A Briar Patch Tale

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Back up to speed, mental note, Wolves: Not very diplomatic or tactful :)
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

He's not totally out of the story...

TWELVE

Aldair Hawle wasn’t in the best of moods. He’d been all set for a night out with Elena, boots polished, jacket dry cleaned, fur spotless – for once – and then he’d taken the call from Jaqui up on the Loper. It was the sort of message that had him calling for teleport up before remembering that the teleport system was , currently, down for recalibration following an incident where there had been indecision on where to store some soup. A last minute change of mind from storage bay one to bay two had resulted in half the five hundred gallons flooding bay one and half flooding bay two. Now they were installing safeguards to prevent it happening again and the ship stank of pea and Ham soup for three days. They’d had to close down ventilation, funnel it all through to one particular location and void the atmosphere into space to deal with the stench, then refill the ship. It was expensive and time consuming and, as Henry Postlethwaite had told him, entirely something that only the Loper could have encountered. Every ship in the fleet was now down to do the same calibrations and repairs on their next stop. But it meant he’d had to shuttle up, letting Raven take his seat at the cinema premiere.

So he wasn’t totally in a good mood as he parked the shuttle in the bay and walked down to the security office, where his fellow Lappinean was waiting for him, her feet up on the desk. “She’s in here,” he ‘asked’, indicating the cells.
“Absolutely,” Pangal replied. “She wouldn’t have been caught except Groal’s on top of everything his people do so spotted some discrepancies in the work sheets. He checked into the systems and found it in the vent systems.”
Hawle sighed. “Right,” he said, “I suppose I’d better go in and see her now.”
Jaqui stood up. “Better head in there with you, then, boss.”

Hawle stepped into the cell area and cast his eye over a Mican female who’d been on his ship for two months now, making friends in Engineering and the other departments as she worked. Now she sat in a cell, waiting for whatever as he walked towards her, keeping his gaze straight. “So,” he asked flippantly, “what have you been up to, Gail?”

The Rodomont slowed for a course adjustment close to the outer planets of the patch which, confusingly, were the closest to the inner systems of the Council. She dropped from Hyperspeed on the edge of the Kallistan system, three planets occupied by Raitchian settlers with hydroponic and terraforming systems that had been quite advanced thirty years back. The three were on the fringes of what was deemed the ‘optimal habitation zone’ of the local star and had recently begun exporting their produce for the first time. There were still less than fifteen thousand settlers across the planets, a testament to how tough things could be.
Keene Dayne finished off his lunch and stretched out the kinks of the morning before making his excuses and leaving Darren at the table. Darren had been telling him of the intricacies of mineral scans and the potential new elements the Loper had dragged back in that rock that, apparently, was funding most of the costs for the refugees after some guy called Halriss had sorted out things with an Ambassador, a Councillor and Henry Postlethwaite. Dayne had thought probably half of that was, actually, true, a quarter of it was enactable and less was of interest but Keene liked hearing the Celican witter. It passed the time and gossip was the fuel of the universe but, now, he had to be somewhere and headed down to the next listed spot on his docket, passing by the security office where he could hear the Captain talking to the new Wolf. Great, he thought, someone new to avoid.

“I think you should have more people stationed here,” Karl advised as Jak tried hard to ignore the pair of them and directed security around the ship. “They’re likely to try something to rescue that **** and we should be more prepared!”
Postain growled. “They are not going to attack inside my ship,” he warned, “that’s just an insane proposition unless you’re saying that someone on my crew is working for them and then you and I are going to have a problem!”
Karl glanced upwards at him. “Didn’t you catch a saboteur on board last year,” she asked.
Postain was almost taken aback. He had to readjust how much this… surly Cub knew about him and this ship. She’d obviously read the reports, at least. “That was a one off,” he stated.
Karl turned and took two steps away. “Adriette would say that there’s always a ‘one-off’ situation.” She turned around again, trying to dominate the imposing Rottian. “They’re a recurring problem. For everyone. We just had a senior Militia member trying to assist him,” she continued, thumbing towards the wall behind which Raston sat. “There’s been some on Talvary so some will be here…”
“We can hardly keep everyone under suspicion,” Postain allowed, acknowledging she may have scored a point.
“Not forever,” Karl conceded, “but he’s not here forever.”
Jak decided now might be a good time to interrupt. “Can I suggest restricting movement in the passageway? We can secure the area easier if people aren’t just strolling by. Like that,” he added as a Lappinean science Officer walked by.
Postain fumed. “Fine,” he said, “I’ll tell Yarkin to do it.” So saying, he headed out.
Jak chuckled. “You’re really not intimidated by anyone, are you,”
“Wouldn’t be me if I showed it,” Karl half grumped, just allowing a quick flash of a smile to show she wasn’t being entirely serious. “Don’t see many of your lot doing security,” she said, feeling like a little conversation.
Jak mentally rolled his eyes. He heard that a lot. If he had a cent for every time… Well, he’d probably have five credits. “We mostly do sciences,” he agreed, “tracing patterns in everything.”
“Hm,” Karl chuckled bitterly, “the old migration instincts proving good for something. Beats me how you lot ever started building homes.”
“When we got where we were staying,” Jak replied, putting his hands behind his head, “we didn’t like sleeping out in the rain. Pneumonia’s a killer.”
“I suppose so,” Karl agreed before her ears pricked. “You hear that,” she asked. “A buzzy noise?”
Jak listened and thought he could hear… something. “Yes,” he said, “There’s…”
“Shhh!” She moved around the office, trying to locate the noise by ear alone. She moved closer to the wall.

Postain was halfway to the bridge when Rhew commed him. <”Sir,”> the Celican reported, <”we have Commander Hawle coming through on the emergency channel for you?”>
Postain cursed. He looked at the door next to him. “Put it through to B-131. You better listen in up there too.”
<”Right.”> Rhew cut the line and Postain used his override to open the door and enter what turned out to be one of the few empty cabins they had.
He refused to shiver as the room whooshed air in through the open door and dragged the cold out. He engaged the air systems on the door panel and closed it behind him as the vid sputtered into life. “What’s up, Hawle,” he asked.
<”You might have some trouble on your ship,”> Hawle announced.

“It’s coming from the wall,” Karl stated, putting her ear to the bulkhead. “High up…”
“The air vents,” Jak announced, hearing the buzz clearly now, especially as the buzzing thing swept by the open vent. “It’s heading…” He didn’t manage to complete the line as Karl pushed past him, heading for the cells. It wasn’t the push that quietened him. Or her beginning to back towards him.

It was the fact that the cells exploded.
Last edited by Welsh Halfwit on Thu May 13, 2021 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Glad to see Hawle but I really do want there to be some poarts with him and Elena out on a date. :)

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Very dramatic, I can see an increase in pace, I like how you linked in some Cervine traits, I can attest that some Deer are good at Science (Physics in particular) ;)

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

THIRTEEN

Sirens blurted the ‘Red Alert’ as the Captain ran back through the ship, past bulkheads and offices, to get to the place people were running away from. Hawle had barely managed to finish warning him about the possible attack when the attack had happened. He hoped Hawle was sending out the information to all ships, just in case it wasn’t a straight attack on Raston but he’d think about double checking later. Right now he needed to be on scene to oversee the disaster reaction team response and…

Yarkin got to grips with him before he ran into the bulkhead door. “There’s too much debris and masonry in there for you to safely go in there, Captain!” the Chief told him urgently. “The Response team’s the only lot going in there at the moment!”
“This is MY ship, Chief,” Postain told her. “I need to know what’s going on!” He waved a hand at the closed door. “Who’s still alive in there? Is anyone still alive in there,” he demanded, looking through the small window at sparks and orange lights in the darkness.
“We are getting lifesigns,” Yarkin confirmed, glaring at the looky-loos who’d started to mill behind them. “We can’t tell who as comm signals to the area are down.”
“I only just left there…”
“Then we can’t take it for granted that you weren’t the target, Captain!” Yarkin protested. “I need you secure!” She snapped her fingers. “Calbury, Hass! Escort Captain Postain back to the bridge and stay there on duty!” She looked to Postain with a more conciliatory look. “You’ll be kept informed, Captain,” she declared as the two guards arrived on cue. “I’ll put all security on yellow alert and have all primary points covered but you need to go arrange our response if this is an attack of some sort. Which I can’t rule out.”
“It is,” Postain asserted. “Hawle just got through telling me he’d caught a saboteur on his ship when this happened.”

Inside the confined area, darkness and silence reigned. The sense of smell was off the board as well, due to the intense scents of the explosives, dust in the air and burning metal and flesh from the zero point as Patcha Karl fought to pull herself to her knees. She muttered something to herself about the number of times she’d been deafened by explosions recently and she wondered if she’d eventually get hearing damage like that Rat agent she’d dealt with recently. It definitely felt like something in her arm was broken. A wrist, maybe, or one of the bones leading to it. She’d find out for certain later. It hurt to move, possibly indicating other wounds elsewhere but, deaf and half blind, she had reason to move. She had to find the Cervidan. She refused to call out in pain as she pulled herself around, feeling something sharp jag against her insides. Blood on her lips. The taste in her mouth said it was probably hers. She blinked ashes from her eyes and re-oriented herself from memory to head towards where he’d been sitting. Her good hand never left the floor, a tactic Corp had once tried to get her to use. The hand feels the way ahead. She blinked again and jerked the hand back as something touched her fingers. An Orange light spattered into life for a few seconds and she could make out the shadow of Jak looking at her.

