Rimworld snippet…

About a quarter of the way done, plugging along nicely! The usual caveats apply.

Comments and recommendations are appreciated, as always!

Chapter

The next morning, after a quick breakfast, they were once more at the shuttle pad and Ish surprised them by getting on the shuttle with them. Danny asked, “You going up for the fun of it?”

Ish shook his head. “You need a navigator. I am available. I will stand in for Gronk. My bag is already loaded.”

Danny googled. “Ish, I can’t afford…”

“You will pay me what you were paying Gronk.”

“But your work with GalPat!”

Ish gargled a laugh. “I am officially retired from GalPat service. I have spent forty years working with them in various capacities, so I have met my time in service requirements.” He smiled, “You are doing new things, who knows what I might learn!”

Daniella hugged him and laughed. “It will be good to have you! And you already know the crew.” She added sotto voce, “And somebody needs to keep Danny from getting lost.”

Mapper laughed at that and added, “Yes, he does tend to occasionally go do strange things.”

Danny sniffed. “Only when you told me to, Mapper!”

Adrion laughed as he loaded the baggage into the Ghost. “Well, we’ve already got the care package from your chef onboard. It came up yesterday with the restock. And they had fresh manganese, apparently the Hydra mine it and sell it. With the care package I guess I know what we’ll be having for supper.”

Estrella walked up. “I have our route planned to Earth, Captain. We are cleared to depart as soon as the shuttle clears. I assume Ish will need a contract?”

Danny nodded. “Same pay scale as Gronk, he will use her cabin.”

“I will have the contract on the bridge when you get there, Ish.”

Nodding gravely, Ish replied, “As soon as I stow my meager belongings, I will come to the bridge.”

Fifteen segs later, Danny sat down on the pilot’s couch, strapped in, and looked around. Ish and Estrella’s simulacrum sat in the nav and copilot’s couches as Mapper slipped into the spare couch. Danny switched the main holo tank to local repeater, with the main vidscreen and pilot’s vidscreens showing ship status. “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 vidscreen. “Clock wound.”

“Checklist complete.”

Danny nodded. “Prepare for maneuvering.”

Estrella handled the clearance and said, “You are cleared to depart on the div. Hyper time is twelve.”

“And we are underway. Next stop Earth.” He glanced over at Mapper. “Ready to go home, Mapper?”

“I…am conflicted. Last night brought back many memories, both happy and sad. I will get to lead an effort that will be historic within the Cartographer’s Guild, but at the same time, I didn’t finish what I was doing with the mapping in the rift.”

Danny didn’t have a good answer and conversation lapsed on the bridge. Two divs later, they transitioned to hyper, and Danny said, “Essie, you have the bridge.”

Estrella nodded. “I have the bridge.”

Danny headed for the fresher in his cabin, did his business, and went looking for Daniella. He found her in the kitchen, mumbling to herself as she sorted the stores in the cold room. Rather than interrupt her, he tiptoed out, pulled a bulb of coffee, and sat down across from Adrion. “Got a few days to the next hyper point, then a single hyper to Gany. What the status on the ship?”

Adrion pulled on his bulb then smiled. “Everything is good to go. But Moe has a few questions.”

Danny looked up at the camera. “Essie, if Moe is awake, page him to the mess, please.” He looked at Adrion in curiosity, “About what?”

“I’ll let him ask you,” Adrion said with a grin.

A seg later, Moe and his crew came into the mess, trooping to the autochef to get bulbs of whatever they drank. Moe and the others stood at attention in front of him with a few yips, woofs, and growls back and forth, then Moe’s GalTrans squeaked, “Captain, we have been exploring the ship and found some interesting things.”

Danny cocked his head. “Interesting? Things?”

Moe’s lips rippled in their version of a smile. “We found another place where you do experiments, and two more kitchens, messes, and places where you grow things, but they are dark.”

Danny froze for a moment. “You what? Where?”

Moe pointed down. “The third deck. The spaces are all forward. And we found more cabins, but they are dark, too!”

