A Briar Patch Tale

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

The only trouble with space battles is they're not easily interesting as just a pew-pew-pew-boom! thing. That's why I keep shifting the perspective. It's the people that make it interesting. (And I totally filched Senny's 'battle room' idea from Babylon 5)

THIRTY-SIX

Postain gripped the arms of his chair as the lights above him flickered for a few seconds before returning to strength. One of the science stations flickered out of existence and he found himself thinking briefly of the days when consoles had almost exploded to tell you they were out. Almost an ‘I’m dead and so are you’ type of thing. But now they just sort of fizzled out until they were repaired. If they could be repaired. “Helm, take us about five degrees to port,” he called. “They’re targetting power relays so lets give them less of the essential ones to shoot at.”
The helm officer nodded and complied, shifting the main viewers vision of the Raitchian craft as Rhew demanded a report on the enemy shields from Xarra at the science station.
“Theirs are at sixty one, ours at seventy eight,” shr called back. “The fighters are having an effect on her rear shields though. They’re at forty-three!”
Postain nodded. “They’ll have boarding parties ready to go as soon as we have a breach in the shields. Yarkin better have her teams ready.”

In the temporary security station, Yarkin did, indeed, have her teams sorted. She had a full thirty-seven officers available to her and had assigned teams of five to Engineering, the bridge, and several of the other essential spots. The other four were in pairs and roaming the ship. Jak was in one of those and she was hoping his leg was up to it. Flakk had told her he was and she trusted the Wolf but there was still that nagging doubt… She’d rather have kept him with her but having the two of them in the same location might not be that smart. And then she had two civilians and a mad IOC agent who had, somehow, managed to avoid being put into any of the safe zones before they’d closed…

“How did we get left out,” Dakrin asked, watching food revolve in a machine.
“Oh, probably more luck than judgement,” Harvest replied, checking his weapons, including his five shot. Yarkin had managed to find some light armour for the pair to cover at least torso and groin but Dakrin had nothing on his head and Harvest still had his wide-brim felt hat. “Now stop thinking about food and check your weapons.”
“How did I get into this,” Dakrin moaned as he ran the standard inspections. “I’m a low level. A runner. A thug.”
“You’re not a thug,” Harvest assured him. “Do you think Thurso would have foisted you on me if you were just a thug, Dak? She thinks you’re…” He paused and looked up as the ship shook hard. “She thinks you’re a potentially intelligent person that she can intimidate to do her will.” He pointed a finger. “And that insane woman doesn’t do half rights.”
“Is that supposed to reassure me?”

The ship shook again as the Raichian vessel somehow increased the speed of its fire. Postain ordered power from the rear shields to firepower and the forward shields. Every little counted as he put it. The shields had to drop in concert with the firing of weapons and part of a blast cut through before the Rodomont’s energy barrier cut back in and slammed into the hull, buckling it between decks. The wounded section hissed air until it was sealed off and allowed to depressurise. The section crumpled further inward, tearing holes in the skin as the energy from the ships’ cannons careened into the Raitchian defensive wall, narrowly missing some of the enemy’s fighters.

“Alpha flight,” Senny called, “you’ve penetrated in grid location six!” She focussed in on the section where Alpha seven’s shot had passed the energy barrier and impacted the hull to dismally little effect. “Alpha three through Five, get in there before they re-establish shields and do some damage to the hull! Bravo, protect them and close the gap!” She watched anxiously as the three fighters sped for the exact position Alpha seven had been firing on and skimmed through. Three and Five made it but four slammed into the rejuvenated barrier. The ship flattened and fell apart as it’s engine core burst against the blockade, shaking the main ship for a fraction of a second. Alphas three and five opened up on the hull, pockmarking it ineffectually until they concentrated fire on where their displays indicated the engines should be. The pair knew that, if the Raitchian accelerated, they’d have to match speed nearly instantly as they were within thirty kilometres of the shield and it would kill just as much going out as t did coming in.

The Rodomont shook as Karl got ready to fight. Something had brought her back to the sick bay where Flakk worked. She hated to think of it as some sort of loyalty but it just might be. To Doctor Cobalt, of course. Not to the member of an enemy clan. She was ready to help the Rat and the security team that was stationed a little further up the way. Flakk could look after himself. The ship shook again and Karl watched as a conduit overloaded and blew out between the bay and the security station. She cursed. T=Flakk had insisted the last thing he needed was to be trying to treat wounded with a firefight going on in his office and now here they were, cut off from the nearest help. She used her comm. “Karl to Yarkin.”
<”Yarkin here.”>
“The passage between sickbay one and the nearest security squad has just been blocked by a conduit blow out. You need to move someone closer.”
<”I’ll do what I can, Agent. I’m stretched pretty thin.”>
“Right,” Karl growled. “Out.” She closed the link and moved just a bit closer to the medical unit.
The whole ship shuddered as the starboard shields gave way for several seconds. Engineering rerouted power to bring the barriers back up but the Raitchian scored a decent hit on the power couplings, bringing down half the ship’s energy lines before the shields went back up at thirty percent. The Chief directed engineers to work stations to control the damage as he almost expected to hear the fizz of incoming teleportation.

The main reason it didn’t come was that the Raitchian ship was having her own problems. Alpha flight had punched further holes in the rear shields and three more had joined the two already inside as Beta one and three skimmed the sides of the ship, targetting the anti fighter turrets and swooping under the ship at erratic intervals to avoid fire. Gamma had engaged the enemy fighters fully now, scoring kills at a three to one ration. Senny knew it was coming. The concentrated fire had to be affecting the engines now which meant that soon…

The ship fell into view, a grey clad brick in space whose reflective panels no longer had enough power to work properly. “Kill that thing,” Senny ordered with possibly too much enthusiasm.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

You should always avoid the people that want to destroy things with a lot of enthusiasm. They are most likely a little bit unhinged! :mrgreen:

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Down and dirty...

THIRTY-SEVEN

“We have decompressions in B12 and E14, sir,” Xarra called from the sciences station as the ship rocked once more. “Bulkheads are in place but we lost eight before they could stop them!”
Postain slapped his arm rest. “Get those flamin’ shields back up before we lose half the ship! Any sign of boarding parties?”
“No, sir!” Xarra checked the scanners again. “Hold on… One inbound signal!”
“Where to,” Rhew asked, getting prepared to respond.”
“Central block… Somewhere!” Xarra slapped the screen. “I can’t tell exactly. Internal sensors are malfunctioning!”
“Notify Yarkin,” Postain ordered Rhew. “Tell her to sweep the area. Maldak, try and contact that ship again. We’re winning the fight. Let’s see if they want to surrender.”
“Aye, sir,” Maldak said, operating her console. “And if they don’t, sir?”
“Fine by me,” Postain glowered, leaning forward in his chair.
Rhew glanced over to him as he finished speaking with the security chief. “Should I go, sir,” he asked. “To help out, I mean?”
“If you go and they attack here, I’m down a capable fighter on the bridge. Stay put, Mister,” Postain ordered.

Ten of them, Patcha figured. She could smell ten sets of new scents nearby and they’d not been there a moment ago. They also hadn’t approached in any normal fashion either. There was the tang of beam in. Great. Her and… him against ften. Or five, she mused as five of the scents seemed to get further away. The others were coming towards her. They must be figuring wounded would be low risk and they could access the ship’s computer through the medical bay. Or something. She’d prove them wrong. She waited her chance as they moved towards her…

Flakk could smell them too. He’d made it his job to learn the scent of everyone aboard the ship and prided himself on his nasal integrity. He couldn’t always tell who was coming in the door as there were many similar scents around but, depending on the patient, he could usually bring it down to people he associated with them. These scents were entirely new and, providing they weren’t the Mouse and Celican Appleby had brought on board, that meant they were hostile. “Get in my office, you lot,” he told his Raitchian colleague and the nurses. “People are coming to make a mess.” She took him at his word and got to safety, locking the door between them. He didn’t blame her. She wasn’t a killer like him. Defending his home and his friend seemed like a good way for an old warrior to go. He’d make them bleed, he decided, and readied his claws for battle.

He hid to one side of the door and waited until the first entered. He watched as the Canine turned to look at him and his hand flashed out, bringing his claws into close communion with the target throat and pulled them back, drawing red lines across the major arteries and scoring a cheap kill before the others burst through the door, propelled by Karl, who’d tackled the group from behind. Flakk flinched as a shot, affected by Karl’s unexpected impact, went through his shoulder rather than his head. He felt the pain but there was no way he was going to let a Karl save his life. He wasn’t going to be in her debt. And, of course, she was on his side so he burst into the melee, almost slipping on the blood of his first victim as Karl tangled with two of them hand to hand. He wasn’t sure why one of her battle cries appeared to be “I am wearing Denim!” It was probably some insult she’d picked up on Pandera.

Yarkin noted the other group was headed for Engineering and diverted Jak’s squad to intercept. The Cervidan was probably her best runner in kit – if his leg was working properly – and he stopped at a good ambush point with his team, consisting of A Mican and a Celican. Of the two of them, the Mican – Ollaberry – had the rifle blaster and she was ready to fire as the assailants came into view. She used it to target the Equinna and blasted him straight in the head with the weapon set to Xarraum. “No risks taken with one of them,” she said before a return shot cut her off forever. Jak ducked down and fired back. “Could do with back up at this locale,” he told the Chief via his comm. He activated the micro camera attached to his antlers so she could see what he was up against as Porrik dove for the rifle and came up firing.

Karl, put her claws into the throat of a Celican and gripped it hard as the Feline assailant tried to grip hers in turn. She was using her own free hand to hold the keratin tipped mini knives away from the vital areas. She had to release the Celican before he was dead to grip the other hand. She pulled forward and sent her head backwards to drive the top of her head into the Feline’s mouth, breaking teeth as the Celican reflexly held his throat and gasped before trying to punch Karl in the face. She felt the Felines’ weight lessen on her and punched back hard under his jaw, sending blood spitting from his muzzle as he bit his tongue. She thrust herself up to her feet and kicked him out cold before turning to the Feline. She could see Flakk holding his own, with the same sorts of wounds as she had. The pain after this was going to be bad. Knife wounds and cuts to her throat ached at her but the worst was the fact that she’d ruined another jacket. She gripped the Feline’s hand as he punched at her and felt his claws cut into her palm pads as she pulled him closer, bringing her arm up to his throat. He impacted but rode the blow so Karl twisted his arm until he followed it, flipping onto the floor. She kept her grip on his arm and twisted it until it broke. A flash of grey almost took her by surprise but it was Flakk, rushing past to put the boot in on the downed Celican as he tried to bring a weapon to bear on Karl. The Doctor put his boot on the end of the assailant’s muzzle and pushed it down and sharply to one side to make something snap. The arm holding the gun fell away to the floor as Karl took a knife from the floor and offered it to the medic. “Giving you a weapon,” she said through bloodied teeth. “Seals the ceasefire.”
Flakk noted the wounds of the younger Wolf. “And accepting the weapon of a shared enemy ends enmity,” he said, staggering slightly from his own wounds. He took the blade and put it into the shoulder of one of his own assailants to end that threat.

