the five of them bowed to her.

When she cleared the room, the colonel blew out a breath and went to sit behind the desk. “That…went about as well as I could have expected. She,” he glanced up at the ceiling, “Isn’t handling this well at all.” He motioned them to chairs and turned to OneSvel. “My apologies for not having a chair for you.”

OneSvel’s GalTrans chittered, “No problem, colonel. I have ways of mitigating the stress on my buttresses. Please continue.”

“This is the wettest year recorded and some strange things are…flowering. These creatures, I have no better word, have been flowing out of the waters and through the valley like…” Ishihara threw up his hands in frustration. “A plague! All along the coastline, as far as we’ve scouted. Our weapons are peace bonded, we have not been allowed to…do anything, not even to protect the citizens.” He spat the words out, his anger plain on his face.

“How are they killing people?” Garun asked.

“Trampling them, mostly. Then they stop and feed.”

Fargo looked at him sharply. “They aren’t attacking people? What about your surveillance cameras?”

Ishihara shrugged. “There are no surveillance cameras other than our perimeter. We haven’t seen anyone attacked on them. Before you ask, we aren’t allowed to patrol either.” He cocked his head, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Your transportation is ready. One div up to the temple by transporter. It’s not really a temple, but the priests took over the area, so…temple. It’s on a high point, which should allow you to scout and get a few of these creatures without the citizens being aware of it.” He stood and sighed. “If you’ll follow me?”

***

The road, if you could call it that, degraded the further from New Tokyo they got, finally reduced to two tracks rising up the side of a relatively steep ridge. The temple turned out to be squashed hexagon of pedestrian looking containers with the secondary units stacked in the center of the hexagon, making a rudimentary open temple. Once at the main entry, the transporter turned around and backed near the entry doors, then squatted, allowing them to offload quickly. Colonel Ishihara had added two pallets of GalPat rations, since they didn’t know what they were facing for food supplies. As soon as they unloaded, the transporter hopped up and sped back down the track. Shan laughed. “Somebody wants to be back home and safe.”

Garun grinned. “With no weapons, I don’t know that I’d blame them.”

Fargo stood, hands on hips, looking back down the ridge toward New Tokyo. The yellowish orange sun was touching the ocean in the east, and he glanced at OneSvel. “I didn’t see a damn thing moving on the way up here, did you?”

“No, we did not. But the air is better here. Less pollen, if nothing else.”

“Do you see the cloud or…dust…or whatever the hell that is, it’s moving on the wind toward New Tokyo.”

“Pollen.” OneSvel extended a pseudopod, pointing down the ridge line. “Coming from plants down there. We want to find out more about those plants.”

“I want to see these creatures. If they were really rampaging like the reports said, they would be active now. Something is not right.”

“We are surprised at the lack of aggression and information from GalPat. Almost as if they are being stifled by the prime minister.”

Fargo wrinkled his lips in frustration. “Possible. But there are too many—”

Shan stepped out and interrupted. “Odd setup here. The outer containers are basically just that. Minimal comfort items. No windows on the outside perimeter. Main doors can be secured, limiting access. Three sleeping areas per container. Bottom right of the stack is where the mess is. Basic autochef appears to be stocked. Garun is thinking there might be a ladder to the roof. He’s checking that out now.” Shan glanced up at OneSvel. “You might have a problem fitting through the hatches on the sleeping containers.”

OneSvel asked, “What about the central area?”

“It is open. No problems there.”

Garun came out as the sun set, bringing a sharp decrease in the light. “No way to get on the roof, but there are windows on the second level.”

Fargo nodded. “Let’s close it up then, chow and sleep. We’ll sort it out tomorrow.”

***

The sun had just broken the horizon when Fargo unlocked the main doors and stepped out, rifle in hand. He cranked the holosight to its maximum and carefully scanned toward the ocean. He could see movement at the water’s edge, but couldn’t quite make it out. Scanning closer, he could see waving plants on both sides of the ridge, stretching for well over a mile toward the water, possibly further, but it was lost in the darkness.

OneSvel lumbered out of the main entry. “We would like to investigate the plants. Is there any movement?”

“Down on the coast, but I can’t tell what is moving.”

“If we go down the ridge, I can investigate.” OneSvel extended a pseudopod and touched his shoulder, sending, “There is another being here. I sensed it last night in the mess area.”

“Person or being?”

“We think person. Male. Conflicted. He watches from concealment.”

“Who would hide up here? And why?”

“We do not know.”

Garun and Shan walked out, rifles in hunter carry. Garun asked, “We go now?”

Fargo nodded. “First, down the ridge. Things are…moving, but I can’t tell what.”

Twenty segs and a little over a mile later, they were at the base of the ridge and OneSvel said, “We smell ketones.”

“Ketones?” Fargo asked.

“Alcohol, raw fermentation.” A pseudopod extended and pointed off to the left. “There.”

Another five segs and they were among a waist high group of flowering bushes with a yellowish colored bulb that stank of fermentation. OneSvel moved gracefully among the bushes, then turned back to Fargo. “We are sure this is all fresh growth. There is no sign of previous generations of this plant. It is filled with water. There is a chemical process that turns the bulbs into fermentation reservoirs. We need to move further toward the coast and see how far these plants extend.”

(C) JL Curtis 2021 All Rights Reserved

Comments

Rimworld snippett… — 13 Comments

  1. “We assign your usual cabins gentle beings.” Needs a comma after ‘cabins’. Otherwise, intriguing and addictive as always.

    So … what LL said. 🙂

  2. Let me get this straight.
    Large beings that come from the sea and trample people in the setting of New Tokyo.
    Are these large beings going to drink the highly fermented liquid and then, well for lack of a better way to describe it, shoot fire from their mouths? 🙂

    Weapons. I think something large bore and crew served.

  3. Grog- In my ‘reality’ they WILL be there in the future… sigh

    LL- Thanks!

    Rev- Fixed, thanks!

    John- Maybe…

  4. ETA, please? Please say ‘Before Christmas’. Please, please, please?

    Is that sufficient grovelling?

  5. “Oh, no! There goes New Tokyo…”

    “The road, if you could call it that…” I found the sudden use of the second person jarring.

  6. I have just re-read the earlier tomes, and at one point, Fargo begins to suspect something isn’t kosher, and uses his empath and psi abilities to check-out the Hyderabad’s crew, only to sense nothing.

    Here you have Jace “… broadcast a thought”. That doesn’t seem to fit the back-story.

  7. Free- LOL…

    Drang/JLM- Fixed. Thanks for the catch!

    Sendarius- The change is explained in this book. 🙂

  8. Okay, so I’m a slow reader!
    Were we meant to critique this snippet, ‘cos I just got carried away, sorry.