So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:55 am

(Warning: game-spoilers. If you've not yet visited Jameson's ship (and have plans to) do not read this and then complain that it's about Jameson's Ship. Just saying...)

Maybe it was that we first landed on the wrong side of this desolate space-rock, too far from anywhere to even have a name, that caused us to giggle and gently mock each other for a while as we replotted our course and tried again and again that did it. Perhaps we just hadn't properly anticipated how desolate and sad it would be... but for whatever reason, when we finally reach Jameson's ship, we are all humbled into a sad, contemplative silence.

The debris field of the crash site is surprisingly small and we scan it in just a short amount of time, picking up a few datalogs and info-drops. It's almost as if we spin that task out for longer than it needed to take to avoid turning our attention to that which we came here for in the first place: the Cobra mkIII, "JJ-386" half-buried nose-first on a planet too far from home to calculate without a nav panel.

The vessel is surprisingly intact, the parts of it not planted in the ground are neither scratched nor burned nor discoloured. The naked metal fittings still glint proudly in what little sunshine reaches the surface of the empty rock that became the famed commander's resting place. She honestly looks as if, with just a little excavation, she could be fired up and relaunched, her hull is so complete.

Our little SRVs swarm and swirl around the site, photographing and scanning while we (though we don't ever acknowledge it) search for Jameson's body. The ship's beacon is intact and contains the last batch of data he had been intending to send. We download it but do not find a corpse: Jameson, whether he survived the impact or not, is not here.

It is, all in all, a sobering place to be; profoundly sad and an unfitting end to a glorious life of adventure. I feel somehow cheated to realise that I have solved the mystery that plagued all the wanna-be jocks in school: I want a better ending to the story that thrilled and inspired me as a kid than "...and then he crashed into a planet and that was that. The End."

"Well, gents," murmurs Dawg over the coms, "Shall we?"

I assume he means "We're done here, let's head for home," and fire up my SRV's thrusters. But, instead, Dawg and Al scoot their buggies around the hillside and up to where the craft's left wing is almost level with the ground. And then - to my instant disbelief - they tear along the ground, over the shoulders of the Cobra and thrust their buggies - screaming and laughing - into the air, turning somersaults in the low-grav.

I stare in disbelief, unable to process this at all.

"Come on, Socks," urges Dawg, "Show some respect! Come and be alive!" And with that, Dawg is reversing at speed off the wing-tip, his thrusters arching him high, high into the "air" and throwing his SRV into a reverse somersault. Al is laughing as loudly as I've ever heard him as he thrusts up from the ground beneath the wing, carefully aiming his jump so that it collides with Dawg's descending buggy.

"Morning, Al!" calls Dawg.

"Morning, Dawg," replies Al.

I reluctantly snicker at these antics, unable to formulate what is happening here in words in my mind. But I know it's important, and that it has meaning, and that it is somehow honouring Jameson's life (and death), so I turn my buggy and zip round to see what kind of performance I can muster. I line my wheels up carefully with the left wing, press my throttle full-forward and power onto the back of the Cobra. Just before the edge of the wing, I lock my right wheels, pulling my buggy into a spin, and thrust only on the left so that I lift and cartwheel to the side in a high, glorious trajectory.

"Oh, bravo, Socks! Magnificent effort!" muses Dawg as Al shoots forward to try to get beneath my landing spot. Indeed, my buggy comes back to the ground upside-down on top of Al's SRV, and he chuckles and waves as my ride gently rolls forward over his cabin.

We spend some time performing various tricks and antics, zipping about and making our buggies leap and spin and roll. Eventually, though, exhausted by laughter (and feeling quite, quite sick), our SRVs running a little low on integrity, we are forced to return to our vessels which are parked some 2km away. I salute Jameson's little Cobra and turn away from the site, hoping that our brief moment of joy has, somehow, infected the otherwise desolate place.

Back in our ships, we decide between us that we'll hop in the hot tub, crack open some champagne and listen to the vocal datalogs we downloaded from the ship. Al, naturally, ensures that everything is perfect - from the cut-crystal flutes to the perfectly-cooled bubbly. The hot-tub is lightly and pleasantly scented, the wall-to-wall view-screen set to show a sunrise on some unnamed ringed planet, rays glinting between the rings as time passes. We salute each other as we ease our bodies - a bit bruised from our SRV antics - into the soothing water and settle to listen to the last words of Cmdr Jameson.

But the bubbly goes largely undrunk and our collective mood becomes contemplative and quiet as the story of Jameson's last flight - captured in this, his recorded letter to his son for his birthday - unfolds. As Jameson's voice fades away, the enormity of what we have heard slowly dawns on us: Jameson didn't crash after preventing the Thargoid War; he was murdered after potentially (and unwittingly) causing them to regroup and reassess us as enemies. My childhood history books were wrong. We were all wrong.

We stare mutely at each other as Jameson's voice, tearful with love for an already-lost child, fades away. Eventually Al breaks the silence by saying, "Let's take this to Felicity. She'll know what to do with it." Dawg nods.

I don't really know who this is, but I don't presently care, so I nod and stand up, reaching for a bathrobe as I climb out of the hot tub. Al and Dawg follow my lead and, though we all briefly glance around at each other, we still have no real words, so, instead, we nod and separate: me to my room, Dawg and Al to dress and prepare for lift-off.

In my room I lie on my bed without removing the robe and simply stare at the viewer which shows the scene of the planet beneath us. Eventually it slowly recedes as Al lifts off. Inertial dampers prevent the extreme angle required to make escape velocity from sliding me off my bed: it is like watching someone else's life.