The enemy had gotten in closer now, advancing away from Jak’s backup, trying to keep council fire down to avoid hitting each other. So the fighting here had gone hand to hand too. Jak brained one with a Shockprod to drop him and felt someone hit the stick from his hand and punch him hard across the face. He felt his skin tear as the hand impacted. It must have had a weapon. In reply, he headbutted the unknown and staggered him back against a bulkhead. He put his head down and willed his antlers to grow with his anger, skewering the target through the shoulder until Yarkin managed to tell him to stop. He shook his head and released the pressure on his opponent as the bloodied constructions receded. “S...sorry, Chief,” he said shakily as the remaining assailants were taken captive. “I just… lost it.”
Yarkin smiled at him. “Flakk would be proud,” she said.

“She’s signalling a surrender, Captain,” Maldak reported.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Darn it! When you were saying that I thought you were talking about Hawle! XD Anyway I do love the chapter as usual!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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THIRTY-EIGHT

The damage reports weren’t great and Xarra had been put in charge of them with Rhew heading over to the freshly surrendered ship to take charge of the surrender. The Mican was looking over a lengthy list of blown conduits, cracked panels, hull ruptures and damaged passageways. And this had been with the shields up for most of the time. Postain was leading the interrogations of the senior Officers so she’d been given executive permission to do whatever was needed. She sighed and came to a decision. “Garval,” she said swiftly, watching the Celican’s eye, “if we haven’t got the stuff on hand we need to get it from somewhere else, don’t we?”
He nodded “Wish the Bellaphron was around,” he mooted, referring to the old Explorer class vessel that had been with them a few days ago.
“So noted,” Xarra mused. “As she’s not here, you have to get the stuff from a different location. Like the one a few thousand kilometres off our port bow.” She grinned slightly. “Leave her capable but, other than that? Strip her.”
“Aye, sir.” He gave her a quick salute, realised what he was doing, and dropped the hand back down before heading out to comply.

“I know this one,” Harvest said, looking down at the canine killed first by Flakk as they entered the sick bay. He knelt by the corpse and closed the eyes. “Low level runner from Keelvon, one of Calderon City’s satellites. Kind of guy you call if you want someone who does stuff without asking too many questions.” He sighed and stood up. “Kind of a waste to see him used in this capacity.”
“No loss in my book,” Flakk snapped nastily as Jul, having been called by Cobalt to assist, worked on the older Doctor’s wounds. He’d known the Doctor would refuse anaesthetic but had convinced him that the straps were a compromise to save HIS nerves. Flakk, forever cognisant of his underlings fears, had acquiesced so Jul could work. It still had the Doctor trying to advise him, of course, and Jul was wondering how long he might live if he gagged the Doctor. He decided it probably wasn’t long enough.
Cobalt was, of course, patching up Karl, who had also refused any sort of pain killer but, as she wasn’t a Doctor, Cobalt had, borderline unethically, given her a local anyhow. She cared little for Wolf pride when it came to this sort of thing. She needed to work on this female’s insides… again.
“At least it proves it’s not the Raitchian navy,” Dakrin offered, checking over the other bodies to make sure he didn’t know any of them. They’d found two they knew on the way here and the Celican youth wasn’t looking forward to finding more of his acquaintances laid out on the floor. Nor, come to that, was he looking forward to finding any of them alive. Old grudges still held sway.

“You’re going to do what,” Rhew asked as Garval spoke to him on the darkened bridge of the Raitchian ship. The Polar had his arms crossed as the Engineer explained what he and his team would be up to under Xarra’s order and Rhew considered it. As the actual first officer he could overturn the order or have it referred to the Captain but he found he didn’t want to do the second and there was an element of sense to the first. As it was he had half of security over here, keeping the rank and file of the opposition covered in the barracks and the canteen. “OK,” he said as Garval finished the list. “Two things first, though. Knock out the comms and make sure any weapons lockers are sealed.”
“That’ll take extra time,” Garval protested.
“Always an option. It’s better than someone using the comm system – from in here or another planet – to blow the ship up.”
“Aye, sir,” Garval agreed. He made to head to the communications station then stopped. “And the weapons lockers?”
Rhew sighed. “I have to have every weapon station guarded. There could still be trouble makers loose on the ship and I can’t search for them as I have no free guards. If those lockers don’t open, it frees guards.”
Garval nodded and set to work as Rhew acquainted himself with the helm. Once a pilot, always a pilot.

“What’s your general opinion,” Appleby asked the Captain as Yarkin led one of the surviving captured ‘officers’ back to the current brig where he was in solo occupation with ten others in five cells.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that,” Postain growled.
“Nope. I got in first,” the Erminean said. “I keep out of your head as much as possible and I know what I think about them. I want to know what you think.”
“They’re paid scum. Mercenaries by another name.” He waved a hand in the general direction of the cells. “Some of them are former navy officers from someone’s navy and know enough to run a ship but most seem to be general street hoods.”
“Mmm,” Appleby mused. “I noted that. But, then again, you don’t need that many to staff an invisible starship. But, if you want to affect change on a small scale…”
“Having a mercenary army with a heavily armed base ship would probably do it for you.”
“The Raitchians will probably want their ship back, y’know? Seeing as it was stolen from them.”
“Probably stolen,” Postain corrected her. But he knew what she’d say next…
“Oh, totally stolen. Even if they just handed them the keys and let them take if for a test drive.”
“Hm. They’d never admit it so yeah. I want to know how they can find these ships before it gets handed over to them. There must be some way to break their refraction system and the answer’s probably over there somewhere.”

Jasmine escorted Enzo through the ship towards his mother, with the gallant young Raitchian keeping his pace slow enough so she could keep up without much effort. They gave glances to medical staff they didn’t recognise as they had no way of knowing the medical clipper ‘Jenner’ was parked outside and her crew was assisting with the injured from falls, and hull breaches. They’d had to divert several times and Enzo had shown her a few ways she’d not even known were there but now they’d run into a blockade. Two guards watching over a pair of medics as he worked amongst the flowers and foods of the hydroponics bay. Enzo started forward but Jasmine caught his arm. “We have to let them work,” She knew he could see his mother lying there on the floor, blood splashed around her head. “What… what happened,” she managed to ask the guard.
“One of the units fell on her,” he said, indicating the roof above where part of the roof had fallen. “Um,” he added, looking to Enzo. “Doctor says she’ll be OK, Enzo,” he said.
Enzo wasn’t sure he believed him.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really a grand chapter this was all around! Keep up the good writing!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

THIRTY-NINE

A half hour later, Jasmine stood in the waiting area of the Jenner’s main surgery bay as Enzo’s mother lay under the lights and medical staff in the main room. Next to her a Canine in dungarees stood and nibbled his claws. “Pardon me for asking,” she asked the department chief, “but how the heck did this happen,” she demanded, gesturing to the scene in front of them as she considered Enzo, being kept outside and diverted by a crewman.
“Same thing in every department,” the deep voiced Canid said. Dox could imagine him having potatoes in his biological make up. “The safe zones aren’t big enough to take everyone. We have various hiding places that are supposed to protect us but…”
“They don’t always succeed,” Jasmine nodded. She knew those places well and had used them once or twice before becoming a ‘priority’ staffer. “But she was in the middle of the hydroponics lab itself.”
The chief nodded. “Hmm. I don’t know what that’s about.” He looked at Dox. “Oh, heck, what about Enzo? If Benny dies..?”
Jasmine flashed him a ‘silence’ look. “Which she won’t.”
“But, if she does…”
“Which is not going to happen, especially if Enzo asks, right?”
“Of… of course! But someone still needs to take care of him..?”
Jasmine sighed. “The teaching staff should be able to take care of that…” She felt the foetus move. “Ooh, is there a chair near,” she asked. The Chief found one and set it for her so she could sit and watch the surgeon’s operate. She didn’t like it much. It was needed but too comfortable. One stage away from popcorn.

Rhew looked around the Raitchian ship as the lights finally sparked back to full power and reasoned that he must have hit the right button. Or an Engineer had done it. Either way, it indicated the power levels were running high enough to show up on sensors (probably). Lieutenant Palmer was working on accessing the computer banks with the ‘assistance’ of a computer technician looking to get a lighter sentence for co-operation. Postain wanted the database but not just the flight history. With Monta working with Raicarra and Fawren, stealth ships were going to become more common and now they had their hands on one, Postain wasn’t going to lose the chance to find out how these ships could ‘see’ other stealth types so they didn’t crash into them. Of course, they could never admit it publicly if they did so… “Do I get control of this ship,” he wondered.
“Unlikely, boss,” Palmer said, glancing back at him. “Think the skip’ll want to keep you sround as long as he can. He’ll probably put Xarra on here to oversee things and limp her back to port.”
“Hmm,” Rhew admitted, taking the Captain’s chair after checking it for devices and adjusting it for his comfort. “So I get passed over,” he said in mock frustration, “oh, woe is me…”
He brought up the internal cameras and watched as the engineering crew took what they needed. Perhaps it was best he didn’t get this command. He’d never liked building sites. In the polar zones they simply didn’t exist in the same way as in the hotter cities and areas. Buildings were few and far between and usually hewn out of the rock on the tundra. They hunted the non sentients and kept breeding down to manageable levels because the more Celicans, the less food so the more Celican deaths. Towards the more temperate zones, where it stayed in the positive single figures, the communities were bigger and there were more mainlanders. He daydreamed on the time he’d been down there in Cacikka City as a youth to sign on and he’d actually seen a Fennikin! He chuckled as he remembered pouncing on the diminutive desert dweller, mistaking his shaking with cold for fear and remembered the slight shock as the ‘pale Lappinean’ bit him. They’d apologised and, after Rhew had bought the straw coloured explorer a coat, had become friends. He wondered where that guy was now. He’d never really found out what he was doing there, beyond ‘going for a walk and not stopping’. Perhaps he’d call him later?

