Peeru Fanfic

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Death 999
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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:58 pm

Chapter 31: Allies

When Peeru reboarded the Vindicator, Fenson met her. "Welcome back, commander."

"How are departure preparations coming along?"

"On schedule, actually. Just one thing. One of the syreen is asking to speak with a commander. And especially as you've been the liaison, I figured it'd be best if you handled it."

"Certainly. Show me the way." I wonder what grievance it could be, or whatever else it is.

He sent her a map location and a name - Onino. The lift took her far aft, to a small access gangway overlooking the sublight engines. This Syreen was alone, simply looking down and across at them, studying. Peeru could mainly see her hair, curled and wide, with gray beginning to intrude into the deep red. The skin on her legs wasn't as smooth as that of the others Peeru had seen in person without cold gear on - it reminded Peeru of Simpson's hands. For the first time Peeru put together the evidence and realized that the gray hair had principally occurred on older Syreen. How did I not realize earlier? Seriously, I thought it was ethnic variation? I suppose there are very few old people around on the Vindicator… and our cultural gleanings were heavily digested, and though I pored over them, I did so with an eye to other matters. Speaking of other matters…

Onino turned. "Hello. Thank you for coming."

She must have heard me come. I wonder what she thought I was thinking about. "Not a problem. What's the concern?"

"I belong here. Precursor equipment was my specialty. We hadn't had the luxury for real scientists, but since we were put on the starbase, I've had the chance to study, fill in the gaps - as well as one can with the limited library, anyway. I'm not doing any good back there, not compared to what I'd do here. I see things down there that I would know how to fix; and there are precious few people who can say that."

She simultaneously claims expertise and admits her ignorance? "Since we've been operating this ship successfully for years, I believe that's not quite accurate – at least, around here."

"I'm not saying you need me. I'm saying this is my place. Do you see?"

"You're saying that placement here would be the most efficient use of your abilities? The logistical strain of integrating syreen and humans…"

"Logistical strain? I'm a person, not a biohazard, or a demographic group. If I cause trouble, I can be held accountable."

Peeru couldn't help feeling somewhat abashed and foolish. How much of that is legitimate? How right is she, and how much is she just making me feel like she's right? "Suppose that's the case. If we let you on, how many others will want to come as well?"

"Oh, several hundred at least; but I am the only one with a specific valid reason to be here. Rules that make sense still make sense even if they look like exceptions."

"It's not my call, but I'll definitely bring this up with the captain." And think about it under more controlled circumstances, probably thinking of the even better reasons this isn't a good idea.

"I suppose so." She turned out to the engine again. "I'd love to see this in action. It's magnificent, isn't it?"

"I suppose it would be. I think it's time for you to be returning to the starbase."

"You never even looked?" She shrugged and headed for the lift. Peeru joined her and they headed forward along the spine.

Onino asked, "What are you, anyway?"

"Druuge."

"Never heard of it. Where you from?"

"Well past the Mycon. We knew the Yehat, did a little trading. Not much. It was a long way."

The door opened, admitting a small crowd of younger syreen, chattering. The voices were few enough not to melt away into a crowd, but numerous enough to stress her. The confined space and her suspicions of psychic waves amplified it. She lost track of herself and neglected to wipe her nose in time.

A shriek of disgust, and real psychic signals of the same, which shortly ballooned in intensity as the others noticed, proved to be too much. Peeru slumped against the wall.

Onino softly said a 'k' sound and put out her hand towards the others; the psychic signals faded. An unspoken conversation passed over Peeru's head, and she was glad that she couldn't hear. Almost as a defensive measure, hiding from the remains of the onslaught, she crouched and wiped the snot off of the floor.

The door opened and she heard the others leave; Peeru pulled herself upright. Onino looked down at her feet and shook her head; Peeru oddly got the sense that she was sending the psychic signal that she wasn't sending any psychic signals. "I'm sorry about that."

Peeru considered the statement. "You didn't cause the problem, you helped fix it."

"Never mind."

Peeru left the lift. "Come out, someone else is going to need this."

Onino reluctantly followed, and looked around the lander bay sadly as they approached the exit, which was crowded with those waiting to the last second. "They already said goodbye. I haven't. What a magnificent… almost a beast. So full of power, almost alive. And I barely got to say hello."

Zelnick came down the umbilical, finally returning. He passed the syreen from the lift with a smile. The crowd let him through, and he conferred with Fenson.

Onino, watching him, bit her lip uncertainly. "There's no way I'm joining on the spot, is there?"

Peeru replied, "No." Even he has to understand that's a bad idea, doesn't he?

Zelnick spotted them and came over. "Hello! I suppose you're the one Peeru found to join us?"

Caught by surprise, she was speechless. "I would love to be!"

Peeru clarified, "No, different one. Precursor specialist, wants a spot on the Vindicator."

Zelnick held up a finger and said 'aah' as he absorbed that. Then, wagging that finger, he said, "Very interesting, but we," he gestured to Peeru, "need to get to the bridge. Love to see what you can do, when the time comes."

"Thank you." Peeru noticed a lack of 'sir', but as Zelnick didn't seem to notice she didn't make a point of it. Heading up to the bridge, she wondered what required both of them.

It was to check on the status of the various ships in the fleet, and organizing a strategy meeting. Zelnick spent much of his time handling the Vindicator in specific, and in contact with the Starbase, so Peeru handled nine of the twelve ships.

Partway through, the Vindicator unclamped with a dull creak.

Zelnick turned to her. "Are yours ready to go?"

"Not quite. One left, from the StarRunner. And it seems the StarRunner is ready. That is everyone."

In a minute, all the captains were linked in to the conference.

Zelnick looked to each as he said, "The Syreen are planning a surprise attack on the Mycon. Seems like it'd attract a lot of attention we may not be ready for, but if we want them as allies, we're just going to have to do it. Our role is to bait the trap. Mycon like to destroy planets like Earth, like Vela, like Gaia… and, for an unpopulated example, Organon. We tell them about Organon, get them all fired up to go wreck the place, and get out of the way. We can get to the heart of their space in one week via quasispace, but we will need to give the Syreen a month to get in position undetected. So, the question is, what do we do for the next three weeks? We're wide open, here. I have some thoughts, but I'd like to hear your ideas."

After a few moments, Snelopy said, "Explore more quasispace portals?"

Zelnick nodded. "We'll want to get to that eventually."

After a decent pause, Abrams said, "Not that it's exactly pertinent, but how's the repair work on the Ultron coming? The folks at the starbase may know many things, but that can't be the junk they said it is."

Zelnick looked back to Peeru. "Any news?"

"Excuse me, captain?"

"I gave it to you when we got it, told you to see what you could do."

Oh god(s), have I done something to you? This is that nightmare brought to life, the one where you have a second job you forgot all about and they've been putting negative reviews on your quals doc for months. Compounded in this case because repairing that piece of junk is just the kind of thing I might blow off and forget. That considered, I don't think I did.

"I have no recollection of that order, or even seeing the Ultron."

She was about to add a more pointed response, but Zelnick beat her to it, "Well, maybe I saw what shape you were in and decided to put it off, then forgot. Either way, I guess that answers that. No progress on the Ultron. I see no one is suggesting approaching the VUX, the Yehat, or the Orz."

Correction: I do recall it now. I did totally blow it off, but he really didn't press me on it either.

Reynolts said, "Not in the shape we're in. Fighting the Kohr-Ah did some serious damage, and we'd have to be prepared for a fight, whichever of those we visited."

Abrams added, "If we go home, we can buy more technology from the Melnorme." For once, I think this might be worth it. More efficient lander cargo storage would save a lot of fuel.

That earned some nods. Zelnick looked around, and said, "Anything else?"

Tinkafo, the Arilou, spoke up for the first time in weeks, earning surprised looks. "You have not inquired after the injured talking pet."

Zelnick chuckled. "You're serious? Well, I guess the Umgah could use a visit. We know a good portal to reach them... Haven't tried out their combat model yet, though; and with so many cruisers, it could be risky to face them in large quantities. How are skiffs against them?"

"Facing the Umgah requires considerable care. I understand that the Spathi have a large advantage, though."

"So they might. Well, I need to brush up on my one-liners anyway before giving them a visit."

Abrams said, "Maybe your practical jokes would be more in order."

Zelnick patted the safety cover on the firing control. "We practice them every night."

That didn't earn any laughs; he went on, "Okay. We're going to try out a few more portals, just the quickest ones we haven't tried. At each one, we'll see what to do. When it's time, we go homewards, see Greenish, refit, and go set up the trap. We can see about the Umgah after that. Unless we get the Ultron working, in which case we drop by the Utwig, immediately. All agreed?"

He let it hang in the air, the meeting about to break. Fwiffo spoke up at the last moment. "The hyperwave caster found on the moon... do you think that could penetrate a slave shield?"

"They're not going to open it just for you, Fwiffo."

"Oh yes, I know! I could be the Ultimate Evil in disguise! And they'd be deathly afraid of your anger at them for leaving. Certainly not."

"All right, then..."

"I was thinking of the Chenjesu and Mmrnmhrm."

Silence fell.

"They can hear hyperwave, they're powerful, they made it through their slave shield, and... and they were in the old alliance..."

"Enough, Fwiffo." -- "Sorry." -- "New plan. We go to Procyon, assemble a mighty battle fleet, and take this alliance up a few notches!"

~~~~

Edited to fix the grammar in the sentence where Peeru is overwhelmed, and when she's surprised about the Ultron.
Edited to fix the spelling of Mmrnmhrm
Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:43 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:11 pm

Chapter 32: failures

In a few minutes, Peeru was set to work on the Ultron. To her great relief, Zelnick found he had left it in his room. Of course, she had no idea what could be done to fix it. I never even saw it before it was broken, in person. Back when it was sold, I was in the Transport Logistics department. But still, I guess I can take a try. It'll look good to try, at least. Or appear to be trying.

It was heavy and as she held it it seemed to suck the warmth from her hands. The notes from the human scientists who had examined it at the starbase were very thorough, and very mystified. If I can just get the lights working, maybe they'll fall for it again?

The previous holders had returned some of the obviously broken components to their original locations. Peeru took them out and looked them over. They looked somehow familiar - a brown sphere, and a shattered crystal. The only other suspicious-looking part of the device was a pair of slots on one side. Peeru picked up the brown sphere, and considered. This, apart from color and the lack of glowing, is remarkably similar to the rosy sphere. Same size and weight. I wonder if it also twists magnets?

Peeru requested and was shortly given a magnet, and was soon disappointed. Seems like it just has an iron core, nothing like the rosy sphere.

Peeru stared at the shattered crystal. It seemed awfully familiar, though she couldn't imagine where she had seen anything like it before. One of the knick-knacks Juugli kept trying to sell me? Geology class? If only I had gone for the class in training my memory and association abstraction center. Thought I had pretty good memory without it. Well, I've spent two hours here, it's about time to get ready for mock battle.

