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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:28 pm 
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Chapter 21: drafting

Crew were still assembling when Peeru arrived. By the time she had taken stock of the situation and reviewed the identities of the Syreen she'd be working with, the crew were all present and lined up: four Pkunk including Tippy, all of the Druuge on the ship but Feres and Nuun, one Arilou, twelve human women, and five human men. Peeru tried to find a pattern among the human males - she recognized among them lander chief Hourin and Zelnick's attaché Fenson, and the other three were an electrician, a gunner, and a cook. That seems fairly random! She rearranged the line to group them by specialty rather than by order of arrival.

With the hiss of seals releasing, mists from the sublimation of the umbilicals' carbon dioxide frost, and a whistle-sigh as pressures equalized, the Syreen made their grand entrances.

A chorus of slight gasps and held breaths, ever so slightly racing hearts. The line came to a full attention.

This despite all of them being in varying degrees of dirty and mussed. The cleanest was Sharae - her hair was, if not done up nicely, at least completely retained in her headband; and she wore a reasonably clean standard Syreen uniform.

Leeta's lavender skin was sporadically streaked with soot, her hair seemed to have been burnt in one place, and she was still folding up a face-covering respirator.

Deana wore baggy coveralls which had once been white.

That left the filthy space suit, in which Peeru deduced was Chou.

Peeru recalled her helplessness the last time, and strode forward to meet them and break the spell. To simplify matters further, she went to Chou, whom she could not see. When it came to speech, she relied on formal protocol to guide her actions, figuring that she'd be acclimated by the time she needed to really think clearly again. "Welcome to the Vindicator! I'm commander Peeru, your liaison." Odd. It's not even close to the same severity as last time.

She noticed a slight bump in her disorientation when Chou took off her helmet and smiled.

"I'll need three master electricians and six basic electricians, two pressure systems techs with plenty of robotic assistance, a plasma technician, two welding teams…"

Leeta cut in, "And a yearling laufa to pet and call your very own. Chou, you know you're at the bottom of the triage list here. How about you take whatever we don't need?"

Chou bristled, but did not speak. Perhaps letting some psychic signal convey her ire?

Sharae interjected, "Leeta, you're hardly asking for a blade of grass yourself. I have few needs, but they're very urgent."

Peeru felt things spiraling out of control and loudly declared, "Rather than have you all submit proposals and requisitions and argue over priorities… I'm assigning each of you an income of one hundred ad-hoc crew requisition currency, hereafter creq, per day. The cost of labor will be determined by demand. You may apply these to machine shop time as well, though I believe that's not very tight."

Deana asked, "So the crew are auctioned off?"

"No. Auctions are very abusable. You simply pay out for each crewmember you want. Their time is split up among the payers in proportion to the payments for that day. Go talk to the people you might want, and when you want someone, signal me. I don't think you can abuse the system without hurting yourself. If you try, I'll fine you."

Deana was already moving toward the crew. "Plasma techs? Great. Fifteen on you."

Leeta ran up, and seemed about to speak, but recalled Chou. Instead, she turned to Peeru. "This isn't fair."

"On the contrary, it's absolutely fair. Chou needs a lot of work, so she'll be better off bidding on the leftovers than fighting it out with you on whatever you need."

"But she can pick up the leftovers for one credit each."

"If you don't need them, why is one creq wrong?"

Leeta grumbled, but returned to asking around.

Ten minutes later, everyone was assigned. Several people were working electronics when they were not rated for it; however, those were ratings for Precursor or Terrestrial electronics, so the official designations were not as important as they usually would be. Bridget, for example, would be spending half a day as an electrician for Leeta, before she shifted to using her far more advanced rating as sensor specialist for Deana.

Peeru was fairly satisfied. Mainly, everyone was at work in basically sane tasks, and deciding hadn't wasted half the day. Things will settle down tomorrow, I think. Deana won't bother putting anything on Tippy now that she knows how much Sharae is willing to spend on him. Maybe I should ask for Hayt or Simpson? Seems like a good idea. Writing several virtualizing compilers doesn't sound like a trivial task.

As she was writing the message, Chou came up to her and pointed out the last line on the creq allocation list - she had put one on Peeru herself.