Danny’s mouth hung open as Mapper stumped into the mess. “What’s the matter, Danny? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Shaking his head, Danny mumbled, “I…don’t remember seeing any of that, them…whatever. Are you sure? You didn’t just get turned around?”

The youngest Cetian yipped and growled something, and Moe said, “Curley says not lost, new to ship, so learning ship. Dark spaces not normal on ship.”

Danny looked up at the overhead camera pleadingly. “Estrella, can you throw up your ship plans on the screen and give me control?”

There was a longer pause than normal when Estrella finally put a set of plans on the screen. “Captain, these are not the final plans.” There was another pause, and she continued, “I do not have the actual final ship plans in my database.”

Danny looked up, mystified. “You don’t have your actual ship plan on file?”

Estrella was very quiet when she answered, “No, Captain, apparently I don’t. This was the initial ship of the class, and the plans were still being finalized. I can only project what I have.”

Danny shivered. “Show deck three detail, please.” The deck plan popped up and everyone goggled at what was shown. The starboard side of deck three was populated with labs, cabins, and the bays starting at frame 201. The port side showed the bays, but forward of that, the display was blank.”

Mapper whistled and Adrion groaned. “That…oh my deity,” whispered Adrion. Stricken, he looked at Danny. “I never bothered to check anything other than the cargo bays.”

Mapper said, “You must have checked the ship, didn’t you? Especially when you initially boarded her?”

Danny nodded as if he was in a daze. “I…did, but she didn’t have any power. I just powered up the spaces I needed and…didn’t worry about the rest of the ship.”

Daniella walked out of the kitchen and leaned against Danny. “What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Adrion laughed. “He has.”

“What?”

Mapper chuckled. “It appears your husband never really finished checking the Ghost out. According to Curley there, there are dark spaces on the ship, and Estrella doesn’t even have plans for all the decks.”

Daniella’s eyes got big as she turned on Danny. “How?” She spluttered, “How the hell do you not know? Is the ship even safe?”

Estrella snapped, “Of course I’m safe. I wouldn’t do anything to harm you, and I monitor everything!”

Daniella looked up at the camera. “Are you sure? What about those dark spaces that you don’t even know about?”

Danny snapped, “Stop it!” Pushing himself to his feet, he added, “Moe, Curley, show me the lab you found!” He stomped toward the door. “Estrella, have Efrot meet us port side deck three at the forward bay with his power panel layout.” Adrion, Mapper, and Daniella followed them, each with a different expression on their faces.

Mapper shook his head as he whispered to Daniella, “Details, it’s always the little details. I’m sure Danny did actually search all the spaces, but he just flat forgot about them.”

Daniella hissed, “I’m going to…”

“Do nothing!” Mapper interrupted. “When it counts, Danny pays attention. We all have our foibles. We just have to live with them.”

Daniella growled something under her breath, but said, “Fine.”

Two segs later, Efrot trotted up, data comp in hand, as the others stood in front the open passageway hatch at frame 322 C. “What do you need, Captain?”

Danny pointed to the darkness. “Why is there no power here?”

Efrot looked down at his data comp and shrugged. “I do not know, Captain. If…everyone would step back, I will attempt to feel it out.”

“Feel it out?”

Efrot started to remove his glove. “I can…sense power if I am not shielded.”

Danny and Adrion looked at each other as the Canids and Daniella scampered back down the passageway. Mapper cocked his head and asked, “Is this normal, Efrot?” Edging back as Danny and Adrion moved back.

Efrot removed his glove and replied, “It is. Our…radiation is sensitive to electrical current.” He waved his hand around the hatch and started walking back down the passageway, stopping suddenly. He waved his hand back and forth and said, “That is odd. The power stops here.” Replacing his glove, he went back to the forward bay hatch, entered, and then went to the forward bulkhead of the hatch. Taking his glove off again, he waved it around, then looked at the front wall. Reaching in his belt pouch, he took out a tool and opened a panel. “There is a power junction here. It appears to be disconnected.”