He was kneeling and appeared to have something through his comm and, unfortunately, his hand. He’d been smart and not removed it to avoid the damage that could do if the debris was impinging an artery. He could feel his leg burning with a sort of non specific pain that, possibly, indicated it was feeling slightly crushed. It was something for the confusion pile. The light showed lacerations all over Karl’s face and front. He wondered, obliquely, if she felt them. He’d not been facing the blast when in had gone off so his front was somewhat protected. He could feel his back somewhat, though. But he wasn’t going to stay down. He put his best hand in his pocket to see if he could find his emergency light. He cracked the little tube and waved it for maximum luminescence before he coughed and looked at something that had an unpleasant colour on the floor. He turned his head and noted there was a reasonable lack of pain to that movement. Probably meant something bad. Pessimism for the win. The dividing wall between the office and the cells was gone in places, the wall having buckled and split. In fact he fancied he could probably see the small engineering station behind it as well. The damage to the office was largely just impact damage and the effect of the pressure released by the blast wave rather than the blast itself. Things were still sparking and he hoped the creeping cold he could feel was him going into shock and not a sign of hull damage. How far were they from the hull again? His brain couldn’t quite work it out as he realised Karl was trying to talk to him. He tried to walk towards her and dropped, carefully to his knees. He knew the response teams would be trying to come through soon and, if they could lock on through everything, they might even teleport them out. He wasn’t looking forward to that.

Yarkin was as good as her word, stationing officers everywhere she could, calling them all up individually on their comms and detailing them partners. Appleby stood next to her, looking peaceful with her eyes closed as the telepath attempted to contact any minds in the blast area. She heard something in the space between thought and physicality and the whisper of a smile appeared on her physical form as she found she could clearly make out someone swearing mentally andthreatening the life of whoever was responsible for getting her into this and several deities for allowing her to be this close to explosions on multiple occasions. Not to mention being stuck with a herbivore for company. <You’re not alone> Appleby sent, getting another strain of profanity from the imprisoned agent before Karl gave a potted review of the moments prior to the explosion. <Help is coming. Don’t eat Jak. Radio Free Appleby out.> She withdrew as she heard a few more choice words heading her way. “Karl and Jak are alive,” she told Yarkin as the response crew headed past and started shifting debris. “According to Karl the prisoner’s dead and the explosion came from the air vents.”
“The vents,” Yarkin asked. “Then Engineering’s the first place we go after this.”

In the office, Karl managed to choke out to Jak that the ‘bloody Ermine’ had made contact and people were coming before she slipped to the floor. Jak put his good hand around her waist and pulled her back up. “No dying on me now, Karl,” he ordered, making sure she could see his lip movements.
She laughed a short, painful, laugh. “No Wolf would do that in front of a Cervidan,” she asserted. “Makes us look… weak.”
“Is it… getting colder in… here,” he asked.
“Probably... less air. Shut up.” She gave him a tight glance before adding a third word in a low tone that he could barely hear. It sounded like ‘friend’, but he was probably mistaken.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Rydr Warklub »

A great chapter.
Matthew 6:15 - But if you do not forgive men their sins, God won't forgive yours.

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I hope Hawle comes out of this unscathed for the most part. I sort of need him to have a happily ever after with Elena. :mrgreen:

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Loved that chapter, some good descriptive stuff, really came to life. Looks like the Karl and Jak have taken a battering somewhat, glad to see they are holding up.

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Senny returns...

FOURTEEN

“Put him over here and her there,” Flakk said, indicating which bed he wanted each patient on as the pair from the bombing were brought in on stretchers. Doctor Cobalt started slightly as she realised that Flakk wanted the Wolf with all the frontal wounding, broken ribs and ankle dealt with by her and he was going to take the Cervidan. “Gas and air’s already set up, Cobalt,” he thundered, “let’s get to it.” He looked down at the Cervidan. “If I find out who gave you permission to get so close to an explosion…” he growled. “Undoing all my work.” He applied an anaesthetic to keep Jak out whilst he worked on the hand injury and ran the scanners over every other inch of the antlered youth. “And security needs to keep that blasted Doe of his out of here whilst I work!”
Doctor Cobalt started work on the worst of the Wolven agents’ injuries after cutting away the damaged jacket and shirt. “A question, Doctor Flakk?”
Flakk spared her a short glare. “No, I wouldn’t prefer to treat the Wolf,” he snapped, “and she wouldn’t prefer it either! I’ll explain later, Doctor Cobalt. Get to work!”
Cobalt nodded once and started work on the ribs.

Yarkin found herself talking with the Chief Engineer, Garval, about his people. They’d moved into his office to keep things private and she’d watched the reactions of his staff as they walked through the power complex. Who looked shifty, who looked scared? Who looked too calm? Unlike Appleby, she was reliant on her wits and her intelligence. She read micro expressions. Not as well as some others, probably, but she was supposed to be the leading specialist on the ship. Garval opened the door to his room and she understood why he didn’t use it that often as it was uncommonly warm in here. “It used to be a storage closet,” he explained, “but I moved it. I hardly ever use it and it takes less energy to keep it bearable for me than it did for physical supplies.” He took a seat and Yarkin didn’t. “I’m sorry about your people.”
“They’re alive is what matters, Warrin.”
He nodded. “I suppose. What questions can I answer?”
“Mainly who’s been working the ventilation systems and where over the last few weeks.”
Garval sat forward and put his elbows on the warm steel desk. “That’d be six people offhand.” He pulled up a list of names and read them off. “Of course, we were down on Cora II for a time so we were pretty much a skeleton staff up here for a time. Keene Dayne was here, as were Pellan Walk, Quiznich Screwel – flamin’ Jondal naming habits… Ulla Poolan, Harkalan Weel and Pesta Smith. I can pull up all the listings and logs if you want?”
“Sure,” she replied, “not that it’ll tell me much. I very much doubt they’d enter their sabotage on the logs. But it might give us some sort of hint.”

Appleby called up a map of the ship’s air vents on her home computer and looked at it intently as Senny peeked over her shoulder. “There’s a bomb blast and you’re looking at blueprints of the ship’s ventilation channels,” the reforming prisoner asked, putting an arm around Appleby to put a cup of coffee on the table. “Is that how you think they escaped?”
“Thanks,” Appleby said. “And no,” she continued, “they didn’t get out that way. Or in. Those vents are too small, even for Kerri.”
“So you’re looking them up here for why? And not in your office?” Senny pinioned Appleby’s arms with a hug from behind and kissed her cheek. She knew exactly why Appleby was here. She was picking her brains. Senny had done a few raids before and might have an inkling as to what had happened. But Postain wouldn’t like the pirate being involved in this so this was an ‘undercover’ operation.
“Karl said she heard buzzing from the vents. That sounds like an automated system.”
“A robo-bomb, probably,” Senny agreed. “Plant it in the vents somewhere after installing the map program to tell it where to go.” She looked the map over from over Appleby’s shoulder. “Eliminate everything not on the same level,” she said. “One’s that can climb and jump gaps are a lot more expensive. They’re not exactly needed around here.”
Appleby pressed a few keys and blocked out everything not on the same level as the target. “What should I try next,” she definitely didn’t ask, if anyone wanted to check.
Senny pointed a finger at the screen. “Don’t go too far from the security block,” she advised. “The buzzing could alert anyone to it’s presence. They wouldn’t want that. You also don’t want any intersections with the up and down vents for the same reason I didn’t mention earlier.” She rubbed Appleby’s neck and gave her a few thoughts that had Appleby’s eyes widening. “Focus,” Senny joked. “You’ve only got a few places now where anyone can access the air vents,” she said as the map settled down to just a few passageways and rooms. “It’s probably from one of those,” she finished as Appleby one shotted her coffee.
“Ack!” the Erminean gasped. “I have to stop doing that!” She fanned her throat. “Pass me some water?”
Senny produced the water she had already prepared.

Doctor Flakk plinked a piece of metal from the brace that had cut into Jak’s leg into the bin and ran a rapid heal beam over the jagged breach to seal it as Postain walked into the sickbay. “They’re going to be fine, Captain,” he said, not looking up as Cobalt managed to seal the last of Karl’s ribs. “You have three good Doctors on this ship, capable of dealing with nearly everything that’s put in front of us.” he pointed a bloodied glove at Cobalt. “And you’re not to tell Jul I said that about him.”
Postain stared hard. “Any hints as to what the explosive was,” he asked.
“Nope. That’d probably be in the walls around the primary blast.”
“I’ve made sure all the other ships in the fleet are on alert,” The Captain told them. “We’re also going to be here until we know more about what’s going on.”
“Cuts down on turbulence,” Flakk snipped. “You’d be best off plotting our revenge, surely, Captain?”
“Oh, believe me,” Postain threatened, “the moment we know who to hit, we will.”
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

What's the story behind Karl's name?
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Strange you ask that now... There's not really a story behind it -Patcha Karl seemed to fit - but the family name DOES come up in the next part.