~~~~

Five days, an outrun probe, a few trivially evaded Ilwrath patrols, and, concurrently, three more hours of fruitless and not particularly applied labor on the Utron later, they arrived at the Chenjesu homeworld in high hopes.

As almost all the crew wanted to witness the resumed contact with the Chenjesu (and as an afterthought the Mmrnmhrm), many gathered in the forward dome, where the proceedings would be projected.

At first, their signal received no response. A call from the dome came forward, and Peeru took it - had they sent the message? Yes. No reply yet? Not yet.

But then the reply did come, faintly penetrating the shield but nonetheless a distinct and clear signal.

The cheers were so loud she reflexively muted the connection to maintain the quiet. But after two minutes, things were not looking so good. The description of the Sa-matra wasn't encouraging, and the thirty-five year estimate on the completion of the Chenjesu-Mmrnmhrm process left them useless.

This is going to hit them even harder, if they were more personally counting on these aliens. Peeru stepped off the bridge and unmuted the observation dome view. "We don't have thirty-five years!" shouted one crewman futilely. "Cut it short!"

Zelnick was also thinking that, and his suggestion of adding more energy earned a pleased rumble, but it was not satisfying.

As soon as the call was closed, Zelnick addressed the fleet. "It looks like the Chenjesu and Mmrnmrhrm are working as fast as they can. If we can help them, they can handle the rest, including this Sa-Matra. Our old options aren't going to do the job, but our new one will."

Peeru reentered the bridge. "That nearly got ugly. You shouldn't be broadcasting everything."

"It's too late to change that now. Just, let's focus on getting a power source."

"If we built a huge array of mirrors, that could speed things up."

"Thirty five times faster?"

"Possible. A mirror can be made single-atom thick and still be somewhat reflective. Several layers spaced properly do far better. Doubling their solar input would take only... fifty kilotons of carbon. No, less. Giving them seventy times as much solar influx would be doable."

"Eh. Even so, that mirror is going to kind of stand out, isn't it? Going to be something like seventy times as large as a planet, maybe more? The Ilwrath may not be paying really close attention, but I don't think they'd miss something the size of a gas giant sitting in orbit of the Chenjesu homeworld for half a year."

"Oh, no, we'd put it next to the sun to maximize flux. Doesn't need to be seventy times as large."

"Your plan is to put a single layer sheet of carbon in close orbit of a yellow star?"

"In the absence of oxygen, it's very heat resistant. Plus, we can have it automatically fold up whenever an Ilwrath enters the system."

"A bit late - the light is already on its way. They could just see it out their windows. Look. What if we set up reflectors on some of the nearer planets, refocusing large portions of their light onto the Chenjesu and Mmrnmrhrm?"

"That would help by a factor of five faster, ten at most."

"Three and a half years... still too long. Assuming Greenish doesn't just accidentally put the danged thing in the laundry and break it that way."

"Excuse me?"

"Never mind, the ZFP reports are pretty clear too." He cocked his head to the side. "I'm still a little burned that they said my grandchildren would see them leave. In thirty five years I'll only be fifty two. It's not that old. I'd come in person, even if I do have grandchildren. Not that I plan on giving them that long."

He sighed. "Well, off to plan B. Let's go exploring."

~~~~

Two days later, taking the nearest unexplored portal dropped them in the Corvi cluster.

Peeru was debating the risks of mining Gamma Corvi II when Zelnick said, "Why are you thinking about this so hard? You never landed on a planet this dangerous before."

"Before, we could be picky. It looks like we're going home soon, and our cargo bays are nearly empty. It really changes the balance. I estimate we have a 15 percent chance of taking significant damage, and 3 percent of losing the lander. It'd take 5 runs to get all the minerals the deep scanners can see. It's your call, but..."

Peeru tried to think through why she was so hesitant. Economically, it's a clear expected win. And they've done dangerous mining before. But it's been a while, and they've gotten used to it being safe. Factor in the way they weigh life as an intrinsic good... plus, we just had a morale hit. It's not as favorable as the material gains would indicate. And there is risk involved of a true material loss, risk we may not really have to take.

Zelnick declared, "Go until you wouldn't be able to fill the lander. Don't worry about leaving some behind or wasting."

Peeru nodded and began addressing the waiting lander teams. The first landing had to flee from a suddenly-erupting volcano, but they made it out safely, and with a decent amount of cargo. The second landing went smoothly.

The third trip, as the lander was almost all the way down, Peeru saw the stress sensors light up right across the landing zone. "Abort!" She jammed the warning key. The lander was already accelerating upward at full power as part of its landing protocol; it would come down through the clouds before it could escape.

Before the lander even got that far, the stress lines reached out, broadened, and thinned in the middle, indicating stress relief - an earthquake - was already underway. Hopefully, if they don't land... A line of new volcanoes erupted.

The lander was caught in a hypersonic lava plume during its closest approach. The lander continued to accelerate up, clearing the cloud, and Peeru relaxed.

"Good to see you made it."

The only response was static. Could have only damaged the antenna, but let's play it safe. She called for a medical team.

The ship followed automatic approach in, and entered the cargo bay airlock. Peeru received a spacesuit radio signal, "... shaken like a maraca! Can anyone hear me yet?"

Peeru replied, "Yes. Medics are waiting."

"Everyone's down but me and Hendricks! Some looking bad. How soon can we get that help?"

She checked on the monitor - the air pressure was up. "Five seconds."

The hatch opened and two spacesuited men limped out. The medics ran up; one helped them aside, and the others rushed in. She watched their reports to the main medical bay come in.

She noticed Zelnick was next to her, silently watching. Fenson ran up, out of breath. "How bad is it? They won't let me close."

Zelnick turned, frowning. "He's in stasis."

"Oh god." He drooped.

"He is alive."

"If it's so bad they froze him, it's bad, all right?" He wrung his hands and clenched and released fists. He looked up to Peeru furiously, but said nothing.

Peeru met the silent accusation head on. "This was unlikely. I was hesitant to subject them to this risk."

"And then you did it anyway."

Zelnick put a hand on his shoulder. "I made the call, Tom. She pulled them out at the first sign of trouble. Let's go. I'll talk to the medics."

Peeru considered the exchange. Not many bosses would instantly take responsibility like that. A few, to be sure. Then she realized they were wasting time, and followed. "Captain? We should go on."

Zelnick sighed as he walked. "Not now, Peeru."

"Time is valuable."

"And this is worth it. Just be quiet."

And they were there. The lander was much dirtier than it had seemed on the cameras, and large dents pocked its belly. Several of the lander's crew had been taken to the medical bay already, leaving only the two who had been frozen, and one who had died. Zelnick and Fenson went to the cryopods; Peeru went to the one body. She recognized him after a few moments -- Lawrence Gimbal. Odd. I've never seen a dead person before. I've seen a few about to die, dropping to the furnace. It's so strange; he looks like he could wake up any moment. He's not really gone, not yet. I wonder if that's where their special aversion to the deaths of others comes from - body disposal.

"So, when do we go?" -- Robinson, head of lander team 2, suited up.

Peeru shook her head. "You don't."

"It already blew; it should be safer now, right?"

"The aftershocks from that will be concentrated, and severe. The risks are actually higher."

"Everyone's feeling down. We need to show we can beat the odds."

"Beating the odds isn't a plan. Changing the odds is."

"Then set us down on the far side; there's some left there. We don't need to fill it up, just get something and call it a win."

"Then to shave off some risk, you slash the reward. This, here." She gestured to the body. "Do you think that was worthless? Do you think that since replacing a starbase worker with automation and equipment costs 3 RU, that's their actual value? The Crimson Corporation's offers were for profit, you know. I'm saying going down now is a loss."

"I'm just saying the job is dangerous. It's its nature."

"Did you mine all of Alpha Centauri, never mind the iron-melting temperatures?"

Zelnick came over. "I said be quiet. We're moving on, as you said. The two minute wait didn't kill us."

While Zelnick was heading to the bridge, Robinson gave her a long look, then softly said, "We're not afraid. We're here to get what we need. Are you?"

Peeru whispered, "There are better places to risk your neck than here."

He hesitated, but nodded and went back to his crew, leaving Peeru with Gimbal's body, thinking.

~~~~
(edited for grammar, and spelling of Mrnrmhrmhmn or whatever it is)
Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:45 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:10 am

Chapter 33: Reconnections

Peeru's ruminations were interrupted by an urgent call. To her surprise, it was from Nabek. I wonder if she's gotten herself into trouble. I've been mainly working with the bridge crew and Kaandor, not the low-ranking workers. Well, let's see what it is.

"Commander Peeru here."

"Captain? Oh, commander. Ah. Well, I'd like your advice."

This had better be good. "Go on."

"I'm know of someone, and… someone who has some vital information for the captain, but would like to sell it rather than give it away. Well, it's vital if it's right, but, well, it looks like it is. Anyway, back home withholding information like that is… really bad! And here, I don't know. So, what should we do?"

Vital information, eh? Just generically vital information? Peeru stepped back and let robots take the gurney with Gimbal's body to the morgue. Maybe I was wrong about body removal being a factor in their aversion to the death of people they do not rely on? Or is this automation new, and its effects have not yet had time to take hold?

Back on topic, Peeru. "As I understand it, all of us are expected to volunteer strategically vital information."

"What do we get in return?"

"Recognition, chance at promotion. Improved chances of our success and survival." The inertia of her previous thoughts continued despite the interruption. In this case, of course, we all would have reason to be upset at his loss, as he is working with us. But as I understand it, it extends well past us.

"Okay. And what if it turns out to be wrong?"