Someone else's life. Jameson - cultural icon, childhood hero, eventually done in by the very people who worked so hard to glorify him. In the end, it wasn't the betrayal that broke him, but the thought of never seeing his son again. All that life, all for nothing. It was all just a lie; a big manipulation to get us kids signing up to the Service; to cover up man's role in provoking the Thargoid.

All for nothing.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:55 am

Tor's grandmother, Gudrun, is something of a legend.

Sold as an Emperial slave (because it's not all that voluntary when both parents are in debt and selling themselves off) when just a girl, she was shipped to some asshole-end-of-nowhere system with a fellow, Mika, who wanted to study some weird, irrelevant shit on a quiet rock somewhere; the effects of low-grav on penicillin strains or whatever. He needed someone to look after his place while he built and ran his lab, someone who had no interest in whatever tedious crap he was doing, who would just get on with the relevant chores, make sure he ate and otherwise left him alone.

Sounds like a real party, eh?

Over time, of course, they came to know each other and work better together and a partnership formed between them. Trust and all that wholesome, good stuff happened (though they never hooked up as far as anyone knows, apparently), so it was impossible for him to hide his growing drinking problem from her when, finally, the Void and the vastness of their isolation started to bite.

Mika was, by all accounts, a fair man. Just a guy who bit off more than he could chew when he took off to a place where he could be left alone to think about things he wanted to think about. But the thing with space and booze is that it requires money to sustain yourself, and there's not a lot of that around if you're the only person on your rock.

So he slid slowly into debt. Big, ugly debt. Though Mika had "bought" his little patch of space rock for a song, it came with all manner of conditions all of which inflated the value if broken (including patents and rights to his work). Gudrun, as nothing more than a slave, could do nothing except watch and hide the bottles, find reasons why the latest delivery couldn't arrive and so on. Helpless - and more than a little aware that her precarious situation was significantly better than 99% of slaves elsewhere - she saw the storm on the horizon long before he did, and quietly started to build her shelter.

Long story short, when the medication research corporation that owned the rest of the rock saw neither money nor results rolling in, they moved to foreclose on the research lab. Some 25 years had passed since it had been established, and it was turning out decent results, just nothing that could be effectively monetised (which was why he needed somewhere cheap and out of the way in the first place) in a hurry.

However, the System Faction - a medical and bio-industrial conglomerate, hippy shareholders and the whole bit - intervened in the foreclosure after having been petitioned by Gudrun. They were shocked that not only did she want to remain a slave, but that she wanted to remain a slave on that rock, with that man, doing that work. And, by golly, she'd been organising his finances for a quarter of a century and - with a little negotiation - would happily take control of the situation, paying off past debts and putting in place a plan to safeguard the establishment's future... now what split of the royalties on any future drug patent produced by this installation would the corporation be interested in?

I shit you not.

Tor's grandmother, Gudrun, with the support of the hippy system faction, became the first slave to successfully take over legal control of their master's holdings - not just in that system, but anywhere in Empire space - while their owner was still alive and possessing legal capacity (ie, not certified mad or what have you). And, further, the agreement granted the little research facility control (though still not ownership) of all patents and a 51% royalty from any saleable commodity arising from research conducted...

In fact, the next time you get to a new settlement and breathe in all those lovely new space bacteria and don't immediately fall sick, spare a thought for Gudrun, because "Gudricillin" - the trans-spectrum antibiotic we all pump ourselves with to fend off all the various strains of bugs - is named after her, and turned that little medical facility into one of the major (and only relatively independent) medical analysis labs in Empire space.

Tor tells me this story, Christmas Eve, in Lucy's cockpit over ludicrous amounts of wine that we had intended to "mull". But Tor protests, saying, "If I wanted to float pointless bags of fancy shit in my drink, I'd do Christmas on Al's abomination." (Dawg has already sent us many pictures of various things floating in various types of booze, including a rather attractive woman in a giant wine glass wearing little more than well-placed fruit slices).

Tor's single concession to the "Auld Festive Season (and bollocks to it)" - Kharma's favourite refrain - is to dig out his christmas tree bobblehead and place it proudly on his dashboard where it shimmies away, cheerfully immune to the scenes of death and destruction that Tor otherwise creates.

When Tor finishes his story, we sit in companionable silence for a while, our feet up on the dash, tartan blankets ("stolen" from Al's liner) over our knees, nursing our jugs on our bellies. And then a notion hits me and I turn to Tor with a smile.

"I just bought a DBX," I say, "Wanted something to tinker with, outside the mad capers and murder. A quiet place, something with a bit of range. I think I'm hoping for something similar to what Mika was searching for."

"DBX isn't a bad ship," muses Tor, not quite following that I have more to say on the matter than just idle gossip about a new bird.

"Yes, but I haven't flown it yet - I couldn't think of her name."

"And now you have?"

"And now I have," I reply, raising my jug in salute. "Show you tomorrow, eh?"

Tor drinks to this and we finish the evening telling filthy, not-very-funny jokes and swapping shitty bar fight stories until we fall asleep in the flight chairs, jugs still cradled in our hands.

But I don't rest for long, as my DBX's name is burned bright across my mind and is buzzing anxiously to get out. A mere 3 hours later and I'm down in the hangar with the stencils and paint gun, applying the name to my bird's dusty pink hull. I am finishing up, peeling the stencils away and touching up any patches, just as Tor arrives. I beam proudly at him. "Whaddya think?"

