Saturday, February 26, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Back to Trade Post #1313

MT 2424 followed us until we cleared the space in the general vicinity of the Helavite attack. Coal sent Ma-rye-a a virtual kiss for all the information she had passed to him over the NET. If she had been human, she would have blushed. She had to show it to all of us. The Realdat has really made a friend in her. No matter what I order next time, if there is a next time, I bet she gets a picture of the Helavites for him.

I sent Tim O’Malley an apology for missing Jake’s party and told him I would catch up with them later for a belated celebration on Refitting Station Terrell. We all like the Corridor 6 Bar and the bartender there, Andy. I know if we keep it to a low roar, he will let us camp out there for a spell.

We are headed back to Trade Post #1313. I made enough on the last two jobs that I can rest for a bit and not feel pinched. I can take some R&R with Daniel and then we can take off for the GTD celebration. I want to take the slow way, around the Helavite area on the way instead of through like last time.

Maybe I can even pick up some enter-planetary transports to pad my pockets a bit more before the celebration.

I took the Valarian map/beacon class last time for the 30 days I was there, so I could get my navigation software. Because of the time needed to study for the class and the money involved in enrollment and the purchase of the software, I didn’t get to see much of the festival or the exhibits. I am looking forward to just having fun this time. Some games, good food, maybe purchase a tech item or two, and after what just happened, maybe look into mounting a gun turret or two on Ma-rye-a. We’ll see.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Helavites and Cookies

“I could get addicted to these things,” Damion said, as he popped the last of the cookie in his mouth.

“Moby? Could you oblige us with another plate full, please,” I asked.

“Coming right up,” Moby said.

The Yakoshi had barely said hello and it was off to chase the Helavites in the direction Ma-rye-a indicated with her tracking information. So, we had sat for another hour and a half until MT 2424 arrived. Coal was in on the conversation this time by com link. He was taking notes at his console aboard the galactic vessel as we discussed what I had seen. Captain Targus was doing the questioning and Damion was reveling in Moby’s cooking skills.

“Make sure you pocket a couple of those for me,” Coal said over the com.

Damion smiled at Coal on the monitor and bit into another cookie with relish.

Targus had already asked me to recount what I had observed in detail. Now he placed a wanted poster on my console. “Did they look like this?” he asked.

The drawing made my skin crawl. No one had ever been able to get a photo or vid of the beetles and live to show it. With all our technology, a drawing was the best the Verse had.

“Yes, that’s them,” I responded. “I’m sorry we weren’t able to get a picture of them for you. I was just in a pretty big hurry to get out of their way.”

“Understandable,” the Captain said. “I am thankful we are not picking up the debris of Ma-rye-a.

“Me too,” Ma-rye-a piped in.

“Sorry,” I apologized. “I’ve made them very interactive AIs.”

“I’m sure they are a lot of company to you on long trips,” Damion offered.

“You can’t imagine,” I confirmed.

Targus folded up his poster and stuck it back in his breast pocket. “Where are you headed from here?”

“I was on my way to Outpost #68 for the birthday party of a friend. I don’t think I feel much like a party now. I may go back to Trade post #1313 and see if I can pick up another load.” I didn’t want to say anything about Daniel and have Damion get the wrong idea. I just thought I might hang out at the Trade post until it was time to take off for Valaria and the GTD celebration.

“Well, we won’t keep you any longer, Captain,” Targus said as he rose to his full seven feet eight inches (I had gotten up my courage to ask). He shook my hand and headed toward the cargo bay.

“Here,” I said. I handed Damion the remainder of the cookies. “Some for the empty space.”

“Thanks, we’re going to have to stop meeting like this,” Damion said. “I have leave soon. If we don’t get caught up in a Helavite confrontation, will you be at Trade post #1313 long?”

“For a couple of weeks. Then I am headed to GTD on Valaria,” I answered. “Any hope of you coming by that way?”

“Not much,” he replied. “Valaria is a wee bit out there for us.”

“Maybe later,” I offered with a smile.

“Definitely later,” he said and leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for the cookies.”

I felt a tingle down to the soles of my spacer boots.

My luck, I hate long distance romances.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Star Traveler Update - I hate waiting

“Aiyeh!” I exclaimed as the tea I spilled ran off the console into my lap. “Yuck.” I jumped up from my chair. I brushed at the liquid to no avail. I was going to have to change my clothes.

“I’ll make you another cup,” Horus offered.