Peeru watched the gurney disappear. "The captain seems to understand that not every good idea works out."

"That… may be convincing. Thank you."

With that, Peeru returned to the bridge to prepare for the next planet.

~~~~

Peeru arrived early for mock battle at Zelnick's request. She couldn't orient herself - the vast bulk of the torus seemed to be occupied by an enormous body. Then she realized that it was her ship, and there was no planet. "Where is your ship? I can see the labels, but..."

"Zoom in."

After bringing the scale down by a factor of ten Peeru was able to make out the Vindicator. "This ship is unrealistically large. It would have to weigh more than a thousand stars to be this large after scale-reduction."

"Don't worry about that. This is just a 'plan for the insane' kind of scenario we're going to be working on to be ready for whatever the Sa-Matra is. I'll just leave you here with the AI to practice, while we get ready."

The ship's turning and acceleration were negligible, so Peeru focused on the weaponry. The main weapon was fixed and slow-firing, and took two seconds to even come together after initiation; but it could be fired off-axis, and destroyed any other vessel in one shot. The range was only limited by the shot's ability to pierce the torus and bombard enemy ships outside it, and it travelled at a speed too fast for most ships to dodge. Clearly, the battle would principally occur out of the main weapon's field of fire.

The rest of the surface of the ship was studded with hundreds of heavy turrets, each of which was comparable to a more normal ship's main weaponry. Organizing those took a bit of practice. While she was practicing, Genlo arrived.

"Good evening, captain. I got a tip that I might want to get here early to claim a good seat, and wow."

"You want the main gun?"

"Yes, Ma'am!"

"Okay, but they might be so afraid of it that they never give you a shot. And it's actually pretty easy. More worthwhile is getting the hang of controlling a dozen turrets at once."

A few minutes later the others began arriving. Mok laughed out loud upon seeing it. "What the... we are in a lot of trouble."

Peeru asked, "How so?"

"Well, he wants to have the challenge be realistically beatable, right? So this thing must be a lot weaker than it looks."

That is a good point.

Enkrist chimed in, "Also, who designed this? It must have taken months to put on all that detail work. I mean... wait a moment. Scale down to 1:1 and take a look at this."

Li said, "Huh, that's weird. It's like this has been scaled down from something even larger. There are airlocks the size of my pinky nail. And it's not like it was just tiled on, either."

Peeru said, "Enkrist, Li, you two are our best Dreadnaught pilots, so you'll be in the support squad. Mok, you're good with complicated things, so take these banks of turrets..."

When the mock battle started, the fleet they faced was different than Peeru expected. The Vindicator was present, but there were two terminators, two broodhomes, and one each of eluder, fury, penetrator, cruiser, drone, skiff, X-form, and - Peeru's pulse raced to see it - mauler.

They were on the edge of the main weapon's firing arc, and Genlo got off the first shot, annihilating one of the broodhomes. She reminded her team, "Turrets, hold fire. Dreadnaughts, prepare to flush them out." We don't want them to have a clear idea of where they're safe, and then we don't want them to be able to stay there.

The skiff, eluder, Y-form, and fury swooped around, scouting; a DOGI approached the dreadnaughts and was picked off by their fusion blasts. The main fleet was forming up behind the terminators; the drone was forming in front of the Vindicator as a shield. A good plan, I suppose. This ship can't turn quickly, but maybe if they take their time I can get the main gun's field of fire on them... Seeing the large ship turning, they cut preparations short and charged. They're leaving the cruiser behind. "Launch fighters!" A moment later, "Turrets, engage."

The three light craft were close enough to have little time to dodge, and far enough to be in the field of fire of many turrets - the Eluder was destroyed in moments; the skiff teleported just in time, appeared next to a turret, and began ripping it up. Peeru was mainly focused on the main advance. The fighters were being chewed up by the focused fire of the fleet; they had approached from a poor vector. "Mok, stagger fire on the terminators. Others, shoot around them."

Peeru, thus distracted, was surprised to see that the system damage indicator was steadily climbing. Where's that? The only ship hitting us is the Y-form! She personally took command of the turrets facing it and blasted it, but not before her ship had taken serious damage. "Red team, you were saying this ship must be more fragile... it's got next to no defenses whatsoever. We need to keep the enemy away. Intercept every incoming shot. Dreadnaughts charge!"

But the ship did have defenses: the mauler shot a dozen times right into the side, and the ship damage indicator barely twitched.

Outside the simulation, she heard a woman's voice. "We have analyzed their attack. There is a weakness."

"What? Umm, okay." I just committed the dreadnaughts to a charge. They can't turn around now. "Genlo, take the turrets in this area. Something around here is an unprotected weak point." -- "On it." -- "And call for help if you need it."

Peeru backed her attention out of the simulation, and looked to who had addressed her. "Bridget, what was that?"

"Some additional information. Part of the scenario."

Peeru dove back in and saw that the Vindicator fleet had reached the surface of the great vessel. It was engaged with the few turrets that could target them at that close range, and with the three surviving dreadnaughts above (towards her ship was naturally 'down'). "Mok?"

"Mok?"

Riemann said, "I think the Syreen got him. He's on their side now."

"You're joking."

"No, ma'am." Moot now; he was just destroyed.

"Riemann, then. I expect them to try to break off and reach that weak point. Prepare to take any of several sets of turrets... there they go!"

The Vindicator was charging across the surface, followed by the penetrator and surviving terminator. Riemann shouted, "On it!" The dreadnaughts were uselessly disengaged, and only a few turrets could bear at any time. This targeting problem got even trickier as the Vindicator slipped partway into a groove in the surface, hiding a noticeable fraction of its volume. Moments later, it opened fire, hitting the same spot the Y-form had targeted. And nothing happened. Phew. It bounced off the surface and Riemann got enough good hits in to disable it.

The penetrator was not far behind, and had not been targeted. It got a clear shot, and Peeru watched helplessly as the damage indicator climbed to critical levels. This is ridiculous. She sat back and just let things happen. The penetrator's stabilizer was shot off, leading to it veering into the surface and bouncing up, blocking the path of the terminator. The resulting collision delayed it, but its shield enabled it to get back on course without being destroyed. It swooped around and was about to get a clear shot when a wave of fighters from the dreadnaughts showed up and compelled it to raise shields again. It shot, but the distraction led to its missing whatever small target it had been aiming for. Moments later it was picked apart by the fighters' lasers.

Peeru reengaged with the simulation, checking the position of the other ships. The Arilou, she saw, had been destroyed a minute earlier; the cruiser was out of range of the weak point. Looks like we won anyway despite the ridiculous weakness?

But then the dreadnaughts were opening fire on the groove. Something was coming. And by its speed, it was the fury. It was too low in the groove to be targeted by the turrets. As it approached Enkrist's dreadnaught's range, two nuclear missiles flew in and struck head on.

Enkrist sighed. "Looks like I'm out. Next time, let's build the battleship without a magical weak spot, all right?"

Li chuckled. "Battleship? This thing is a small moon!"

By the time Jay actually got his shot in and destroyed the vessel, the team channel had dissolved into chatter. For once, Peeru didn't feel like saying or doing anything. It's clear that this was just an exercise in morale. Show that we can overcome impossible-seeming odds. The fact that it was not fair for either side has nothing to do with it. Had I done any 'better', it would have been a failure.

The after-action meeting began, and the team channel chatter died down.

Zelnick said, "We all..." but he was interrupted by captains Abrams and Dobbs singing. They can't seriously think this was a fair test, can they?

Captain Reynolts produced a large gold medal and her avatar transformed so she wore a white robe as she approached Jay. Zelnick whistled it to a stop. "Enough with the in-group jokes, please? Thank you. Okay, er, thoughts. Tifiwilo?"

"Such a construct is not as absurd as I have heard people speaking. You do recall visiting Fayalaralfali, do you not? But I have seen no indication the Precursors possessed such abilities. This was... entertaining, but I do not believe it to be a particularly useful exercise. In particular, I do not think that the battle will fall to a single fury capable of doing little more than evading the Sa-matra's defenses."

"Abrams, is your comment serious?"

"A bit?"

"Go ahead."

"Captain, you were supposed to aim for the secondary exhaust port just below the main port. I know, I know, but details like that can matter."

"Fair enough. Any comments from the defenders? Questions about the scenario should be directed to Miss Szecewicz, who will enter in my place afterwards."

At this point, the only questions I can think to ask would be counterproductive.

All of the questions did turn out to be about the scenario, and Zelnick dismissed them. Peeru stuck around, half-listening; to her surprise, Jay approached. He just beat me, but it's a good thing he did, I guess. And I set him aside completely while focused on the Syreen. It's time that I reestablished my in-fleet contacts. "Congratulations!"

"It is funny, yes. But Peeru, my fellow traveller on the path to enlightenment, sometimes the truth can best be seen by carefully not observing what is, but observing simply the appearance, the shell. For then we shed the illusion that we ever really observe reality."

"Okay... like, this simulation wasn't really about what it seemed to be about?"

He ignored her comment. "And indeed, from time to time we intentionally change our appearance as a reminder that the outside is not the same as the inside. It seems the humans also do this."

"I haven't seen any crew changing their appearance, so it can't be very common."

"Actually, they do it for one evening a year, all at once."

"That would maximize awareness of the issue, I suppose. Makes sense."

"And it is in three days. I presume you have seen the announcements on the event calendar?" Actually, I filter the social events out.

Jay continued, "Anyway, we Pkunk have no hierarchy, so this isn't a problem for me, but elsewhere in the fleet, close association between officers and crew - and even different ranks of officers - is strongly disapproved... so, do you have a date?"

"October 28th, 2156?"

"I mean, have you found someone with whom you can go to the party?"

"I hadn't..." she was going to continue "... planned on attending" but he replied, "Then you should come with me. I see it is the best way to proceed, for both of us. Do you have a costume? No, you do not. It is not required, but really, you should. I can arrange for you."

"Okay?"

"Good! I will see you in a few minutes after we dock." He disappeared.

Peeru disconnected, and found that her helplessness and irritation over the test had evaporated. Pleasantly surprised, she looked at the event calendar entry in more detail.

~~~

Edited to make a bit of grammar clearer, and Tifiwilo's comment make more sense in character.