Tor is a hard read at the best of times, and I struggle to understand what is going through his mind when he sees the pink DBX (itself a thing of wonder) for the first time and starts checking what I've installed against the list of internals he'd have expected me to install. When he gets to looking at the name, he pauses for a moment and slowly runs his hand over the still-tacky lettering. Seconds stretch and I realise I am holding my breath but still Tor doesn't look away from the letters on the side of my hull.

"Tor..?" I say eventually, "You okay?"

Before he turns, he raises his hand to his eye, and then he is galloping towards me and then I am enveloped by a wall of giant, sandy-haired Viking that wraps itself around me and doesn't let go for a long while.

"It's fucking brilliant," Tor whispers, eventually letting go and grinning sheepishly.

"Well... good!" I laugh, shocked and delighted by the bear-hug.

"Outfitted it properly, too."

I nod, getting mentally ready for the usual chat about modules and weapons and recalling to mind what optionals I chose and why. But Tor isn't in the mood for chatting. Instead he waves and says, "Gotta go," and is making for the exit and I am too surprised to reply.

Though not too surprised to giggle when he sticks his head around the hangar entrance long enough to call, "And don't tell anyone I hugged you!"

I salute in reply and then turn my gaze back to my ship: Gudrun's Deed - a diamondback explorer outfitted for freedom.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Loriath » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:02 pm

Where the hell is all this "BAD" Fiction you keep going on about???

And we know Tor is a Wuss. A Wuss that will snap your neck in a second if he has gone to long without "Viking" something, but still a Wuss. At least we don't have to mop up after him like we do Dawg.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Dudley » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:23 pm

Oh.. about the mopping up thing.. :?

Al, I genuinely thought that the cupboard was the WC.. and in my defence, I was a little worse for wear. :(

I will, of course reimburse you the valet charges for decontaminating the area.. *cough*

oh...by the way..

Err, I still haven't found my trousers.. if you could see your way to..?? :oops:

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:34 pm

It takes a little while and more than a few near-disasters to get used to flying Gudrun, though if I'm not in Vulture Death mode, she's quite lovely to fly. The Chill-Mobile. The Breezy Bird. Flying her makes me happy; I kick on some music - I recently discovered "Fleetwood Mac" in some old radio archives I recovered from an abandoned planetary base - turn off local chatter and lean back in my chair. My mind wanders happily, I get my shit done, hours pass and, suddenly, I'm safely back on deck and the jobs are done.

I love the vulture. But I trust the DBX.

After one such zen trip to Cemeiss and back, I am sitting cross-legged under Gudrun pouring over a telemetry datapad. I am certain that, without compromising too much functionality or cargo space, I can get almost 50ly out of her drive and it's a puzzle I'm enjoying trying to solve. I must have been there a while as my legs are getting a bit stiff and the smell of fuel fumes has gone from the air, and I'm considering putting my FSD puzzle down for a bit and going in search of food.

"Who's Gudrun?"

"Friend of a friend," a vaguely muse without looking up at the woman who owns the voice and has, apparently, snuck silently into my hangar.

"What was her deed?"

"She owned property..."

"And you name a ship after her?"

"Yeah.. uh... can I help you?" I glance up from my pad, planning to throw a well-practiced "Get the fuck away from me" sneer but it dies half-formed. All she did was take her helmet off and shake out her hair and it was enough. Instead - surprised into imbecility - I can only manage a stupid half-smile and a hesitant, "Oh, er... hi."

"Hey," she replies, sitting down next to me (without an invitation, but I'd not have thought of extending one to her so that's 10 points to her for initiative), "I've heard of you." She looks at me closely for a minute and then says, "I thought you flew a badass vulture."

I am perplexed. And while my brain catches up with the situation, my eyes flail about for something to lock onto. And that happens to be her breasts which form two separate but attractively sizeable mounds in the otherwise barren flatlands of her dark crimson flight suit. Her incredible hair - shining a hundred different shades of red - tumbles over her left shoulder, the ends of it - I realise with a dry-mouth - fall to just about where I'd estimate her nipple to be...

Stop looking at that... just stop. Look at anything else. Do it now. My emergency internal flight assist has kicked in and I blindly follow the instructions it gives me, dropping my eyes to the datapad. NO! Not there; now you look shy. Don't be shy. Be BADASS. Fucking answer her, dammit!

"Vulture... yeah... zippy. This isn't a vulture." I flick my head to the DBX we're sitting under, and instantly internally face-palm. "You knew that, eh?"

"Yeah," she replies, smiling gently, "I did."

"Sorry."

"No biggie. Wanna get a drink?"

"Was just..." ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! YOU SAY YES NOW! JUST THAT. SAY YES! "Yes."

"Good. Anywhere you like to go?"

"...a bar?" Oh by Dawg's balls, this isn't going well. Savvy and edgy I am not. This woman is magical or evil or I've been drugged or we're not talking in my native language because this absolutely isn't how dumb I am at any other moment in my daily life.

She, however, just laughs. And, of course, it's the most musical, wonderful laugh I've ever heard and, of course it makes me want to make her laugh some more no matter the personal cost so I wait a moment until her chuckling subsides and then add, "I think that's where we'd get drinks," and then offer her what I hope will be enough of a self-deprecating smile for her to see I'm mocking myself deliberately with that one.

It works, she laughs; I soar.

"How about Three Decks Down; you know the place?" She's gazing at me, I'm sure of it. I think I might be at the start of a blush and need to get rid of her as soon as possible.

"With the tables that used to be ship parts?" I offer.

"Yeah!"

"Got it. Two hours?"

"Sure."