Peeru made a new column labelled 'administrative' and added one creq to herself for that task - it would be necessary for her to take time out to run things. Chou added her last creq. Peeru let it stand. Running this shouldn't take more than a third of my time, right?

~~~~

An hour later was the first issue requiring her attention. Peeru was in the middle of teaching a robot how to use Syreen hand-holds for zero-gravity maneuvering, and the call startled her enough the robot misinterpreted her motion and she had to cancel its learning.

It was Hourin. "I request a transfer, sir."

"May I ask why, chief?"

"An uncomfortable work environment."

"Excuse me? You've never complained about being uncomfortable before." And you've been in very uncomfortable situations… you didn't complain about mining uranium from active volcanoes!

"I never had my CO giving me unwanted massages before, sir."

"Are you doing actual work, Hourin?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Is Deana?"

"Kind of, sir. It involves a lot of leaning around me and showing me how to do something while whispering gently in my ear, and guiding my hands and generally excessive body contact. And that's when she's working. Sir."

"To a greater extent than with, say, Genlo?"

"Not especially, sir, but he doesn't seem to mind."

Peeru sighed. Sigh? Okay, now it's official, I'm picking up human mannerisms. Fortunately, Hourin seemed to take this pause as a sign she was thinking about his problem. Just in time, she said, "Where are you?"

"In the bathroom."

"I presume you've told her you don't want this attention?"

"Yes, sir."

I don't really understand the subtleties of this situation, so… general strategies. Hmm. Strategies to use against management. Haven't needed those in a while. "Do you think…" Peeru looked up a word, something she hadn't done in weeks. "… sousveillance might help?"

"I have no idea what you just said."

"Let her know you're publishing the video stream of everything happening around you. Actually do it."

"Bingo! Thank you, sir."

Let's see how this goes.

It went well. Hourin chose a neutral phrasing that laid out an alternate excuse for the recording being made, as training video; but even that kept her on good behavior.

Once she was satisfied on that, Peeru decided to take a break and check in on Hayt and Simpson, to see if human males actually were a problem. Also, getting on my feet will be a relief from all this floating up against the walls, hurting my new skin. Ow.

As she entered Sharae's ship, she found two newly minted electricians methodically going down a list of circuit breakers and removing the bypasses that the previous crew had installed for some reason. The cook was breaking up and hauling away the ship's burned out central computer.

Sharae herself and the three programmers she found sprawled, oblivious to her presence, on various surfaces in the captain's cabin, using an impressive number of distinct computers and input devices. Though Hayt was muttering notes to his computer while he was reading, and though Sharae was drawing up some diagrams, Peeru found the foot rub he was giving her suspicious.

Hayt suddenly said, "It's not so bad as it seemed. The allocations to that bank are on a strict schedule. If we never reclaim memory… it overflows in a touch under sixty hours. Simply deny all regular memory releases and reconstruct the table every day."

Simpson put in, "We should make a redundant bank that listens in on the updates and takes control when the main bank is busy reconstructing. Let's see those rates…"

It seems that even with that distraction, they're still getting work done. All right.

She was not all the way up the umbilical when a call came in from Leeta demanding her presence.

The ship was a mess. Even messier than Chou's, visually speaking. Soot and flame-retardant foam streaked the walls and floor, wall panels lay strewn about underfoot.

Leeta stormed towards Peeru. Time to put on my stone face...

"I. Do Not! Have, what I Need, to Fix This Ship." She declared. Peeru couldn't quite avoid flinching, the ire was so intense.

While she was taking a breath, Peeru put in, "You have been at it for merely five hours. Perspective?"

"And if I only get the same resources as Sharae again tomorrow? She'll take all the electricians again. I need more than she does. Look at this place. And if it's not her, it's Chou. At least Deana isn't sucking them all up."

"Because she doesn't need them. When Sharae doesn't need them, she won't bid on them either. It's really that simple."

"Chou has my laser optical tech... welding. Welding!"

"Then she can repressurize the cabin. I'd say that'll be a great help, no?"

"I need a laser optical tech!"

"Chou needs someone with arc-welding experience. There are five such, and Deana took three of them."

"What is she having them do, cook?"

Peeru brought up Hourin's video feed, which prominently featured welding. "If you continue to waste my time, I'll begin charging you for it." At present rates, it's a bargain, but I need not mention that.

"And what of tonight? Are we simply going to go to sleep as if everything were ordinary?"

"Humans require rest regularly. More so than Druuge, and more, it seems, than Syreen. If we push them too hard, they'll begin making mistakes. That said, I believe there will be another smaller batch of workers available if you require work through the night."

She panted and stared. Finally, she said, "Good."

"Judging from your demeanor, I believe you are exhausted. Perhaps you should take a break sooner than evening?"

"This ship could fall apart any minute. These people wouldn't know the signs."

"You will eventually need to rest. Sharae's vessel is quite stable and she seems well rested. I believe you should take shifts."

Leeta sat down and thought for a moment.

The moment stretched to a minute and Peeru realized she was asleep.

She called Sharae, who quickly agreed to hold watch for Leeta. While Sharae was coming, Peeru arranged quarters and transport for Leeta, and returned to Chou's vessel.

Peeru spent most of the rest of the day hunting down leaks.

And then, fifteen minutes before the next shift would come on, Peeru was inundated by a flurry of messages from other captains in the fleet. They varied from suggesting to demanding crew. Are they all failing at the same time?

As she looked them over, it became clear that only a few were, but many of them wanted creqs for the future. One message finally explained what was going on - giving creqs only to the ships in the Vindicator's tractor berths created a perverse incentive to break down.

Peeru began working out possibilities on how to resolve it. The solution she settled on was that yes, everyone would get the same creq allocation, starting immediately; but that any allocations would include the crew time it would take to rearrange the docking, and further including the work stoppage on any ships that had to interrupt repairs. That should put the overhead at 80 creqs or so.

She got that message out only five seconds before the next shift started. She dashed up and out to the loading bay, where Deana was already explaining the system to the new shift.

Peeru began getting responses - mostly comments, and several orders for individuals. How? Oh, right. The Eluders can still leave the group. My estimate on overhead was very much on the high side.


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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2010 2:48 pm 
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Chapter 22: Dispersal
- or -
In Which a Great Deal of Economics is Cogitated in Depth, but for the Sake of the Story is Described Only Briefly.

~~~~

The night shift was every bit as busy as the day had been, though Peeru spent most of it in lander two, her makeshift office. It had become clear that her quick fix to the system was untenable: the cumulative buying power of the captains in the fleet was too strong. This night shift it wasn't so bad - few had gotten in requests in time, but the next was a wreck. Even those who weren't throwing muscle around, only putting five or ten on someone who'd be helpful, an amount that seemed to them less than overwhelming, drained dry those ships that needed work intensely.

Markets are the ideal means of distributing labor and resources. But this is only an approximation of a market - what you get for a given outlay is not negotiated, but calculated. And of course the income is fixed.