Then edited to clarify a bit of messy italics in the very beginning, then fixed an error in which I referred to Peeru's heart (singular).
Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:01 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:35 pm

Chapter 34: Halloween

Peeru looked herself over in the mirror. I'm unrecognizable. I guess I'll just have to introduce myself properly to anyone I want to network with. She moved her head to get a look at her suit in profile; the head's eyes twitched as hers did, which was disconcerting. Jay went on, "Good! You look like you stepped right out of Kizee's vision and - plop - landed in your quarters. Now, you're playing the role of Compaia ..."

"Yes, I read the literature you sent me, I know who I'm dressed as. I'm a bit uncertain…"

"Don't worry! Not at all! If the speaking gets a bit much, the form and manner can convey the true feeling behind our little charade. That, and what you're handing out."

"That's the thing. I'm uncertain of where all these gifts are coming from."

"I would not invite you to an obligation, would I? No, I instead provide all you need; all you must do is fill the part." He draped a shawl with many full pockets over her shoulders. Okay, giving out other peoples' things will be a lot less stressful. Still awkward, but I can deal with that. "Speaking of which, do you want to go over your lines?"

"I have them down. How long do you expect this to take?"

"We'll do this by the feel of the wind." No plan. Best get there early, then.

Peeru led out into the hallway, and they went up to the observation dome where the festivities were just starting - the lights dimmed, leaving as the only illumination the cratered azure world they were closely orbiting. Druuge in general are not given to vertigo, but this was a bit of an exceptional case. Better up here than down there, anyway. A nasty place, and with nothing of value.

Vaando was helping lay out the buffet, and the few people around were dressed up quite oddly, with no apparent consistency of meaning - no theme such as she was joining the crew of the Harmony by participating in. The pkunk around her chattered among themselves in a language she didn't know and even if her computer had been readily accessible in this suit, she didn't care to translate it. I'd heard of the expensive dissipative masked parties of the upper-crust, but if this is like that, then we're the hired entertainment.

Some people noticed the crowd of pkunk and got the pageant - the various archetypes being filled by different members of the crew of the Harmony, all thoroughly decked out in costumes, each in a role they did not normally fit. Peeru hadn't really followed the whole play, focusing on her role and her cues.

And that cue came, as a tattered-winged pkunk said, "... but how, traveller, can we know you to be as harmless as you seem? For the fair and broad leaf can hide a stinger, and the curly flower can bear rot." It's time.

Peeru waved aside that warning. "What a welcome you grant! Are we inspectors, bound to soulless security?" She was not the only to express an objection, so she could see how her role at that point was somewhat disposable.

The pageant went on, and her second action came up - to hand out the gifts to the crowd, as Jay guided them to her. The first was a big man somewhat disturbingly made up as a rotting corpse. "Need and credit are nothing to the pure gift." I'm still not sure that actually makes sense past the semantic level. She reached into the most convenient pocket in her shawl and pulled out a hand-carved statuette.

The second person in line, a human woman dressed as a primitive hunter, paused to take a look at it. "Wow, I was expecting something a bit less elaborate."

"Yeah, this takes party favors to a new level. Better keep that safe."

And so, in the dimming light as they passed over the twilight edge of the planet, Peeru handed out a dozen different trinkets, each hand-made with some effort and talent, repeating her mantra each time. The pageant was over - at least the first iteration.

As they fell completely into the planet's shadow, purple lights came up and some music was put on. The crowd was more sizeable now - the cruisers had been all but emptied, and the eluder was next. I passed up running the docking, for this? Better make the best of it, I suppose.

About half of the crew were in some degree of costume more than a simple mask, and some of the costumes were quite elaborate. A somewhat below-scale Ur-Quan slunk around the edge surprising people as they came in. Freed of the constraints of the pageant, Peeru got out a handheld terminal and looked up other costume references - a cowboy was giving a minotaur a hard time, Simpson was Don Quixote. A vampire. The beast from Delta Lyncis had begun trying and failing to bite the Ur-Quan. What a waste of fabricator time. She didn't need the computer to identify the umgah and the pik. Wugyup was Mephistopheles, and it seemed he had given himself a prehensile tail. Is that surgical or robotic? Considering the waste around here, I wouldn't be surprised either way.

Then some laughs, and cheers from the ladies erupted. Peeru turned and found a man in... not much, though the style was familiar. The computer identified it as 'syreen officer - male'. And right behind him came Bridget, in the more familiar female variant. She took her man's hand and they came into the crowd.

Jay found Peeru and suggested they were going to do the pageant again. This time is already uselessly spent, so I may as well. She put away the computer and got in position. As she sat there and watched, she saw Genlo come in, dressed as a Druuge primitive hunter; his flaps were loose enough to be pretty revealing. And he was hand-in-hand with a human woman dressed in a black syreen crew uniform. They seem awfully friendly. She kept her head in the play enough to deliver her lines, but watched them. They're kissing? And dancing? Is that Genlo or is it someone dressed as him?

And then it was time to hand out another two dozen trinkets. The mantra "Need and credit are nothing to the pure gift" was boring its way further into her head, somewhere beyond memorization, somewhere down near work-related skills where it didn't belong. After the first few, to stave off insanity, she delivered it in a variety of ways, placing the stress on different combinations of syllables.

When done, Jay came by and complimented her, and suggested she wander and invite people to the next showing, and hand out more gifts. Peeru said, "I take it those two are totally unrelated, as need and credit are nothing to a pure gift?"

"That's exactly right! I'm so glad you've got the idea."

I was being sarcastic, but oh well. The party was sufficiently over-stimulating that she was mildly numb, and to some extent hiding inside her costume. And, more pertinently, susceptible to suggestions like that one. She wandered through the crowd, noting of course that each person was busy with something unrelated and she shouldn't bother them.

Until she came to Genlo and his girl. There was no doubt that it really was Genlo, and there was no doubt about her, either. Slow music was on, and they were doing some sort of shuffle with their bodies pressed together which, if he were wearing any less, and she were Druuge, would have been visually indistinguishable from mating. This is weird.

Almost against her will, she accosted them, and did so in her very best impression of pkunk voice and manner. "Hello! The Harmonious Bearer of Fortune has prepared a pageant of horror and redemption for your entertainment, edification, and cultural exchange! And on a not entirely unrelated point, please have a token of their..." Here Peeru faltered as she couldn't really think of anything to say that was both in-character and not ridiculous, and then she realized she had said 'their' instead of 'our'. She coughed a bit to cover the speech and finished, "... making."

Genlo and the woman had taken a moment to realize she was speaking to them, and were just separating when she produced the first gift, a heavy pin. She handed it to Genlo. She was about to deliver the admonition when he said, "Here you go." and clasped it on one of the straps on his partner's outfit.

What? Did he just give it to her? "Er. Need and credit are nothing to the pure gift."

Genlo and his woman looked at each other and laughed. What are they laughing about? Was his action not in some way a pure gift? Did he perhaps underestimate its value?

They had moved on, and she found herself alone. Having done it once, she was able to get out and make some less eventful announcements and gifts. A few pointed out that halloween was not a gift-giving event, but she just repeated the mantra at them and she shrugged and accepted it. Getting tired, she came to the side of the room and sat down. A few moments later, Wugyup joined her. "Hello there."

She nodded to him, too tired to reorient her brain to deal with him.

"I heard you had some sort of announcement to make."

"And a gift to give."

"Ah, well, I won't pretend that one such as myself isn't concerned at all with that, but I do feel a bit left out. It seems you've gotten everyone but me."

Peeru repeated the announcement and fished out a gift and handed it over without looking, and flatly stated the mantra.

Wugyup thinly smiled. "It must be very tiring. Very exhausting to be in such a large crowd like this."

Peeru tensed. That's most particularly true for Druuge females. Does he know who I am?

"Nonetheless, that was really sub-par. Now take it back and give it properly, or I'm not interested. Otherwise you're just doing your job."

He put it back in her shawl, whatever it was, and waited. Peeru didn't even try to gather the energy to comply. Is he, too adopting their selfless foolishness?

Wugyup sighed and slumped down. "Yeah, I know the feeling. At least, if you're feeling what I'm feeling."

Peeru sat up a bit. "Maybe, maybe not."

"So few of us here. Quite alone that way. We all have colleagues, but we're so dispersed, surrounded by humans. I guess you don't need to worry about that part at least." What? I'm just as dispersed as the others. Oh, does he think I'm pkunk after all? "And I'm about to be a lot more alone."

So he heard about the 1038 being reactivated. As a pkunk, though, I wouldn't. On the other hand, it's too much work to fully maintain the charade. "I'm not pkunk, but I think I understand what it's like."

"I'm a bit surprised they want to go back."

"Because..."

"This is a peach assignment, and going back to the mauler? Well, it's warm. I give it that. But, well, you know... maybe you don't know. The generator is powered by killing the crew. What kind of place to work is that? Especially with..."

Peeru just waited.

Wugyup looked more directly at her. "This conversation would be a lot easier if I knew who you were."

"How about you go find a mask, and then neither of us will know who the other is."

He laughed. It was an alien laugh, almost human. "Well, you're not Kaandor or Trifop."

Peeru saw Jay coming. "I should go." She got moving over to him before he could call her by name. They were coming into the day side of the planet again, and it was time to do another pageant.

It was well-attended. She managed to gather herself enough to deliver her mid-pageant line with the appearance of conviction. The end was tiring, though. She ran out and Jay gave her a second shawl full of goodies to disburse.

And there she was. Nuun. I didn't see her in the crowd. Did she show up just for the handout? And three behind her, Wugyup. If I hesitate, he'll know who I was. Why does it matter so much? But she was already saying "Need and credit are nothing to the true gift.", and handing over a funny-shaped piece of granite. That's... not much of anything. They can't all be winners.

She frowned at it but moved on. Wugyup's gift was also granite, egg-shaped. He held it up and looked to her suspiciously.

"Randomly selected, I assure you." He laughed again and moved on.

When she was done, Jay accompanied her back to her quarters. Once inside, she started taking the suit off.

Jay said, "So, what did you learn?"

"Learn?" Head was off. "Well, true gifts..."

"Not about that, not the mere rote return of a half-baked phrase; what transcendence did it illuminate? By being someone you're not, what did you learn? I was the doubter, the worrier, and having to think like that for a few hours helped me appreciate... something about the material world."