We climb to our feet and I dumbly offer her a handshake (which she firmly accepts, saving me a little more personal horror), and then stand about awkwardly for a second before brightly exclaiming, "Well, see you later then! Bye!" and forcing myself upwards into the SRV bay of the DBX, my feet waggling in the dead space for a moment before I swear quietly and drag them in.

I didn't even get her name. And I made an utter, utter arse of myself.

Oh yeah, a real badass vulture stick am I.
Last edited by SockFiddler on Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Loriath » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:41 pm

For the Jugs
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:25 am

I am out of the flight suit and into some of the clothes I made while traveling with Al, which is a relief as they're familiar, comfortable and relatively stylish. Black leggings, enormous combat boots, a tight red vest under a white baggy scoop-neck shirt under a black leather flight jacket. I'm pulling a fair approximation of the badass vulture pilot my nameless date didn't get to meet earlier.

Not-Dave - the not-drinker - advised me to sink a couple of drinks to loosen up when I described to him the horror of that first encounter (I had to tell someone). He also told me things like, "If it gets too bad, imagine the sound she makes straining on the toilet" and "Don't be afraid to walk off mysteriously". It requires no reflection at all to understand why that man remains single and un-laid.

So I walk into the bar about 15 minutes late (don't want to look too keen, though I realise that I am, so the camouflage is extra-important) and make a line for the bar. It's a tidy, clean place, human (not android or automated) staff that smile, tables that are cleaned regularly and a clientele that seem content to sit and quietly converse (as opposed to anything the A-Team gets up to when out and about). I see her in the corner of my eye but I'm feeling like I should be a bit aloof and nonchalant so I order my rum and take a sip before casually leaning back on the bar and looking about.

She is... fucking hell, she's amazing. I forgive myself a little for losing my cool (and mind, gross and fine motor skills, native language...) when she suddenly appeared earlier; she's surrounded by a little crowd of well-heeled blokes who are utterly charmed and eating out the palm of her hand. They are politely vying with each other to tell the next joke, drop the comrade-busting one-liner, buy the next drink. And she's making them dance like a Coriolis operator organising heavy traffic.

That hair is long and loose, gently flicking around as she moves her head to talk or laugh, and she's wearing a dark green sort of bodice that fits her tightly around the waist and rib cage but then blossoms into a navy blue, baggy, long-sleeved silk shirt that catches the light and reveals what might lie beneath, even though it's perfectly and completely demure. Beneath that, some kind of well-tailored trouser whose hems skim the floor just high enough to reveal a very nice pair of heeled boots.

I do the cool thing and order two drinks on my next round, asking the tender to send one over to her as I make my way to an empty table off to one side. A moment later, she is accepting the drink and gazing across the room to where I'm sitting. She smiles and waves. tilting her head graciously at the obvious disappointment of the pack of panting dogs who watch her depart before commiserating themselves with strong liquor and filthy jokes.

"Hey there," she says, sliding into her chair and placing her drink on the table.

"Hi," I reply, summoning every inch of cool I have to not lose my shit again. "Sorry I'm a bit late."

"Not at all, you're not late; gave me a chance to meet the locals anyway."

I snicker quietly and sip my drink, watching her for a moment. Her movements are smooth and unhurried, graceful and fluid. She shifts slightly sideways in her chair to cross her legs; I think I might die but keep it together.

"So," I say, clearing my throat, "What were you doing in my hangar earlier anyway?"

"Oh..." she laughs and waves her hand, "I didn't mean to catch you by surprise - I've sent a couple of messages but you didn't reply, so I thought I'd turn up in person and, you know, say hi."

Messages? What? I'm perplexed.

"Messages? I'm sorry, maybe I didn't get them - what were they concerning?"

"Well," she rolls her eyes a little; I understand this to be a kind of modesty thing, "I was hoping you'd take me on as a sort of apprentice."

This takes a moment to sink in on many levels - firstly, I'm falling over myself for not-even-a-date - and I'm about to ask for clarification when there's a bit of a caffuffle by the entrance and the sound of someone playing what sounds like a flute. And then, unmistakeably, Dawg's voice richly informing the host that he just needs a moment and, no, he doesn't want to check his coat.

I brace for impact.

"Dawg!" I say, smiling brightly as he hurries over to the table, "What are you doing here?"

"Ah, yes, there you are!" he replies, greatly excited. "I wanted to show you this thing I just made - listen to this..." And with that, he pulls what looks like a length of copper piping with holes pierced along its length, raises it to its lips and starts to blow. The sound that issues forth has almost exactly the same tonal quality as a loose water recycler valve. Dawg peeps a "tune" for a few seconds and then pauses, looking terribly pleased with himself, and then says, "Well, you weren't in the hangar or getting pis-" He finally reads my expression and glances at my companion. "Oh. Goodness. That's a woman! Greetings!"

My companion pauses for a moment, chuckles and extends a hand, "Hi! Mira - good to meet you."

"And you, good lady companion of my lovely friend here."

"Dawg..." I murmur, dying in my chair, "The flute is a marvel. Can the recital wait until later?"

"Oh, absolutely. Of course. Not-Dave said you were on a da- er... could be found here. Not with a woman, of course. Not that that matters at all - each to their own, no harm in that! Anyway, I'll be off shall I?"

"Yes. Please."

"Good-o. Lovely to meet you!"

And with that, Dawg lifts the pipe to his lips and plays himself out of my significantly-less-cool evening out.

"I'm so sorry," I murmur, "He's... It's a..."