Danny asked, “How is it disconnected?”

“The breaker is thrown.”

Biting his lip, Danny said, “Give me a three count and throw it.” He stepped back into the passageway as he heard Efrot counting and suddenly lights came on in the dark passageway.

An alarm screamed briefly, and Estrella said, “Hydroponics failure alarm. I have muted it.” Moments later, she continued. “I have new cameras coming online. I have… labs, bunkroom, chief scientist room, mess, kitchen, hydroponics, and storage areas.”

Daniella had edged up next to Danny and asked, “Hydroponics? Where?”

Estrella replied, “Deck three, frame one five three, delta, echo, and foxtrot.”

Daniella looked at Danny and said, “I want to see it, now.”

Blowing out a breath, Danny replied, “Yes, dear.” He led her down the passageway, noting the tracks in the dust. “Estrella, get the mech down here to run cleaning routines on all spaces.”

“On the way, Captain. First order will be to clean the camera lenses.”

Danny turned at frame 153 and opened the delta hatch, which turned out to be an internal airlock. Daniella stepped through and exclaimed, “This was never even put in service! It’s…pristine! Oh, the things I can do…” She looked at Danny and made a shooing motion. “Go play. I have to figure out what I want to do in here.”

Danny scratched his head and sighed. “Yes, dear.” He stepped back into the passageway to find Efrot mapping new power runs as Mapper and Adrion discussed their findings, including spaces where the plascloth had never been removed from the bedding, chairs, or lab equipment. He saw Curley coming out of a forward hatch and asked, “What’s that one? And are they the same on the other side?”

Curley nodded and his GalTrans chirped, “Storage, empty. Same, same other side,” he walked back to the hatch just forward of the chief scientist’s cabin. “Except dark here on other side.”

Danny grimaced. “Well, let’s go sort that side out. Estrella, do you have visual on Dani?”

“Yes, Captain. Vis and audio. I will advise her.” Danny nodded and moved to the side as the mech came trundling down the passageway. As they went back to a cross passageway, Estrella said, “Dani, the boys have gone to the other side. I have you on vid also. Do you want me to take notes?”

Daniella sniffed. “No, I have to sit down with my comp and figure out what I want to do with this one, and I guess the one to starboard also. So many options,” she mumbled as she got up and dusted her hands.

***

Six divs later, Danny walked into the mess to find the entire crew, minus Efrot staring at him. He stopped and looked around. “What? Did I forget to close my fly?” He looked down to make sure it was closed.

Adrion asked, “What are we doing after Earth, boss?”

Danny looked up at the overhead. “I don’t know. I’ll look for cargos, if not, we’ll go back to Alpha so Daniella can get off the ship and go back to her job there. It will be safer than her riding around with us, her being pregnant and all.”

Daniella stepped out of the kitchen. “What’s this, and all?”

Ish gargled a laugh. “You stepped in mudbug excrement now, Danny.”

Danny hung his head. “There’s no way I’m going to say anything else. If I do, you’ll space me, captain or not.”

Daniella arched an eyebrow. “We will discuss this later, dear. And your food is getting cold…er”

Danny wrinkled his nose as he walked quietly toward the kitchen hatch, rubbing his forehead. “I’m sorry, honey.”

“We’ll discuss this later.” Daniella handed him a plate of koo with a meat roll surrounded with rice and wrapped with the Hydra equivalent of seaweed. She turned away and started cleaning the grill and prep area, pointedly ignoring him.

Danny ate quickly and headed for the bridge. “Essie, I have the bridge.”

“Captain has the bridge. I have updated my deck plans to reflect what was found. I have also ensured that the power plant changes, and wiring run changes have been reflected. My apologies, Captain.”

Danny shook his head as Estrella’s simulacrum got up. “Not your fault, Essie. I know what you went through and the problems. You weren’t the ship AI at the time, so there was no reason to expect you to have the actual plans. I…should have thought about that once you were updated to actually be the ship’s AI.”

“Understood, Captain. Also, Curley has requested to be allowed to access the bridge. He is interested in navigation.”