"Something?" The wings were off.

"It may take some time to digest fully and its full meanings to be apparent. What about you?"

"Oh, I learned a bit about..." I'm not the only one who's lonely. Not a chance I'm talking about that. "Say. Were you giving me this role to get me to think about giving things to people, to recognize the inherent value of a system in which nice things don't need to be earned, and how keeping a tally of credit over every little thing you've ever given someone is wasteful?"

"Is that what you learned tonight?"

The body and legs came off. "I'm sorry I took up your offer. If it meant something, I didn't. Here's your costume, I won't be needing it, and don't say it's a gift to me just because I don't need it. Maybe it's a little thing, but I do like to think that if I'd been handling the traffic control I would have earned a little bit more credit, which was not balanced out by any networking I got done here because I didn't even reveal myself. And here I am ruining the one shred of that by taking it out on you, but I can't even care."

"You can at least have recognition for your role as Compaia. Participation is an honor."

"No! Profit's sake, don't do that now. The last thing I want is for everyone to know I was going around like a low-level door to door advertiser. It makes me think to sick of... 'Think to sick of?' See how out of it I am? I just want to wash off and forget tonight ever happened, because everything I've learned is worse than useless. Now, will you leave so I can get this inner layer off and take that shower?"

When he was gone, Peeru just collapsed onto the bed and shivered.

~~~
Edited to add quotes in the second-last paragraph, and avoid the appearance of a continuity error by not implying she didn't have a computer with her.

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Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:32 pm

Chapter 35: I have no idea what to call this chapter

"Boo."

"Aaaaaaah!" Peeru shot out of bed and down to her knees in a guarded position. "Burnit, Tinkafo, how did you get in here?"

"Oh making the rounds. The door wasn't latched." He pointed to her. "You." he paused, "are getting better in combat, but you'll never make it as a captain if you're already frightened of everyone on your own side."

"But..."

"I'm off to terrorize some Earthlings." and with a flash of light, he vanished.

Peeru looked down at the costume which Jay had left behind despite her insistence that he take it. I guess he's right. The hiding is over. I need to start gathering my crew.

Peeru took a quick shower, redressed, and went over the list. I need Genlo, Kaandor, and either Trifop or Feres, maybe both. At the starbase there are Heeran and Muugko, who may be acceptable but I'd rather not rely on them. And then there's the question of a medic.

She looked up Wugyup's location and found he was presently in the aft crew compartment dome, the one without the party. She headed there in the lift before she could change her mind.

This dome, too, was dark, and it was nearly empty. A video was showing in large format on an opacified section of the dome, and a few people were lying down and watching it. During a flash of light from the film, Peeru found Wugyup and approached. He's deeply absorbed, and probably doesn't know I'm even here. How should I get his attention?

A piercing scream broke out, and Peeru almost fell over as she turned and finally noticed the video. It was monochrome and only two dimensional, and the image didn't seem that scary, just a few people approaching the camera.

She looked down to Wugyup again; he was looking up to her quizzically. The shock must have knocked him into alertness. She gestured for him to follow her; he gestured for him to join her. I am suddenly reconsidering inviting him to join my crew. At her hesitation, though, he looked more closely and got up quickly. She led off to the lift, where they had quiet.

As soon as the door closed, Peeru said, in the trade language, "Wugyup, I've been assigned to reactivate the mauler. I want you to be the ship's medic."

He squinted and replied, simply, "No."

"I'm a skilled commander and pilot now, and we'll have Mycon to feed the furnace with."

"That's good to hear. No." But he didn't turn and leave.

So he has conditions. "Unless..."

He relaxed a bit around the eyes, but he was still very serious. "First, the revolt suppression system has to go. All of it, not just the furnace threat. The cameras. If you ping me to find where I am, I get a notification. And that goes for all of us, not just me. Bio-tracking shall only be used for diagnosis of ailments, not to determine state of mind or personal relationships."

She took notes. I hadn't been using that anyway, and the chances of revolt in this fleet seem negligible. "Okay. I think we can work out an alternative for the Mycon."

"Second, complimentary life support, lighting, and computing resources. Including no pay wall to access the Vindicator library."

"I can certainly arrange reimbursement, capped at a reasonable level."

"On air, water, food, and lighting, that's okay. Computer time is outrageously priced. Those fees must be waived."

It's nearly free to run, and he hasn't demanded free access to Crimson Corporation content. But I don't know that I can gain free access myself, and I'm not paying for potentially heavy use.

"Bring a terran computer. You won't be charged for using it, and I can comp the electricity."

Wugyup smiled. "That is satisfactory. Third, shorter shifts. I like being on a third of the time like I am on the Vindicator."

"You're on duty a third of the time?" I've been working almost all day, every day. "I remember you working a lot more than that when the Syreen were here."

"That was when there was a specific and serious problem that needed to be handled right away. I'm talking about just everyday duty rotation."

"Ah. Well, so long as you'll be available for urgent tasks..."

"I would expect to be called upon in emergencies, yes. Fourth, an area must be set aside for walking. I am not going to lose my leg muscle tone."

"That's a good idea, but I'm not sure where it would go, or how to avoid confusing the chain system."

"We can work that out later, so long as my joining is contingent on satisfactory resolution. Now, resting cubes..."

"Hold on a moment. Just how many demands do you have?"

"Just two more. Resting cubes are... well, if we arrange them around the walking area then a lot of their problems go away. Okay, that seems good. I'll need a new one, by the way. I'm pretty sure my old one was reclaimed."

"Your goods were probably held for later resale; I can get them and your cube back."

The door opened onto the mid deck, and a crewman in regular uniform entered. He raised an eyebrow at Wugyup, still in Mephistopheles costume. Wugyup ignored him, remaining focused on Peeru. "Last, Muugko. He's in officer training. Maybe he's learned something. If he hasn't... he'll ruin the ship, and I will do my best to get out again."

Six demands. Let me review... "Your demands will not be a problem, assuming you are capable. Can you provide evidence that you have learned substantially in the areas of triage, treating burns and severe internal injuries, and other relevant areas beyond the scope of your sports medicine training?"

"I will show you what I've been doing. I do not know whether you will be able to judge that yourself."

The crewman exited onto the cargo bay.

Wugyup waited until the door closed. "Who else have you gotten?"

"You're the first. Second, if you count the syreen who will be joining us."

"Genlo isn't joining? I should point out I haven't committed to requesting a transfer, and I..."

"Oh, I think he will. I just hadn't asked him yet. He's up next." Peeru looked up his location and requested the lift go there.

"Er, Captain? Now is probably not a good time to ask him. He's been making deposits for some time; I think he's cashing out tonight."

"What?"

"Bihouta and he were almost mating to the second degree on the dance floor."

"Good point. That reminds me: he did something quite odd. When I..." Stop! Why am I even talking about this?

The lift opened onto the party. Or rather, onto the left flank of the demolished Ur-Quan. It gave her a bit of cover for being stunned. Wugyup held the door open, and Peeru stepped through. Still coming up blank on odd things for Genlo to have done.

Wugyup didn't seem to notice, instead fishing an abandoned domino mask off the floor and handing it to her. "None of the others will be particularly receptive tonight, I think, and you're off-shift."

I could actually do real networking this time, if anyone I'd benefit from talking to is here. But I didn't really see anyone like that the first time. But he's right. I remember the reception I got when inviting that first syreen to join. This is a bit less so, but the same idea still applies. Or I could go help manage things. "I work a lot off-shift. I need to build up some credit with the captain." Why am I explaining myself! It's like my hormones keep insisting we should be familiar. Nuun strikes again. Peeru looked at her feet for a moment.

"Need and credit are nothing to the Druuge shift."

Okay, now he's just toying with me. "That doesn't make any sense."

"I was hoping you'd explain it to me."

"Ask Jay."

"Ah, so it was you after all." Oops.

"I didn't know what I was getting into."

"Was it fun?"

"I'm just a woman so I'm a little dense this way, but are you flirting with me?"

Wugyup leaned against the carcass of the mechanical Ur-Quan. "No. I've seen your neurotransmitter levels. I know at a quantitative level how lonely you are. I'm not too far behind. And if we were back on the trade world, we'd be approximate peers. Being friendly will be good for us. Come to the party. Doctor's orders."

"Are you one of those Keegli followers?"

"The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm talking very conventional medicine, here. Executives have parties for a reason."

"I talk with the captains on blue team every day."

"Sure, for a few minutes, in an adversarial context. Look. If you think I'm trying to sneak up on you, let's go find a group. You can put on your costume and we can sit around in a crew cabin and play poker or hearts or something with the gang."

Hang me from one leg before doing that. "How about just attending the party."
Last edited by Death 999 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:28 pm

Chapter 36: Ambush

The next evening, they were done with mining the system. Genlo, she decided, she could speak with at practice. That left Kaandor to be next, so Peeru dropped by her at dinner. Trifop was with her. Two at once. Good.

They looked with surprise verging on alarm as she sat down. Trifop recovered and greeted her, "Good evening, commander."

I had prepared for Kaandor - a simple, direct statement and question - but it should suffice for him as well. "We have been cleared to return to the 1038, and cleared to use the full abilities of the furnace, with mycon as fuel. Do these alleviate your concerns so you will not protest reassignment?"

Kaandor thought for a moment. "We won't have any sufficient grounds, anyway. You don't need me to tell you that. What are you asking for?"

"I was hoping that I could have some enthusiasm for the prospect."

Kaandor held back a fast response. Trifop coughed while looking to Kaandor, but she gestured for him to wait. He acquiesced, and instead said, "We won't fight it."

Peeru nodded and left them to their food. Good to have both of them. Trifop was adequate, and Kaandor is - well, I doubt she was exceptional, but I'd rather have two competent engineers than one. And once they are back I'm confident they'll see the advantages. In her quarters, she logged in to the practice system and found Genlo already in a private practice session, Vindicator against Kohr-Ah. She watched, registering herself as an observer. After a minute, Genlo paused and said, "Good evening, commander."

"Good evening. We've come a long way, haven't we?"

"Yeah. Testing out a new AI here, by the way."

"What's it based on?"

"I dunno, I'm just the tester."

"Makes sense they'd check it on you. You're the best pilot around." Was that flattery a bit too transparent? On the other hand, it's reasonably justifiable.

"Thank you. I'd say best shot."

"Want a bigger gun?"

"You mean the 1038? I'm on board with that, remember?"

"Er, no, I forgot."

"I was there with Cass when you recruited her."

"Sure, but you never agreed to rejoin, yourself."

"Captain…" he was speechless for five seconds. "Yes! Yes, I'd like to join your crew. I thought that was settled last week."

"Just making sure. What about that human?"

"What human?"

"Anyone else I should invite?"

"Among the humans? I liked Ndeki."

"Never mind."