<”I can try to find Enzo somewhere,”> the teacher said over the comms as Jasmine sat by the comm in the Captain’s office on the Jenner. Jasmine watched the tired look in the teacher’s eye and knew she was probably showing the same stress herself. It was getting on in the day and there had been a lot going on to occupy the mind. <”But, at this time of the evening, I probably won’t have things in place for a time. Have they said how Miss Cavalla is?”>
Jasmine rubbed the bridge of her muzzle. “They say she’ll probably live but she’s going to be out for a few days at least as the swelling recedes. They thought she could be transferred to Flakk but, if they’re taking people away from the ship...”
<”That makes sense,,”> the Feline teacher mooted. <”I heard they were planning something like that for as many as possible. As for tonight… Is there any way you could look after him, Miss Dox?”>
“I hardly know him,” Jasmine protested, “but I suppose we do have the spare cot…” She mused. “It would be a bit of practice,” she added, “both for myself and Mikkel…”

Unaware of his future plans, Rhew waited until the Rodomont decided to contact him as he wasn’t going to mess about with sending signals after what had happened with the saboteur. Even so, he still cringed and closed his eyes for a second as the ‘friendly’ prisoner answered the hail.
<”Having a nap, Rhew,”> Postain ‘joked’. <”Perhaps I should find you more to do.”>
“Uh, no, sir,” he replied, standing up. “I was half expecting something to go ‘bang’ is all, sir.”
Postain grunted, glanced away for a few seconds and looked back at him. <”How are things going over there?”>
“Going fine at the moment.” Rhew glanced at the Brockian tech who’d been assisting and was currently trying to look angelic. “We’re getting the materials we need and getting into their databases. We’ve got a helpful tech who probably wants a sentence that doesn’t include Osiran prison camps. I’m watching him.”
<”Better do.”>
“The others are either in their brig or locked into their quarters and only air circulation is turned on in those areas. Engineering is ready, apparently, to let us get underway wherever we’re going and whenever, sir.”
<”That’ll be up to Xarra,”> Postain replied. <”I want my fully capable first with me, Mikkel. Xarra can take that back to Talvary with some of the non essentials and a handful of trained types. The Jenner’s gonna be going with her to alert Henry. We’ve still got more wounded than the sick bays can keep up with, even though Flakk’s back on his feet and making everyone miserable so they’re taking some of those. So you need to get back here after Xarra arrives. I’d say it was so you can get some rest but I know things you don’t. Palmer, you stay put there. Xarra’s going to need someone who can speak computer. And you, scumbag? If you even think of double crossing us I’ll hunt you down and eat you myself, got it?”> He cut the link.
Rhew looked at the Brockian. “He hates smiles,” he said, wondering what the Rottian had meant about knowing more than he did.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Decent job with the chapter! Make sure you continue with the good work please!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

See Hadrian got his tines into action then, wouldn't want to mess with those, good descriptions of the battle and the damage inflicted on both ships, lent drama to the action. Being able to sense enemies by scent must be handy.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

In the latest bit I've written, Postain spends a paragraph mentally complaining about the word 'repair'...

In THIS part, however, the planets Caval and Restikkar - identified as possible locations for Calavix - are discussed.

FORTY

Commander Rhew stalked onto the bridge the next morning and flumped himself down in his seat, next to the Captain. “Morning, sir,” he said, trying not to sound too grumpy.
“Morning, Commander,” Postain said, giving his first Officer the side eye that told Rhew that the Captain was thinking of asking the obvious question.
“He’s absolutely fine, sir,” Rhew said quickly. “But I’m just not used to breakfasting with episodes of Killrangers playing on the vidscreen. And Jasmine wouldn’t let me turn it over.”
Postain sat back. He knew of the raucous Celican Kid’s program and how bad it was for anyone over twelve. Full of bad fighting and bad writing. “Well, children do test our ways and self control,” he said, getting bored of the subject. “But at least he can help Jasmine get her stuff together. The Jenner’s ready for them whenever they want. She’s on there with several of the other kids and a couple of teachers. Others will be on the Nightsky.”
Now it was Rhew’s turn for the side eye. “The… Nightsky, sir?”
“Gave Xarra naming permission for that heap. Can’t keep calling it the invisible ship can we? She chose Nightsky. Probably some Mican legend or something. Anyhow, it’s not a terrible name so Nightsky it is. Reminds me. I’ll need to ask Lieutenant Doctor Sleetan to notify Talvary about that before they get there.” He looked around. “Maldak, hail the Jenner, would you?”
“Aye, sir,” the Quokkan said, “but I should remind you it’s 0615 ship time.”
“I’m up so their Captain can get up too.”
“Aye.”

An hour passed in which Postain made his plans and offloaded a large number of his crew to safety aboard the medical clipper or sort of safety on the Raitchian ship. He’d given Palmer to Xarra so she could report directly to the scientific muckitty-mucks about what she’d found about the Raitchian codes and they could never let on what she’d told them. He figured they’d just include something in the programming of future USC ships that could penetrate the ‘cloaking ability’ as Palmer had called it and Raicarra would need to spend another fortune developing new tech to make them invisible again. In the meantime, Postlethwaite could either add another ship to his little task force in the patch or he could return it to the Raitchians. Of course he could only do that if they admitted they’d lost it in the first place. Postain was glad he didn’t do politics.

Rhew, somewhat refreshed by being on the bridge, had been allowed ten minutes to see Jasmine off. He’d hurried down to the shuttle bay as she wasn’t allowed to use the teleporter and found her there with Enzo. The Raitchian was holding some of his mother’s clothes in a small hold-all and Jasmine had what had to be the lad’s case. “Where’s your stuff,” he asked her quickly.
“My bag’s already on board,” she told him as a couple of Enzo’s school friends ‘touched base’ with him. “It’s only going to be a couple of days, love.”
Rhew smirked wryly. “Worst two days of my life.”
“Are you two going to get kissy,” Enzo asked, looking around from behind Jasmine. “If y’are, can I go with me friends?”
“In a moment, Enzo,” Rhew said, kneeling down to look the boy in the eyes. “I really hope your mom gets better,” he said, “but I gotta ask you to try and protect Jasmine too, eh? Stop people jostling her and help her if she needs it?”
The boy gulped and looked around. Responsible? HIM? “Uh…,” he stammered… “O.K., sir. I’ll try.”
Rhew put his hand on the youth’s shoulder and gave him a hopeful look. “All I can ask, Enzo. Head on in now. We’re going to get kissy.”
The boy looked a little revolted but Rhew couldn’t help but notice him peeking back out from the shuttle door as he smooched with his lady.

“I do not see how I get to be classified as ‘essential’,” Dakrin complained as he checked his weapon again. It was as clean as the last time he’d cleaned it, which was five minutes ago. He put it back together again and sipped his mug of tea.
“Quite simple,” Harvest said, “the evacuation is people Postain trusts to run a ship to at least minimal efficiency on one side and civilians on the other.”
“I’m a civilian, aren’t I?”
Harvest sat down and put his feet up on the table, making Dak move his drink. “We’re also gentlemales,” he explained. “The clipper’s at near capacity with family member and children. Not gonna make a group of kids stay in harm’s way, are you?”
“No, boss.”
Harvest pointed at him. “Correct answer, my good apprentice. Now, tell me what you know of Caval and Restikkar.”
Dakrin mused, tilting his head back so Harvestcould see his white throat in better definition. “Well, Caval’s more agricultural,” he said. “Less of a gang presence there than on Restikkar. More off the beaten track but the locals there are a somewhat unwelcoming lot. Didn’t they once send a pirate gang running for Council protection when they found a base there?”
Harvest nodded. “Apparently they got paid a bounty for that and few pirates went to that planet. Doesn’t totally rule out Calavix having the base there but it makes it more unlikely. Restikkar?”
“Uh… Canine world. More industrialised. Run in a peaceable way. Little or no space navy to speak of. Trades with the surrounding worlds…”
“...who act as Restikkar’s navy in most ways,” Harvest cut in. “Restikkar’s negotiated peace treaties between most of the neighbouring worlds so they all lend a hand to defend it. Even when they’re at war with each other. Which is quite a bond when you think about it.”
“Which has the most unused land?”
“Hmm, I’d say Restikkar. But agriculture means there’s a lot of wide open spaces and fewer people to hide from. They might even do deals with landowners. So, all in all, which would be your chief suspect, Dak?”
Dakrin sucked his teeth. “On the basis of what little we know? I’d say Caval due to the need to build an army in hiding. You, boss?”
“I’d never build an army in hiding. But I think I’d agree. Restikkar’s too public.”
“I wonder what the Captain will do?”
Harvest lowered his hat over his eyes. “He’ll probably decide based on the captured ship’s flight logs.” He lifted the hat slightly to clear his eyes as he glinted his teeth at Dakrin. “What, you figured the ship wouldn’t know its own home base?” He lowered the brim again to take a nap.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Sounds like everything is going really wonderful! Keep up your great story!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Wolves. One more hurdle to peace...

FORTY-ONE

“So,” Doctor Flakk asked as he worked on removing Jak’s leg brace, “what exactly is it that you’re complaining about?”
Jak thought on how best to put it as he sat on the sickbay bed, trouser leg rolled up so the Wolf could work. He sighed and looked at the mirror, where he was sure he could still see blood on his antlers. They really were his now. He’d used them to defend his ship and his family. He’d used them to injure a killer. He noted the spectacle Wolf looking up at him for an answer and replied. “If you knew I could have this blasted thing off last week, why didn’t you take it off?”
“Hadrian,” Flakk replied, gritting his teeth as he pulled off the last lock and released the leg, “I’m confident that I could have removed it last week and you’d be bouncing about like you’re on a Savannah within a few hours.” He waved a hand. “Health and safety and insurance providers are, comparatively, cringing cowards and wimps. If you’d been injured during the last week, they’d have blamed the previous injury. It would have come back on ME and affected any payouts to YOU.” He fixed him with a glare. “Then you’d have probably tried to sue me for medical negligence and I’d have had to… deal with you.”
Jak almost physically shrank back onto the bed before he spotted the hint of a grin on the Doctor’s face. “You...you’re joking with me?”
“You’d never sue,” Flakk replied. “Now, what’s really got you in a funk?”
“I don’t know if you noticed,” Jak replied, “but some of my friends are in your morgue right now…”
Flakk nodded. “And I’ll treat their bodies with all the reverence I can later. But you’ve lost friends before…” He paused as he looked the Cervidan in the face. “But none were right next to you before?” He nodded as he recognised his rhetorical question had hit the truth. “Do you know why I fight, Jak?”
“Because you like it?”
“No, not because… not just because I like it. I’m protecting those behind me. Those around me.” He thumped his chest. “I’m as well trained as most soldiers, same as you. Those around me and behind me? They’re no better trained than me. In fact most of them have worse training than me. The likelihood is that anyone who gets past me will kill them.” His tone added a little growl to his voice now. “That’s why they don’t get past me easily. I fight like any security guard does and for the same reason. The security. NOT the security of me but the security of those around me. That’s what’ll kill me in the end, Hadrian. Standing tall. Ensuring that I give the others security and a chance to live. I see it in you, too. You will not run. You stand. Your other guards stood. This is one of the ways guards want to go, Hadrian, standing in the way of harm. It’s… ludicrous but it’s utterly honourable. It’s also honourable,” he added as Jak gave into temptation and scratched an itch that didn’t really exist on his newly released leg, “for you to want to keep them alive like you fought to.” He stood up and clapped Jak on the back with a friendly blow that almost knocked him off the bed. “I saw that strike on a vid replay,” he admitted. “It was a good hit. Shame he survived really. But I accidentally took one alive too,” he added lightly. “Make it one – all, yes?”
“You still win,” Jak said, too quickly. “I wasn’t trying to kill him…”