EDIT. Mean the part after. Probably(!)
Last edited by Welsh Halfwit on Fri May 14, 2021 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Great job on writing this chapter as always! Nicely done!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Another part or two before the name thing gets brought up. Other things to deal with first...

FIFTEEN

Chief Yarkin had found herself interviewing Engineers for the last hour and getting no-where at al important. They could all account for their time and had witnesses to most of the events. So she was trying something else now. Whoever had done this had been careful not to get caught which probably meant they hadn’t been carrying around anything like a stepladder so they were talking the places where the vents were a little lower down on the wall. Normally there wouldn’t be any such place on a starship but an error in the construction process had meant that, when they changed the blueprints that gave some areas taller rooms for stock – because that wasn’t a workable idea – the vent schematics had stayed in place. It couldn’t happen now, she assumed, but the old battleship was getting towards her third decade of service now. So she was wandering the halls, looking for she knew not what and almost walked into Appleby doing similar just around a corner. “Couldn’t tell I was coming,” Yarkin asked, an element of sarcasm in her tone.
“That’d be precognition,” Appleby replied, standing on a small stool and peering into the vent. “And, before you ask, no I don’t have that.”
“But you do seem to be thinking what I was thinking,” the Chief confirmed.
“Yeah,” Appleby said languidly, hopping off the stool and picking it up, before they went down towards the science labs and the vents there, “I had a word with my ‘consultant’ and she suggested we check out vents within a certain area so here I am. How’s the repair works going?”
Yarkin let out a breath and decided it was better for her deniability if she didn’t ask who the ‘consultant’ was. “Repair crews are beginning to patch up the walls and repair the systems. The Brig’s totalled but there’s holding room in my sub office, which I’ll be using until they repair my current hole in the ground.” She shook her head. “I’ll never get some of those pictures back. Anyway, you looking to see if anyone left a psychic trail in the vents or something?”
“I’d love it to work like that,” Appleby replied, “but it doesn’t. Someone may have left physical evidence, though, or seen something. I keep hearing that criminals overlook things.” She shrugged. “I keep finding out that they missed things too.” She looked up at the vent outside the sciences department door. “This ‘un looks fine,” she said.
“It wasn’t a couple of days back,” someone said from behind them.

Darren Levan had been on edge ever since the explosion. He had a feeling that these things seldom occurred just once and he’d been unable to find much busy work here in the middle of space. The computers were running their analysis's and other people had been sent out to run the physical scans to try and identify exactly what was in the ‘bang’ that had made it go ‘bang’ so he’d been anxiously idling when the pair had come into earshot and had twigged most of their conversation. Now the Celican had chosen to speak up. “Well, something was going on here a day or so back,” he explained.
Yarkin checked the work log. Nothing was registered here. “Go on,” she prompted. Levan told them all about the interaction he’d had when the noise had disturbed him and both the detectionagents looked impressed by his recollection, which fanned his natural pride somewhat. He added that Dayne had said he’d follow it up and Yarkin called it in.
Appleby felt Levan’s flash of pride this time as he realised he’d said something important. “Thanks,” she told him, “we’ll be in contact if we need more, Darren.”
Levan wandered back to his station, wondering when he’d told Appleby his first name.

The feline they were targetting wasn’t to be found at his workstation so security began to fan out and look for him as the Command Centre tried pulling his comm’s location. The device was normally attached to the back of the hand but some preferred to keep it in a chest pocket. The Feline Engineer was one of the latter and now Dayne had decided discretion was the better part of valour and had managed to drop his under his bed. Few would find it there before he’d had a chance to get well away and he was on the move already. The vents weren’t big enough for him but the conduits were so the Feline was in those, looking to make his way to his exfiltration point.

He felt the cold and knew he was getting s little too close to the bombing location so he shifted down the left passage, underneath the impact zone and away from where they were working on the repairs and passed the traction beam systems. After a moment he continued on his way and…
“I didn’t realise you were working in here today,” a shrill voice said from the left hand passage. His heart beat quickly as he turned and saw the Chipmunk called Keri working on systems, realigning them to bypass the damaged sections. He swallowed.
“Uh, yeah,” he bluffed as he crouched up to her side, “I was working my way around the, uh, damaged areas. Seeing what needs to be done,” he told her.
“Well,” she chirped, “I’ll have the section communications back on in a few minutes so we can…”
She yelped as he punched her in the face. Then he pulled his fist back and did it again.

A minute later, he left the area, his left hand stained with her blood. The last thing he’d wanted was someone to reconnect the communications in this area. She’d just… gotten in his way, that was all. This wasn’t his fault, was it? He couldn’t be blamed for sheer chance. Not this close to his escape. He reckoned they’d have found his comm by now so they’d have sealed off the main escape routes now. Just as well he wasn’t planning on using them, was he? He made his way to the nearest exit point.

Jul had been called up to do some triage work on several of the minor wounded as Flakk and Cobalt handled the worst injuries so he wasn’t in when the conduit in his medical bay opened to let Dayne out. The technician dusted his knees off and headed to the shuttle bay next door.

“I’m showing unauthorised access to Shuttlebay number 4, sir,” Maldak told Postain from the communications station.
“Shut the bay down, Xarra,” he rumbled, having the feeling that Dayne’s run was coming to an end. “Get security to that bay.”
“I… I can’t shut it down, sir,” Xarra proclaimed from the sciences station. “The…” she shrugged in exasperation. “The whole bay’s been taken off the active system somehow!”
“Right,” Postain said. He knew that going to Hyperspace would mean jumping after a shuttle launched if they were quick and they’d just leave the thing behind. That was out. “Let it launch,” he decided, “then tractor the thing back.”
“Traction beam is disabled,” Xarra reported, wishing she wasn’t on duty right this moment.
Postain gritted his teeth. “Launch the alert fighters,” he ordered.
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really inspiring work once again Welsh! Good job!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Now how did THAT get on the net? ;)

SIXTEEN

Dayne cursed his luck. Dealing with Keri had spooked him so he hadn’t had time to disengage the sensors. He probably wasn’t going to escape. Now. Not that he wasn’t going to try. He was able to power up the shuttle quickly as he’d been in here a few days ago, setting it up. He’d had to leave the sensors on in the bay because nothing shows up on a sensor sweep like a place that you suddenly can’t see when you always could before. He put the small craft into hover as the doors opened to the stars. He ignored the comm request from the bridge and worked his way forward across the deck towards the gap. He activated the secondary engines and came through the magnetic barrier. He imagined they’d be launching fighters now.

Doctor Jul made his way back to his office with a cup of Tea in his hand from one of the machines. He almost dropped it as security pushed past, urging people – mainly him as he was the only one there – to ‘make way’ and ‘let them pass. He walked past the main fighter bay, where three fighters were, apparently, preparing to take off to chase someone or something and wondered if it was to do with the git who’d just made him spend the last two hours suturing and patching people up. The medical kit hanging from his shoulder was a lot lighter now than it had been when he’d left. He sighed and wondered when he’d be able to put his feet up. More security hustled past him. He wondered if he should stop at the rear end commissary for a slice of Carrot cake. He chuckled at the memory of the Galnet video of a certain Commander getting face planted in the confection and turned into his medical bay.

“Security,” he called aloud, gripping the frame of his door and calling after the nearest officer, “I need someone in here now!” He threw the tea against the wall and ran to the open conduit where Kerri lay in a trail of blood. He checked for a pulse as a Canine appeared in the doorway and looked about to ask what was up. To the Canine’s credit, he took in the situation immediately and asked the question as he came across to help. “Get her up on the bed,” Jul advised, “and tell your people he’s prepared to get physical!” Jul whirled around, forgetting his earlier lethargy as the tea continued to spill down the wall onto the floor. He started setting up the machines and scanning the patient. “She’s alive but… get your hand out of the way! She’s lost a fair amount of blood.” he took a sample and put it under a computerised spectrometer. “Type 14 blood,” he said, nodding at the reading, “I have some of that in that cupboard,” he continued, pointing to a closet. “Get a bag quick!” The guard filled in for a nurse and did as bidden. “Now get onto the main sickbay and tell them to get a nurse down here.” Jul started fixing up the blood bag before he studied the scan results. “I’m too busy.” He examined the charts and diagnosed three broken teeth, two broken cheekbones and concussion. “Seal the room,” he ordered, setting the automated system into place that shut and locked the door. Only a medical comm unit would be able to open it until he called otherwise. Unlike the main bay there was nothing hiding the surgery beds from the door. This ensured privacy as he worked The guard made the calls.