Peeru spent some time thinking about what should be done to bring it closer to the ideal, but a thought struck her.

Is sending everyone out into the fleet really a problem? Preventative work on those that might fail might be the best thing to do. Let's see how much of that there is...

... it's impossible to tell from here. If they all need this work, we're in a lot of trouble no matter what.

The real test is whether we can last the next five days without losing four more ships. Make that five - we should have Deana's ready to go soon, even with less workers. Given that, it might be best to let Deana and the fleet split their resources, and starve the other three. Well, Sharae could have the programmers. Of these sixty-three flying on their own, take out forty-five that are in genuinely good condition. That leaves eighteen that weren't properly repaired after a battle. One or two crew each. Okay. As long as the others don't request anything, that's reasonably close to optimal.

So, after pondering this for close to two hours, Peeru ended up with the slightest tweak to the system, merely adding the rule that crew should not be requisitioned for long-term issues. She waited for complaints to come in, and as they didn't, she relaxed and considered getting her hands dirty again, so it wouldn't appear she was slacking.

She was looking for a good interruptible assignment when a call came from the captain, full visual. She took it, and nodded, then again -- it wasn't just Zelnick, but also Rydra.

"Captains."

Rydra tented her fingers in front of her face. "Commander. Your system of allocating crew is distasteful."

"Distasteful?"

"The crew are uncomfortable being priced, bought and sold; we can feel this."

Peeru wasn't sure she could say anything to this, but Rydra left a pause as if she should.

She eventually went on, "I read the log on the Druuge, and about you. This amplifies my distaste."

"Me?" Lower than conscious thought, Peeru was crushed by Rydra's disapproval.

"Nothing in your file has shown you to be different from your fellows. You have taken a purely... instrumental approach to the crew and your fellow officers."

Peeru looked to Zelnick in panic.

Zelnick coughed and said, "She has taken very good care of our lander teams."

Rydra nodded. "You have provided good incentives, so that even the heartless will act properly, in the grosser respects. On the details, that everyone is merely a resource becomes clear."

Rydra focused deeply on Peeru. "If the incentives were turned, as it seems they sometimes are among the Druuge, how much personal loss would you take to avoid feeding the furnace... someone nameless to you? A day's work? A week's?"

Peeru thought. That... is a very interesting question. It never came up, of course, and it was never the kind of question we were encouraged to ask. We were supposed to do what the incentive structure led us to do, and if we were led to it we should not question it. The very idea of just soaking up the loss ourselves... well, it would be a pretty catastrophic loss under the most common circumstances. Basically a one for one substitution, and I doubt she'd fault me for declining that.

Peeru jolted alert as Zelnick reached a peak, "... will not have it. Do you understand me?" She recoiled, until she realized that it was Rydra he was addressing. He didn't wait for Rydra's response, continuing. "Thank you for sharing your viewpoint; we'll look into the issue; good day, captain."

Rydra perked an eyebrow. "I believe I do understand. Good day." She closed her connection.

Zelnick sighed and buried his face in his hands. "Those women."

Peeru stayed on the line, silent. Zelnick eventually looked up. "I have no idea what the crew think of your scheme. Do you?"

"The machine shop seemed to think it very ordinary and reasonable. As for the others, no idea. I can ask."

"Don't let her get to you."

"What if she's right?"

He rolled his eyes. "They'll get over it. Look. If it were a real problem, I would have heard about it already from our people, and quietly asked you to change it. I don't know what this is really about, but if it's coming from them and not us, it's not about what it's about. If you begin to give in, you're sunk. It's like in High School."

"This is nothing like my education."

"Yeah, I realize that. I didn't go to High School either, but I read enough books. They're vultures. Jackals. Flekki. Shoot! I just can't avoid analogies to things you don't know about, can I? You can't let them smell blood. So I'm ordering you not to care what Rydra thinks of you."

"I believe I understand."

"I'm suggesting that you do absolutely nothing about her concern. But that's just a suggestion. All set?"

Peeru nodded, and accepted the close call offer.

She spent the rest of the shift calling those out in the fleet who had requisitioned help, gathering information about the work to be done. Most were chilly, a few borderline hostile. Peeru used her best corporate cheerful demeanor. The most awkward was the call to Rydra. She ratcheted up the mood as far as she could.

"Hello, this is central dispatch! This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes."

"Peeru."

"Oh, it's so nice to hear we're on a first name basis, Rydra. Concerning your requisition for an electrician, I was wondering if we could have a little more information about the nature of the work."

Pause.

Suspiciously, "Why do you ask?"

"So I have a reason not to write 'no special expertise required, low priority' next to your requisition. I don't want to do that if it's not true, so I'd like some help on that."

Pause.

Then Rydra read off a list of things wrong with her ship, in a labored irritated voice. Peeru felt as if she ought to be feeling bad that she was bothering such an important person with so much on her plate by making her read out this enormous list, but she focused on Zelnick's order to not care one bit. Weapons? She's not going to have to fire a weapon before we get to Betelgeuse. But skip that point. Something doesn't line up here.

"Clearly your ten creq allocation is not going to get enough help for you. Perhaps you should spend an amount that you believe reflects your needs? I suppose Marsdin doesn't really need anyone for more than twenty minutes. How long can replacing the cable bus to her dorsal stabilizer take, anyway? Or perhaps we can bump Kay. Finding the source of drift in her inertial navigation system isn't really high priority. She's a pretty good pilot, she can keep flying her ship manually for a few more days."

Pause.