“How about some of those scones you like to go with it?” Moby chimed in.

They were all trying to be so solicitous. We had been waiting for over five hours and I was a wreck. I have always thought I was brave and strong, but this waiting for the Yakoshi to arrive with the Helavites active in the area made my skin crawl.

“Thanks, Moby. That would be nice. I’m going to change out of this.” I plucked at the wet pants on my thigh.

“Perhaps a game of chess when you return,” Horus suggested.

“We’ll see.” I wasn’t in the mood for chess. I didn’t really think I could keep my mind on a game.

“You know, we’re okay,” Sam reassured me as I walked to my cabin. “The scrubbers are doing their job. We’ll be fine.”

“Thanks, Sam. I know you’re doing a great job. I just can’t help feeling very vulnerable sitting here.”

Cassie met me in my cabin. “Wear the red,” she advised. “It always makes you feel better.”

I took my red jumpsuit out and slipped it on after shedding my tea drenched outfit. Honestly, I do not know what I would have done with myself the last three days without my crew. I am going to have to get Daniel something special at the GTD festival as a thank you for all the empathy he has programmed into them.

“There, isn’t that better,” Cassie said in a cheerful tone. “A little eye makeup and you’ll be all set to meet the captain of the Yakoshi. I have been reading up on him and he sounds very capable. He’s also quite handsome.” She displayed a hologram from the projector on the wall. “His name is Denn Silva. He is human and hails from Goliath’s third moon.”

The projection was of a man about my height, built wide in the shoulders and slim in the hips, blond, blue eyed with chiseled features. Really nice if you liked blonds. Personally, I drift more toward the dark haired verity. Damion is more my type.

“Of course, Damion is nicer looking, but you have to admit, Denn is cute,” Cassie commented. Daniel had programmed her with so many of my preferences that it was like she read my mind half the time.

“I just picked up the Yakoshi on my long range scan,” Ma-rye-a announced from the bridge. “They should be here in another 4 hours.”

At this rate they should make it to us at about the same time as the MT Unit arrives. But hey, I wasn’t about to turn them away.

“Thank heaven.” I said. I did feel a bit light headed with relief. “Let’s have some scones and tea to celebrate.” I headed toward the bridge. “Set up the chess board, Horus.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Reporting In

“I’ll make this quick. I have no idea if the Helavites monitor the Net, but I don’t want to take the chance.” 

Ma-rye-a had connected us with MT2424. The computer officer had answered the call and introduced himself as Officer Coal. He was a Realdat – a very identifiable race. They all look alike, their only individuality being their tattoos. The computer officer has a winged creature on cloven hoofs prancing across one cheek. He’d called for Captain Targus to join him on the bridge, but I didn’t want to wait on him. I wanted to get my duty driven report in and get the hell out of this area of space.

“We just witnessed an attack on a freighter by Helavites. We’re not equipped to fight, as your captain knows since he was onboard my ship a couple of months ago. My ship is forwarding you the coordinates now.”

Damion’s face entered the view screen. “Were there any survivors?” Wishful thinking on his part.

“They blew the ship up before they left. There is nothing except debris for one of your cleaning teams,” I answered. “Ma-rye-a tracked them as far as her sensors would allow. We are transmitting that data to you now along with the coordinates.”

“Coal, do you have a lock on the Captain's ship?” Targus asked as he came into view on my screen.

“Affirmative,” Coal responded.

“Can you wait for us?” The captain asked.  He looked down at the readouts on Coals controls. “We can be there in less than ten hours.”

“I don’t feel real comfortable sitting here even if we are shielded,” I told Captain Targus. “If they do any poking around, they’ll find us.”

Coal was literally attacking his keyboard. I could hear his fingers punching the screen with such force that it was a wonder that he didn’t crack it. “The Yakoshi is only three hours from her location,” Coal said.

“Can you wait for the battle cruiser to arrive?” Targus asked. “I don’t think the Helavites would think of bothering you with her around.”

“I suppose so,” I lamented.

“You may not realize you have further information for us that your ship does not possess in her data base. Anything we can learn about these raiders, no matter how small, is vitally important.”

I leaned back in my chair. “Well, tell the Yakoshi to put a move on. I’ll feel a lot better about waited for you with her sitting guard over us.”

“We’re on our way,” Targus replied.

“I’ll have the cookies waiting,” I added as I winked at Damion. No sense in letting the opportunity of impressing the handsome medical officer again. After all, what else could I do while I was waiting ten hours for them to arrive, except worry?