Dayne did his best to make a getaway as the fighters launched. He felt he had maybe twenty seconds on them and hoped the pick up was on time. He’d been told it would be waiting at this point, undetectable due to the Raitchian technology but he couldn’t see it. Then again he supposed he wouldn’t be able to see it, would he? Not much point to a stealth craft you can see. He’d had to work fast after being told to break his cover, coming out from three months of regular gruntwork on board the Rottian’s ship when the mercenary had been caught. Several operatives had been activated, he thought, and he’d just been the ‘lucky’ one. The one who’d get the cash in his account but had burned their past and future into the bargain. But he’d done it. He’d killed the weak link. He’d helped the organisation. Now they’d reward him. They’d hide him away and provide cosmetic alteration so he could get back into the core worlds to promote their agenda. To support their drive to… He started as a fighter fired a warning shot across his nose. The other ship should be here by now! He sent out the signal again.

Postain watched on the main viewscreen as Wing Commander Ivils fired the warning shot and hoped that they’d get their criminal back easily. There were questions he had to answer and people he had to pay for. Kerri Russ, Patcha Karl, Hadrian Jak. All under medical treatment now, thanks to this thing. Twenty others on the walking wounded. Yann Raston dead. He didn’t care so much for that one but it was on the list as Ivils circled for an attack on the shuttle’s engines. “Careful with those shots, Ivils,” he muttered, his voice going no further than the few feet that surrounded him.

The screen flashed as the shuttle blasted apart in a near instantaneous pulse of energy. The interior of the vessel sliced through space at close range to the Rodomont and metal impacted metal along the hull, the impact increased due to the sudden speed the smaller fragments had taken on. Again the ‘red alert’ sounded until Postain shut it down. “Someone tell me what just happened,” he demanded.
“I… I think he was trying to send a signal,” Maldak stated, holding her headphone on with a hand whilst turning to face her Captain.
“You don’t look sure,” Postain remarked, watching her face.
“Well it was only there for a second before it went bang, sir,” Maldak exclaimed, almost uncharacteristic in rising to being challenged. “Sorry, sir. I’m… trying to find out if it was directed somewhere.”
“It seems it may have been primed to blow when he sent out the signal,” Xarra guessed from the sciences station. “According to initial scans anyhow.”
“So he killed himself,” Postain snapped. “No. I doubt the little toerag had the balls for any of that.” he pointed a finger as the emergency rescue shuttle launched on a short, futile, trip. “He silenced the leak, then someone silenced him.” He growled. “And there’s only one person might have had a need to do that?”
Xarra nodded. “Another person from the same group.”
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Quite a wonderful chapter you posted! Looking forward for more!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Read 15,

Poor Keri, our saboteur has a ruthless streak it would seem. Onto the next chapter, will they manage to escape I wonder.
Edit: read the latest chapter, good to see Keri might make it, so, the saboteur was silenced as well. A ruthless bunch. I like the little details like the multiple blood types.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

SEVENTEEN

Clouds of black swum painfully in the mind of Patcha Karl as she thought about coming back to consciousness. It held no charms for her but, then, neither did the other alternative. She decided it was time to come around and did her best to crack an eye open. She could feel the breather unit over her muzzle, with the tongue depressor keeping that particular muscle from blocking the mouth up. She hated the plastic taste and made a semi-conscious decision to rip that off the first time her arms moved. Pain rippled across the void of the face as she felt the eye begin to crack open and alight on the visage of a ceiling. She tried the other eye and, after roughly seventeen blinks, she could see the ceiling had tiles in it. Her arms still weren’t sure of moving was that a cast or something she could feel on her left one? She angled her head towards it and tried to look but the mask pulled at her and she remembered she wanted that off. Now. Her right arm was working almost fine – she could feel the fingers – and she was getting sick of the rhythmical beeps she could hear. If it wasn’t giving out a single, long, ping then it wasn’t important to her. She felt for the clasps on the breather and disentangled them before The Raitchian Doctor came over and put her hand on Karl’s.
“Welcome back around,” Cobalt said.
Karl tried to ask a question but couldn’t with the mask on. She made some guttural sounds.
“Someone blew you up,” Cobalt said, misreading the signals. “I believe something happened to the person who did it.”
Patcha frowned, attempting to growl with the thing still in her mouth. She released herself from the Doctor’s hand and then released herself from the mask. “I don’t…” she rasped. She took a sip of water from a glass the Doctor handed her. “I don’t care about that now,” she said bitterly. “I wanted to know how the other one is.”
“The other… Oh,” Cobalt said, suddenly getting it, “Jak? He’s fine...ish. Several more broken bone and lacerations but Doctor Flakk hadn’t much trouble with him. YOU, of course, had three ribs broken, an ankle turned, hearing damage, cuts to your face…”
Karl’s expression darkened. “So there IS a Flakk here,” she said, almost as though she hadn’t heard any of the rest of Cobalt’s summation. “Wonderful.”
“So you’ve heard of him,” Cobalt prompted, wondering if the recalcitrant Wolf might tell more.
“Clan history, Doctor,” Karl summed up. “He might tell you more. Victors tell the tales, after all.”

“Told you she wouldn’t want me,” Flakk said as soon as he saw Cobalt heading over. He tapped Jak on the nose. “Stop playing dead, Jak! What are you after, the sympathy vote?” He put down the datapad he was holding and detailed nurses to finish up on the Security Officer. “You want to know,” he asked Cobalt as they walked into his office.
She nodded. “It’d help.”
He put his hands flat on his table and stared at her. “No,” he declared, “it wouldn’t. But you’re being nosy and you MIGHT understand. Wolven families are caste types,” he told her. “Castes compete with each other for resources and food. The Karls and the Flakks were families in the same area. We didn’t agree. Some of us chose to leave the fight but the rest fought it until one clan lost.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Stupid sods. Like the Universe isn’t hostile enough.”
Cobalt fidgeted. “Perhaps…”
“No,” Flakk said simply. “I won’t apologise for things I didn’t do. It’s not my place to lay judgement on their honour or lack of it as I wasn’t there. I left the fight. That’s all there is to it. I have nothing to apologise for and she wouldn’t hear it anyhow. That’s just how it is, Kelly. Don’t get involved.”
Cobalt sighed. “As you say, sir,” she acquiesced, heading back out to check on things.
She stopped by Karl. “He was one of the ones who left,” she said simply.
Karl coughed. “Heard. Means I don’t need to kill him. But I still don’t like being in the same room.”
Cobalt shook her head. “You Wolves. Always talking about killing. Isn’t peace supposed to come at the end of war?”
Karl gave her a slight smile. “And then War breaks out again, Doc.” She raised her voice so she knew Flakk would hear. “Ceasefire is best,” she said before falling silent again.

Senny stepped into Doctor Jul’s medical bay and stood there to attract his attention as Kerri tried to talk his ears off from bed, discussing the latest engineering processes and her thoughts on fashions and sports as she had been practically since she’d come around. It was why he’d asked one of her friends to come down. The little Engineer didn’t want to talk about what had happened but didn’t want to be left alone either.
“I just need to talk with Mrs Appleby,” Jul said, patting Kerri’s hand and standing up. He stepped over to the Castoran. “In the old days,” he said lightly, “a broken jaw would have taken weeks to heal. These days we can get it back up and running in an hour.” He glanced back at the patient.
“Has she said anything about the attack,” Senny asked, her arms crossed as though ready to fight.
“It’s just about the only thing she hasn’t talked about.” Jul sighed. “She’ll need to one day. He did a fair bit of damage.”
“You still have some on you,” Senny pointed out, indicating some gore on Jul’s shirt.
“Huh?” He looked down. “Ah, nuts! I’ll have to change this! Can’t have Doctor’s with blood on them. It looks bad.”
“No joking when my friends are hurt, Doctor,” Senny warned quietly, waving at Kerri as she waved at her.
“I’m not,” he emphasised. “You can take her if you want. She needs total rest for twenty four hours and, as it might help her not talk, I prescribe her own bed – or a friends – with a vidscreen and Chocolate flavour drinks. Did they catch the person who did this?”
“Not quite,” Senny said, seeming to rise even higher and wider than she had been before to Jul as she did so. “Someone else blew up his shuttle. I think I’d like to shake that person by the hand…”
“Well, I can understand…”
“...and then strangle them with my bare hands for being involved in the attack,” Senny finished.
“Right,” Jul said. He decided to nip into his office as Senny picked Kerri out of the bed.
“I’m taking you to my place,” she told the Engineer. “Where you’re getting total rest as he wants you to.”
Kerri looked over her friend’s shoulder at the Doctor and waved. He gave a fingerwave and ducked behind his table. “I like him,” she said quickly, “he’s funny.”
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Every time you post a new chapter I just get more and more engrossed in it! Keep it up!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Back up to date once more, kerri seems quite a hyperactive and bubbly personality if I am reading her right.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

EIGHTEEN

Henry Postlethwaite put his clawtips to the corner of his eyes and gave them a little flex to try and wake himself up as he listened to the latest information from Marius on the secure line. It wasn’t exactly the best of news he could have had. In fact it was pretty much amongst the worst. He made a mental note to call Yalla Garza some point in the next… five minutes to ask the reporter ‘on scene’ to hold on the report for a short while. It would sound better, perhaps, coming from him? Anyhow, he sent the ‘hardest’ ship he had and someone had managed to bomb it and someone ELSE had managed to kill the first assailant? He checked the subchannel and, yup, there was something there from Rhew, sent ‘underneath’ the main signal as part of the interference. It’d probably contain the information Postain wanted checked that he didn’t want people to know about. Hawle was heading in with his prisoner on the QT so he couldn’t be sent out. Postain needed repairs and he had no ship that could… Postlethwaite stopped his thoughts. They weren’t true. He DID have one, didn’t he? One ship that could go out and meet up with the Rodomont so the Captain could plan out his next moves whilst Postlethwaite sketched out the investigations from his end. He had a feeling that Postain was already sketching out his plans of attack. He told Postain to get his engines repaired.