She smiles and signals the waiter over, ordering two fresh glasses and a bottle. So, not only not leaving, but planning to stay a while. And called Mira. I get a smoke from the pack in my pocket to cover my relief, offering one to her before lighting my own. She refuses with a shake of the head.

"Only after sex," she says with a smile.

"Uh... huh?"

"Smoking," she replies with a wink. I feel I'm missing a joke she's expecting me to understand. I bookmark it for later. "So, anyway, I was wondering whether you'd teach me to fly."

"Just hang on a moment, could we backtrack a touch?"

"Of course," she replies, utterly unruffled. The waiter brings the glasses and whiskey - a new, still-customs-sealed bottle of Special Lyran Export - twists off the top and starts to pour.

"You're Mira?"

"I am."

"And this is - I'm sorry, normally I'm a lot cooler than this, but this is a business meeting?"

"Potentially."

"With some very fine booze."

"Absolutely."

"And you sent me messages?"

"I did."

"Well," I confess, lifting the glass and smelling the amber liquid inside; it's rich and fiery and my mouth is watering, "I'm pretty awful at reading my mail. Either it's some faction leader or other wanting to get more out of me than they've paid for, or it's some shitty pirate gang threatening to throw down or it's one of the Team thinking they need to express "The Most Important Thought They Just Had In The Last Ten Minutes"." She laughs; I add, "You just met Dawg."

"He was funny."

"And uncommonly sober."

"Who else is there?"

"Oh... I'm certain they'll all find cause to turn up eventually. Though the ship - the diamondback earlier?" She nods, I continue, "Was named after Tor's grandmother. She was a slave who made history."

"Aaah, interesting. You must tell me more about this sometime." She smiles, sips and calmly steers the conversation back to topic. "So I need someone to teach me to combat fly."

I nod, throwing my mind into this more familiar territory. "You were in a flight suit earlier - you've flown before?"

"Yes," she replies with a smile, as if I'm missing something obvious.

"And you specifically want combat training?"

"Ideally."

"And you came to me?"

"I did."

"I'm far from the best."

"I know. I've looked you up. You're good enough."

Something's not quite on the level here. I narrow my eyes in thought and take another sip. Wealthy, classy, unruffled, gracious and graceful... "Who are you again??"

"I'm Mira."

"Mira... who?"

"Mira Duval."

"Like, the Duvals who run the parts shop on the Outer circle?"

"No."

"Like the Duval brothers bounty hunters?"

"No..."

"You're not..."

She waits, silently, watching me. I knew - I fucking knew - this was all too good to be true. And as I decide what to say next, my portable coms (which I stupidly didn't disable out of habit so that I don't have to read my messages whenever a drunken teammate has thought up a filthy joke or a cunning plan) crackles into life and Al's voice interrupts us.

"Here, Socks," he says between guffaws, "Lori's just bought a Clipper... You've gotta come see what he called it."

And then - oh brilliant - there's Lori, interrupting Al (and the sound of glass breaking in the background), "You fucking imbecile passenger peddler, it's an Imperial Cutter" and I am staring at Mira helplessly and making silent apologies because it's simply too late to cut off the transmission already and this train will not be steered away from whatever mountain it is heading toward.

"Imperial Cunter more like - Socks? Socks... you there?"

"Yeah..." I reply in a slightly choked voice. "I'm here. I'm with someone. Please don't say what Lori-"

"THE ANDROMEDA STAIN," shouts Al before collapsing into more helpless laughter. Lori is also helplessly giggling and, perplexingly, shouting something that could be, "Toss another one on!" though, by this point, it no longer matters.

Mira - that's Mira Duval - when finally I glance at her, is gamely pouring more drinks and smiling in amusement. "To be fair," she coolly observes, "That's a good name for a Cutter."

"You think?"

"Sure," she laughs, throwing her hair over her shoulder with a casual flick of the hand which drops to her glass, which she lifts to her lips and eyes me over the rim of.

"So you're a Duval. Like... you know."

She nods. "But not an important one. My family is on the outer edges of the Duval family. Wedding and Funeral family, nothing more, really. Cousins many times removed."

"And this is some kind of rebellion thing? Look around the Family System for the most drunk and disorderly wing you can find and take up with some hapless fighter stick to... piss the family off? Get their attention? What are you after here?"

"You could see it like that. Actually, though, I'm utterly dispensable - an older brother and two older sisters. By the time anyone thought about what I was destined for, they'd run out of companies and estates to bequeath. There was a brief notion that I should marry well, but I put pay to that fairly quickly."

"What did you do?"

"I made and published a sex tape of me and my sister's economic advisor getting steamy in the Formal Dining Room."

"Formal Dining Room?"

"Of the Emerald Palace. Aisling was not pleased."

"Oh, fuck..." I murmur, my mind slowly tugging up some relevant memories, "I watched that thing with Tor on the way to Dav's Hope... That was you!?"

Mira nods proudly.

"Good effort!"

Mira raises her glass. "I thank you."

"Happy new beer," I say, and we clink our glasses before draining them.

We have lapsed into contemplative silence as Mira waits for the waiter to arrive again. I am leaning back in my chair, letting this all settle in and watching whether it's landing on the "Fly" or "Not To Fly" side of the question Mira's asked me. I'm fairly sure I already know the way this will go, but I'm fucked if I'm going to hurry the process.

"Want to get out of here?" Mira finally asks, the waiter hovering at her shoulder.

"Sure," I shrug, "Where to? Some mucky-muck palace or other?"

She shakes her head. She leans forward, fixes her blue, blue eyes on me, places her hands over mine and, in a very measured tone says, "I want you to fly me like your vulture."