“Take the point, Hadrian,” said the other Wolf, entering the bay. “Flakk’s don’t give them very often.” She stood, waiting for something, by the bed she’d been treated on, crossing her arms in the ripped denim jacket that still had blood, hers and others, around the tears.
“Do… do you want me to shift,” Jak asked.
“Nope,” Patcha replied. “You’re probably the only thing him and I have in common,” she said, gesturing to the Doctor, who was trying to ignore her. “Both of us prefer you in one piece,” she admitted.
“Thanks. Is that your way of saying I’m a friend?”
“That’s your way of taking it.” She looked at the Doctor’s back. “You fought pretty well, Flakk,” she said. No response.
“Doctor Flakk,” Jak prompted…
“Hmm?” The old Wolf looked up at Jak, then ‘enlightenment’ crossed his face. “Heh,” he chuckled, turning to Karl. “You did pretty well yourself, Karl. To be honest I’d have been pushed to handle all five by myself.” The next line he said with some degree of tightness in his tone. “Probably lucky you were there.”
“Yeah, well,” Karl said, stepping forward lightly, “couldn’t let the Rat get hurt, could I, Flakk? I owe her.”
“That’s two things we have in common, Karl.”
“I do hope we don’t get too many more things in common. People will say we’re getting to like each other.”
The Doctor stepped warily around to his left, Karl turning slightly to watch him. “I’m not sure that would do.” his eyes flashed with reflected light for a second. “But there IS something we CAN do.” He stopped. “I am the senior of clan Flakk, even if I am not the Alpha. You are the last of Clan Karl. I speak for my clan.”
Patcha shifted her shoulders and looked down, only to look back up with hooded eyes. “And I speak just for myself. I HAVE a new clan but they are not Wolves. I have an Alpha but she is not a Wolf. They would not understand as we do. I speak and act for myself.”
“We have fought together, you and I,” Flakk intoned. “Never friends but no longer enemies as we have faced a common foe. If you accept this hand,” he said, putting out his right, “the feud is ended.”
Karl looked at the hand. “I have better things to do,” she said, before glancing at a confused and hopeful Jak on the bed, “...than carry on a feud I cannot win,” she finished, deciding to take the hand and shake it.
Jak breathed out. He didn’t have a clue what he’d just witnessed but he had a feeling it was important to them. And he needed the toilet. Quite badly. He made his excuses and headed out to the nearest convenience. Perhaps he’d be able to catch Simone before she got sent over to the Nightsky? He certainly needed to get trousers that had both legs now...
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Rydr Warklub »

Awww. I love it when enemies become friends.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I just love this chapter in general! Nice work!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-TWO

Harvest looked out of the shuttle window as the small spaceship started its landing run on Caval and acted smug as he thought about how he’d gotten it right. The corn fields and forests of the agricultural community spun beneath them as Dakrin handed back his dinner tray to the stewardess and put his finger under his collar again. “She’s a real pain, isn’t she,” Harvest asked, regarding a certain someone back home.
Dakrin grumbled something under his breath. “I really hate her,” he complained.
Harvest shrugged. “So do most people who know her. Her secrets are hidden amongst her lies. The fact that collar isn’t what she said it was…”
“Is something I plan to have words with her about.”
“Not to worry,” Harvest said lightly. “Just roll with it.”

The pair had taken a swift trip to the nearest space station to Caval on the IOC tab to check things out whilst the Rodomont ran the rule over Restikkar and, then, Harvest had gotten them upgraded to first class for purpose of establishing a persona or some such thing that Dakrin had gone along with simply because it got him off the sandwiches and onto the live food which Harvest never liked watching him eat. He’d only been able to look at him after the youth had washed his face and taken a breath mint. He’d protested that it was discrimination against his diet but Harvest hadn’t listened.

The shuttle landed and the pair left with the other passengers and made their way through the terminal, with its infusion of appealing local scents designed to make you spend money in the station shops ‘high end’ section and headed for the taxi rank outside to take them into the main town on the colony. Harvest had contacted his old guilds’ website and consulted it for where to go on the colony if you wanted to meet bad people – who were ‘just passing through’ – so that was where they asked the cabbie to take them. And, when he refused, they agreed he could drop them a few blocks from the place, where they could rent something.

Behind them, another cabbie received roughly the same request from his passenger and that came as a surprise to him, too. He tried to talk the passenger into going to a different locale but the passenger had just replied that they had a meeting there. The cabbie just said it was the fare’s watch and drove them there.

Harvest and Dakrin, having rented and parked up a midrange vehicle for emergencies, watched the bar from the alley opposite for twenty minutes until they saw someone they both knew go in. “Showtime,” Dakrin asked, pulling at the collar again.
“Showtime,” Harvest agreed, before slapping Dak’s hand. “Stop that!”
“I can’t,” the Celican replied loudly, “I hate this thing!”
“Well, it’s your fault for getting caught,” Harvest replied, leading the way across the road as he spoke in an exasperated tone. “If I hadn’t taken you on…”
“Oh, you keep throwing that in my face,” Dakrin protested loudly as they entered the establishment. “If you’d not taken me on, I’d be doing time at Calderon state!”
Harvest pointed a finger. “You told me you had contacts,” he retorted. “You lied about that!” He slapped the bar. “You’re buying the first round, Dak.”
Dakrin mulled that fact. “Grain Whisky for me,” he told the barman before grinning as if a thought had just come to him, “and a light beer for my ‘boss’ here.” He pushed the money across.
Harvest gagged, quickly checking the others in the bar. “A LIGHT beer? After all this effort following your contacts lead that led us all the way out here and the person he told us about doesn’t even exist?” Harvest downed his drink in one and wished he hadn’t. It tasted like soap warmed up. It added to his grimace though. “You should have confirmed it before we came…”
“You’re the one with the ‘community contacts’, Dakrin retorted, ignoring the barman’s efforts to quiet him. “Why didn’t YOU check?”
“Because I’m trying to teach you, you imbecile!” He turned to the barman as he got his attention. “A proper drink this time, ‘keep,” he mentioned, putting across enough to pay for a double. “Something showy, flash and worth it.” He side-eyed Dakrin. “Unlike my friend here.”
“Whatever,” Dakrin said. “I’m going dancing.” So saying, he stepped over to the dance floor as Harvest brooded by the bar.

The other figure watched from across the bar.

An hour passed before Harvest decided to leave, striding over to fetch Dakrin from a small group of individuals, namely two Vixens and a Tod who the youth had been in animated contact with, pointing at Harvest and indicating his collar two or three times as he told the tale of how he’d been captured and enslaved to the law with embellishments that probably made it sound even more like prison than prison did. “Come on, Dak,” Harvest ordered.
“I’m staying here,” Dakrin said defensively.
“No,” Harvest demanded, “you’re not. I’m headed out so you KNOW that means you have to as well.” He leaned in as the Vixens protested for their new friend. “Unless you want to risk the collar,”
Dakrin threw his hands up. “I hate you!” He practically threw himself up to his feet and stormed ahead of Harvest to the door. Harvest had to break into a near run to keep up as the youth led him around the back of the club.
“Wait up, Dakrin!” Harvest called, still struck by how cold it was getting out here.
The ‘apprentice’ stopped and turned swiftly. “Why,” he demanded, “so you can belittle me again? So you can humiliate me? Do you know what it’s like, being married to you..? I mean stuck! Stuck with you! It’s an insult to me and…” He stepped forward as Harvest felt lights appear on his back and Dakrin thumped him straight in the side of the face, knocking him sideways into the garbage from the club. He punched Harvest again, putting him down for the count as the car pulled up and the Celicans from inside beckoned him in.
“I thought you were going to top him,” the Tod asked.
“Thought of it,” Dakrin admitted, getting in the back, “but I do owe him that, at least.”
“I don’t,” the Tod said, preparing to get out and shoot.

A call from the darkness, around the corner, caught his attention and spooked the Tod back into the driving seat. He accelerated backwards as the tracking collar, clipped from around Dakrin’s neck, flew out and landed next to the garbage as the car sped away. The stranger knelt next to Harvest as his eyes popped back open. “Think they bought it,” Harvest asked Jak.
“Seems so,” the Cervidan replied. “Pity they threw out the tracking device.”
Harvest pulled himself back up. “That’s not a tracking device,” he admitted. “Your Palmer didn’t detect any signals from it. She DID, however, detect a tracking signal in his stomach…”
“What? You mean?”
“Hmm,” Harvest admitted. “She bugged his food. It’s attached to his stomach lining.” He pulled up a scanner. “I’ll get the car.”
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Just read up to 41, Like the prancing on the Savanah comment, looks like the Wolves may have settled their conflict, I was hoping they would begin to see eye to eye, the idea of them having strong clan loyalties and rules figures and it makes for good storytelling. Good to see Jak back up on his hooves, kind of glad he isn't at all to keen on killing but strong on protecting his friends none the less.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

It's strange how the story, somewhat unplanned, stretches to fit the characters. There's things only Harvest and Dak can do, there's things for Jak to do (and, as said before, he was a very late character), there's something back at Talvary station that can only be done by Lieutenant Stikka (The Racon from the Loper with the a/v recorder system in his head...) It's almost like I knew I'd need these guys.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

You are really doing a good job with the story! Keep on writing!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Rydr Warklub »

Welsh Halfwit wrote:
Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:24 am
It's strange how the story, somewhat unplanned, stretches to fit the characters. There's things only Harvest and Dak can do, there's things for Jak to do (and, as said before, he was a very late character), there's something back at Talvary station that can only be done by Lieutenant Stikka (The Racon from the Loper with the a/v recorder system in his head...) It's almost like I knew I'd need these guys.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-THREE

Dakrin sat back in the rear seat, enjoying the feel of the two Vixens gently and, they probaby thought, imperceptibly, checking him for weapons as the car moved through the town and out towards the countryside. Fallak, in the driving seat, had been a local face in Calderon City in the last few years and Dakrin had run into him several times. Usually it was to do deals. Occasionally it was swapping shots but, frankly, they’d mostly got on. Mostly. “How did you get out of doing prison time for that kidnapping gang, Dak,” Fallak asked casually.
“Saw the way the wind was blowing,” Dakrin replied, giggling slightly as a Vixen checked his chest out. “I knew the Mican security were about to come down so, when the Private Idiot turned up, I pretended to switch sides. Those idiots weren’t worth dying for.” He brought his tone down into a grumble. “Of course, I didn’t expect the ****ers to actually enslave me so they could use me…”
“He kept you out of prison.”
Dakrin coughed a laugh. “He kept me on a chain! If anything happened to split us up, the signal from the collar went both to him and to Mican intelligence!”
“Until you ran into someone with a Vanatek 14 hyperkey,” one of the Vixens professed, twirling the ‘key’ around a finger.
“Lucky for me,” Dakrin replied.
“Huh,” Fallak commented snidely. “VERY lucky. How’d you come to be here?”
Dakrin took a second as he knew he was being questioned by someone with a gun. “I had a lead on a fraud case,” he professed. “Meltan Drogues said someone with information on embezzling regards Jovan Finances inc was hiding out here…”
Fallak laughed. “You trusted Drogues on information? You mad, bud?”
“Nope. But he was desperate. Moon’s usually near broke, y’know? He had to call in godess knows how many favours to get a cheap couple of tickets here…”
Fallak huffed. “Fair enough. You should know, though. Betray these guys? They’ll kill you. They might even kill you anyway.”
“H...hey, I thought you said they wanted drivers?”
Fallak smirked. “Oh, they do. They’ve got many plans. But they’ve got a lot of recruits, too.”