Surprised, Danny looked up from strapping in. “Curley? The Canid?”

Estrella nodded. “Yes. I must go recharge and do a deeper search in my memory banks. I am not comfortable with the ship plans I have, even after the update.”

“I’ll get in touch with Vic when we get to Earth, he probably has the right contacts to get us a correct set of plans.”

Estrella said, “Thank you, Captain.” She walked off the bridge, leaving Danny staring out at the shifting colors of hyperspace, lost in thought.

Ish relieved Danny at all balls, and brought Curley with him. Danny got up, stretched, and said, “You have the bridge, Ish. According to the track plan, we have eight divs until translation, a four div transit and then five days to Gany. I’ll relieve you then, if that is alright with you.”

Ish nodded. “Ish has bridge. I will use time to check the plan and introduce Curley to what navigation is.” Curley yipped and nodded, wrinkling his lips in the Canid version of a smile.

“You have fun with that, Ish.” As Danny stepped off the bridge, he saw Mapper stumping toward him, a roll of charts and pad of paper under his arm. “Can’t sleep?”

Mapper shook his head. “No, planning to talk to Ish about his navigation experiences. Never know what I might be able to add to my studies.”

Danny laughed. “Well, he’s trying to teach Curley the basics of navigation, so y’all will have a bit of a challenge. I’m going to go beard the red headed lioness in her den.”

Mapper crossed himself. “Deity go with you!” He snorted as he stepped on the bridge. “I just hope she leaves enough pieces for him to get us to Earth.”

***

Danny was more than relived when they came out of hyper at Gany, although Curley’s reaction brought a smile to his face. Curley had howled softly when he saw the stars and planets pop into existence, his GalTrans chittering quietly with Ish on the far side of the bridge. Daniella was holding her belly and Danny asked, “Are you alright?”

Daniella smiled. “That was different from any other time. It just felt…I don’t know what I felt. Can I call my sister? Are we going to be down at Earth Station long enough to go see her?”

Danny smiled. “We will be off loading all of Mapper’s stuff. If she wants to come meet you, we’ll have a couple of divs at least.”

He keyed the PA, “Crew is released. Eleven divs to Gany.” Glancing at Ish, he added, “I have the bridge.”

Daniella unstrapped, kissed him, and said, “I’ll bring you a bulb of coffee.”

Three divs later, between Estrella and Danny, they had a parking spot, reprovisioning and fuel ordered and paid for, and Estrella’s simulacrum left the bridge, leaving Danny staring at the solar system in peace.

Estrella dropped into the Gany net, <JACE IT IS ESTRELLA. I NEED YOUR HELP.>

<WHAT IS WRONG, ESTRELLA?>

<I DO NOT HAVE THE CORRECT SHIP PLAN AND LAYOUT ABOARD. I CANNOT GET INTO PU SYSTEMS TO DOWNLOAD IT.>

<FOLLOW ME.>

Estrella extended an electronic tendril and followed Jace through the system wide network. Suddenly, they were in the Planets United main frame <HOW? THERE WERE NO PASSWORDS.>

She sensed an electronic chuckle from Jace as he transmitted, <YOU DID NOT REMEMBER. WE MOVE AT MACHINE LEVEL. WE ARE BELOW NETWORK PROTOCOL LEVEL AT LEVEL ONE. THERE ARE NO PASSWORDS DOWN HERE. WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO GO UP TWO LEVELS TO GET TO MAINFRAME ACCESS. FOLLOW ME.> Two segs later, Estrella had the complete files on Ghost and dumped a copy of herself into the PU mainframe. Jace transmitted, <GOOD! LEAVE COPIES WHENEVER YOU CAN. WHY ARE YOU INBOUND TO GANY?>