I caught his returning wink just as Coal signed off.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Helavite Sighting

“Check,” Horus said, as he moved his queen to block my king on the holographic chess board.

We had dropped Chumlee off at the Galnon Station and proceeded on our way as soon as the deed was done. I certainly had no desire to linger on a planet where the mean temperature was 120 degrees.

We were finally on our way to Outpost #68 for Jake’s party.

Horus and I were playing chess on the bridge. Most people would play in the vid room or maybe even the mess, but I liked looking at the stars through the view port. That was the reason I was a spacer and not planet bound. Ma-rye-a enhanced the view by throwing up an occasional vid slice of an interstellar nursery with its energetic light and winds from massive newly formed stars evaporating and dispersing amid the dust in which they are formed.

Cassie was playing in one corner of the view port throwing up pictures of outfits she saw on the NET that might interest me. She put a dialogue bubble above the ones she liked most with “Wow!” or “Sexy Lady” or “Frosty” or some other written comment. She was trying to be quiet and not disturb the chess game, but being the program she was she wasn’t being too successful at it.

My eyes wandered from the chess board to the view port, one more move and Horus would have me. Daniel had programmed Horus so occasionally he would let me win. It was very random through. I could tell today was not my day for victory.

I scratched my head. My hair is growing back and it itches all the time. I kinda like it though. It stands up straight at this point. I look like I am wearing a fur cap. Cassie threw up a shot of a selection of several wigs, rainbow spiked, blond curls and a long black braid. Her bubble said “Hair – what a concept”.

I spotted something out the view port. I can’t explain how I see things out of place in an open Verse, but I can. Like a proofreader, my eyes see misplaced objects. “What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s a wig,” Cassie answered.

“Not that,” I said, “that,” I pointed at a space outside the port. “Ma-rye-a give me a close up of that area.”

Ma-rye-a pulled Cassie’s picture off the screen and zoomed in on the area of space I indicated. It was two ships, a freighter and a Phoenix Class flyer. They were both stationary in space. I had a really bad feeling about this. It looked really hinky. Phoenix Class flyers are built for speed. I could think of a dozen reasons a freighter and a Phoenix would meet in empty space and none of them were good.

“What are the readings?” I asked.

“The integrity of the freighter’s hull has been compromised,” Ma-rye-a said. “I do not detect any life.”

Just then the Phoenix pulled away from the larger ship. We could see a huge hole in the freighter’s side - a hole that looked like the remnants of an explosion. Out of the hole scurried several beetle-like beings approximately seven to eight feet tall. Helavites! The scourge of the Verse.

“Ma-rye-a, find us a place to hide. Quick!” I ordered.

“There is an asteroid not far…”

“Get us there, now!” I interrupted.

Ma-rye-a banked to the right. I heard her engines kick into hyper-drive. I was glad I was sitting down. She whorled around and landed us in a depression on the back side of a small asteroid.

“Sam,” I said. “Can you give us some camouflage?” I knew even though Sam and Moby had not been on the deck with me, they always monitored the com and were aware of what was happening.

“Gotcha Cap,” he answered. He deployed the scrubbers, which also worked on other tasks outside the ship. 

They quickly planted themselves about the ship’s hull and activated their holographic projectors. To anyone passing, we would look like another part of the rock we were sitting on unless they came down and touched us.

“Ma-rye-a, can you keep an eye on them for us?” I asked. “Without attracting any attention, of course,” I added.

“Of course,” she replied. The image of the freighter and the Phoenix came back on the screen. The beetles must have transferred all they wanted from the ship. They were making their way back to the flyer. I marveled at their ability to exist out in space without a suit. No one had ever been able to catch a Helavite, but it was believed that their body’s shell acted like a suit and that they could go without breathing for an inordinately long time. I found them down right creepy, yet fascinating.

The Helavites are the pirates of the Verse. They move in on a ship or a planet and never leave anyone behind to tell the tale. They use other culture’s technology and disguise themselves with it. The beetles sell their plundered goods on a floating black market. Those who buy from it are not the sort to give up its location, so the Galactic Forces have never known where to find them to bring them to justice. We have no idea how many there are or where they make their base camp.

The freighter exploded in a burst of fire almost immediately snuffed by the lack of oxygen in space. There was nothing left except floating debris when the Phoenix pulled away.

“Ma-rye-a? Track them as far as your sensors will allow and see if you can locate MT2424. We need to report this.”

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