A mile back, Jak was trying to keep his head in a relatively small car. Or, to be more accurate, he was trying not to give the car a sunroof as Moon drove, following the beep on his satnav. The Cervidan was currently eating his lunch of grasses clipped from the botanical bay and was discretely not offering any to the Mican. Harvest had eaten at the bar (mostly nuts) and wasn’t much of a fan of eating his greens anyway. He also hadn’t said much and it was clear he was worried about his apprentice. Even if he hadn’t pulled the punches that much during the squabble.
“We’re only a few minutes behind,” Hadrian said consolingly.
“Few minutes means they can only kill him five times,” Harvest grumbled. “I’m responsible for him…”
“And you really think he’d be that easy to kill?”
Harvest huffed. “Anyone’s that easy to kill if their guard’s down, Hadrian.” The Mouse straightened up as he relaxed slightly. “Sorry. Something my old mentor used to say. Of course HE was usually talking about people we were targetting.” Harvest took a left through the fields where the device said Dak had gone left.
Jak shifted his feet in the back. “How did a field mouse get into Bounty Hunting anyhow?”
“Seemed a good way to escape life in a farming colony that was going no-where,” he said as they started passing a field of wheat. He chuckled slightly. “Come a long way, eh? Anyhow, a feline bounty hunter came to the planet and a little muggins – me – helped him out and stowed away on his ship. After a while he stopped trying to take me home and started training me.”
“Sounds a good guy.”
“He wasn’t. Isn’t a bad one, certainly.”
Jak frowned at that seeming slip. “So where’s he now?”
“Oh, somewhere,” Harvest said dismissively. “Probably. So how’d you get into security,” he continued, swiftly changing the subject.
“I wanted to learn to protect my herd,” Jak replied. “I have family and friends back home and I wanted to protect them. So I learned a few things and realised others needed protecting. So I came out into the worlds, met Simone, who was also expanding her horizons, fell in love. Married and got berths here. It suits me.”
“Plus you get to hit predators with shokstiks.”
“Plus I get to hit predators with shokstiks, yeah. I take it the fact my lot don’t do security guards is why you asked for me?”
“Oh, absolutely not,” Harvest laughed. “If anything happens, I’m on your back and you’re running!”
Despite himself, Jak joined in the laughter.

“Why am I looking at a Celican boy,” the Feline asked, sitting behind a desk in the clean complex Fallak had driven into just two moments ago.
“Well, I…” Dakrin started but the casual gesture towards him with a gun silenced his tongue.
“I wasn’t asking you,” the Feline told him, “I was asking the Celican I know.”
“Well, uh, I thought he could do as one of our ‘taxi’ operatives, uh, sir,” Fallak said. “I knew him on Caldera. He’s a good mechanic and a better driver. He doesn’t have a great deal going, in ways of morality.”
“What,” Dakrin asked.
“He means you don’t like obeying the law,” the feline said. He stood up. “He better be telling the truth.” The Feline picked up a small device. “You see, I’ve been told a pair from Caldera are on the planet. One of MY people,” he added smoothly, “tells me Harvest Moon and ‘associate’ are here. Thing is, you see, I don't like Private Investigators. You can never predict what side they're on.” He showed the device to Dakrin. A bug sweeper. “And I think I need to make sure you’re not tagged...”
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This whole thing is very nice! You are succeeding in making a riveting story!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-FOUR

Dakrin wondered if this was supposed to be intimidating and decided he was going to take the lead here. He began to strip, shirt, trousers, everything, before the Feline could start waving his wand over him. He bent down and picked up the clothing, feeling his pride in the coolness on his fur as he grasped the warm clothing and put it on the table before turning to the Feline and putting his hands on his hips. “Well,” he asked.
“I’m, er, still going to check you over,” the Feline replied but Dakrin could see he’d discomfited him a little as the Feline chose to start on the clothes.
“Well,” Fallak said, clearly amused, “it proves you’re definitely a Celican!”
“Never knew that was in doubt, Fal,” Dakrin replied, deliberately swinging his hips slightly as he turned to look at him. He used his tail to bap the Feline on the head as he scanned Dakrin’s legs and upwards. He had faith in the sophisticated evil of Harriet Thurso but he was also trying to judge if he could take the people here in a fight. He figured probably not. He nodded to the cameras. “I hope there are ladies in the security room,” he told the room.
“They’ve seen bigger and better,” Fallak snickered.
“But rarely so perfectly presented!”
“Will you two shut up,” the Feline complained, putting the scanner back after passing it over Dakrin’s chest. “And get dressed, boy.” He looked to Fallak. “Show him the general areas but no more than that!”

From the files of Harvest Moon, P.I.

I have to admit I’m afraid for Dakrin and I never really thought I’d get to this stage. He’s about a mile from where I am now and he’s underground. It’s an industrial complex alongside a small hill that doesn’t exist on the maps. It’s nothing that would appear on satmaps as it’s well designed and looks like a slope and flat surface but it’s about half a mile wide and twenty feet tall. Jak here thinks it’s some sort of staging area and he’s probably right. It’s certainly wide enough and tall enough and probably long enough but we can’t see that from where we are right now. We’re in a wheat field; right on the edge so we can watch the goings on. Credit to Jak, the hangerboy’s a trooper. He’s taken anti-histamines as unrefined wheat makes him sneeze and come out in blotches, apparently. The telescope scanner I’m using is getting all sorts of information but, obviously, it can’t read walls, floors, ceilings and all that sort of thing. Dak shows up as a blue spot and I can see he’s moving again. I hope he’s all right. This thing can’t tell if he’s alive or dead.

“So what is it goes on here,” Dakrin asked Fallak as they headed into the main complex. The other glanced at him as they passed by a group of Raitchians.
“It’s simple,” the older youth advised. “There’s thousands of criminals in the patch, Dak. Car thieves, kidnappers, bank robbers, con artists and so on. But there’s no organisation, bro.” He turned, enthused. “Imagine if there was a place where the BEST in a profession could train up the up and comers? Imagine if there was a controlling force that could work out where they had the best chance of success and could help them get there?” He tapped Dakrin on the chest. “Take you, for example.”
“Me?”
“You’re a mechanic. A driver. Get you in the right place… Businessmen who don’t pay attention to their chauffeur. You get to drive them wherever whist recording all their secret conversations, ready for use later by other members of the organisation. Or, on occasion, you, er, drive your occupant to a pick-up that they weren’t expecting…” He chuckled. “Or get to be a driver on a bank attack.”
“Much violence,” Dakrin asked, allowing a small glint in his eye.
Fallak waved a hand. “You’ll be trained. We’ve got some good mercs in the system. And some former naval types too. Any army needs an…” he shrugged. “Well, an army really.”
Dakrin whistled and looked around. “How many people are there here anyhow?”
“Here?” Fallak shrugged. “About a thousand probably.”
“That must take some money.”
“We have it,” Fallak said. “Just don’t ask me where from as I don’t know.” He wiggled his eyeridges. “Let’s just say that the food is mainly sourced from Raitche, eh?” He shrugged again as the pair walked past a couple of nondescript vehicles. “That’s just my theory, of course. There could be any number of other explanations.”
Dakrin ran a hand over a light armoured vehicle. “A DK47? Supposed to be able to hit 130 in a good tailwind.”
“Maybe you’ll be taught to drive it,” Fallak said.
“Allowed to,” Dakrin replied humorously. “Barely a need to be taught.”

From the files of Harvest Moon

I have the feeling the ship’s going to need back up. This is some major operations going on here. I’ve seen a few people I know from the H/K files flitting around and I know it’s probably enough to make three hundred trips like this worthwhile but it marks out the dangers, both for Dakrin and for everyone else. I’ve not seen anyone who can acquaint Dak with me and has a grudge against me big enough to kill him to hurt me but there are one or two sociopaths who might kill him if he insults their car and he might do that. Cars are his ‘thing’. Dak… I mean Jak… Hmmm, Dak and Jak? Better not get them confused too often, it’d mess up my notes. Jak needs to put a call in to the Barn – why the Rodomont’s called that I don’t know – and get them to call in the other ships whilst I do something else. If they have an army of hostiles, I want certain people on my side.

I tell Jak what we need him to do and he obligingly goes off to do it, using the comm system in the car. I know what’s going to be the result. Postain will have us keep an eye on the area whilst he consults with Henry on what to do next. He might well wait. He might not. Even if he does wait they’ll be facing strong odds. I decide to get a few affairs in order and tell Jak I’m contacting a few loved ones on my comm. Sis’ll be third call. After Sheriff Javey…

...And my landlady.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Loving how well this is coming along! Great job!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Grass sandwiches, tasty and nutritious, for added flavour top with Lichen and crushed chestnuts, they don't keep long mind ;) (note: only do this if you are a Deer!)
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

And the legal bit...

FORTY-FIVE

The ship hung in space. So many small delays had held her back from going on patrol and thigs were getting a little annoying as they waited. Finally, however, all the troubles had cleared up and… “Sir,” Ensign Chapston said from her station as Hawle prepared to give her the order to move out from Talvary Communal station, “I’m not sure we should move just yet.”
This is going to be interesting,” Hawle remarked slyly to Sarina Raven, “a helm officer who doesn’t want to fly?” He raised his voice to normal tone, knowing Sarah had heard him anyway. “What’s up now, Chappers,” the Lappinean asked.
“We have two ships coming in,” she advised. “The Jenner and… well, I don’t know what it is, sir.”
“I’ve never met an I-don’t-know-what-it-is before, Raven, have you?”
“They must be from the Whatchacallit area of space,” the Burman agreed.
“O.K.,” Hawle said, notify the station we’re delaying departure until we know what it is, Match. Then get Stikka up here.” Hawle sat forward in his seat until Raven pushed him back down and engaged his seat restraints.
“Protocol,” she claimed, “don’t want a bashed bunny, do I?”
“No more than I want a comatose Kitty,” Hawle prompted. Raven sighed and employed her own restraints.

Henry Postlethwaite had been waiting for them. The Captain of the Jenner had contacted him directly to explain what was occurring on a secure channel and the elderly Mican had agreed to keep things quiet until they got here. It was why he’d had the departure of the Loper delayed until now, stating clearance mix ups and other problems to keep Hawle around until they turned up on the screen. Now they were here. He pressed his intercom and spoke to the young officer stationed in the outer office. “Route the call from the Loper through to me, Pahk,” he ordered. “And, if they’re NOT calling, call them?”
<”Sir,”> the officer replied.
Henry waited until the comms officer… was it Lieutenant Match? Wasn’t it usually the Human, Dawton, who held that post? Anyhow, he waited until the officer paused for breath before he spoke. “If I may, Lieutenant,” he said, “I know all about the incoming signals. I’d rather appreciate Hawle and Raven in my office A.S.A.P.”
<”Uh, acknowledged, sir,”> Match replied. Henry moved about his office, waiting for the door to boop. He reckoned he’d have about five mi…
He corrected that to seconds as the two materialized in his office, close to the desk. “You did say ‘as soon as possible’,” Hawle reminded Henry as the intruder alarm sounded.

