Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Star Traveler Update - MT2424

“But it’s adorable,” Cassie said.

“Adorable is not what I wear.” I countered. “I wear sophisticated, sexy, elegant – maybe an occasional trendy, but never ‘adorable’.” What glitch in Cassie’s program made her think I liked ruffles? I was staring at the most hideous dress I have ever seen on the NET. I will definitely have to make an appointment with Daniel after this run. It would be just like him to write some sub-program for the fun of it. I think he gets bored doing the normal routine programming. He was probably playing, the rotten little puke. There was nothing in my personal information that even vaguely alluded to ruffles.

“We are being hailed by MT2424,” Ma-rye-a said over the com. “They are requesting permission to board.”

“Acknowledge the request and grant permission,” I told Ma-rye-a.

“I am decreasing speed to allow for boarding,” she said.

“I’ll meet them in the pod bay.” I confirmed with Ma-rye-a. “Put that away,” I told Cassie. “Find something without ruffles - in red – low neck, please.”

“Will do,” Cassie chirped in her most pleasant voice. “But, I do think it would look nice on you.”

“Not in this millennium sweetheart.”

I headed for the bay. An MT unit is a mobile tactical unit of the Galactic Forces. They were set up as the Galactic Forces added more and more territory. As indicated by their name, they are a mobile force with only their ship as base. There are numerous teams out here in the Verse. They uphold the law and are pretty much free to follow their cases wherever they take them. The teams usually consist of three members, a Captain, a computer specialist, and a medical/forensic officer.

I came around the corner into the bay and was confronted by a huge Walhmite Captain and his human Medical Officer. I could tell this from the insignias on their sleeves. The Walhmite was over seven and a half feet tall. I know cause I measured him against the bay door height into the ship as I lead them to the galley. He had the typical upturned nose of this race and though they are large and not to be trifled with, they are usually a very thoughtful race. Therefore, they make excellent officers. There is a height requirement for all Galactic Forces of at least six foot, four inches. If you have to enforce the law you may as well have the biggest, baddist guys do it. The captain's medical officer was tiny compared to him – maybe six-six or six-seven. 

It is a good idea to treat these officers like very special company. I had Moby make up a fresh pot of pitch and some sandwiches. As they didn’t seem in any hurry, I asked them to sit and we settled into the comfort chairs in the vid room. I watched as one of the chairs conformed to the huge Walhmite Captain, Targus. It was so compressed that I doubted the chair would spring back once he left.

“What can I do for you, officers?” I asked.

“We’re investigating a ZAT smuggling ring,” Captain Targus reported. “We would like permission to inspect your load.” He didn’t have to ask. He knew he had the right to look at anything he wanted to and if he didn’t he could get his computer officer to get the documentation from the Intergalactic Network Computer or I.N.C. faster than I could pour him a second cup of pitch..

“Of course,” I said. I handed him my manifest which I had picked up on the way down to the pod bay. “I have a load for Rigil Four. It came from the dispatcher on Refitting Station Terrell. I would think it would be reliable.”

Captain Targus flipped through the manifest.

 “We have found that the transporters in some cases legitimately do not know they are carrying the drug,” the medical officer explained. He had introduced himself as Damion – first or last name, I had no idea. “They picked up their load thinking it was one thing, when it was another.”

“Refreshments are ready. Should I serve them in here?” Moby asked.

“That would be fine, Moby.” I went to the prep unit and removed the sandwiches. They were replaced with the mugs of pitch. “Do either of you take a sweetener?” I asked the officers.

“Please,” Damion answered. He was not only handsome, but polite. If I had met the medical officer under other conditions, I would have been trying to think of a way to maneuver him into asking me out for dinner or a drink. I can’t resist a man in uniform and he was a hunk. Dark hair and dark eyes – eyes you could melt into. I brought him a sweetener straw and placed the sandwiches in front of us on the table.

Damion picked up one and took a bite. “Is that dill I taste in the egg salad?”

“Yes. Moby is programmed with a French flare. I know it is old fashioned, but I like the simplicity of the old world fare,” I explained.

“My mother used to put dill in her egg salad.”

“Really?” One point for my side. “I bet you would love Moby’s croissants. They are so light and flaky.”

“Sounds heavenly.” Score two for my side.

Captain Targus put down his unfinished sandwich. I guess egg was not a Walhmite favorite. “Perhaps Moby could prepare something else for you, Captain. I don’t have any traditional fare for you, but I could have him whip up some malfit meat pies,” I offered.

“No thank you.” The Captain took a big swig of his pitch. “We should probably get down to business.”