Postain closed the link before Postlethwaite could, a breach of conduct that he really couldn’t care less about, and didn’t give his First Officer a look whilst talking to him. “I think he got your message.”
“He’ll never tell if he did. ‘Get our engines repaired’?”
“He was telling us to stay here for a while before returning to station for repairs. Or, rather, he’s telling us to wait here because he knows we’re not coming back for repairs. “ He drummed his fingers. “I want to know who this ‘ Professor’ the Merc mentioned is. Calavix. He… or She, come to that, has a lot to answer for. You have the bridge. Maldak, only secure command communications from this ship from now on unless I or Rhew authorise it.”
“Aye, sir,” the Quokkan replied.
Postain whispered something to her as he passed and headed out to help the repair crews. He wasn’t technically minded but he could do the muscle work.

Yalla Garza mused over his computer. The Tuxedo feline was assembling his report for his news service on the bomb attack and was positioning his pictures taken from Jul’s triage point by his lapel camera as he worked to help the walking wounded. He hadn’t hidden the fact he was a journalist – it had been written on his jacket – but he was considerate enough to blur the faces slightly so those who’d not been notified that their relatives had been injured didn’t find out through his pictures. It could make life… uncomfortable for him if he upset them. He was pondering which one it would be who called him when Henry called him. “Good evening, sir,” he said, answering the comm.
<”Having a good day,”> Henry replied, his tone telling he wanted to get straight past the pleasantries.
“Well, more… busy,” Yalla said, making sure to choose his words carefully. “Calling to ask me to postpone the story, sir?”
Henry looked alarmed at the prospect. <”As though I’d do that,”> he protested, splaying his fingers on one hand and pushing it towards the screen as he put the other atop his heart. <”Muzzle the press? That’s what the bad guys do. No,”> he continued, <”I’d never stop you sending in information on the device and all the damage it did to the security office and the power lines.”>
“Power lines,” Yalla asked. He’d heard nothing about those.
<”Hmm,”> Henry mused lightly. <”The damage has to be sorted out. You’re pretty much there for the next day. Gives you plenty of time to ‘complete’ your report, yeah?”>
“Um, I suppose so,” Yalla replied, a tad confused by what he figured he was being asked to do. “I’ll, um, need to get some more copy on that but, uh, yeah…” He waited until Henry had signed off, then let out a lengthy breath. It wasn’t often they asked him to plant something. Every time he hoped it was the last.

As did Henry, who wondered what Postain was up to before getting on the comm to a few other people, as requested by the Rottian.

Jak was sitting up on the bed, his mate having just left after visiting hours. Or half hour as Flakk had told her Jak needed to rest after the operation. He’d gotten a bit bored with how she kept alternating between tears and telling Jak he should give up the job and stay safe. He could see the look in Jak’s eye that he’d had this discussion several times before and had stopped fighting. She didn’t quite understand and probably never would.
The Cervidan looked across at where Karl was pretending to sleep. “Like anyone could sleep through Cheryl,” he jibed.
“She’s loud and concerned,” Patcha remarked, keeping her eyes shut. “Neither are states I like.” Now she opened the eyes and carefully twisted her head around to look at him. “Figured she was going to carry you out of here and save you from the Wolves.”
Jak coughed a laugh. “She’s protective, what can I say?”
“You can tell her to trust you know what you’re doing.”
“She knows that, deep down, Patcha. But worrying gives her strength.” He winced and tried to stand.
“Stay sat,” Karl ordered. “First time being blown up?”
“Doesn’t happen THAT often, surely?”
Karl huffed, a curious thing to do when lying down. “It happens more than I’d like, Buckyboy. This is my second in a year.”
“Does the ringing get easier to deal with?”
Karl shrugged. “It’ll go away. You’ll stop noticing it after a while.”
“Thanks, by the way.”
“What for?”
“The explosion. I saw you move to protect me.”
“Doubt it,” Karl said. “But, if I did, don’t thank me for it.” She lay back and closed her eyes again. “Trained to protect the innocent, ain’t I,” she said, just loudly enough for Flakk to hear.

Time passed and Postain returned to the bridge, dusting his shirt and knees off. “We need industrial replication systems to repair some of the ship, Rhew.” He sighed. “We have some structural damage. Not a lot but I’d hate to face an enemy with it. Set course for…”
“Uh,” Rhew interrupted, clearly amused, “you may not want to complete that order.” He continued quickly before Postain did something hostile. The Rottian hated to be interrupted. “I think Postlethwaite’s sending the repair ship to us. We’re picking up an incoming ship. U.S.C. Explorer class. She’ll be here in a moment, sir.”
Postain couldn’t help but appreciate it. “That old within the automobile,” he intoned as the mighty explorer ship the Loper had found a few months ago appeared on screen, towering over the battleship. “Put them on,” he told Maldak when the Ensign had been about to say they were hailing.
The image of the dignified Osiran who commanded the ancient vessel appeared on screen with several of the veterans he worked with visible behind him. <”Curator Halriss of the Museum sship Bellaphron reporting, ssir. How may we asssissst you?”>
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Terrific continuation of the chapter here Welsh! Very much looking forward for more soon!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Rydr Warklub »

Can't wait for more! :D
Matthew 6:15 - But if you do not forgive men their sins, God won't forgive yours.

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Still holding out some hope that we will see Hawle in the next chapter!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

And now for something a bit different. (You probably guessed he'd get involved...)

INTERMISSION

There’s a taste to silence.
It’s a kind of lemon
A sour taste on the tongue.
Of unleashed evil done.

I never quote poetry but that old Mican line is one that’s drummed into us at an early age. When things are noisy, it’s bad. When things are silent, it’s worse. It’s like the area is preparing for what’s about to come. The danger is no longer near, it’s imminent. The Criminal class has something of a sixth sense when it comes to danger that rivals any Spider augmented Humans from the vids. Violence is down thirty percent. Armed Robberies down twenty five percent. Sheriff Javey’s taking some credit for the drop but I can see it in her eyes as she talks. She’s concerned. The young Celican ‘apprentice’ of mine -Dakrin or Dak to his friends – is also beginning to suspect things are up. He was a low ranker in a criminal network and still has friends in that world. Or, I should say, he HAD friends still in that world. They’ve gone silent too, not answering his phone calls, not posting on social media. Harvest Moon, P.I., is finally having quiet days. And I'm nervous.

Then again, some of mine aren’t talking to me either. I think they’ve found out I have a new landlady. Harriet Thurso, the Mican who owns the block and assigned me Dakrin on a ‘take him or I kill him’ basis, happens to be the unproven but obvious head of Mican intelligence. So there’s a few don’t talk to me any more. Fair enough. It means I don’t need to communicate with them either. She’s not spoken to me since either.

I’ve spoken with Javey once or twice to just consult. She almost seems friendly as she sits in the chair in the Cafe about ten minutes from the apartment. I’m having tea and a sandwich. Dak’s having a Panini. Javey’s having steak and chips. I guess she’s heard I have more money now. “Yeah,” she says, “it is something to not be able to talk about work.” I’d buy it if she weren’t scanning everything in the place with her eye, partly because she knows they’re up to something and partly, I think, because she wants them to be up to something.
“So, do you want to talk about the sports or the latest gossip,” I ask. “Colony games are coming up later this year and…”
“I’d rather talk about why your Celican friend here looks like he wants to ask me things but can’t bring himself to.”
I glance at Dakrin as he freezes in mid bite. It’s written all over his face. His eyes flick left and right as his teeth pause around his sandwich.
I push his jaws down onto the delight to finish his action before replying. “Quite a lot of his old friends have gone dark,” I explain.
She nodded. “And by ‘old friends’ you mean..?”
“The sort of people you’d probably arrest.”
Dak glares at me whilst chewing his meat. Something red begins to seep out of the far end and I absently wonder if he’s using pre-killed meat. I think he is. I don’t really want to know, though.
“Yeah, they’ve gone quiet,” Javey admits, taking a slurp from a mug that has the cafe’s name emblazoned on it, inside a holographic rectangle. “I don’t know what to make of it, save I wish it had happened before the election.” She looked at Dak. “Any particular names?”
“None I can really give you,” he grumbled, talking with his mouth full. “None’d want you lookin’ f’r ‘em half th’ time.”
“Hmm,” Javey replied. “There have been less criminal types around recently. “Either I’m doing something right…”
“Which you probably are,” I cut in helpfully, “or there’s something building?”
“Exactly.”