Hawle’s left ear was flopped. Xarra had just run down the chain of events that had occurred to the Rodomont in the last week and a half and it was something after something else. It was like the plot… “Is this a plot from one of those stupid Celican Secret Agent films,” he asked breathlessly.
Henry chuckled and steepled his fingers. “Wouldn’t let the head of IOC Celica hear you say that,” he advised. “Golta was the chief stunt performer on those films.” He looked up to Xarra and gave passing thought to the attractive nature of the female of his species. Then he put that thought away. The security teams from the station had begun taking some of the captives into detention and they’d called for a delegation from Juras, the nearest colony world, to take some as well; at least until the Council could send a ship to take the lot of them back to the core systems for interrogation, trial and everything else. “What is Marius doing now,” he asked Xarra.
“The Captain told me he’s got a plan in motion involving the Private Investigators whilst the ship completes its repairs behind the moon of Caval.”
“Caval,” Hawle muttered, “Caval… Where have I heard of that world before?”
“Agri world, “ Xarra said. “Once ran a pirate attack off without any back up from us. About a year back, I think.”
“Normally Pirates would just get back in their ships and shoot the defenders from orbit,” Raven said. “Why didn’t that happen?”
Henry, also wondering that fact, chose to look up the interviews some of the individuals involved had made. Nothing seemed to scan badly from the locals points of view - they were all surprised the pirates hadn’t shot them from the stars – but the pirates had suggested getting out of the area when a couple of their fighters were shot from nowhere. They put it down to an automated defence system or something and left it well alone. “Do they only have one,” he muttered, more to himself than anyone else.
“We need to find out how that stealth field operates,” Hawle told the room, feeling he was probably telling them what they already knew anyhow. “I’ll send Groal over to tinker. And Dawton to see if he can work out how they signal each other.”
“Captain Postain has already done much of that,” Xarra protested.
“Then I’m sure my people will be wasting their time, Lieutenant,” Hawle replied, feeling the need to remind her that he out-ranked her. He might apologise later. It was her mentioning the Captain that had done it. “But my guys might still pull something up.”
“Of course,” Henry said, possibly to mollify the Mican, “Lieutenant Xarra would still be in command.”
“Of course, sir,” Hawle agreed, “she knows that ship better than any of us.”
“Does that mean I’d be able to order them off my ship, sir,” she asked sweetly.
“Well, yes, but Groal matches you in rank so he won’t listen,” Hawle replied.
“Commander…” Henry warned.
“You’re right, sir. Sorry, Lieutenant Commander. They’ll behave themselves on your ship. I’ll make sure of that. My advice to you is give them a little room to do what they do. I don’t run an ‘as by the book’ operation like the Captain does but it helps when you think that they – the enemy – know that book as well as we do.”
She nodded, mollified slightly. “Appreciated, sir,” A grin. “I’ll give them this much,” she said, holding up a finger and thumb that showed a gap of about three inches. “They can have wider if they prove it’s worth it.”
“I like her,” Hawle muttered to Raven from behind a coffee cup.
“Send Stikka too,” Henry remarked.
“Sir,” Xarra queried, thinking herself out of command again.
“Well,” Henry replied, “if this ship has been stolen” – he used finger quotes for the last word – “then Raicarra will want their propriety property back, including all the information we gained from it. Under corporate law we’d have to comply.”
“Corporate law,” Xarra queried.
“Under Council rules the first company to develop a technology gets twenty years where no-one else under Council law can develop that technology. It’s designed to frustrate industrial espionage and promote companies co-operating. More co-operation, less shooting. Generally speaking it works but it hamstrings us at times like these. We can’t break the law whilst enforcing it but we can put a hold on it during exigent circumstances like this. After that we HAVE to obey the law.” Henry lowered his tone to something ‘sweeter’. “If you find any technical manuals, he might like something to read?”
Xarra looked confused.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I enjoyed this chapter a whole lot more because Hawle was in it and I love anything that has Hawle as a character in it! Keep up the good work!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

The Loper attitude is infectious... (And the game I'm obliquely referring to is 'Phantom 2040' on the Mega drive/Genesis.

FORTY-SIX

Cedar Kirkwall moved along the baseline, shifting his feet swiftly from left to right, then hopping back and doing it again as he waited his chance to return. He felt a bit strange in the white clothes and shorts, almost as though he wasn’t wearing any clothes on camera as he watched the other side of the room. He patted his bat and swung it experimentally as he tried to work out what the scores really meant. Colleen had noted his abilities in Fekta, a Mican sport similar to this but different in so many ways. He had the natural skill, perhaps, to have adapted to the rules she’d told him but he was still…

His thoughts cut off as he watched Colleen Una throw the strange greeny-yellow ball up into the air and stretch her slender, straw colour fur clad, body up to reach it with her ‘ten is’ bat and fire the ball towards his back line. He scampered quickly to return it as he was not going to let her draw Aces willy-nilly and was going to limit her to three in this match. He caught the ball in the centre of his bat’s netty thing and sent it back over the bigger net and found himself enjoying it once more as he anticipated her next move. He watched her run in towards the net and made his calculations…

“Well,” he protested as they sat in the cool down room after, “1-6, 2-6 isn’t that bad for a first go?”
“Indeed not,” Colleen agreed with a sly grin. “Give you a few months of training and you might even make a challenge for me, Cedar.”
The Mican whooped. “Make it three weeks and a computer trainer to explain the rules!” He looked around. “You reckon they’re going to send that ship back to Raitche?”
Junior Ambassador Una rolled her eyes in response to her best friend’s question. It was all people had been able to talk about in the last few hours. Were there secret starships out there? If so, where? Was there one looking over their shoulder right now? “I know the Commander will defer to Sector Chief Postlethwaite and he’ll send all the details back as is required by law.” She leaned in close as though to whisper a secret, despite there being no-one else in the hologram simulation room. “I do, however, understand he’s not planning on telling them about a certain Lieutenant Commander looking around?”
The Chef chuckled. “How did we end up with him anyhow?”
Colleen dropped a towel on his head. “Hawle had to replace Grovan and there were only so many applicants for the job. As Aldair told me, Stikka was near the bottom of the pile. He was going nowhere on a colony station after his… augments were discovered.” She took a swig from a water bottle filled with a strawberry hydration concoction of Cedars. “Not illegal but no-one wanted the possible security breach. He was running out of chances and the Commander decided to take a shot.”
“How do you think it’s going?”
She offered him the bottle. “I’ve only needed to apologise to two colony leaders. So quite well.”

Dawton pored over his borrowed console as he ran systems checks. His special glasses provided visual translations of the Raitchian words on the screens to make sure he was reading everything correctly as he ran through the frequencies.
“Do you have anything yet, Lieutenant Dawton,” Xarra asked from close behind him. She sounded irritated.
“It’s only been two hours, Ma’am,” he replied, twirling a small rod between his fingers. “I’m still running through everything.”
“A frequency scan doesn’t normally take this long on the Rodomont,” she protested. She could kick herself. She saw the stiffening in the Human’s posture and knew it had been the wrong thing to say.
“On the Rodomont,” Dawton replied, in a clipped tone, “you’d only be scanning the usual frequencies, Commander. They came up with nothing. I, however, am operating on a different principle.”
“What principle,” she asked, stopping herself from adding ‘an inefficient one’ to her question.
Dawton sighed. Relaxing a little. “An old gamers one, actually,” he explained, deciding to turn around and look at her for a moment. “Back when computer games were in their infancy,” he explained, “in the early 1990’s, for example, there was very little processing power available. It meant that, if something was there, in the game, it wasn’t there for no reason. It had to have something to do with plot or whatever. Grand-dad said he discovered a number of hidden paths that way.” Dawton chuckled. “Said one game had it’s only perfect ending through what looked like a glitch but wasn’t. Point is, this console’s set up like normal, transmitting the ident as usual now you switched it on. So, except for one thing, there’s nothing odd.” He pointed towards an icon. “That, ma’am, is a frequency booster.,” he explained. “When pressed, it practically doubles the frequency scanning range, right into the ultra low and Ultra high.”
Xarra leaned in curiously. “Why would they need such a wide band?”
“Exactly. So I’m now scanning to see if we’re putting out anything our ships can’t normally sense. It’s a time taker” Dawton sighed. “You reckon our Captains will ever get on?”
“No,” Xarra replied. “Respect each other, yes. ‘Get on’? Probably not. But that’s above our grades.” She let out a little sigh of her own. “Sorry for comparing you to the Rodomont,” she admitted.
“Who else were you going to compare us to, eh? You know your lot are the best you’ll get. Commander Hawle knows it of his too. He does take a few more chances, though…”
“Wouldn’t be meaning me, would you, Lieutenant,” Stikka queried idly from the second officers chair, where he sat, feet on the armrest, looking through a computer manual he’d found in the data banks and storing all the pages in his memory files.
“No, sir,” Dawton lied. “You’ve proven yourself. And they like you.”
Stikka grinned savagely. “I know and I appreciate it. But I’m still banned from games nights!”
“Is there this much totally irrelevant chat on the Lopers' bridge,” Xarra asked, trying to sound impatient.
“Usually,” Dawton answered. “The Command group gets bored…”
Finally, Xarra gave Dawton a wry grin. “No wonder the Captain hates him,” she allowed. “It’s the team vs Family thing. Both work but in different ways.”
“When we work together,” Dawton agreed, “we’re unbeatable.”
“Beaten that signal thing yet, Lieutenant,” Stikka remarked.
The console booped. “As a matter of fact…” Dawton told the group, spinning back to face the console. “we ARE sending out a signal at the ultra-low frequency end. It’s hidden amongst background radiation. I think the Loper should be able to find us once I program the comms panel there. Permission to disembark?”
Xarra stepped back. “I’ll escort you.” She glanced at him askew. “What? The Commander here can look after MY ship for a bit and I hear you actually have a Mican Chef aboard who can make a good Ballagrain Salad. Think I’m going to miss that?”

Stikka wondered if the proximity to Loper Officers was having a bad effect on Xarra...
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

A really great continuation of the story! I like it a whole lot!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

I must admit, I did want to drop in on Cedar and Colleen. I had nothing for them to do, really, but I like writing that pair as the purest friends in the stories.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

So they will be friends and nothing mire then right?

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Well, best friends.

And nothing more than that.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

This Ten-is will never catch on ;)
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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FORTY-SEVEN

Repairs. Postain was getting fed up of hearing the word recently. Repairs to bulkheads. Repairs to consoles. Repairs to people. Repairs to Starlancers. Repairs to conduits. Repairs, repairs, repairs. His engineers were working 25-7 to get the ship back into battle condition so he could go into battle and have someone new knock the spots off and the rivets out. He liked to pride himself that he knew every nut and bolt on this ship but, the truth was, every single panel in it had been replaced over the ten years he’d been master of this ship but he had to acknowledge that this wasn’t exactly the same ship, was it? Not even Chichester’s book could divert him from the depression of thought that had him glowering at the moon he could see on the screen.