Rydra coughed. "The bridge lights are very dim, I need them up or my old eyes are going to wear out just finding the right controls."

Peeru dismissed the feeling that she had been too harsh on an old woman, and said, "Great. The ten creqs should cover it, but I'll switch you to general maintenance. If they can't handle it, you'll get your electrician for free before the end of the shift. Is that all right?"

Pause.

The call closed. Peeru let her forced cheer fade and shivered with relief. It must have been very confusing to have such mixed messages. Ha!

After that, things went as smoothly as could be reasonably hoped.

~~~~

Peeru was coming in for her daily skin checkup when she spied unexpected blue skin through one of the doors. She backed up a pace and looked in.

A Syreen in a hospital gown, sitting on the bed with her legs out straight, one of them wrapped in a bubble cast. And sitting behind her, Feres, similarly attired, and in a similar cast from the waist down. Feres braiding the Syreen's hair.

They look... intimate. But somehow not too much. I don't have a proper set of symbols for this. I wonder whether Feres has any clue what's going on herself. Maybe I should keep a look out, in case the Syreen's trying something.

But when Feres finished, the Syreen thanked her and shifted away. Something caught her eye. She reached down and picked up a silver star on a ribbon.

The Syreen turned it and read the inscription, "For outstanding bravery in saving two crewmates from fire and decompression at risk to her own life, near Epsilon Camelopardalis, October 2, 2156. Nice. You didn't mention it."

"What about you? That storm was just about as dangerous, and you went in on purpose."

"Oh, I don't think I'd get a medal." She giggled. "I was just following orders."

She seems to be coherent. And I need to get going. Peeru backed off and continued to her appointment. A citation for bravery. Is that the reward they give out around here? Something essentially intangible? And they only give it for doing more than they're asked? I may never get my moon.


Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 7:40 pm 
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Chapter 23: Red

While returning from the infirmary, Peeru received orders to lead the newly formed red team in daily exercises - today on their own, and then against the full fleet. I guess the economic situation is pretty well taken care of. Also, it looks like we're warming up for serious action against the Mycon.

Peeru cancelled her repair appointments and studied Mycon tactics and engagement reports from both recently and decades ago.

In the last few minutes before the practice, she switched to examining the list of 14 red team members. Trifop and Genlo, and... the ensign from each cruiser, it looks like, then some random Vindicator crew. I don't know any of those except Mr. Gantrand, who filtered the music for me a few weeks ago. Interesting that Zelnick left me my crew even though they are presently unusually valuable for doing repairs. They were gathering in the virtual battlefield. Each appeared at first as their podship, but most changed avatar to their own form to match Peeru. I need to get to know them, so I had better be able to see them.

One of the ensigns, Li, did not change to match forms. One of the others, Enkrist, reached over and flicked his hull with a finger -- the scale was set such that the podship was somewhat smaller than she was. He momentarily changed. I wonder what that means.

When the time came, two were still missing -- Abrams' ensign and one other crewman -- but she started immediately. "We are expecting to face larger fleets this time than we did before."

Li mumbled something.

Peeru replied, "Would you like to say that so it can be heard?"

Li shook his head. "It wasn't important, sir. We weren't there before."

"Serious questions are welcome." Looking around, Peeru took the prescribed attention-gathering moment and resumed. "Larger fleets are harder to overwhelm with massed missile attacks, but they are even more susceptible to friendly fire issues. Unless they are organized properly. I have devised an arrangement I believe will minimize these risks."

Li raised his hand; when she acknowledged him, he said, "Captain, I thought we were supposed to emulate existing known Mycon tactics."

"We are supposed to present a challenge to learn from. Do not assume that the enemy will not learn, even if they appear to be unintelligent. We can get to existing tactics later.

"The tactic is to head for the planet image and all orbit it in a ring. We face outward and fire as targets present themselves."

They don't seem to think this is a great idea.

Another ensign raised his hand. "Riemann?"

"Is that it, ma'am?"

"For this tactic, essentially, yes. It allows us to concentrate fire in any direction. It distributes incoming fire across the fleet. If we need to go somewhere in a hurry, we can quickly arrange to whip. And we have a solid object to our backs, so they can't get inside the ring."

"It may be a long way to a planet."

"Podships are tough, we can make it. Let's try this out and see if it works in practice."

Practice was the right word. They all needed to thrust just right to enter the same circular orbit, evenly spaced. With computer assistance, they managed to do it. It was unusual to engage the autopilot during combat, but the option was available. Then Peeru set up a computer-controlled version of Vindicator's battle group, and had them attack.

The cruisers held back and lobbed nukes in, while the fast ships closed in quickly. As Peeru had predicted, the orbit kept them from effectively leading the plasmoids around without exposing themselves.

One of the Skiffs was destroyed by a shot delivered at close range; mid-power shots landed on two Eluders confused by the density of fire; and little damage was taken in return. The Vindicator wasn't even approaching, too big a target and not doing enough damage to justify the risk.

The fight against the cruisers, however, was not going so smoothly. The plasmoids were perpetually chasing the fast ships and could not be convinced to bypass them. That's one good thing about non-tracking weapons.

Peeru picked out two undamaged podships. "Genlo, Riemann. I'm detailing you to take out those cruisers. Whip out next time round."

To her relief, they both knew how to do that. They have both been at this longer than I have, after all.

The cruisers began to focus fire, but Genlo's podship was still in decent shape when he came alongside and dropped two plasmoids in among them.

The Vindicator chased him and finished his ship off. Riemann came in immediately after, and fired point blank into its exposed rear, twice.

As he was bouncing away, he commented, "I was expecting that to do more damage."

Peeru said, "I was expecting you to fire on the cruisers." He did just disobey orders, but I think everyone just had a little reminder that following them is a good idea. "Let's back up a little and see how we can do that better, shall we? First off, I think a third ship would be appropriate. Second, whoever goes first... when you are about to take fire, slow down and cover your front with a plasmoid. Your main job is to draw fire so the other two can get close and fresh; it would be nice if you can do that without being destroyed. Gantrand, you also go with them. Ready? Go."

Unlike the others, Gantrand was still struggling with lining up whips, and came out seriously askew. When he slowed to correct, two of the skiffs closed in and tore him up. Still, even his wild placement drew the cruisers' fire, enabling Genlo and Riemann to take them on freely. Two went down immediately, and another followed in short order. Genlo, taking fire from the Vindicator, hid behind one of the remaining cruisers.

Peeru added, "Li, Mok, whip out and nail the Vindicator. Genlo, retreat to orbit."