~~~~

As they approached Beta Corvi, Zelnick called Peeru to the bridge. A little early for mining preparations…

The main starmap was up on the screen, a line drawn from Beta Corvi to a point near Rigel. Zelnick pointed to it, and to a screen showing a transcript of a 'conversation' with one of the red probes.

"The one time they gave coordinates, there, they said 760.9 : 175.0, which is the middle of nowhere between Arianni and Aurigae. It didn't even make sense. We thought they were using a completely different coordinate system."

"And that's a right-angle rotation of that same displacement you drew here, -175.0 : 760.9. Is the other end of that where you were when they said that?""

"Yeah. We notice that, now, thanks to Meier and Nabek. It's not solid, but it's something. If not their civilization, it's likely to be the center of their coordinate system. So keep an eye out for any signs of killer robot civilizations."

A week later, no civilizations had been found, robotic or otherwise. Peeru was itching to get home and back into command, and she sent the signal that the last moon had been cleaned out. And yet, the ship did not leave. As she went to the bridge, she felt the engines engage. Finally on our way! Time to go to sleep.

She woke the next afternoon in quasispace, and read her messages. Ah, we did find them in the end. And of course it was the Melnorme behind it all. Nice that that threat's out of the way. Meier and Nabek got special commendations. Wugyup recommends inviting her back to the 1038, for medical reasons - and it's cosigned by Nuun. All right, I guess I can swing that. And a message from Trifop, registering a nonstandard personal relation contract with Kaandor. That'll cost extra.

~~~~

When yellow alert for exit from Quasispace rang out, Peeru went to her station with the long-range sensor crew.

They spun down through the portal. Even before they were down, Andy was cursing. "Ilwrath contacts. Lots of 'em, right on top of us!"

Indeed, they were off-center of a sphere of twenty ships, already in motion. The spin-down took agonizingly long, and before they gained control, they were entangled with the nearest ship.

Zelnick issued no commands to the sensor suite, but Peeru could imagine his frenetic reactions. She forwarded him estimated arrival times for each enemy ship.

Peeru glanced at the tactical situation - they were vigorously pursuing the one ship they were entangled with, and had landed several hits, but it wasn't looking like they'd take it out in the next few seconds. She listened to the fleet line; he said, "Jay, lure him away. All others, form up for escape... Now you too, Jay. We're going to split up to take them individually. Cruisers, power down your hyperspace engines to avoid getting caught up." The emergency escape began warming up. He continued, "Skiffs, Jay, try to entangle as many as you can avoid. I can take them on in medium numbers and actually make progress; you can't. Eluders, try to take on one and fight it out, then go hunting." The next five ships arrived, none close enough to be a threat in the last few seconds before escape. "It won't come easy to you, but you know that's a good matchup if you're careful."

The fleet warped out. "We're not getting far this way. What's he doing?", demanded Bridget. Peeru, confused, realized she hadn't heard the plan.

The engines came on full force before the spin-up was complete, and the ship shuddered. The fleet splintered into individual ships. Zelnick called the long-range sensor suite, saying, "Forget long-range scans for now. Help the local scan team."

Andy acknowledged and they pored through the scans as they reentered combat, highlighting suspected Avenger locations on Zelnick's display. "There!" Bridget said, just as the main short-range scan team highlighted a very likely spot. The Vindicator lined up and fired. Peeru had stayed on long-range scanners. We have four of the ten present; the others are split up among… I don't know how to read this scan, but it's one each, and the cruisers are clear. The fast ships should be able to hold on until we can relieve them, unless the other ten pile up on one of them somehow.

It wasn't long before the entire Ilwrath group was entangled, with six on the Vindicator. Zelnick fought defensively, shooting briefly at whichever Avenger approached it, then flying clear - not even at full speed, but tentatively, turning and coasting, ready to change direction in case a new signal came up.

It was slow going. They had not even been nicked, though a few times they had come close, barely evading a trap laid by three of the enemy. A message came in from Zelnick: "How's the rest of the fleet doing?"

Peeru checked and replied, "No news."

"Good."

But a moment later, she got a message from Tifiwilo. "One of the avengers I'm matched with is escaping. I'll get there in time to do some damage, but it'll get clear - look out."

Peeru reminded him, "It could be a trap."

"The other one is indeed guarding it. I won't get to do any damage after all."

She reported this development just as the Vindicator destroyed a cloaked ship with an unusual burst of sustained fire.

Then the escaped avenger warped into battle wth the Vindicator. If they keep doing that, we'll have to pick up the pace or we're going to be facing enough of them that we can't avoid them effectively.

Another report came in - one of Tinkafo's opponents was escaping. Just before it did, the StarRunner finished off its lone avenger; to Peeru's relief, Fwiffo ended up entangled rather than the Vindicator. But two more Avengers escaped from the other spathi, and shortly arrived to pressure the Vindicator.

One each tied up with the seven fast ships, and three destroyed, leaves ten here. This is getting very messy. She sent a message to the captains of the five cruisers. "We need help interpreting our sensor data. Get everyone you can on it. Attached is the feed. There are ten avengers in here."

In a few moments, more analysts were at work - five, ten, fifteen. Are there really three qualified sensor specialists on each ship? Now I need to prevent overwhelming the captain with spurious warnings. I'll act as a gatekeeper on these signals…

She forwarded to Zelnick those contacts that more than one person identified, and then set up a program to do the same.

As the Vindicator rushed out of one encirclement, a signal came up nearly dead ahead. Zelnick chose to shoot his way through rather than go around: the streams of fire met and clashed, and the Vindicator's won out, pounding through. But the avenger was not destroyed, and as the Vindicator rammed it, it fired again, right into their nose. Right, it seemed, at Peeru. The deck warmed up for a few moments, but cooled. Whew!

Andy said, "That was two decks down. The short-range sensor control room."

Bridget added, "They've stopped contributing suspects."

Damage control and medical teams are already on the way. Can I do anything? What I was doing before.

The Vindicator had swung about and fired again into the avenger, still not destroying it, and again retreated. It swung about yet again and fired a spray; the last shot produced a satisfying explosion. Two down, nine to go.

Fortunately, the remaining enemies were sufficiently damaged that over the next two minutes, two more avengers were destroyed by testing shots. All at once, the Ilwrath ramped up their escape units. Only six, though. That's one short. She warned the captain but he neglected it as he charged and destroyed one of the fleeing vessels. Peeru sent out a brief warning to the fleet about the escaping avengers.

Zelnick called Peeru. "How are the cruisers doing?"

"The Madagascar is engaged. And now so is the Sumatra. Only the two of the escapees found them. They're delaying. Shall the other three join in to assist?"

"Ask how much help they need, first."

She did - Kim, on the Madagascar, looked nervous, but replied, "We're placed okay, can hang on for a minute. We could use a hand though."

Abrams was considerably more anxious. "They're gaining. We don't have much time."

"Shall I call in the other cruisers?"

"Probably wouldn't be in any worse position than we are. Yes."

Peeru relayed the request to the Britain and the Tobermoon, keeping the Honshu in reserve - chosen as it was the most damaged of the five.

The Tobermoon started out immediately, but Dobbs replied from the Britain, "If we go anywhere, we're probably going to get entangled with one of the skiffs or eluders, making things worse."

"Then all three of you go! You won't be alone wherever you end up. Move!"

Having said that, Peeru felt a dread that this would be just like that ill-fated lander expedition. Especially as Zelnick, just like that last time, got on the line and confirmed the order - the Vindicator was spinning up, too, having disposed of its lone adversary.

The Tobermoon was already entangled. It had not made it to the Sumatra, but still accomplished something useful, falling in with the Madagascar instead. The Vindicator also tried to maneuver to the right bubble, but entangled with the Harmonious Bearer of Fortune instead.

Abrams cheered on the line. "Good work, Alice! Got him to back off." Alice? That must be Reynolts, on the Honshu. Peeru was mostly relieved, but the feeling of dread would not go away.

Zelnick was very aggressive in disposing of the local threat, nearly allowing the flagship to be struck. As they were spinning up, Dobbs and Tinkafo finished off their adversary.

Abrams again called, "This one is tenacious and canny. With the element of surprise gone, even with two ships we're having some trouble holding him off."

Zelnick issued the general order, "All free fleet elements move to assist."

While Jay and Tinkafo complied, Dobbs held back.

The Vindicator ended up stuck alongside the Discretion in a battle with two avengers, and neither of the others ended up anywhere useful either. Zelnick ordered, "Dobbs, engage."

Dobbs replied, "They're already in a two on one match in our favor. We could be badly placed and make things worse."

"Dobbs, you're relieved. Ensign, engage."

Ekrist, now acting captain of the Britain, appeared momentarily. "Moving in."

The Britain ended up engaged alongside two cruisers - but the wrong two, the Tobermoon and the Madagascar. Moreover, its placement was poor and it struggled to escape. That battle suddenly went from under control to not. We've gone from one critical battle to two.

Abrams called again. He almost sounded resigned. "Thanks for trying."

As the Vindicator destroyed one of the two avengers, Zelnick replied, "How long do you have?"

"Ten seconds to their extreme weapons range."

"When they open fire..."

"We'll use the lasers to disperse the flames as best we can, and the Honshu will launch missiles. We're set."

It seemed that all at once several other fights came to a conclusion, and everything hinged on that one stern chase. The battlefield stretched as six more ships warped in as reinforcements, but the flames were already flying, and the nukes as well. The stretching actually bought them one more second, as they were suddenly no longer in immediate range. One, two nukes landed, and the first flames were dispersed by point-defense lasers - but the second wave of plasma flame engulfed the cruiser.

The point defense fired again, dispersing the third wave, and a moment into the fourth, the avenger was ripped open by the fury.

That's all of them.

The Sumatra lay dead in space. Escape pods jettisoned - one, two, then a third. An explosion seemed inevitable, but none came.

Enkrist got on the channel. "Pleased to report that the Britain sustained only minor damage from our engagement. No casualties." What? Oh. That was the other one.

But Peeru was still considering the destruction of the Sumatra. My dread was unfounded. It wasn't action that allowed that to happen, it was delay. How do I know what to be afraid of?

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:48 pm

Chapter 37: Home