It’s at that moment my comm goes off. I suppose I’d better answer it. I’m a little surprised though, as it’s my personal number. I have two chips inserted into my comm. One being the usual, business, one and one being my personal. Very few people have my personal number. Let’s see, there’s my Sister, a minor government minister on one of the distant colonies in the patch who usually wants nothing to do with me until I give up such a disreputable line of work and has, thus, ensured I stay in it until I’m 60. She used to really hate me but we’ve made progress recently. There’s my old Raitchian girlfriend but it won’t be her. She was kinda killed massively when a spaceship crashed on her house and made a half mile wide crater so that kinda precludes her. So who else could it be? I take a chance that it’s not someone selling insurance and answer it.

“I’m afraid we have to go,” I say after the call ends. Dak’s most of the way through his lunch and I think I started mine but he’s still a little bewildered as I try to lever him off his seat.
“Business call,” Javey asks, almost showing an interest.
“On my personal line,” I ask, raising an eye ridge until I remember she couldn’t see it had come in on that line. “Uh, no, no,” I say, a little flustered, “just a friend that’s had something of an accident and kinda needs to see me. They’re a bit, uh, off-world and they’re paying for our tickets.”
Dak looks at me hopelessly, his mouth open and some of his food hanging out. “Our,” he says plaintively, “why have I got to go?”
I tap my foot as he gets in the brick. “You remember that little device that’s locked on you? The one that says you have to be within three hundred feet of me at any given time?”
He nods sullenly. “Yes…”
I get in the driver’s side and begin to move off. “How well do you think that’ll work if we’re not on the same planet?”
He sighed. “Not well.”
“And we don’t want to upset the nice lady who gave it to you, do we?”
This time the ‘nope’ was more heart-felt.
“You DO have a passport, don’t you?”
“Yes, I…” He paused. “Where are we going anyhow?”
I grin. “You’ll hate it. Talvary Communal station.”
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

You are very good at writing these chapters up! I am in awe of it!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

Welp that's a change in story direction, what's the background to the museum ship?

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

DDeer wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 10:10 am
Welp that's a change in story direction, what's the background to the museum ship?

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The Bellaphron is in the Loper story. Hawle's ship, exploring new space just outside the patch, picks up a faint distress call from a legendary lost ship that vanished fifteen years back on the other side of Council space. They find a planet with a malfunctioning ancient artefact they can't control that has been snatching ships from across space for decades. They were imprisoning the crews as they didn't know what else to do with them...
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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NINETEEN

Captain Postain kept his hands behind him as he walked back towards the main shuttle bay with his guest. Commander Halriss and the veterans of the Bellaphron had helped work marvels over the last six hours, allowing use of his industrial replication machines and engineers to help patch up the worst of the damage caused by the bombing. There had been structural damages that would have been truly problematic in any battle and it gave the veteran Commander a chance to have a tour of a ship that had been cutting edge when he’d ‘vanished’. Postain had respect for the Osiran and how he’d endured fifteen years of imprisonment with dignity and, then, taken on the running of the ship as an ‘active museum’. He’d used the Bellaphron’s own crew where he could but a Council wide request for veterans who’d served on Explorer class ships had boosted the numbers to somewhere approaching optimum. Halriss had said the main thing they’d had to replace following their return were the beds as those who wanted to work and had the qualifications no longer had the backs that could cope with the bone cruncher beds they had. “It’ss an impressive sship you have here, Captain,” the tall reptile said, reminding Postain again that his guest hadn’t upgraded his translator engrams to eliminate the sibilance. He’d explained it as, if he was to represent the past, he should continue to speak like it.
“It’s better when in one piece,” Postain replied tersely.
Halriss looked up towards the ceiling. “I ssaw one of thesse when they were firsst consstructing them,” he said, almost reverently. The U.S.C Pahava, I think sshe wass called.”
Postain nodded. “Retired last year after patrolling the Mican worlds for six years. The Rassara threat receded.”
Halriss looked at Postain in surprise. “The Rasssara? Thin Canids with boness poking from their elbowss?”
Postain nodded. “Figured you’d met them.”
“We had an encounter ssome two weekss after leaving Council sspace. They didn’t think much of uss and we reciprocated.”
Postain nodded. “Figures. They found the Micans a bit too tough to handle but the Council moved some ships there after a few raids. It took twelve years to get on friendlike relations with them.”
“Friendss?”
“Allies then, Or acquaintances.”
“That lasst iss better.”

Appleby sat at her secure, IOC, computer and disconnected it from the network before opening up the files sent by Agent Sana on Celica. She’d sent a request to Cyber division some five hours back, looking for more information on this ‘Professor Calavix’ Raston had mentioned and they’d sent it on to the little Fennekin as, apparently, the very first rumours of someone using that name had originated there, in reports generated by Agents Sana and Groal. She looked them over. Apparently the ‘Professor’ had begun recruiting low level functionaries for the ‘Calavix Research Foundation’ some few months back, based at a location inside the patch borders that looked real on paper but evaporated into the ether if you tried to find it in reality. The leader never turned up to any meetings in person, always sending a ‘local representative’ – a Lappinian on Lapas, a Raitchian on the Raitchian worlds, that sort of thing. Anyhow, what had really brought Sana onto the Calavix thing was the simple truth of the name. The Celican they’d been looking for in regards to the attempted strike on Pandera wasn’t Taylan Daccora, Sana had discovered. He’d taken a fake name to hide his own. Doctor Vixten. Doctor Cala Vixten. Although she thought it possibly a bit to ‘on the muzzle’, it had been backed up by the mercenary Golta had ‘apprehended with reasonable force’ after they’d questioned him in his hospital bed. He’d been assigned to end anyone coming to investigate the vanishing of the scientist and then call in that he’d done it. Unfortunately for him he’d needed a quick trip to the latrine just before Golta and Sana had arrived and they’d gone inside before he’d got back to his spot. And then the back up plan had failed. Appleby noted Sana’s comments that, without the purchase plans she’d found on the screen before it blew up, they wouldn’t have known where Vixten was going. She put it down to arrogance leading a beta level (at best) predator to make a blindingly stupid error as they figured it couldn’t hurt them. Hunting down the links to others would take a lot more time but IOC Pandera had found a lot of information on Raston and his group… somewhere… and that had enabled her to track down some of their accounts, leading to a bank on Passaderra, a Mican Colony just inside the patch.

Appleby grimaced. She knew that colony by reputation. It was on the closer edge to the main colony zones, just scraping by as a life holding planet due to its distance from its star. It was a somewhat ‘relaxed’ place when it came to laws. The banks didn’t exactly open up their books for police to look at without warrants that had been strenuously protested by lawyers whilst account holders vanished with their funds. They wouldn’t get much help there, Appleby thought. But it was more information than they had before and it all helped. Sana had suggested checking recent purchases in the patch to see if anyone had been buying up land but Appleby would have to wait until she could try that. She had to talk with the Captain to send and receive communications at the moment – or Rhew if the Captain was indisposed – and that included making computer requests for information. This also precluded her from telling Yarkin about it over the comms. You never knew who might be listening. So she saved the message from Sana onto an isolated drive and wiped the Computer memory before restoring its connections to the rest of the ship. Then she went looking for the feline.