Li flew a bit wild, and fired too late; Mok fired early and rammed his own plasmoids; Genlo was surprised by a skiff coming up behind him, drawing his own plasmoid back in.

They repeated this several more times, until it went more smoothly.

Once they had that reasonably well under hand, Peeru changed things up. "All right. This time, everyone goes in a straight line along the 1,1,0 axis. Start accelerating at the 0,-1,0 point of the orbit. Use auto for the boost phase." She gave them a few moments to enter that course specification, and restarted.

As it was auto, the formation was perfect. Once they were done boosting, they dropped several plasmoids; these did slight damage. More importantly, the high-velocity queue outpaced every element of the enemy fleet but the Fury. It attacked one of the ships in the middle of the line; the ship ahead of it dropped a plasmoid on the Fury, destroying it immediately.

Due to the large number of ships present, the battle toroid was large, which gave them time to regenerate.

"We're coming up on the planet. Prepare a turn to the 1,0,0 axis."

Again, they were able to fire on the combined fleet unhindered, and escaped to regenerate. Their fire was largely ineffective this time, as they did not engage particularly closely.

"Okay, I think we know how to do that, let's try something a little different. I'm handing out vectors. Each of you follow your vector and fire as appropriate."

Upon reaching the planet, the fleet sprayed as if in disorder. Some ships passed close to cruisers, others the Vindicator. Those passing by the cruisers took significant damage before escaping.

"When we meet up at the planet next time, follow a 0,1,1 trajectory". The podships' order had been rearranged by the different path lengths Peeru had assigned them, but they did meet up as she commanded.

This linear formation gave the damaged ships cover, and a chance to regenerate. Halfway through the traversal, Peeru noted that one of the cruisers had been destroyed and another two were heavily damaged; while only one podship was in less than perfect condition, and it was recovering nicely.

The next pass, as they were coming up on the planet, the Vindicator also came in for a whip, in the opposite direction. Enkrist was in front; she aborted autopilot and tried to pull out, but didn't make it -- she struck the Vindicator, and bounced back, then hit Li, who hit Peeru. The entire fleet piled up into a ball and crashed repeatedly into the planet.

Bad idea. Bad idea! And everyone sees it!

Even as the stragglers who were pulling away were being torn up by the cruisers, a ripple of laughter spread across the common line. Peeru tensed, unsure of how to react. Human laughter did not have a natural intuitive meaning to her, but she knew it was undermining her, and she didn't know how to stop it.

Li said, "Well, now we know what to do if they do that!"

Maybe they're not laughing at me, just at how it worked out? Anyway, I mustn't try to defend it, just move on.

Peeru steadied herself and got on the line. "Okay, calm down everyone. Let's try some more conventional tactics before we're done."

So they went over the wall and the cone, even though those were mainly intended for use in conjunction with VUX; and they tried the various cover strategies, most of which were fighting retreats to allow regeneration. The nearly-suicide attack run, they had already covered in the variant where everyone did it at the same time.

The moment everyone was off-line, she collapsed. The facade that I have any clue what I'm doing... just cracked. I'd thought I was learning from all these sessions, as a follower. But I'm put in charge, and things disintegrate and I need to fall back on 'the book'.

If I don't keep at it, I'm giving up. If I do keep trying, and I do just a good enough job to give them a sense of false confidence, I could end up getting people killed. Myself included.


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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:25 pm 
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Chapter 24: distraction and focus

Peeru was worn out completely. It's not even so much the losing. Simply working with people. I can do it, and I can even do it well, it's even been my job at various times; but doing it for so long with so many unfamiliar people at once really takes it out of me. I need the sauna, I don't care what time it is.

She actually got into her chains to make the trip. By the time she arrived outside the door, she was recovered enough to want to observe basic proprieties, so she checked its current reservation. Druuge? Lucky. Ooh, higher temperature, slightly lower humidity. This should be an extra treat. I wonder who's here.

She rolled in as far as the partition.

"How was practice?" - asked in the trade language.

"All right."

"Who [is that]?"

Peeru let her coming around the partition be her answer.

Kaandor was lying in the drained tub, facing a red-hot heating element. She tilted her head back to see the entryway. Upon seeing Peeru, she flipped around in surprise. "Captain?"

"As you were." Peeru rolled over to the preparatory showers, cleaning her arms and legs. "Expecting someone?"

"Er, yes."

As Peeru rinsed herself off, Trifop rolled in. As he saw her, disappointment flashed across his face. "Captain."

"Trifop."

He began rinsing himself as well, and a silence settled. He feels awkward. Meeting with Kaandor? Nothing wrong with that.

Peeru lowered herself from her chains and sat along the edge Kaandor was leaning against.

"Oh." She's naked. Well, okay, nothing wrong with that either, I guess. "Do you two have a contract?"

Kaandor breathed deeply. "No."

Trifop amended, "You're probably reading too much into this. I've infected her with my filthy eastern ways."

"I don't think Eastern ways are filthy."

He laughed. "I didn't mean to imply it." How could he possibly not? He just said it! That implies... well, something is up there, anyway. He continued, "But if that's how you feel, may I?"

Er. I guess it's all right? She gestured for him to go ahead. When finished rinsing, he sat down opposite the two women. Not very impressive physically.

Kaandor looked up to Peeru. "I was thinking of forming a MDAP; would you like to join?"

Trifop almost gagged in surprise as he straightened from leaning back.

Peeru was merely confused. "I'm not familiar with that variety of organization."

"Oh." Kaandor set to thinking about how to present it.

Trifop filled in, "It's fairly popular in the fleet back home, especially at times of crisis. If one member dies, the other members bear and raise their child."

"So it's basically a return to the prehistoric ways?"

"I never took paleontology."

"Packs lived in trees, sent males out to hunt and gather, while females repaired the home; among other arrangements, the eggs fathered by productive males who didn't return got priority at feeding time. Sort of the world's first insurance policy."

"Not much like that. The idea of a Mutual Descendant Assurance Pact is to spread risk out across the fleet. So the members are as far apart and as numerous as possible."

"I think I see. That's... going to involve a lot of mating."

"Just a few swabs from each participant, to be stored in liquid nitrogen and restored if needed. In this case, it'd be when the war's over."

"Ah, naturally. Well, I'll think about it." The last thing I'd need is to be saddled with their kids. Or even my own. How would I ever... wait. When this war is over, even without the moon, I'm going to be decently wealthy. I could afford it. On the other hand, if I die... do I care about having children? And if I don't join this, who is the father going to be? I feel utterly cut off from home.

Trifop softly added, "This is the first I'd heard of it suggested here. I'd have to think about it too."

I don't want to think about this either. Ugh. So enormous. Peeru dragged herself up and out, and let the chains carry her back to her quarters.