The approach to Earth felt like coming home in a way. It in itself was quite alien, of course, but it meant returning to the 1038, which if it was not home, was at least much more like it. For their journey to the Mycon homeworld, the fleet was being substantially rebuilt. The cruisers were to be left behind except for the Tobermoon, which would be back under the command of captain Wu. The remaining three tractor berths would be taken by stingers. This had been the most effective combination they had found in their prospective battle simulations - the one cruiser was enough to initially draw some fire, and it could be bumped to safety by an eluder. More would only be a distraction and further risk.



As the time for the final practice before starbase docking approached, the team chatter was concerned primarily with the competition for positions in the fleet - both among the officers present and with the officer candidates on the starbase. This placement process seems comparatively sane, at least. Certainly compared to what the Syreen had to offer.

"It all comes down to whether Mok gets better, doesn't it?" Li concluded. "He's top-ranked…"

"… barring acting captain Enkrist. Now she's on blue team, the traitor!", joked Riemann.

"… Right. Well, she'll be out a ship and back down to ensign like us. Or she could stay behind and command it here, like the others."

"Well, Abrams would probably get it. Unless they rebuild the Sumatra. They like to leave you be, I think. So you're safe, Finney." Li concluded.

She shrugged. "If Mok gets better, I'm not. Remember, there's just one cruiser spot next time out."

"Sure, but Wu liked you, right? Now that he's back in charge you're in for sure. Plus, Mok would fit right in on a stinger. It's Riemann and me I'm worried about, here. I really don't want to be on one of those."

Peeru announced, "It is time. I see we're all here. We're doing another Sa-Matra simulation today…"

Half an hour later, as they waited for the battle sim to start, Riemann commented, "Worst Sa-Matra ever. Where did they even get this idea from?"

Peeru looked it up in a moment. "Says it's based on a 'Cylon base star', whatever that is."

"Well, they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I bet a dreadnaught could take it on."

One of the new team-members, substituting for Mok and Enkrist, said, "Funny you should mention that…" What's his name, again? Vasiliev. He's Snelopy's lieutenant, isn't he?

But the battle commenced, and they didn't get to hear what was funny about it. The battle ended up being far easier than expected, due to the large number of fast fighters the Sa-Matra could launch. The after-action meeting was short and uninteresting, partially due to the lopsided battle, and partially because everyone needed to prepare for the arrival. We shouldn't have even had this practice.

Zelnick didn't dismiss them all, though, keeping the higher-ranked officers - including Enkrist and Peeru - on the channel. He faced the human captains. "Before we go, I'd like to apologize to you all for leaving you behind. I know your contributions, and I will keep you all in mind for future assignments. I especially apologize to captain Reynolts - yes, I know it was your idea, but still - for posting you as executive officer of the Vindicator. Tradition seems to require that you be demoted to commander. With the additional crew we're taking on, we're going to have to have a real officer structure here. Especially as two of the section chiefs have been lost.

"And on the other hand, congratulations to captain Peeru. You've come a long way." That feels good.

A few more uninteresting details, and they were dismissed, except for her. When they were alone on the channel, Zelnick said, "Would you come up to the bridge? Thanks."

What could it be that he wants to speak to me in person? Peeru went as quickly as possible, and found him in his usual spot, relaxing.

He got up when she entered. He looks concerned. Now I'm worried.

"You are aware that the syreen haven't arrived yet, correct?" - "Yes."

"Are you sure you want to go out without the syreen and mycon?"

"We will pick them up after the ambush, correct?"

"Yes. That will be in around forty or fifty days, maybe longer, depending on how they move. So for the first two or three months, you'll be without support. And in the mean time, we'll be facing Mycon and VUX, before going and getting the Pkunk to go home again. Can you handle that without the rapid regeneration system?"

I'm not sure what that is about the Pkunk… need to scour the logs better. "I am aware of the time gap. VUX will not be a problem at all. Against mycon, one on one, I can delay indefinitely. In fleet actions, we would want to stick together, which would prevent my firing rapidly anyway. I can certainly provide counterfire, and deter or break up direct attacks."

"All right. You've continued to train these scenarios?"

"I was aware that we would not have rapid regeneration for some time, so I have been training both with and without regeneration."

"Good. Good. That is all."

Did he think I might not notice this? On the other hand, I have been stressing this to the prospective crew. They might be upset that this will not be the case from day one.

Peeru exchanged last-minute messages, finding where the 1038 was, arranging for her things to be re-loaded into a cube and sent. Her last few minutes before docking was spent reading Wu's report on lieutenant Muugko. It seems the main difficulty was that he'd do exactly what they said when they were looking, and revert when he thought they weren't. Now he thinks they are always looking, but have the lessons sunk in?

The gangway was busy but passable when Peeru arrived. She got on the moving walkway and got off at berth 7a. There it was. The 1038.

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:14 am

Chapter 38: Muugko

Peeru looked over the 1038, her mauler. It seemed so much bigger from the outside. Of course it did. The only crew-habitable areas were the center ring of the barrel, the command pod, and scattered narrow access passages.

She had never really had a chance to examine it from the outside before, and took her time, zooming in and looking over details. She found a space-suited figure working on something. Looking it up, she found it was Heeran - the other full engineer besides Kaandor.

She heard someone rolling up behind her, but kept looking. She did, however, back off on the zoom so she could turn around more comfortably. If this is Muugko, I will need to control myself just in case I've developed a little irrational hatred. I don't think I have, just let's keep a lid on things.

In the trade language - "Captain?" Yup. Muugko.

She turned and smiled. It was insincere, but wasn't masking anything worse than wariness. "Lieutenant. I am glad to see your progress in readying the ship."

"Thank you, captain. I notice you haven't assigned me to join you on it."

"Yet. I wanted to meet you before I made such an important decision. How have your studies been?"

He looked down in submission; as she was standing, he was on her height rather than suspended lower. "Their ways are very different, but I have learned them - you see I got good marks."

"Yes. And what do you think of them? The humans and their ways?"

"Some of them understand business. They all pretend not to, and some go so far as to wish they didn't understand it. Once you understand that, the differences between us appear much smaller. The inherent lies do result in a highly perverted organizational structure."

Peeru considered what he had said. It really depends what he means. Maybe he's cooked it up as wise-sounding gibberish. Anyway, moving on. "I will offer you the position of provisional lieutenant. There will not be a repeat of last time."

If Peeru had not been specifically trained to read suppressed emotions as a negotiator's assistant, she would have missed Muugko's flash of anger before his controlled response. "Captain, I do not want my fate to be entirely out of my hands." The mismatch of his neutral tone with his wording provided a more obvious indication of suppressed anger.

"So you believe there was nothing you could have done?"

"There certainly were, but I have learned. The question is whether they will accept that, or be stuck in the past."

Well, maybe and maybe not, but there's no point in my being skeptical to his face. "Muugko, if you are a good officer, you will stay. If you are not, you will go. If the others are unreasonably difficult, well, some of them will be let go and some will just have to stay anyway. All of us are replaceable."

He sighed in relief. "That I can deal with. It is attachment to specific individuals that breaks hierarchy and creates problems."

That, and specific aversions. And managers who do not appear to be harder workers than their subordinates. And managers who do not accept the expertise of their specialists. But mentioning all that would rightly be seen as aggressive.

Muugko turned, having heard someone coming, and Peeru followed his gaze - yes, there were most of the others, with the luggage and equipment. Wugyup took up the rear with a large palette full of materials.

Muugko was looking on that with alarm. "Captain, what is that?"

"I believe it's steel mesh flooring. I'm a little surprised he got it so soon."

He backed off on the zoom and looked her over. "We're going to have floor."

"We are going to have at least one syreen on board soon, and the rest of us have adapted to walking. I would rather not throw away that effort." There's no need to attribute it to Wugyup, as it would just generate even more friction. "You will not be required to use it."

Peeru got ahead of the crowd, stepping up to the chain loader, and was drawn into the ship. She went to the bridge and checked on status. Indicators were mostly clear. What's that EVA for? Ah, just a practice run. My, look at the hours she's been putting in! It'll be a shock if Heeran doesn't collapse. Why is Muugko driving her like that?

She opened a call to him; he didn't respond, but did offer her his viewpoint, which she accepted.

Kaandor was just passing out of view, and Muugko was helping Trifop into the harness. "There you go. Feel familiar?"

"Yeah, I did kind of miss it."

As Trifop began to swing away, Genlo stepped up. "I'm fine."

"Can I at least check?"

Genlo looked Muugko over skeptically, then shrugged and replied, in English, "Okay."

Muugko did find one loose connection and secured it properly. Genlo looked away, mildly embarrassed.

Wugyup was busy loading things onto the cargo hook; Muugko rushed over. "Want a hand with this?"

Wugyup considered. "Maybe I do." He squinted at Muugko, zooming in on his face. "If it means I won't get yelled at for messing up in some inscrutable way."

Muugko cocked his head slightly. "I don't mean to get into the past, but I think as long as you let me inspect it before sending it in, there won't be any cause for upset."

Peeru disengaged the feed and thought. Okay, so he's 'playing nice', at least as long as he knows I'm watching. I wonder whether he can keep that up.

She called Muugko again, and he took it. "Yes, Captain?"

"Why did you have Heeran put in 130 hours this week?"

"That was her idea. She realized that she knows regular maintenance inside and out, but nothing about emergency repairs."

"I… see. Do you have any idea how she got so motivated?"

"The overtime offers around here are… impressive."

"Wait. You're actually drawing meaningful compensation right here? Not just rations and facility access?"

"Oh sure! There's a legitimate market here, a mix of competition and cartel, depending on what you need. I broke up one of those to great personal profit."

Peeru's pulse raced. They're not crazy incentiveless people after all! It was just a fluke of being onboard a military vessel, of course!

Muugko laughed. "I thought you'd be glad to hear that. Shall we meet to discuss the business plan I've been pursuing?"

Peeru was luxuriating in the notion that she might actually draw pay that meant something, and only noticed the question after a few seconds. "Sure, sure. Once we get settled in."