"Fuuuuucking hell," is about the only thing anyone would have been able to reply to that, and I'm not going to wait for her to ask me again: I'm throwing back my drink, sliding into my coat and offering the waiter my chip. The waiter - dry-mouthed and slightly blushing - refuses my money but (admirably) manages to ask, "Would the ladies like anything else?"

"Sure," I reply, taking Mira's hand and gently pulling her to her feet (her laugh...) with one hand while gesturing to the table with the other, "Two more bottles of this."

"And," adds Mira, turning to smile sweetly at the waiter, "I'd like to place a food order - if someone could deliver it in about two hours to landing hangar..." she looks at me. "Forty-four," I supply. She nods and continues, "Landing hangar forty-four, I'd be terribly grateful."

"Yes, Miss."

"Thank you," she says, tucking a credit chip into the waiter's hand. "List is on there."

Now we're standing hip to hip, it's clear she's taller than me. In fact, as close as I've been to her and I pause to breathe her in; she smells of vanilla and exotic fruits but there's a darker under-scent to her which I find distractingly beguiling. She, similarly, seems to be taking me in for a moment - my stupid hair cut and dumb facial tattoos, my fading cuts and bruises. Finally we're both just looking at each other. The waiter returns with the booze, which Mira accepts wordlessly with a nod before flicking her eyes to the door. I don't need telling twice and lead the way.

"Oh, fuck it," I exclaim about 3 seconds later: there's Kharma and Tor approaching at double-speed.

"Trouble?"

"Teammates."

"If I may..?" murmurs Mira as Kharma - in full, magnificent, awful shirt regalia - starts to speak. I nod, curious to see what effect all that breeding will have on the A-Team.

"Oi, Sock, what's this I hear about you meeting up with some bird, then? I mean, I don't care or nothing, but I'd like to have met her already - Dawg met her before me? What's that about?"

"Mira Duval," says Mira, extending her hand in a gently purposeful way at Kharma. He is instantly silenced. Tor, to one side of Mira and just out of her view, catches the name and starts mouthing "THE MIRA DUVAL?!" at me. I nod and mouth back that this is the exact moment when he should be fucking off.

"A pleasure," says Kharma in the most respectful tone I've ever heard him use. "Commander Kharma... at your service."

"An honour, Commander Kharma," she smiles; he melts. Having incapacitated one, Mira turns to Tor. "Nice to meet you," she murmurs. Tor is less easily overwhelmed, though. Plus he's seen exactly what Mira likes to do with a fish slice and a stick of frozen cream.

"Likewise," he says, "Commander Tor here. But you can call me Bob."

"Tor..." repeats Mira, "Gudrun's Tor?" He looks taken aback by this; Mira takes the chance to strike again, "I've heard all about her - incredible woman. And honour to meet you, her grandson." And with this she extends her hand and Tor - suddenly star-struck - accepts it and shakes it and smiles like a big, dumb viking.

"Well," says Mira, "A pleasure to meet you both. Sadly I must go now, though - I have a previous engagement." She looks at me and tips her head. "Shall we?"

"Oh, we shall," I reply brightly, making a big gesture of turning off my wing coms badge and waving at Tor and Kharma.

"That was amazing," I observe as we approach the Vulture's hangar.

"It's a skill, and not a very good one," she replies modestly.

"Was useful just then." I push the button to open the hangar door and there she is, That's Not My Finger glorious in dusty pink. "And there's my bird."

Mira pauses for a moment, her eyes playing over the vulture's hull and then reaches down to slip off her boots before jogging forward barefoot to my ship. She glances over her shoulder for a moment - her expression delight and mischief and filth - and then pops the door and climbs aboard. "Well, come on, then!" she urges from inside. I close and lock the hangar door and board my ship.

For the next three days,the Vulture earns its name, Mira smokes two packs of cigs and I run my first passenger excursion.

With the coms off.
"Drink fast, die young"
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Cmdr Kharma » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:36 am

Hope you made a vid........

Fnaar.....Fnaar......

:D
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Tor.....Hold on.......Tor.......Wait a bit.....TOR will you stop fecking firing.......Ok......Tor I know a therapist that can help you....... :D My Cmdr also has small feet

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby pargyrak » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:29 pm

Cmdr Kharma wrote:Hope you made a vid........

Fnaar.....Fnaar......

:D


You dirty old....Thargoid of a mother :)
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:49 pm

There is something about the way that Mira handles the vulture that I don't quite understand, but what I'm certain of is that she'll never be great in combat until it gets sorted.

I have installed a second chair on the deck of That's Not My Finger so that Mira can watch me fly or vice-versa and, on and off for the last few weeks, we have been taking the bird out for a spin so that Mira can get some hands-on time (and with the vulture, boom boom) flying around Cemiess space, hunting, interdicting, shooting pirates.

I am utterly fascinated by her.

What she possibly sees in me is a pointless question, for I'm certain it's already clear: a slightly dangerous piece of rough to have some fun with, piss the family off with, make a slightly notorious name with so that, when finally Mira submits to settling down and squeezing out a half-dozen not-quite-royal babies, she'll have her Grand Lesbo Adventure to keep her warm at night and her otherwise overwhelming family will treat her a little cautiously.