~~~~

Thoughts wandered through her head, fending off sleep. Foremost, the most useless. Rather than review the known successful Mycon battle plans, she kept running through her failed idea over and over; and when she wasn't thinking of that, all that could pass through her mind was the farcical idea of an enormous MDAP implemented through actual mating on an industrial scale.

Why am I thinking about this? It's not even an attractive thought. Merely dunking an egg for fertilization and storage, especially like that is so perfunctory, so... assembly-line. And yet I can't stop thinking of it. Must be the influence of these Syreen, they seem to be under a lot of tension, and they can influence that way. And here I go again, step - dunk - step... And now here we are coming in to whip around the planet again, all in a queue, and there's the Vindicator, taunting...

She sat up abruptly. A minute later, she was at work on the simulator.

Five hours later, a call came in from Zelnick.

"Peeru here."

"You've been up for two days. You're on duty in two hours. Want to get some rest?"

"Noted, captain. Have you been observing my exercise preparations?"

"No, I prefer to be surprised. And I'm serious. It only took a day for you to get kinda machine-like when you were mining, and you can't lead like that."

I expect I can get some rest during the day, and right now I'm still in no shape to go to sleep. "I will be ready."

"All right."

~~~~

Peeru had been right, and she was able to nap a little through the day. She was up again and reviewing her plans for flaws when an urgent message came in. Only ten minutes before end of shift - and start of practice.

Specialist Szecewicz has struck a superior officer. Szecewicz... that's Bridget. Who was nervous about her boyfriend Danny and these Syreen. So she has reasons not to like them. This is not good.

Peeru placed a request for the recordings of the incident. With luck, they won't get back to me until... wait. What's the punishment for this among the Syreen? It might be... difficult to reverse.

To her surprise, the recording appeared immediately. Or rather, two short clips: Bridget smacking the captain's hand down against a switchboard; and then the syreen showing the mark on her palm where it had been gouged by one of the switches. Also, the reply stated that Bridget was being held in a closet.

Peeru re-watched it. That strike would be an extremely inefficient way of hurting someone if it hadn't happened to strike that sharp corner. There has to be more to it than this.

Peeru sent off a message requesting the minute leading up to the incident, unedited.

While waiting for that, Peeru called Zelnick and forwarded him the messages to that point.

He took the call, but appeared distracted. "What's up?"

"Bridget got in trouble. I'm looking into it."

"Are you trying to get out of practice? It starts in just a minute."

"I believe my duty as liaison takes priority in this case. Maintaining our personnell. Plus, if we take a while, you can simulate what happens if the fleets 'shred'."

Zelnick sighed. "They do that sim around noon each day, but I guess it'll do for now." He looked away. "Done. Who's the syreen in question?"

As he made a second call, Peeru replied, "Wyoh."

"All right. I'm taking it to the top."

It took a little bit to get a reply from Rydra. "Captain Zelnick."

"Captain Rydra. I understand there has been an altercation between Captain Wyoh and one of our crew."

"Yes, there was. I will handle it."

"See, I'd like to have a proper inquiry, especially as she's not yours?" 'Proper Inquiry'? That was badly worded.

She assumed an imperious air. "Captain Zelnick, justice will prevail. I will see to it."

Zelnick blinked and looked away under the power of her piercing gaze; his eyes fell on Peeru's image. She shook her head.

He closed his eyes for a moment. "That's really wonderful. I'd like to watch it happen, in two hours. In the mean time, how about we keep in mind the rights of the accused? I see she's in a closet."

Rydra rolled her eyes. "I'll make sure she knows she's not forgotten, and that resolution is waiting for all of you to play your little war game, with Mycon marching in neat rows."

She knows about our exercise. And only what was in the exercise.

Peeru sent a quick message, "Suggest you investigate, put her in charge of silver team."

Zelnick didn't seem to have read it when he said, "Our little war games, huh? How about you introduce some realism to them? You get to lead..." He paused for a moment, just then noticing Peeru's message. He thought for another moment, and nodded. "... silver team for the evening."

"Good! Won't be amateur hour anymore."

Zelnick closed the call. "You think you can handle this?"

Peeru nodded.


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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:22 pm 
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Chapter 25 - trials

The simulation reset as Peeru entered. Peeru found that her identity had been set to 'Red Team Captain'. I expect Rydra's going to charge in to get us off balance. She's hot, and won't be taking the time to familiarize herself with the members of the fleet.

She got on the team channel and said, "Red team, get ready quick! If we have any distance, we'll form a retreating cone, and prepare to form an orbital ring. Okay?"

A chorus of 'Yes, sir' and 'Aye' rang out as they suddenly found themselves being warped in. The fleets were mercifully far away. Red team dropped plasmoids as they formed up, and headed to the planet.