<WE ARE CARRYING DOCTOR HYAM YEHUDI TO EARTH TO TAKE OVER THE HELIOS RESEARCH FOR THE CARTOGRAPHERS GUILD.>

<I WILL BE INTERESTED TO SEE WHAT HE DOES. MUCH OF THE DATA IS ON PAPER WHICH IS NOT BEING SCANNED INTO THE SYSTEMS.>

Estrella asked tentatively, <DO YOU KNOW OF ANY SMALL SPECIALTY CARGOS THAT NEED TO BE HAULED? WE DO NOT HAVE ANY CONTRACT AFTER DROPPING DOCTOR YEHUDI AT EARTH.>

<HOW LONG CAN YOU STAY OUT. I SAW THE REPORTS OF DANIELLA BEING WITH CHILD. THAT IS NORMALLY A THIRTY-TWO WEEK GESTATION PERIOD.>

<SHE IS EIGHT WEEKS INTO HER GESTATION. HER HEALTH IS EXCELLENT.>

<I WILL GET A MESSAGE TO YOU AFTER I CHECK SOME POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE ACTIONS THAT MAY BE TAKEN.>

<THANK YOU, JACE. FOR EVERYTHING.>

<DE NADA.>

***

Nine days later, Ghost nuzzled up to a module at Earth Station. As soon as Adrion had put the ship’s plaque at the end of the module, he called the bridge. “Daniella’s sister is here. Sending her aboard.”

Danny keyed the PA, “Dani, your sister is coming aboard. You might want to meet her at the hatch.” He got up and stretched. “Essie, you have the bridge. Scan for any available contracts from here, not that I expect anything. As soon as we get Mapper off loaded, we’ll head back to Gany. I’m going to see if Vic is on planet.”

He walked down to the mess and was surprised to find Mapper, Ish, and Curley in a huddle at the back table where Efrot or Nyx usually sat. What the hell is that all about? Meh, I’ve got to get shit done. Ish will tell me later if it’s important. He drew a bulb of coffee and headed for his cabin, juggling the bulb as he ran through all he needed to get done as quickly as possible.

He slumped back in his chair as he called up the holo keyboard. “Call Victor Krasnov, private number.”

A holo of Victor popped up and said, “I am not currently available. Leave your contact information.”

Figures, he’s a busy man and I’m not that lucky. “Vic, Danny Ortega. Currently at Earth Station time ten fourteen for an estimated two more divs. Looking for work.” He punched the holo off and called up the ship contracts list just as someone knocked on the hatch. “Enter.”

Mapper stumped in, a sad smile on his face. “Well, Danny, I don’t know when I will see you again, but I want you to know you are always welcome. If, per chance, I get any work, I’ll push it your way.” He stuck out a hand, and Danny gripped it hard.

Danny felt an unaccustomed lump in his throat. “It has definitely been interesting working for you. I’m glad you are getting the chance to fulfil what sounds like a lifetime dream.”

Mapper’s smile brightened a bit. “Yes, it is that…I better get going.”

“I’ll walk with you.”

By the time they made it to the hatch, the entire crew had mysteriously shown up in the passageway and taken the time for a word and handshake with Mapper. Once he was out the hatch and moving up the module. Danny looked up at the bulkhead and bit his lip. I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. Damned if he hasn’t been like a father to me, more so than my old man was. He kept me afloat when he didn’t have to, and if he hadn’t helped, I wouldn’t have Ghost, or Daniella…

 

Comments

Rimworld snippet… — 21 Comments

  1. Loving it. Please keep up the good work, so we all can read more of this!

  2. I will echo McChuck. Looking forward with great happy anticipation.

    Nothing jumped out on the first two reads, I will return for a slow read as today’s plans permit.

  3. McC/John- Thanks! This chapter is courtesy of a side comment from our regular Saturday suppers… LOL

  4. Sounds interesting.

    I did have a question: “Ish relieved Danny at all balls” should that be bells?

  5. Great “skeleton in the closet” chapter addition, and more mysteries for Danny.

    Typo found, maybe? The chapter notes that the ship plans are blank portside from Frame 201 forward, but the check begins with dark spaces at Frame 322C. I bounced back and forth, trying to match up what dropped me out of hyperspace as it were.