I am fine with this, just as I am fine with the fact that, eventually, I will lose her.*

It is Tor who eventually diagnoses what is holding Mira back from really engaging in combat, and it's so obvious as to be laughable. He climbed into Lucy to fly wing with us one afternoon as he was passing through and we spent a few happy hours with Mira and I swapping roles (Domme - sub etc... I JEST), me spotting targets for her or her watching me spin and kill, and while she was freshening up when we were done (another thing I love... she's always changing her clothes. Which should be tedious, but it never takes more than 5 minutes and she never seems to travel with anything. And yet, always, creaseless, out-of-a-holofilm, perfection. My classy, perfectly-turned out, foul-mouthed, nobility doll... I digress)

"Whatcha think, Tor?" I ask as we turn and swing for "home" - Northrop Point in this case.

"She's pretty good," he says neutrally.

"Seriously. What do you think?"

"What do you think?"

"I think she's good, but there's something missing. I can't tell what, though?"

Tor is silent for a moment and then replies, "Actually, I think it's the opposite. I think she has something you and I don't."

"Oh? What's that, then?"

"A fear of death."

"Huh." I ponder this and realise he's right; all her life, Mira has had her value drilled into her. Conversely, I got banned form my home planet. Our separate estimations of our own values are polar. I have more to say on the subject, but she arrives back on deck (straddling me and trying to get me to crash again) and I have to request docking permission and land while being "tweaked" by Mira Duval.

It's an interesting life, all in all.

"You know what you need?" she says later, turning her head to look at me and chuckle. The taste of her is still in my mouth as we lie still-entwined on the hard floor of the Vulture's flight deck. I shake my head mutely.

"Bigger guns!" she replies brightly. "I know a guy... we could go see him. He'll put something monstrous on your vulture."

"They're already bright pink - that's pretty monstrous."

She leans over and kisses my nose. "Let me do this," she breathes, her breath cool and fragrant over my face. I nod again, at once ashamed and delighted at how helpless I am to resist her.

Thus, two days later, we are off to visit Tod McQuinn.

Mira assures me that while he keeps an exclusive clientele, Tod will happily work with me as he likes bounty hunters. She's downloaded my bounty warrant history (incoming, not outgoing) from the Cemiess databank ready to present to him and I've saved up a few choice 'conda and python bounties from recent scuffles as a hello gift.

"Now Tod," says Mira softly as we turn to make our final approach to his base (named "Trophy Camp" - I'm not even kidding), "He's a little special. Was in a band or something." she waves her hand dismissively. This, I have learned, means "There is more to say but it's not relevant and I can't be bothered". Once this gesture has been made, it's pointless to press her much further.

"A band?"

"I think a musical outfit of some kind. He's quite vain and loves flattery, so lay it on."

I raise my eyebrows at her. "Lay it on?"

"You know, men and their egos. Just... be nice to him."

"So don't treat him like an A-Team member?"

"Exactly."

"Right-o."

And then I'm requesting and completing docking and we're disembarking and then, boom, there's Tod McQuinn crossing the facility's underground foyer to greet us.

"Mira!" he exclaims, "Relight my fire! Your love is my only desire!" He double-pistol-points at Mira, winks and then wraps his arms around her.

"Not aged a day, Tod," she replies, two-kissing him, one cheek then the other. "How have you been?"

"Oh, you know, hangin' tough," he replies, grabbing his crotch with one hand and throwing the other out to the side.I blink but say nothing. "You've got the right stuff, Mira - what can I do for you?"

"Well," she says with a bright smile, "I'm hoping you'll consider working with my wonderful friend."

Tod releases Mira and turns to eyeball me. "Hey," he says. He doesn't extend a handshake.

"Whatever," I shrug. Mira gestures wildly over Tod's shoulder, intimating that I should be nice or there'll be consequences later. I pull myself up and smile, "It's nice to meet you, Tod - I've brought something for you." And I hold out the bounty chip.

"Cool, cool," he replies blandly, taking the chip and handing it to a passing droid. "Check this out immediately, would you?" The droid clucks and murmurs a metallic response before taking off somewhere to test my chip in a panel.

"Yeah," I continue, struggling now, "Mira's told me all about you-"

"She has?" says Tod, brightening. "What did she say?"

"That you were in a band..."

"Oh that?" He chuckles one of those chuckles that means "I'm going to pretend like it was nothing, but, actually, everyone in this room will say it was awesome or this shit ends here."

"Yeah," I continue, "Said you rocked the house."

"Oh baby, baby!" And then Tod does something I hadn't anticipated at all. He pops the collar of his leather overcoat, jump and turns a full pirouette upon landing, claps and ends in some kind of odd pose I recognise as being "cool" to anyone under the age of 15 while humming a single, melodic note.

Tod, it seems, was in a boy band.

"Ha! I've not done that in a while," says Tod, dropping into a slight bow as Mira excitedly applauds. Meanwhile I'm thinking to myself, Shut it, Tod, you do that every morning, noon and night and every time you stand up from your chair, and we all know it.

"And it was awesome..." I say with as much straight-faced sincerity as I can muster. Mira drags a finger across her throat at me.

"You know, everybody's talking all this stuff about me, why don't they just let me live?"

I stare blankly at Tod, who is still talking. Eventually he stops and looks at me. "Whatever you need, baby."

I'm about to ask about his gun modifcation services when the droid returns and flashes a message to Tod. In reply, Tod frowns, holds a finger up to Mira and I indicating that we should wait a moment, and then follows the droid to the data panel where my chip was being read. He pauses for a moment there, then pulls out the chip and returns with a stormy expression.

"How deep is your love?" asks Tod, furiously waving the ship at me.

"I'm sorry," I say, genuinely confused.

"I said, is this a fucking joke, bitch?"

"Hey, whoa, man!" I say, hoping to get Tod to cool his heels. "What happened?"

Tod waves the chip at me and then returns it to the droid. "Break it down, yo?"