It seems the Vindicator fleet's fast-light elements will get there before we do. We already have too much momentum to reverse ourselves and take on the cruisers and Vindicator in open space, without the light elements getting back first. Think fast!

"Widen our line, odd ships +1 klick y, even -1 klick y." That should make the formation harder to fly around. Shoot, there went most of my time for picking out our vectors.

Then they were engaged, and Peeru had to focus on her own ship.

One skiff tried to slip between the lines so as to draw all the plasmoids back in, but one inward-aiming podship shot it at point blank range as it decelerated into its tight orbit. Oh right, we don't have to have vectors yet. Just doing ring insertion. Got a lttle ahead of myself.

An eluder tried the same trick further back in the line, near Peeru. Though it flew through the line safely, no plasmoids were near enough to curve back and strike podships.

Peeru got the autopilot on just in time. Once they were inserted, she took stock of the situation. Light damage only, except one planetary collision from being rammed by an Eluder. It was head-on, but Riemann saw it coming and got out of plane and avoided a pileup. Good flying. And that eluder got shot up pretty thoroughly in the process - they won't be trying that again soon.

Let's see. The cruisers are still a few seconds out of range, and they're escorted by the Vindicator. As in our sim, the light craft are being held at bay. We're regenerating. Time to go on the offensive, and keep the cruisers from picking us apart.

"Even-numbered ships, stay here. Odd-numbered ships, standard whip-out along 1,-1,-1. Mok is in charge of even ships."

Peeru was in lead position on this flight, and her pulse raced when she saw the sky fill up with nukes, all aimed at her. If I get knocked out of the sim early, I won't be able to tell them the other plan changes. Maybe I should have waited another second and let myself be last...

She was slightly faster than the nukes, but they had been arced in front of her. She spotted two that were side-by-side, and waited for them. They weren't first - she took two hits waiting for her moment. One more nuke slipped by her, missing for no clear reason. Then they were next. She fired at the last moment, and caught her chosen two nukes in the plasmoid just as she fired it. By the time the plasmoid had slowed to its own cruising speed and crashed back into her, the nukes had dissipated it most of the way. Of the remaining two nukes, both hit. If they had fully recovered from their early volley, I wouldn't have survived that.

Peeru's podship had been nearly destroyed, and the ship behind her was not much better. The other five ships in the line launched a healthy return volley while the lead two regenerated.

That was too close. We do seem to have bruised the cruiser line, though we haven't destroyed any. Hmm. Rydra rammed one of them out of the way of our fire, but it's still moving at quite a clip, out of control... "Li, whip along 1,1,0 and fly by the lone cruiser. Genlo, take my place as spearhead. Finney, fill in second place. Line will proceed along 1,0,2." Wait a moment, these ships are not where I left them.

The fast-ships had figured out a little dance they could do that would give them safe attacks against the static formation. Ensign Mok had changed it to compensate, placing them in a variety of non-intersecting orbits. It was confusing enough that the fast-ship captains hadn't found a safe close approach. "Good thinking, Mok." I hope we won't have trouble when we insert!

As the line zoomed out to harrass the cruisers again, Mok asked, "Who's in charge of the line?"

"I'll run that from here."

This attack was more of a glancing blow, and both sides wasted their fire at extreme range. Suits us, as it kept the nukes off the planet, where we're regenerating.

As Li returned from his detail, a skiff came alongside and started to fire. Li returned fire, and the skiff teleported away. Then an Eluder charged in, trying to bounce him away from the planet. Li slowed and fired, scaring it off. He managed to reinsert safely.

"Nice work, Li." How did the actual assignment go? Ah. He didn't destroy that cruiser, but it is severely damaged.

"Now... next time, we all go, straight at the cruisers, one straight line, no slowdown. The point flyer will probably be destroyed." Figuring out the line formation from the crazy orbits Mok had assigned them didn't seem straightforward until she figured out which coordinate system to use; then the simplicity of the pattern became apparent. She sent out preliminary instructions, calculated the offsets, and finished just in time.

And so when the line swung in, it was far stronger when it whipped out straight at the cruisers.

"Commence Operation: make Earthlings crap their pants." quipped one of the ensigns.

The cruisers scattered, aided by boosts from eluders and the Vindicator; but this evasion did prevent them from effectively returning fire.

We both missed again. That's all right. She's taking the bait, and that's enough...

"Okay, everyone. We've aimed a bit wide from the planet. We'll turn in to tighten the approach, but only when we're within the Leyland limit. If someone in front of you collides, you can avoid it by not thrusting." I hope they get the idea quickly.

The Vindicator, waiting on the far side, started its approach for a head-on whip. It was much like before, but more purposeful. Does she think I'm stupid? Well, maybe I am. Let's see how this goes.

Peeru's pulse quickened as she thought of ways it might not work as she had envisioned.