Behind it lay a planet he’d never even thought of visiting before, a farming world so far off the given routes that, bar one attack, the pirates didn’t even bother coming here. Send a clipper by every month, fly the flag. It was all the Council needed to do around here, usually. And here they lay. Repairing damage done. Waiting. Waiting on Moon and Jak. Waiting on Postlethwaite. Waiting on orders. A reduced crew doing their best. He himself had spent three hours recalibrating sensors and beams and picking up debris from the areas affected by decompression.

Something had to move soon or he’d explode.

Dakrin lay on his allotted bedspace and wondered how he was to get out of here. He’d been in several hours now and he was trying to keep his head down. Three people he’d known on Caldera had promised to kill him if he looked like betraying the organisation or, on one occasion, just themselves, and he wondered if he’d developed a reputation for being untrustworthy. That was unfair! Just because he was the only member of a kidnapping and ransom gang wh wasn’t in a Mican gulag didn’t mean he couldn’t be trusted, did it? Anyway, he had a feeling he needed to wander out at some point. Not much chance with the unofficial guards walking ‘discretely’ behind him any time he went anywhere. He swung around and slid to his feet in the dormitory room and sauntered towards the exit. The canine in the bed nearest the door challenged him.
“Forgotten something, Dakrin,” he asked, leafing through a manual.
“I don’t think so,” Dakrin professed, spreading his arms wide. “Just going to get a drink, something from the canteen maybe?”
“You’re starkers,” the Canine said drily. “They don’t like you lot going around like that.” he licked a finger and turned a page. “Frightens the Micans.”
“Oh, if it scares the Micans…”
“Also it’s one of the rules. Figured you knew?”
Dakrin nodded and headed back to get the minimum on. “Fallak did mention,” he admitted. “Didn’t believe him.”

Once out of the room, Dakrin decided to ‘get lost’ on his way to the canteen and started poking around, idly walking around the passages like he owned them, avoiding physical contact with the dozens of others going from point to point. He did his best to store the layout in his mind and act confused when confronted. Then he’d claim he was looking for the canteen and he’d follow directions for at least the first few turns, then get lost again. There had to be a way out of here somewhere.
“Going somewhere, Dakrin,” asked a familiar voice behind him.
Dakrin swallowed his butterflies and turned. “Just got, uh, turned around looking for the canteen, Fal,” he replied.
The other Celican tutted a laugh. “Still not the hottest on tracking, eh? Come on,” he said, putting a gentle hand on Dakrin’s shoulder and applying no pressure to direct him, “it’s over this way.” So saying he escorted the new recruit through a maze of passages and up to a door. “Celican and Wolven restaurant,” he said with a grin.
“W...wolven,” Dakrin queried.
“Well, there’s one or two around,” Fallak admitted. “But they’re in the gym.”
“We have a gym,” Dakrin asked as they stepped out into the open air.

A field and wood lay before them and Dak thought it might be a computer hologram simulation but no, there was something about the feel of it that spoke to reality here.
“Yeah,” Fallak said jovially, “we’re around the side of the complex, about a mile or two away from the roads. Lots of local wildlife out here for us to hunt and eat.” He grinned savagely. “It’s quite something,” he promised. “But you have to wash the blood off when you’re done.”
“They get through the fences?”
“Oh, no fences. Why would we need fences?” His attempt to unnerve was clear and working just a little bit as he added ‘where are you gonna go’ to his taunt. “No locals, no towns. No nothing but us here, Dak.” He pointed to a small area where the grass was slightly flattened. “That’s where to dump your clothes,” he added, taking his own top off.
Dakrin supposed he was hungry and removed his own apparel.

Five minutes in and the Celican was enjoying himself. With Fallak as his ‘partner’, he’d brought down two mammals and some bird like thing that had hopped by. The fluid stuck to his chin was reminiscent of the old days and he was laughing at the tastes he’d begun to forget under the onslaught of sauces and decency and civilised behaviour. He threw one of the mammals to Fallak, who snapped its neck and stuffed it into his mouth. “Yer not bad at the hunt,” he said after swallowing. “Ever wondered what it feels like to be prey?”
Dakrin stiffened, suddenly alert. “Not really,” he said. “Why?”
“Well, you’re probably about to find out.” Fallak leaned against a small tree. “I checked up on you, Dak. Apparently you’re connected?” He raised an eye ridge and showed a couple of his teeth in amusement. “Harriet Thurso?”
“Barely know her,” Dakrin lied.
“She’s your landlady. The head of Mican Intelligence is letting you live in her place rent free. That fact’s gone up the chain. Brought you out here to make it sporting, bud. Old times sake.” He looked over to the complex. “Around about now the Wolves are leaving the gym. And they’re coming out here to hunt. Guess who’s the prey?” Now he looked serious as they heard a wolf’s call from the complex. “Your scent’s on your clothes. They have it. Time to run, Dakrin.”
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Not gonna lie I really liked this chapter! I like all of the chapters but some more than others!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Lot of things happening this chapter.

FORTY-EIGHT

Dakrin ran through the darkening woods. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that staying put wasn’t an option now. He spent a second mentally chiding himself for being discovered so easily but it hadn’t been his flamin’ fault ha it? He’d make that clear to Harvest when he got back to him. IF he got back to him, he corrected. He knew that the Mican must be somewhere within two miles of the base but in which direction? And it wasn’t like they’d been able to arrange a ‘distress signal’ to announce when he was needed. Dakrin just hoped that appearing stark naked in the telescopic lens could be taken as the signal as a branch whipped across his face. He leapt a knotted root and landed on several dropped sticks, cracking several of them loudly enough to alert the chasing Wolven as he scared a Kevakar back into the shrubbery.

“So how do you know he’s in trouble,” Jak asked, running for the car with Harvest on his back. As the diminutive P.I. had assumed, Jak was faster than him and more agile, even with him on his back. The Mican kept his arms around the Cervidan’s neck as he jumped a reen that had been cut into the middle of the field for irrigation. Without night vision goggles, Harvest wouldn’t even have seen it but Hadrian had.
“The tracker’s moving fast,” Harvest said. “Faster than Dakrin usually moves, unless he’s hunting and this doesn’t seem like he’s hunting.”
“How can you tell,” Jak asked, muscles pumping as he closed in on the vehicle.
“He tells me the rule of hunting is never expend more energy than needed. If your target can out race you over 100 metans in its own backyard, there’s not much point chasing it further than that. He’s been running flat out for…” Harvest paused as he slid off Jak’s back and opened the driver’s door. “...five minutes now,” he concluded. “Ergo…”
“...He’s being chased and it’s about to hit the fan,” Jak concluded, getting in and bashing his antlers against the frame. “Ow.”
“Can’t you turn those off,” Harvest complained, starting the ‘rescue wagon’ up.

“Sir,” Maldak said, looking to attract the Captain’s attention.
Postain muttered something to himself about how this couldn’t possibly be good and decided not to turn towards the Quokka. “Speak up, Maldak,” he ordered, “I can’t hear you saying anything.”
“I just…” she paused. “I’m picking up something on long range, sir. It appears to be a ship of some kind…”
“I hear they come here often, Maldak.”
“Well, sir, this one’s not coming on the standard trade routes and it appears to be coming to our position, sir. Not, uh, not the planet.”
Postain stiffened. “Rhew,” he said simply. “Put us on alert status. Yellow alert and launch the alert fighters.”
“Aye, sir,” Rhew complied.

“Looks like I’m on duty,” Senny said, ending the conversation between herself, Appleby and Kerri about whether the Chipmunk should go for a coffee with Levan alone or as a group. She put the cup in the sink and gave Harmony a kiss before heading to her holographic work station.
“Don’t shoot anyone I wouldn’t shoot,” Appleby advised.
“Sothat’sjust Agent Karlthen,” Kerri chattered.
“Wouldn’t know,” Senny said from beyond the closing door. “Haven’t met h…” Her voice was cut off by the door sealing again.
“So, um, whaddyathink,” Kerri asked again.
“I think,” Appleby said, putting her hands on her knees, “that we can discuss this on the way to your duty station.” She stood up at the same time as Kerri did and started to head for the door. “Although, if I were to speak freely, it’s up to you. I know, from talking with others, that Darren’s regarded as one of the nicest people on the ship so you’re most likely completely safe with him.”
Her little friend paused and looked up at her. “I’d feel totallysafe if you were there, Harmony,” she said.
“Heh. Or Senny, eh?” She ruffled the back of her friends head fur. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I feel the same. My mate has the most reassuring aura, doesn’t she? One of us could be there for the first time, Kerri, but what about the second or third or the irregular contacts in the hallway?”
Kerri brushed her head fur back into place. “Justforthe first,” she implored. “Justto be safe?”
“I’ll have to hide out of sight,” Appleby advised. “And YOU’LL have to calm down or the coffee will be over before he’s said anything!”
Kerri chuckled at that. “Yeah,I’m a bit morenervous of that than any imminentbattle! Seeya!” So saying she zipped off to her post.
Appleby sighed as she left. “That saboteur is so lucky he’s dead,” she told the empty passageway. She made for the bridge.

Dakrin could hear them gaining on him and strained his muscles to the limit to keep ahead of them. Perhaps he could outfight one? Well, Harvest had shown him a few things and he’d known a few moves already but outfight two hungry Wolven? Five? Probably not. Where was the edge of this woodland? He’d not noticed it on the way in so he must be behind the hill somewhere. In a useless situation with useless knowledge and useless skills, facing a useless end and he’d never felt so much like a Grekkaburger in his life. He wanted one to wash away the taste of his own blood from the tongue he’d bitten three minutes back. Strange, he thought, this bit of forest ground was unusually smooth and a bit cold and…

The car almost hit him. If Harvest hadn’t been using night vision goggles, it would have as he was driving with the lights off. “Dak,” he called, “get in!”
Confused and frightened, Dakrin made to run off but was tackled to the ground by Jak, who applied the touch of a shokstik, as taught him in the sparring matches, to end the fight before it began. He opened the back door and flung the youth in before shutting it and getting into the passenger seat as two Wolven arrived on the scene. Harvest floored it and collided the car with one of the, sending him cartwheeling across the bonnet, into the windscreen and over the top to lie flat on the road as Harvest spun the car around and raced back the way they’d come as the survivor headed back to alert the base.