The droid inserts the chip and the screen in its chest flickers to life. It opens with the words, "Dear Tod, with love, The A-Team."

"Oh dear God," whispers Mira. I palm my face and am reaching for an excuse when the message proper starts to play:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I6NcJByeJY

"I'm going to kill Dawg..."

"What the honest fuck?!" says Tod. His collar has gone floppy. He has gone from boy-band fabulous to 40-something used-to-be in the blink of an eye. Even his jazz hands have fallen still.

"Oh, you know..." I say brightly, "It's a joke - to flatter you?"

"Flatter me?"

I take a punt "You know... it's one of your songs, right?"

Tod frowns and listens closely. "Oh fuck yeah... Stop it, girl!"

And then Tod smooths his cornrows with his hands, resumed Boy Band mode and starts laughing. And, in relief, Mira starts laughing. And, because this laughter confirms that, yes, I will get to have sex with her again, I start laughing too. Tod pops his collar back up as he cools his giggling and turns to offer me a handshake. "You're alright. Easy as 1, 2, 3."

I accept the handshake and nod. "We're cool, Tod. And, hey, let me downlink some bounty data to you from my ship - conda's and pythons, rich, rich bounties from Cemiess." I nod suggestively as Tod's eyes light up.

"You've go the right stuff, baby... love the way you turn me on-" Tod replies, dancing again.

"Tod, no," says Mira gently, placing a hand on his shoulder. Tod looks a little crestfallen but stops his routine. "Let's go."

Several dance routines and bouts of sung lyrical cliches later, and Tod is smoothing his hand over my Vulture. And then he shakes his head.

"I'm sorry, baby," he murmurs.

"Sorry?" I say. I'm leaning against the hangar wall waiting for Tod to finish his inspection of my ship while Mira keeps him sweet.

"I don't like your hardpoints."

"My what?"

"You and me, we could ride on a star if you change out those pulse lasers."

I shoot a look at Mira who shrugs indifferently. "Change them out to what?"

"Multis, frags, rails... just not those." He looks poised to start singing again; Mira's gentle hand on his shoulder cools the urge. "But I know this ass-hugger who can help you. Kind of a dick if you know what I mean."

"Not really," I murmur.

"Calls himself "The Dweller", like that's some kind of thing. Like, heh, what a dumb name!"

"Uh-huh, The Blaster."

"Hey, that's a cool name."

"You thought it up in rehab or something. You're the only person who calls you The Blaster, aren't you, Tod?" I say. Mira is gesturing at me to shut up, but I've had enough now. 5 mil in bounties, dancing and singing, having to make nice and friendly, and that fucking incessant collar popping... no, I'm perfectly certain that Tod McQuinn is the only person in the Galaxy who calls Tod McQuinn "The Blaster" and I'm making no secret of it.

"You know... you're kind of a bitch," says Tod, looking to Mira for support. "Mira..."

Mira shrugs, "She's super-hot and makes me come like an Orang whore. Sorry, Tod."

"End of the road," says Tod, leaving the hangar, giving a sad "Hee-hee" as he presses the button to open the door.

"You are kind of a bitch," observes Mira as we climb aboard the Vulture. I send her a wink and start the launch sequence. As the clamps are removed, and I rise out of the dead-coms zone about 11 messages messages come in, one from GalNet.

"Oh this will be good," I say, "Grab those downloads, would you?"

Mira nods, shrugs and starts up the downloads while I fuss about getting comfortable and cycling through a quick systems check. And then I hear her stilted gasp and look up. Her eyes are fixed on the small holoscreen in the dash between our chairs. I look down at the screen and see...

viewtopic.php?f=31&t=8820

"Oh, those utter, utter bastards," I whisper.

And yet, for 22 minutes and 11 seconds, Mira and I sit in utter silence while we watch.

"At least they got my hair right," muses Mira when the final shot vanishes, "There's that at least."















*Who am I kidding?! I fucking HATE the fact that I can't sit on a modified-for-two flight deck with her until some asshole eventually shoots me out of the sky or I drink myself to death or we retire together to some terraformed rock that she's been working on for the entirety of my career and, boom, 35 years of retirement preparation has paid off in ultimate Til-Death-Do-Us-Part luxury. I HATE that this is all so fucking fleeting and easy and wonderful and that she tastes like cinnamon, lemon and honey and that she can be surrounded by hopeful suitors and still make me feel like the only person in the room. I HATE that, with her, I feel 3 feet taller, many years wiser, several hundred degrees hotter and endlessly more valuable than I ever did without her.

Most of all, I HATE that I am falling in love. I will lose her. I lose everything. I will die of a broken heart, sad and empty on some dark side of a moon that only I have seen in the depths of some shitty system far outside of the Bubble, where I have flown to because it's where I have to go to escape memories, images, news stories of her, her, her. Given that I tend to fuck up everything good whether I try to or not, I might as well just get on with losing her in the best style I can - loudly, aggressively, drunkenly, submissively and with as much sex as my hungry body can stand.

I HATE this destiny and I feel like a twat and a coward to think that I am submitting to it, and I think I'm going to rebel and fight it or at least try to control it but then... she climbs onto my lap in the flight-chair or laughs that laugh or charms some asshole or looks at me that way and I realise that I'm trapped and whatever she wants to do with (and without) me is what she will do and there's no other choice that I can make except to submit to it.

OF COURSE I say I'm fine with losing her. Fake it 'til you make it, kiddo.
"Drink fast, die young"
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"You may ask who was wearing the bow tie; me or the shark. The answer is: YES."


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