I led them to the cargo bay and gave Sam instruction to cooperate with the officers completely. They searched. They found nothing – as I predicted. Right before Damion climbed into their pod I handed him a plate of Moby’s egg salad sandwiches. “Thank you, 3su,” he said as he shook my hand. (Score three for my side.)

When I got back up on the bridge I had Ma-rye-a run MT2424 through her search program. Their regular beat was in the Rigil System. A clever person could devise an opportunity to meet up with them again.   

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Star Traveler Update - My Crew

“We’re all secured down here, 3su,” Sam said. He is my ship’s AI assigned to security and shipment details, the muscle aboard Ma-rye-a.

“Right, Sam. Everyone check-in,” I said.

“We’re secure in the galley,” Moby said. He is my AI assigned as chef. He can make a dirty dishrag taste good.

“Your tea,” Horus said and a cup appeared in the prep unit at my elbow on the bridge. Horus is my personal AI. He is programmed with this old Brit accent that is to-die-for. His duties are to service and consultation. His sub-program is medical. He is very understanding when I have a hangover and mixes an incredible Hairy Toadstool. He also gives great elder advice. He has a rational thought program. It makes him seem funny at times even though he isn’t programmed with a sense of humor.

“I’m fine down here,” Cassie chirped. “Get this tub off and on auto-pilot, I have the most gorgeous gown I want to show you.” Cassie is my AI shopping buddy and wardrobe diva. I have spent many long hours passing the time in Hyper space pouring over NET catalogs with her. She’s like your favorite girlfriends all rolled into one. She has impeccable taste. I follow her lead on all my fashion decisions.

“Okay, Ma-rye-a, if you are ready, we are,” I told my ship.

“Coordinates in place…Destination programmed…Locks disengaging…” Ma-rye-a dropped off of the dock to the Refitting Station and headed out into space. We had picked up a transport to Rigil Four and were on our way.

To be alone in space is one of my worst fears. I spent a docking station full of money outfitting my ship with a crew I found both useful and entertaining. None of my AIs have physical bodies. They are just detached voices, but I can access any of them from any part of the ship. They learn as I spend more and more time with them. They are in a since, my extended family.

Ma-rye-a was my first. She was in the ship when I purchased it, but I have done some extensive upgrades to her systems. I have a doll of a guy named Daniel at Tradepost 1313 that is an absolute whiz with programming. I am sure he could make a flat cook you dinner if you wanted it. He is good enough to be employed just about anywhere in the Verse, but he likes being on the edge so he stays put at the Tradepost and we all come to him. Over the years he has made Ma-rye-a more than just a ship’s operating program. She is my second hand. She can take over if anything happens to me and get us where we need to go. In a sense, she reasons things out for herself. My fear used to be getting injured in space and just floating endlessly without anyone knowing I needed help. There are so many things that can go wrong in space. Something simple malfunctions and suddenly you are in crisis mode. I do not have that fear any longer. I am secure in the feeling that Ma-rye-a’s program would recognize the problem and get us help.

Sam was next. He came with all his extended equipment. He can operate everything on the transport/shipping deck. If he can’t think it into place, he can maneuver it with mechanical arms and lifts. He has all the knowledge to make sure the loads are secure, don’t over weigh or misbalance the ship, and that no one enters without authorization. He is even armed with a web of tazzer ports that can immobilize an intruder. 

Cassie and Moby were a great deal. Buy one, get one half price. They were basic models that you chose the detail programming, such as preferences for dietary choices for Moby. Daniel did some tweaking on Cassie so she would have my exact interests in mind when surfing the NET for clothes or interesting articles to share with me. I don’t miss anything I would want to read or know since I bought Cassie.

Horus was the last purchase. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really plan on him. Ma-rye-a has basic medical programming and control over the sickbay, but I found myself with a heavy decision to be made once and Ma-rye-a’s programming did not fit the task and Cassie was too feather brained to be of any help, so Horus was brought on board. He balances out our little group, and he plays a mean game of chess.

“We’ll be dropping into Hyper Drive in 3 minutes, 45 seconds,” Ma-rye-a announced. “Buckle up.”
We’re off. Next stop Rigil Four.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Star Traveler Update - Hada & Fin

Shortly after my last post I received a subspace message that Hada wanted to see me and was not far from the Refitting Station. Could I come out and meet her? Was I in the area? I hopped in Ma-rye-a, my ship, and headed out to visit. I hadn’t expected what I found when I arrived.

I reached across the table and took Hada’s hand. “I am so sorry.” Tears came to her eyes. I stood and walked around to take her in a big hug. She stood and buried her head in my shoulder to cry, her prehensile tail still curled securely around her 3 year old son, Fin, seated beside her. Fin rubbed his cheek against her tail as his curled tighter around his chair leg.