Yarkin wondered when her office was going to be in a state where she could get into it. She understood that she wasn’t going back into it properly for quite some time but there were things she wanted to see if they’d survived. Old photos and her lucky mug for two. The important things. She barely even had a cell area back here. “Oh,” she said as Lieutenant Commander Xarra entered, the ship’s second in command feeling she needed to show Command was still involved in things. “pardon me,” she said, standing up in front of the Mican Command Officer. “I wasn’t exactly expecting anyone to come by.”
“Relax,” Xarra breezed. “I never saw your feet on the desk. How’s things,” she asked, nosing into the unoccupied and darkened cell area as she did.
“Could be worse,” Yarkin replied. “Could have had more dead and properly punctured the hull. I’m running primary systems through here and the ‘contact centre’ is being dealt with by Ovan from his quarters. The main base should be up and running in a day or so.”
“Well, hopefully,” Xarra admitted. “Oh, one of the emergency teams found this in the rubble.” She took a mug from behind her back and placed it on the table.
Yarkin smiled at the battered piece of metal with the logo ‘too mean to diet’ on the side in green lettering. “It’s a bit battered,” she admitted.
Xarra nodded. “But unbroken, Chief,” she said, almost like she’d rehearsed it. “Just like this ship. And, when we find who did this, we’ll break them like ceramics.”
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Glad that you were able to upload today! Good chapter!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by DDeer »

So, on the hunt for the elusive Professor, so is the museum ship still used for operations or just as a curio?
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Mostly it's a curio. However Sector commander Henry Postlethwaite has made sure this curio is fully equipped and armed... Just in case(!)
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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TWENTY

The most important repairs were done now, and Rhew was on down time as Postain sat like a hawk in his Captain’s chair on the bridge, the diminutive Mican Second Officer Xarra sitting in Rhew’s seat. Postain watched the screen for a moment before turning to Xarra. “Whereabouts was it that passenger liner got ‘distracted’,” he asked, referring to the one that the Doctor travelling from Celica to Pandera had been travelling on.
Xarra looked up the details they’d been given on the subject. It had been in the reports Talvary had sent out several days ago and she found the item in the records. “Uh, about an hours’ travel at warp 4, sir,” she said, almost querying it.
“Set a course and ask the Bellaphron to come with us.”
“Sir,” she protested, “we could easily work out the possible destinations from here, using stellar cartography.”
“True,” the Rottian mulled, “but we need to get these repairs tested whilst the Bellaphron’s with us and we need to see how they handle Warp. So we do it this way.”
“Aye, sir.” She supposed she could see the wisdom in it. Taking the Bellaphron to a prospective end point for the mission wouldn’t exactly be fair to the old monolith. It wasn’t built for battle like they were. Impressive firepower but they were still working on problems on the museum. Turns out kids don’t want to see the guns but the firepower and, unless there were convenient asteroids you wanted blasted to molecules, there wasn’t much point keeping them active. She wondered how many artillery officers Halriss had on board. She sent out the messages and commanded the helm to engage when the Bellaphron indicated they were ready.

Mikkel Rhew sat back on his sofa as Jasmine brought in the foodstuffs the replication machine had come up with this time. He watched her sniff his Pamak Stew and contained a little smile. He knew she wanted to try it as the machines, apparently, removed all the enzymes that endangered her but she’d not thought about it before being with him and she was never going to dare to try it now she was carrying his girl. Or her boy. Then again, they’d almost certainly share all the responsibilities. He pushed her special drink over to her, essentially swapping it for his plate as she sat next to him. “I have the feeling you’ll enjoy it when you get to try it, love,” he told her.
“Well, I’ll try it first,” she promised, before taking a sip of the vitamin and minerals drink Doctor Cobalt had prescribed. It still tasted like ashes, even when it had Strawberry powder in it but it was for the baby, designed to help the anti rejection medication, so she was happy to take it. She proffered him a bite of her salad. “And YOU still have to try Artichokes,” she reminded him. His ears flopped slightly and he tried the ‘poor me’ look on her. She laughed and poked his nose gently with her fork.
“I can’t eat that now,” he protested feebly, “it’s been up my nose.”
“You can try,” she affirmed, “it barely touched. No trail, see,” she said, letting him see the clean prongs.
Rhew reluctantly tried the piece and chewed. “You’re braver than I took you for,” he claimed, his face hinting at his displeasure at the taste. He swallowed. “When it went off,” he said, “you were my first thought.”
She sighed and took some of her own food on. “Wish I could say I appreciated that,” she admitted, putting down her glass so she could put the hand around his shoulders, “but I understand it, my lovely. It’s why so few Officers take mates, yeah?” She gripped his far arm with her hand and pulled him closer into a hug. “Just brought it closer to home, eh?”
“I can always look for a Militia Command on one of the colonies,” Rhew offered.
“And give up on your dreams for me,” Jasmine said, almost impressed.
Rhew gave her a crafty grin. “You’ve replaced all those dreams,” he said. “They gradually dropped by the wayside and changed shape into you.”
She sat back. “You’re just saying that to get a kiss,” she chided playfully.
“Is it working?”
“It’s pending.” She took another bite as he started his. “I could do cartography analysis,” she said thoughtfully. “They’re always looking for those on Caldrea. Or Pandera…” Now she grinned as she thought of an evil little thought. “Or Cora II,” she added, putting the mental image of the beach in her mind. Rhew coughed as he thought of the heat on that same beach. Something Dox was pretty sure was sauce flew out onto the table. “OK,” she conceded as he took a drink of water to stop choking, “no places without air conditioning!” She yelped as he twisted half onto her.
He looked down on her, his wet chin dripping water onto her abdomen. “Just for that,” he said, “I’ll take that kiss now!”
“Before the film,” Jasmine replied, before reaching up to pull him down to meet her mouth.

Senny wondered if she’d taken on more than she could chew right now. She was beginning to think Jul had a point when it came to potential earache from Kerri as the Chipmunk had hardly stopped talking and taking up her time as they sat on her sofa and tried to watch a comedy on the vid. Senny didn’t think she’d managed to pay attention to anything that had gone on between the Canid and purple Feline on screen and their mad friends for the first half hour of the movie and, finally, she turned to her friend. “Kerri,” she said, interrupting a flow of talk about fighters and people they both knew, “you wanted to watch the movie?” She indicated it with a hand. “You said you did.”
Kerri was taken aback. “I didn’t realise I was putting you off,” she said, seemingly a little hurt.
“You aren’t,” the Castoran told her. “but I think I know why you’re talking, yeah? You know you’re safe here, right?”
Kerri blinked twice. “I know, I know,” she said quickly, “but it’s just… I don’t… I don’t want silence. He came… He came out of the silence.”
“C’mere,” Senny said, pausing the film and opening her arms for Kerri. The Chipmunk scurried across and hugged her big friend, who stroked the back of her head and made soothing sounds she’d heard mothers do when calming their kids. She had no idea if it would work until she felt the calm, heavy, breathing on her chest and picked the sleeping engineer up to transfer her to the bed in the other room. She laid her in the bed and slid back into the main room to make a pot of tea for Harmony when she arrived home.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Lovely work once again on this chapter that you wrote up Welsh! I love how it has come out!

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

I figured Postain hadn't actually done much in this story...

TWENTY-ONE

The Rodomont hung quietly in space, the Bellaphron having headed off some twenty minutes back, following the successful completion of the stress testing. The screens on the battleships’ bridge showed a three dimensional map of the nearby systems from Stellar cartography. They included local anomalies and energy storms as would have been in play a week or so ago, at the time the Doctor was ‘borrowed’ from the liner. Lines on the map showed possible routes the freighter could have taken from the intercept point and potential locations – basically any of ten starports in the range of the ship. Postain wasn’t looking forward to running down all the leads so he opted for a different approach and had Rhew start a search of all ships logged by U.S.C. vessels in the area at around that time. All Council ships, from freighters to ferries to warships had to send in their transit logs to Talvary Communal station and this listed the ident codes of all ships they’d detected on the way. With those, they might be able to cross reference locations to see if any ships that crossed the lines on the map had detected ships at around the right time. It might strip some of the possibles out. But, as for now…

Postain made his way through the ship, heading for the commissary and something that resembled food, cooked by a halfway professional cook. Not a chef, like that cheeky sod Rabbit had, but someone who’d be more fitting for a greasy spoon style roadside diner. Fortunately he had a few of those on this ship, unqualified ‘specialists’ whose Mate or friend had a commission in the office. Their stuff was kept hot – or, at least, warm – by the machines and gave the computer a run for its money on how poor an imitation of food it really was. But it WAS still better than the replication machines in his opinion, although he still tended to use a toxin detection strip on whatever he got. Just in case. It was as he turned into the room that he ran into Enzo Cavalla. Or, to put it more accurately, Enzo Cavalla ran into him. He looked down at the quickly apologising Raitchian child and helped the boy up. “What are you doing up, Cavalla,” he demanded. “It’s a school night and it’s 0130!” The boy looked confused. “Half one in the morning,” the Captain clarified with annoyance.
“S...Sorry, sir,” he stammered, more afraid now he’d seen who he’d run into than he had been before. “I...I was sent out by my mum to…” He looked embarrassed. “So she could… have a little time with, uh…” He wrung his hands. “With Doctor Jul, sir,” he finished quietly.
Postain rolled his eyes. “How long have you given them,” he asked heavily.
“Um… about an hour,” the boy said listlessly.
“Then we should give them fifteen more minutes to be sure,” Postain declared. “With me,” he said, taking the boy by the pyjama top and back into the break room. “What’s yours,” he told the protesting youngster, who stopped protesting as soon as he saw the Bakkaberry pie in the warmer.
Five minutes passed as the boy ate his pie and Postain paid attention to a Panini that seemed like Bacon and Cheese but was probably Ham and something. The pair said nothing, not really comfortable in each other’s company until Enzo spoke up. “Will…” he kept his eyes down. “Will there be another bomb, sir,” he asked.
“Who said it was a bomb?”
“That’s… that’s the rumour at school… uh, sir.”
Postain put down the remnants of whatever it was he’d been eating. “If you want to talk to someone, boy, you have to LOOK at them.” The half asleep child looked up. “I won’t lie to you, Enzo,” Postain said quietly, “there WAS a bomb. It went off. The damage has been repaired and we’re doing all we can to ensure there wont be another one.”
“But…”
“Security’s on full alert and everyone’s watching, Enzo.” Postain gestured to him. “That’s a message I want you to pass on to everyone who asks you later, right? Be aware. If someone does things you’re not expecting them to, make sure you tell someone. I know…” he said quickly, thinking Enzo was about to give him the cliché about ‘snitches’ “...that they say don’t tell but here’s something for you to know, Enzo.” Postain looked him directly in the eye. “That line is rubbish. The only one who benefits from that is the one who wants you to keep silent. Something like this? You make sure people know, you hear?”
“Yes, Captain, uh, sir.”
“Figure you’ll be fine, Enzo.” The Captain stood up. “Come on, let’s get you home,” he said as Enzo burped and pardoned himself.