~~~

edited to fix a physical relation, and adjust another bit of wording

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:14 am

Chapter 39: captaincy

"It's a lot easier than I remember, really." Peeru looked out into the green field before them.

Wugyup gestured for her to elaborate.

"Mainly, it's by comparison to when I was aboard the Vindicator. There, I was everything or anything the captain wanted, and I was trying hard to re-earn this."

"Why? I heard how surprised you were to find out that the humans actually have pay. And you don't seem to be an… idealist."

Curious emphasis. Not very derogatory, mainly specific. "I had arranged for compensation at a high rate. I feel the need to earn that. As a captain, I think I'm safe in that regard, especially as I take care of mining as well. With just the mining, I could see that I just wasn't putting in as much as some others, and that worried me."

"Not the 'bare minimum' type, I take it?"

"You know who I was back on the trade world. Do you think I got there by putting in the bare minimum?"

"I am sorry for being confusing. I was using understatement."

"Yes, I…" Peeru thought carefully. I should have picked up on that, but I didn't. "I wasn't thinking." Why not?

"It's okay."

"Anyway, the other part of how it's easier is that I'm not in charge of a fleet. I don't need to run a practice each day, merely attend. The preparations are of a wholly different magnitude."

"I can imagine."

"And I get to work with the bridge crew. There's a dedicated adversary team on the Vindicator; we don't need to do without our officers. It just makes a huge difference to be able to rely on Muugko and Genlo… and Trifop."

"How's that working out?"

"I'm the last person to ask, really. Would he slip up in front of me? Definitely not. Will he revert where I can't see? I don't know. They're working with each other all right. I can tell Muugko is highly stressed."

"Yes, he is. But he can take it for a good long time. I've seen his genetic profile. Practically indestructible."

"Physically, perhaps. But I saw him broken when you all left."

"Seriously? Did he cry?"

"I don't recall. He was far from a rational agent, anyway."

"Well, that's not new. What's new is his being close. Anyway, as stressed as it's making him, I rather like not having to worry about him. Maybe he'll get used to it and we'll all be one big happy family."

Peeru thought that over. "That sounds like some egregiously poorly designed motivational propaganda, there."

"It's an ironic human expression. One nice thing about their culture is its rich use of irony. That is one of our weaknesses."

"By which you mean the womens' weakness?"

"Not really. Men can be good at lying, finding lying out, good at convincing of the truth. But we don't generally make an art of it."

"I don't think so. I've used irony plenty."

"And you've studied multiple alien languages. Unfair example."

"Kaandor has used irony."

"Has she? And now that I think back, the old cinematics are chock-full of it. Well, I'd be glad to discard the… ah. That's it. It's the corporate drying."

"Drying?"

"An eastern word used to describe the difference between the old model and the Crimson Corporation. CC communication policy has no place for irony except in certain carefully delineated contexts. Just having to think about whether you're allowed to use it or not is hard work. Most people just opt never to use it until they're tired enough - or whatever - not to care whether it's against the rules."

Peeru thought. Simply having to think about whether something is allowed or not can be hard work? Really? I guess it can. "Well, time's up."

"I know we're contractually bound to a time, but that was sharper than usual."

"More that I need to get ready for our spin down to hyperspace. Just an hour out."

"Expecting trouble?"

"No, but it's good to be on the safe side."

"If you want to be on the safe side, why are you on this ship? Just how good is that pay rate, to risk it all like this?"

Peeru set her chains to return to the bridge, but slowly enough that Wugyup would be able to follow reasonably closely. Should I tell him? Why not?

"If I perform with excellence, I get an eighth of a moon, my selection from the Crateris and Crucis constellations."

"Ah."

"What about you?"

"The Kohr-Ah destroy everything. I do not want everything to be destroyed. I am willing to put myself at some risk to avoid the near certainty of death if no one steps up and takes care of the problem. Pretty simple."

"But why you?"

"Because they already took everything from me."

"Not everything. You had a cushy job with personnell, of all places! Most people would kill to get that post."

"Everything that mattered. Next time, maybe." His chains diverted to the floored area.

Peeru's mind had two tracks as she continued on to the command center. First, wondering how the ability to get a cushy job in personnell didn't count as something; and second, recalling and analyzing the tone and expression. It was abnormally strong - stronger than anything outside of the more serious ROMs. It frightened her. I could die out there. We're going into Mycon space. All those times I won in sim as red team leader, that could be me on the losing side. Or the Vindicator could be destroyed, and with it the best tool for defeating the Ur-Quan: its outstanding mobility. Without that, how will we ever even get to the Sa-Matra to destroy it? Then instead of being dead, I'd have to - with whatever remnants there are - figure out what to do on my own. Even if we just ran from the Kohr-Ah, we could only get so far before running out of fuel.

This is not so easy as I remember.

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Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:29 pm

Chapter 40: Alert

Red alert blared out loud enough to wake Peeru in an instant. She was still highly disoriented, but she managed to get her arms and one leg hooked up. The other leg was taking its time getting under her control, so she told the chains to go anyway. The system refused.

"All personnel to battle stations! Podship entanglement in forty seconds!"

She laboriously dragged her barely-responsive leg up and only once the three second clamp sequence was complete was she in motion. The ship began turning, making her sway as she swung up to the command center. The siren halted partway up the shaft.

As she approached the command center, she saw Trifop frantically checking things. In place after a few more moments, she called out, "Situation?"

Muugko replied, "The arc-130 stabilizers aren't coming up fast enough." He was oddly calm.

Peeru glanced at the tactical display. A swarm of vessels was surrounding the group. She turned on the fleet channel and turned her attention to the power distribution board. There's enough energy in the cannon for three shots - enough to get us up to speed in a hurry, as long as the stabilizers are on. She suspended weapon charging, and the stabilizers' warmup accelerated.

It was just a thump. Not even a particularly loud thump, but it was ominous. She checked the damage control panel - all good. "Trifop, get on that. Damage control shows purple, but I don't believe it." This ship is old, and what if the internal sensors are going?

Then several of them were blue, then green: the arc-130 thrusters and maneuvering jets. Peeru listened in on Trifop's exchange with Kaandor as she thought through the tactical implications.

"Don't know… there's a lot of smoke. It sounds like it's fine." As long as the problem doesn't spread, we're only out 1/20 of our thrust. It'll be nearly insignificant. And the stabilizers are still good, so we won't be squished by using the cannon for acceleration, which is most of what we'd be doing, anyway…

"What's a green warning anyway?"

"Elevated temperature, excess circuit breaker activity, undervoltage… could be several things, and I'm not reading any of them. Huh."

Silence. And of course how much these details matter really depends on whether we're doing this in a mass battle or individually.

She was about to ask on the fleet line, when she realized it, too, had been totally silent.

Of course! A drill! She reached for the power controls to restore cannon power, because she figured remembering that would be a point, but she checked herself. A quick call to Heeran: "Are we clear to restore cannon power?"

Trifop added, "Thrusters at Arc-110 through 150 are blue, and the arc-130 bank just went orange!"

Kaandor continued, "Looks like someone just left a tube of lubricant on the heat sink. We'll need to regenerate the filters, but I still don't see why it'd be giving warnings at all. It's working fine!"

Muugko finally announced, "Stand down red alert. Condition purple. This has been a drill." Peeru relaxed, and let him take over.

To her surprise, he basically returned to normal operations. After a few moments, he noticed she wasn't leaving. "Captain, do you have anything to say?"

"Not really. I'm a bit surprised you don't."

"I have plenty to say. I'm just doing it by mail."

Heeran cut in, "Clear to restore cannon power."

Peeru acknowledged the message, and returned to Muugko. "I see. Shall we return to regular duty schedule?"

He gestured that he had no objection. Peeru made the announcement, and returned to her cube.

She was stuck thinking, though, and didn't close it. She got out onto the walking area. After a few times around, Wugyup was delivered to his cube. He immediately got out and joined her.

"Nothing like a good drill to get the blood pumping."

"Really? One would think actual danger is worse."

"I doubt a real emergency would have been as bad as this. Genlo was a great actor. I really thought he was in bad shape. And when the power cut out, it was terrifying. Of course, it has an independent power supply, so that's so unlikely it should have clued me in, but still. Made me think. Need to memorize some more."

"I'll be sure to compliment the architect."

A few seconds passed. "It was Muugko, wasn't it? He wasn't just announcing for you."

"Well, he ran the drill. Doesn't mean he devised it on his own."

Wugyup nodded for a bit. "Well, as long as his sadism is directed usefully, like this…"

A message arrived, from Muugko. After the introduction, it read, "Here's my first preliminary evaluation. I would like you to read it and edit for consistency of tone.
Subject: Wugyup
…"

Peeru stopped reading for a moment. "I'd like to read this in private, please."

Wugyup nodded and backed up. The message continued,
"You were at your post in 25.6 seconds, of which 13.2 seconds were transit time. This is the median performance for those initially asleep. At your post, your initial appraisal of the situation was adequate, but slow (6.3 seconds wasted). The reaction to simulated power loss was confused and ineffectual - the obvious solution of connecting the treatment center to main power was not considered (several indications that main power was up were provided). Improvement is required."

Peeru replied that this would be acceptable, and a moment later, Wugyup received it from Muugko. After a few rereads, he said, "If I hadn't basically told you all of this myself, and if you weren't the captain, I would have been really mad. I would have read in his angry tone. But since I just did, I read it in my determined-to-improve tone. Plus, I'm actually surprised I only wasted six or so seconds." Interesting. How much of his previous anger is similarly misplaced? Was Muugko simply blunt?

"Captain, can I have more drills like this? With the rest or alone, I need more emergency practice. I'd like a few days to study up my rapid recall centers first. I was still too asleep."

"Certainly on the emergencies. I can't guarantee the wait. We could find real podships any time. We'd probably have more warning than this."

A few more times around, and they silently returned to their cubes. Peeru's dreams were replays, followed by varying evaluations. She wasn't the captain - Muugko was. And he was justifiably giving her very poor marks just about every time through.
Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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