Hada pulled herself together, wiped her eyes and looked down at her child. “Fin, would you go get mommy some tissue?”

The child obligingly got up and headed to the bathroom in their quarters aboard the transport vessel T11094.

“He’s so young to be without a father,” Hada said, as she settled back down in her chair.

I sat down and topped off her tea cup. “Do you want to talk about it?” Hada was a good friend. I was the one who took her and Alton, her new husband at the time, to their first dig. They were archeologists. Their latest dig had made it onto the universal link. It was very early Vularian. The Vularians were the map makers of the universe. They had been out in the stars while we humans were still worrying about where fire came from and how to contain it. They placed the space beacons we all navigate by. If it weren’t for the Vularians life out here would be much more complicated.

“Alton was kneeing down. The Crac Crawler bit him just above his boot. He would have survived the bite, but it breached his suit. The atmosphere on HT13 is lethal. He was dead in moments.” Fin came up with a wad of tissue in his small fist. “Thank you, darling.” Hada stroked his head. He giggled and clutched at his belly. Not the reaction I had expected even from an Unchin. “Is it tickling?”

“Yes,” Fin said. He had something in his hand caught up underneath the cloth of his shirt. He giggled again.

“Why don’t you show 3su your new pet?” Hada prompted. “I bought it for him yesterday - something to keep him company.” She started to tear up again.

I smiled knowingly at her and then turned my attention to Fin. “What have you got there, sweetie?”

Fin started to unbutton his shirt to expose his round, furry, 3 year pot belly. When he got down to the third button his new pet was revealed. It was a Mahserĝ. Have you ever seen one? They are adorable little creatures. Their body is no bigger than the palm of your hand, but they have a tail twice as long as their body. Their eyes are huge because they are a nocturnal animal – insect and fruit eaters. The Mahserĝ crawled up Fin’s belly clinging to the child’s short body fur. It came to rest on his chest.

“What have you named him?” I asked Fin.

“It’s a female,” Hada said.

“What have you named her?” I corrected.

“Mah,” Fin said. He stroked the back of the animal. It chittered softly and settled down deeper into his chest fur its tiny hands gripping his fur for security.

“Mah is a nice name. She looks like she really likes you,” I commented.

“She likes being warm. I have to keep her warm, huh Mah?” Fin said to his new pet.

“Why don’t you go get the flat and read to Mah,” Hada suggested. “I bet she would like that.”

Fin toddled across the floor and pulled the flat reader from its holder. He sat down on the pile of pillows in the corner and started to read to Mah. She crawled up on his shoulder as though studying the pictures on the flat. Fin’s tail came up to his shoulder and curled around the Mahserĝ creating a warm nest for her to snuggle in.

“Will you be all right?” I asked Hada.

“Monetarily, yes. Alton provided for us both, but emotionally I am devastated. We had so little time together. Five years. It was hardly anytime at all. It’s so unfair.” Hada wiped at her eyes with the wad of tissue.

“If there is anything I can do?” It was such an empty offer. I wish I had said something else, but what do you say when someone dies? What can you do to help? It is something that each person must work through in their own time at their own pace. I took her hand again. I could at least give that much support. “If you need someone to sit with Fin so you can have some time to yourself, just let me know.”

“Thank you, 3su. You are a good friend.”

Star Traveler Update - If you have it, spend it

If I have it, I spend it. It is that simple. I took a look at my chit-line this morning after yesterday’s spending spree. I have to pick up another transport from the dispatcher soon. I had Ma-rye-a stocked so she will be ready when I receive the next assignment. Turnover is usually good here on Refitting Station Terrell - shouldn’t be more than a day or so. I have a great rating with this station. My shipments are always delivered on time and in good condition.

Hopefully, tomorrow. Guess I’ll have to eat in until then. Oh well, you have to sacrifice something for beauty, right?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Star Traveler Update - What do you think of my new look?

Boy did I have a blast this past two days. I finally received payment for my last transport and I went a bit crazy. If you’ve got it why not spend it, I always say. Went to my favorite shop on Level4 of Ring3 here at the station. Bought this simple, but elegant black number – of course, that meant I had to have nails done next door and one thing led to another. I have finally taken the jump to the new hairless trend – I mean after all…It will always grow back. Had the dresser take a pic of me. Here it is. Let me know what you think. Sure is easy to care for. (P.S. The silver eye tattoos are removable. So are the red contacts, but it is a big part of “The Look”.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Star Traveler's Update - Spying for Jake

Arr’s got a date with his first female. She’s a gal on the refitting line, human, named Carrie. Jake wanted to know if I knew her. I didn’t. She came on after I left working at the station and moved onto my own ship, but I told him I would ask around. Jake’s so cute when he’s being all protective and concerned. Maybe I should pick up with someone on the shady side to get him to look out for me. Probably wouldn’t work. He knows me to well. I can take care of myself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Star Travelers Update - Taming Kayo

By all the Gods of all the worlds how do I get myself into these things? I swear I am such a fool for a handsome face. No wonder the other girls call me a Spacer-Chaser.