Postain had his ducks in order as the unknown ship came closer on the scanners. Maldak was trying to get the thing identified but, as their normal scanner officer was one month pregnant, he’d shipped her off on the Jenner. The communications Quokkan was doing her job well but wasn’t a specialist. And there was the fact they were trying not to let the ship know they’d been seen, even though it was a pretty open secret now. “She’s coming into visual range,” Maldak advised, before a beep interrupted her. “And she’s hailing us.”
“On screen,”

The screen flickered and the image of a middle aged Mican appeared. <”Are you Captain Postain,”> he asked.
“Who is asking,” Postain countered warily.
<”Colonel Martin Northwich, 3rd Makkabian Light infantry,”> he said. <”Harriet Thurso said you might need us.”>
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Indeed there are a lot of things that are happening here in this chapter! But they are all really intriguing and do a good job of making the story more fun to read!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-NINE

“I don’t know about you,” Dakrin gasped as he sat up in the back seat of the fleeing vehicle, doing 70mph down a barely surfaced rural track, “but I really wish we’d rented something that could go faster than 90.”
“It was all they had on short notice, as you know,” Harvest called back, hoping nothing new ran across their path as he could barely see over top, even with the seat set to its highest position. He turned left at the next junction as the naked Celican half pulled himself through the gap between the front seats. “Sit down,” Harvest called, “and put your belt on before I have to break and you kill me!”
“I should drive,” Dakrin protested.
“And stain the driver’s seat,” Jak mooted, too tense to grin at the idea.
“Dak,” Harvest said, deliberately using the shorter name to show he was trying to be a friend, “we’ll swap when it’s safe! Strap in!”
Reluctantly the youth locked himself into safety as lights appeared in the distance behind them.

The Mican Officer walked through the passages of the Rodomont with his hands behind his back, his army issue boots echoing off the deck plates as Rhew escorted him to the Captain’s Office to meet with Postain and tell what the heck they were doing here. He’d said little to Rhew on the trip, beyond swapping names and requesting permission to come aboard. Mikkel, of course, had welcomed him aboard and been allowed to shake the Whitefur Mican’s hand. “Never figured I’d appreciate shaking a predator’s hand,” Colonel Northwich had said.
“Pleased to be appreciated,” Rhew had replied.
“My apologies if I’m abrupt but my Platoon WAS hoping for some R&R after manoeuvres. The call came out of the blue.”
Mikkel sniffed a laugh. “Not just to you, Colonel. I don’t recall we were expecting back up either. We’re here.” He stopped by the secondary door to Postain’s room and pressed the buzzer. “Commander Rhew,” he said when the voice inside challenged, being official now they had a guest.

The door opened and the pair entered. Postain appraised the Colonel, in his green khaki outfit and dark green boots. He had the hidden muscles of someone who’d fought for half of his life and the eyes of someone who’d taken no prisoners when ordered not to. “Colonel Northwich,” Postain asked simply, “we’ve been operating in lockdown conditions for the last week. Silent running. How did you know where we were?”
“Please to meet you, sir,” Northwich replied. “As for how we found you? Mican Intelligence gave me the rough location and I could guess that you were hiding behind the moon for now. Harriet Thurso has her ways.”
“Moon,” Postain grumbled, gripping the table.
“Pardon?”
“Harvest Moon,” Postain glowered. “A Mican Private Investigator we recently picked up. His connection to Thurso has been mentioned. He must have called her. Remind me to thank him and kill him later.” He glanced over to Northwich. “Before I appraise you of the situation, what forces do you have to offer?”
“Seventy infantry with six light armoured vehicles. Harkalan tech mark three phase guns as standard weaponry.”
“I hadn’t heard they were available yet,” Postain replied, knowing they were supposed to be on the development board.
“They’re in the testing stage,” Northwich responded. “Which is what the last part of the manoeuvres was about.”
“They any good?”
“About 75% accurate.”
“Then my guards won’t try and borrow your guns before you go.”
Northwich paused. “Where would we be going, sir?”
“There’s a major criminal base down there and are things we need to learn, Colonel. You’ll be taking an IOC agent with you. To keep everything on a level frame.”
“We work better on our own, Captain.”
“This is a Council operation. If anything goes wrong the buck doesn’t stop at you, Colonel. It stops with ME.” The door booped and Postain opened it without asking who was there. He knew who was there. He’d called her. Patcha Karl stepped into the room. “IOC Agent Patcha Karl, this is Colonel Northwich of the 3rd Makkabar Light infantry.”
Karl nodded to him. “Corp Davidstow has said complimentary things about you.”
“The Wolf of Pandera,” Northwich replied simply, acknowledging the mention of one of his former N.C.O.’s. “I take it you’re the one coming with us?”
“The one that lives here isn’t built for hand to hand death,” Karl grumped.
“But she gets answers,” Postain remarked. “Which we don’t have. We want to know where the missing scientist is, we need to know how many ships these people have, we need to know their exact locations.”
“Where are Harvest and Hadrian,” Karl asked.

Somehow they’d done it. Without actually stopping, and using Jak as a go between, Harvest and Dakrin had swapped places in the car, which was why Harvest was now upside down on the back seat and Jak was looking terrified as he leaned over to the driver’s side to hold the wheel steady. They’d slowed, right enough, as the pressure had lessened on the accelerator, but kept going as Dakrin readjusted the seat down and wrapped his tail over his lap for comfort. It was one of the things Jak was quite thankful for. Another was Dakrin taking the wheel off him. The road was straight but it still wasn’t fun. Harvest twisted himself upright. “Nice to have you back, Dak,” he said, “but you need a bath!”
“I’ll laugh later, boss,” Dakrin replied as the lights in the rear view mirror grew closer and pretty beams of energy started flashing around the car.
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really great chapter but I just had a thought. Since Elena dated Postain I think it would be funny if she and Hawle ran into him. XD

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Looks like Jak can sprint when he needs to (and carry a load), those Gazelle like reflexes coming in handy I see. The roof trim in any car Jak has been in recently must be on the worn side I imagine.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Well, Harvest did warn him he'd do that!

And here we get a character asking a question for the audience (as well as the crew)

FIFTY

Thirty Kilometres, Harvest read as they sped past the sign. Thirty miles from what, exactly, he wasn’t sure as Dakrin wasn’t exactly going slow enough to let the signs be read but it probably meant some sort of larger settlement. Villages didn’t tend to have distances on their signs unless it was one or two kilometres at maximum. Jak was trying his best with the comms to call in some help but the connection was spottier than an aerated cheese. He didn’t think he was getting through. There were a number of headlights behind them now and some of them were getting closer. Harvest wondered how many were out there without lights. “Quite some rescue, boss,” Dakrin called back to him.
“Quite some undercover skills,” Harvest replied.
“Quite some reception… aargh,” Jak added.
“What’s up?”
“Had a bar for five seconds.”
“How much fuel do we have left,” Harvest asked.
“About a quarter tank! Then it’s all electric.” Dakrin pushed the accelerator as hard as he could and hoped there was a Police Speedcheck hidden around somewhere as Jak prepared an information ‘bullet’ that could be sent in three seconds flat the next time they passed a ground relay.

“And why are WE doing this,” the Burman asked as the ship sped through space. She sat back and waited on the Commander’s response, which wasn’t long in coming.
“Hardly anyone knows the Nightsky,” Hawle replied, knowing full well Raven was asking for the bridge crew who hadn’t been present at the briefing. “Leaving her out means we’re the fastest ship in the area and the information is time sensitive, Raven. Commander Canine needs to get it as soon as and we can’t send it via comms. Plus I love any chance to rescue him, you know that.”
Raven chuckled. “He’s never thanked you.”
“I know. Time on target, Chappers?”
“Roughly ten minutes now, sir,” the Human replied.
“Dawton seemed to get on well with Xarra,” Raven mentioned.
“She told me his eccentricity was only matched by his brilliance,” Hawle replied. “It seems like that’s something.”
“Shipping, Captain,” Una asked, sitting in Stikka’s seat whilst he was on down time.
“No, just talking about people behind their back,” he advised the ambassador as stars streaked past. “Sure you didn’t want to stay behind with the civilians from the Rodomont?”
“The chance may come to negotiate a peace without going to war,” she replied. “Would you rather have me do it or the good Captain?”
Hawle grinned at her. “Why were you sent to me again?”

Dakrin took the road off the highway and made his way, at best safe speed, along the winding road towards some town or village that they’d never heard of before. Harvest had to assume he had a plan and wasn’t just winging it but decided to keep the question to himself as something flew overhead. He could figure it out, he reasoned. So he did. A village meant houses and people and, logically, comm signal capability via a booster built onto a wall somewhere. Probably at a pub. Perhaps they could barricade the place or… the inhabitants could offer them as sacrifices for their lives? Yeah, the second was probably the more likely option.
“There’s two exits on that road to this place,” Dakrin finally said as one of their pursuers opened fire at them.
“That’s good news,” Harvest admitted, pushing open a back door so he could lean out and shoot. The door hit a tree and bounced back, almost hitting Harvest in the face before he’d even moved. “I’ll try the other door,” he breathed, his face a little shocked at the last few seconds of action. He leaned across and opened the other door so he could poke his slim blaster out and shoot at the cars behind them. “Any luck with that ‘phone, Jak,” he asked, lying down and sending a couple of bright yellow bolts back towards the pursuers.
“Some,” the Cervidan replied, keeping his head down and wishing he were in a stronger car as Dakrin swerved about the road. “I just need a few seconds of continuous signal and… Wouldn’t it be more accurate if you could see what you were shooting at?”
Harvest pulled his arm back into the car and changed the clip on his weapon. “I am NOT sticking my head out THERE,” he replied, before putting his arm through the gap again and firing. One of the lights on the pursuing vehicle crashed into blackness as a bolt of their energy skimmed over his hand. Another came through the car, sliced the brim of his hat and impacted the back of Jak’s seat. He heard the Cervidan groan. “Jak!”
“Yes,” the front passenger groaned uncertainly as the pursuers dropped back slightly.
“Are you OK?”
“Did… Did you really ask that,” Hadrian groaned. “Energy absorbing armour doesn’t… stop the physical hit hurting, Harvest. Ow.”
“At least you’re still talking.”
“Got… signal,” he moaned, seconds before the way ahead was lit by a small explosion. “Now I don’t,” he coughed.
“Figures they took out the signal tower,” Dakrin admitted. “They must have figured that’s why I diverted up here. They don’t want us calling help. This way they can just follow us until we run out of fuel.”
“Or just… kill us,” Jak replied, feeling he’d probably taken a broken rib from that shot. Was his chair burning?
“They’d have done that already if they wanted us dead, Hadrian,” Harvest said, changing clips again. He really hated that this tended to be the only weapon he could regularly get through customs. “They want us alive. Probably why they’ve not shot the Driver or the tyres. They’ve probably figured out we’re not doing this alone. Any sign of that way to the main road, Dak?”
“Funny you ask,” he replied, twisting the wheel hard around a sharp bend.
Harvest grabbed onto the seatbelt to avoid falling from the missing door. His hat fell off into the darkness. “Last clip,” Harvest advised, putting it in play. Then he had a better idea, pressed a few buttons and threw the credit blaster out of the wrecked door. The explosion shattered the road behind them for a few metres, causing the first car following them to flip spectacularly onto its roof and a tree to begin slowly falling across the road. “And now we have no gun,” he admitted as lights started appearing overhead.
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
Kilo - 2-8-3-9-10-2-5
Kilo
Leslie – 4-6-4-5-6-9-7
Leslie
David Campbell - 7 – 8 – 9 – 5 – 4 – 4 – 6
Corp Davidstow 6 - 6 - 7 - 3 - 6 - 6 - 5 (reactions 7 Combat 9)

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