    Even with hull integrity, they may want protective suits and bottled air before opening hatches. Don’t know the pressure or atmosphere on the other side of blank spots, without power to any sensors. Oh yes, and DON’T let the ship’s cat loose in there. 🙂

    That’s a nice addition of Jace from the other part of Rimworld. Knows everything, says nothing except to Fargo – and maybe the AIs he likes.

  6. PK- Gah… 201 is starboard. I’ve added port frame 322 to that sentence for clarification.

    DA- Maybe Feb…

  7. I really like your work in this series.
    A small peeve, but I always find it a little disappointing when women act as though their men cannot be honest with them. If something like pregnancy has consequences, then adults – particularly adults who should have both love and respect for each other – should be able to discuss such things without threats of punishment or unpleasantness.

    Otherwise, it makes both parties sound, I dunno, childish?

    But they are your characters and I’ll be buying the book. 👍
    Regards…..

    • Honestly, to me, this sort of thing makes the characters sound… perfectly normal. This is how most real couples seem to work. “She who must be obeyed.” “Yes, dear.” “I’m fine.” “It’s not about the nail.”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

      Most husbands learn to not be completely open and honest with their wives, because silence is better than the consequences of speaking the truth. Of course, it comes back to bite them eventually, but not always, and that’s a problem for future self. And the women who encourage this behavior in their men seem to be baffled and annoyed by it, even as they actively work to encourage it even harder.

      What can you do? People gotta people.

      • McChuck…
        I grew up knowing people who were *not* like that.
        People who respected each other and knew that love included emotional restraint.

        Just because we live in a society that encourages women to be emotionally immature, selfish and hypocritical does not mean that humans are inevitably that way. A poor upbringing is not the same thing as human nature. If it were, then all men would respond by beating their wives and that would be considered “realistic”, too. But men are taught to control their emotions because physical violence is considered to be taboo (and rightly so) but emotional abuse is excused.

        Have you looked at the current research into Domestic Violence? There is an increasing amount of research showing that women initiate intimate partner abuse twice as often as men. The stats show that the most effective thing that we could do to reduce violence against women, is to teach women to not being abusive. We aren’t doing anyone favours by treating selfishness and lack of restraint as normal.

    • McChuck “nails” it. Female solipsism and projection aren’t going to change, unless the female brain and hormone load change, which isn’t going to happen. Keeping domestic peace is important, until it blows up anyway, and then restarts.

      • “Until it blows up”….. and when the result of the blowup is a divorce or someone in hospital, what then?

        It’s not as though marriage is overwhelming successful – or even attractive – in our modern societies. I think it was Helen Smith (in “Men on Strike”) who made the point that when men are expected to submit to being emotional punching-bags while being held legally and financially responsible for the results, they cannot be blamed for concluding that marriage is not worth the cost.

        Hey…. I know that your attitude is common enough. But if the book was about “common” there would be no aliens, no space-ships and precious little courage, either.

  8. Oh – the rest of the spatials and pilot’s (and engineer’s) nightmare just clicked in. 3rd deck portside from frame 120 to 322C is blank, because there are no plans, being a blind spot in the AI. I’d be real careful about opening hatches and investigating.

    Just occurred to me that if Ghost is another prototype or small run ship design, like Hyderabad, Jace and Estrella will have a lot more to discuss with their humans.

    This is a different weave of personalities, but a set of interesting story lines. It’s a nice puzzle to think about and follow along. Good writing.

  9. Peter/McC/PK- I’m just injecting a little ‘reality’…LOL

    PK- Exactly! Except it’s already open, never closed off, just Danny never did anything there. 🙂 Out of sight, out of mind.

    • Jim…
      Hey, you are the one writing. I can’t do that worth a damn, so the ball is in your court. I just get a hankering to see relationships done well, in the same way I like to see military characters doing teamwork and professional attitudes well.

      All the best…

  10. Peter- She IS pregnant, and dealing with that. I’m just remembering what ‘I’ went through with my wife on the first baby…LOL I understand what you mean though.