Jake asked me if I wanted to come with him and Arr down to the kennels to feed Kayo. That’s Jake’s protect dardolf. Dardolfs are not allowed on refitting stations except in kennels or locked in a person’s ship. They are very unpredictable. Since Jake’s ship, the Calpernia, is in for refitting Kayo had to be put in the kennels.

Before there was the partnership of Jake and Arr, there was Jake and Kayo. The dardolf has saved Jake more times then he would like to admit. Kayo is a working dardolf – protect level of the breed. Dardolfs come in a wide variety of sizes from draft level, through gaming level, to protect. They look like a cross between a wolf and a bear. Their front legs and paws are like a bear’s, they can and do, reach out and grab their prey. Right now Kayo was at the full extension of his very heavy chain with Jake playing dead weight at the opposite end. He was trying to grab me.

“Down,” Jake commanded. Kayo ignored him. The animal was loyal to a fault, but he didn’t mind worth a damn. I have known Jake for years, but Kayo has never let me near him. I don’t know why I bother to try except that somewhere deep inside I have this crazy idea that if I could get Kayo to like me maybe Jake would fall for me permanently.

“Sit,” Jake yelled. He had worked his way up to Kayo’s heavy metal harness. Anything less than metal and the beast would have chewed it off and ate it. He had a reputation for eating Jake’s gloves. Every time the guy got to the station Jake had to buy a new pair. The dardolf liked them so much that Jake sometimes used them as a treat to get Kayo to obey.

Kayo had settled down at this point to sitting at Jake’s side. Jake had a firm hold on the harness. Kayo was growling and baring his teeth at me. Not a good sign. I was trying not to show my concern since I had committed to this meet. Arr had fed the beast prior to his release from the cage, but it wasn’t much reassurance that the dardolf would behave.

“Arr,” Jake said, “Show 3su the way to Kayo’s heart.”

Arr came up and handed me a small brown bag. It was full of Red Raspberry Goo Chews – those disgustingly sweet  kid candies that stick to your teeth. I must have looked unappreciative cause Arr smiled and said “They are for Kayo, not you. Toss him one.”

I just stood there confounded until Arr reached in pulled a treat out and tossed it to Kayo. He caught it on the fly - didn’t even chew once, just down the hatch, one gulp. He stopped growling and I swear he smiled. I didn’t know dardolfs could smile. His tongue is all hanging out and he looks like he’s the family friendly dog of the kid next door except he’s much larger and wearing a chainmail harness.

Arr and I had his full attention now. I tossed him a second and third chew. He was all happy and wagging his tail.

“What did you treat these things with Zat? He’s a different dardolf,” I said in disbelief.

“No drugs,” Jake said, easing up a bit on his hold. Kayo stood up and looked like he might lunge for the bag. After all, I wasn’t going to argue with him over possession of it.

“Down,” Arr commanded and Kayo immediately obeyed. He went down on his stomach. “Forward,” Arr said. Kayo inched forward crawling on his belly just like I’ve seen in the vides of working dardolfs in battle training. He made it to within a foot of me. “Stop,” Arr said and gave him the hand signal that accompanied the command.

I knelt down and was still at eye level with the critter. Yes, he had gone from beast to critter in a very short time. I tossed him another chew. It went down just like the others.

“Give him a stroke,” Jake suggested. “You can pet him now.”

I handed Arr the bag of chews and reached out tentatively to let Kayo smell my hand. He licked it. I must admit I giggled like a twit, but it was so amazing to be accepted after all this time. I put my hand on his head and ran my fingers thought the ruff around his neck. The breed comes from the planet Walh where it rains incessantly so their coats are three layers to keep them dry all the time. They are sooooooo soft. If they weren’t good for so many other things I am sure they would have been hunted to extinction for their pelts.

“That is absolutely amazing. How did you figure out he liked the chews of all things?” I asked as I stood up.

Arr reached in the bag. He tossed Kayo another and then popped one into his mouth. “I liked them, why wouldn’t he?”

Yuck, that was pretty revolting. I have never met an adult that could stomach Red Raspberry Goo Chews. Arr is more of a kid then I thought.  

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