Enzo headed into his room and Postain took up position in the first office room he found between the Cavalla quarters and Juls. He left the lights on and turned the security feed off before ensuring the door stayed open. He sat and waited.

Half an hour passed until Jul wandered into view, his curiosity piqued by the open door and lit room. “In here, Doctor,” Postain growled. “Now.”
The Doctor came in, confusion evident on his face. “Have… Have I done something wrong, sir,” he asked carefully.
“Shut the door.”
Jul swallowed and did as ordered.
“I do not mind your absolute lack of ethics when it comes to chasing the females on this ship, Doctor,” Postain growled lightly, standing up and stepping towards the Doctor, “everyone is, of course, an adult involved. But,” he stressed, “I have just become aware of people who are also involved and who most definitely are NOT. Adults.” He towered above the Mican, close enough to cast the Doctor into darkness. “As of NOW, you will start exercising some muffins and cookies restraint when it comes to single ladies with children.” He showed his teeth. “If you know they have kids you will NOT seek to sleep with the mothers on a school night! DO YOU. GET. ME?” He practically spat the last words into the Doctors’ face. “Do you really think their teachers won’t notice the kids who fall asleep in the class, Doctor?” Jul made to open his mouth. “This is NOT a conversation, Doctor! Do not interrupt! When the teacher puts two and two together, they WILL bring it to either Rhew or Flakk and then it will be official! Then your conduct will be brought to tribunal and your career will be OVER. You’ll be assigned to some waypost in space or, if you’re really unlucky, a clipper ship where the community is tight and your nonsense won’t be tolerated. You are a talented Doctor, Jul, but your night-time escapades are beginning to affect the ship so they take on new rules. New restrictions on your consorting. Or, to save future Officers and ensure no-one thinks they can get away with this sort of thing on MY ship? I will destroy you.” He hit the door release. “Consider this a friendly note, Doctor. You’re good and I don’t want to lose you. Now get out.”
Jul took the chance to leave in shaky fashion and Postain stormed back up to the bridge.

“We’ve narrowed it down to three locations,” Rhew told him.
“Set a course for the first,” Postain said, sitting down.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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Finished 20, onward.....
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really great work! I wonder how Elena would react to seeing Postain and how he would react to her dating someone her actual size? XD

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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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Seems our somewhat unethical Doctor has got himself into hot water.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

DDeer wrote:
Thu May 27, 2021 5:21 am
Seems our somewhat unethical Doctor has got himself into hot water.
Yup. I wanted to re-establish the fact that Postain understands slightly lax discipline when off-duty but, if it starts to affect the ship, he'll come down hard. He's not anti-fun, he's pro community and his place in it.
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Re: A Briar Patch Tale

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TWENTY-TWO

The manager’s office at the Hovinna VIX starport was pretty much just a box within an orbiting box about fifteen thousand miles above the surface of the Celican colony. Docking facilities and storage were pretty much all the place had to offer. No shops. No facilities bar a minor refreshments machine and a multi-species bathroom to spend the time waiting and no magazines to read. The computer banks carried out standard readings of whatever came through the customs here and it was the only facility that was kept up to date to make sure the customs officers on station didn’t slack on the work. Ten worked the day shift and five the night. It was eleven in the morning, colony time, so Rhew and Appleby were waiting on the day manager as he filled in on the ‘rush’ at customs. Mikkel looked over at Harmony as she sat in the corner of the room. “Do you think they came this way,” he asked.
“Our little runaways,” Appleby replied, before stretching. “Probably not. It’d be fun if the first shot was the right one but I doubt that’s ever happened in my lifetime. But we have to start somewhere, don’t we?”
He nodded and played with the Newton’s cradle on the desk. “Souvenir from Earth,” he told her. “I wonder who Newton was? Um, how’s Kerri, by the way?”
Appleby sat up and put her elbows on the arm rests. “Oh, she’s getting better. She spent last night in bed with me and Senny. She needed the support.” Rhew looked innocent. “Hey,” Appleby protested with a grin, “nothing like that! Get those thoughts out of your head!”
“Here’s me, trying to lighten the situation,” Rhew chuckled as the manager re-entered the room.
“What’s this about,” the Manager asked.
“We’re just trying to find information on a freighter that may have stopped here about a week ago,” Rhew said, handing over a padd with the accurate details on it as the cradle slowed its’ clacking down to rhythmic pushing. “There was an incident involving a passenger liner that we’re trying to clear up.”
“Well,” Appleby added, “I’m trying to clear up but, as I’m on the Rodomont, Commander Rhew’s interested in the incident too.”
“Why so,” the manager asked Rhew, who wished Appleby hadn’t said anything.
“The, uh, liner managed to lose some of it’s cargo at around the same time as they helped repair a broken freighter,” Rhew bluffed, keeping more or less to the truth. “Piracy is piracy,” he added, “no matter how politely it’s done.”
“So I understand,” the manager fumed. “We’ve had issues. You want to know if they headed this way? They probably won’t be using these ident codes,” he added, waving the padd “I’d change them A.S.A.P.”
Rhew nodded. “So would I. But it shows what the thing looks like so you can run the checks against that. Anything of that class been in in the last week we need to know about it.”
The manager blew out a breath. “It’ll take time to check. I’d say ‘enjoy the facilities’ but we haven’t got any.” He shrugged. “Budgets.”
Rhew rolled his eyes.

On Cora II, Jasmine Rhonkar was feeling nervous. The security chief for the Loper wasn’t normally used to the feeling but, then, she wasn’t normally looking to talk directly with a colonial president. A coded message had come in from Talvary Station earlier that had the senior crew in a bit of a flap and she’d been ‘chosen’ to brief the President on the situation because she needed to liase with the Sheriff on the situation down here about it anyhow. Of course, she felt there was another reason Aldair had chosen her for the duty. He didn’t want to do it. Add to that a first Officer who was as diplomatic as a brick to the goolies and a second officer who was a potential security risk if his skills were discovered and that left her or Groal. And she was better than the big Celican. Besides, approaching the Sheriff might go better with political backing. So they’d cleared her for the direct approach and taken all her weapons off her. She’d have about five minutes, probably. The door opened and President Dundee’s secretary showed her in.
“Thank you, Ebony,” Chichester said, allowing the brownfur to bustle out and shut the door behind her. “Jasmine, isn’t it,” she asked the Lappinean even as the security Officer took out a small device that looked mostly like a pen.
“It is indeed, ma’am,” she replied, carefully pointing the pen around the room. “I’m here to give you an update on some things that have been going on.” She stopped as the pen refused to beep. “Good,” she said, putting it away. “Either this room is clean of bugs or I’m going to get a refund.” She stopped moving. “Sorry about that, Ma’am but I did need to check.”
“I think you’d better explain WHY,” Chichester ordered.
So Jasmine told her what she’d been sent. When she came to the part about the attack on the Rodomont she saw the look of alarm on President Dundee’s face. “It’s all right,” she assured her, “the, uh, ship is fine. Just a bit banged up.”
“Um, yes,” Chichester replied, “that IS good news about the, uh, ship.” Had the President just done a slight impression of Rhonkar to indicate she’d guessed what Rhonkar was really saying? Only the President was actually sure. “What is it you’re looking for from me?”
“I need to talk with your leading law officials to find out what they know. We have certain… er… suspicions that there’s some sort of organisation behind this and there may be a contact here on Cora II.”
“I really hope not…”
Rhonkar shrugged. “Same. But there is a possibility. We found one on our ship too but we got them in time, due to being a more confined ship. Ours had had no calls in according to the records and had been down here for several days ‘on leave’.”
“And Sheriff Jedburgh can probably tell you who they might have met.”
Rhonkar nodded. “You should be careful, Ma’am,” she added. “Not just a president but also rumoured to be Captain Postain’s girlfriend?”
Chichester nodded. “I’ll take appropriate precautions, Chief Rhonkar,” she said, put a little on the snippy side by the girlfriend comment. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll clear you to ask questions of Jedburgh.”
Jasmine thanked her.

Rhew and Appleby returned to the Rodomont after a short shuttle trip and briefed Captain Postain on the way. No luck. One down.
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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