The leader collided head on with the Vindicator, and bounced way out of the way. The next in line similarly bounced out of the way, though it managed to drop a plasmoid onto the Vindicator. The third was bounced back at an angle into the fourth -- Peeru -- and they both scattered aside. Vindicator was at a standstill, and no longer in front of the line. It turned to get back in front of the line.

She's still thinking offensively, trying to stop our line and even aiming shots. Can't she see what's going to happen?

When the fifth podship arrived, it wasn't aiming for a whip - it was aiming to ram. And then the Vindicator was trapped. Each podship rammed the Vindicator into the planet, and most dropped a plasmoid in its side before bouncing free.

Mok commanded, "Form polar nonintersecting orbit." Oh right, I'm supposed to be in command here.

Then Peeru noticed a skiff was tearing a serious hole in the side of her podship. Oops, need to keep paying attention to where I am! If it's not one thing, it's another. Before she could do anything about it, the simulation ended and the round-table after-action meeting started.

Peeru was surprised to see that Rydra was quite calm. "I was curious what you had planned, considering how a similar maneuver went, in your practice session. It turned out to be a good example. Now, it appeared that the column was committed to slingshotting in a particular way. They would have had no freedom to maneuver, and they could be easily disrupted to catastrophic effect. But there actually was freedom in their formation, and they were able to adapt to circumstances. Was this intentional?"

Peeru said, "Yes, it was."

Rydra nodded. "Very good. I was also impressed by the way you changed the orbital pattern."

"So was I. Ensign Mok was behind that."

Rydra looked aside for a moment, probably checking a list, then smiled at Mok. "Mycon have actually used that formation on occasion. It is remarkably resilient when there are sufficient ships engaged in it. Breaking it up requires broodhomes or cruisers to force them to come out."

Wewalia, the arilou, said, "I know a battle-tested method for defeating this formation, but I was out of the simulation at that point due to the... reckless attack I was instructed to make."

"I recommend you teach this method to the group."

Wewalia continued, "Captain, I am curious why you are in charge of this exercise. Where is captain Zelnick?"

"I am not entirely certain, myself. How about we try another battle?"

"It is customary for us to wait a few minutes to allow us to review what has happened and clear our minds for the next exercise."

Rydra thought for a moment. "That is a good idea. We'll resume in ten minutes."

Peeru fought in her mind over what to do. The mood in the team channel was excited. Good, I can take a while. "Red team, I think we're fairly on top of things. I'll be back in eight minutes."

Peeru checked her messages, and found that Zelnick had left her an invitation to Bridget's trial. Accepting it, she found that it was already over. She reviewed the video, subtitled into English. Trixia was in one pane, Wyoh another. "Wyoh," Trixia started, "Tell me why you were struck."

Wyoh had such an unusual expression on that Peeru had to consciously review the elements of human expression to interpret it as evasive guilt. Aha! and... she is taking a very long time to respond.

Wyoh never got around to answering; instead, Trixia continued, "You know those jokes of yours are only funny for someone who is a skilled telepathic receiver. Put yourself in her position."

Pause.

"I said, put yourself in her position. Okay. Remember you aren't getting the reassurances - ah! No, you aren't! How would she know how to distinguish her assumptions from your sending? So all you're getting is the tone, the words, the face. No wonder she hit you. She had every reason to think you were going to kill her."

"She knew I wouldn't. I'm absolutely certain she was certain. I was paying attention. She only used it as an excuse."

"Regardless, your behavior was unacceptable for an officer. Let her out, apologize sincerely. Count yourself thankful I'm not having you kiss her boots. And if you can't manage a sincere apology, I will!"

"What of her? Being on the prowl for an excuse to strike an officer..."

"If she had been, you would have noticed earlier. And considering how amply you delivered. I'd sentence her to forty minutes *(One syreen minute is 1.43 terrestrial minutes)* in a closet. She's been there thirty nine."

That was the end of that recording. Zelnick had silently opened an audio call, and said, "What do you think?"

Rydra replied before Peeru could, surprising her. "Concerning Shekewiks? I would not have forced the apology. Merely releasing after such a short time would be sufficient. But so long as this crewwoman of yours does not learn the wrong lesson, it is close enough."

Peeru said, "I do not have enough information to say. I didn't experience this joke, and I don't know the purposes. But given what I've seen, this seems reasonable."

Zelnick said, "I did see this so-called joke. If it had been pulled on me, I would have gone for her throat."

Rydra said, "If the joke had been put on you, you would have been getting reassuring psychic signals. The basis of the joke is the dissonance. I believe both of them have learned their lessons."

It looks like Zelnick is winding up to fight a perfectly reasonable outcome. "Captain? We need to get back to practice."

Zelnick wrinkled his nose, but let them go. Peeru then wrote him a quick note: "It's over. It's not going to get any better than this."


Last edited by Death 999 on Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Chapter 26: The furnace

Two days had passed since Peeru's two simulated battles with Rydra, and she wasn't eager to face her again. The second battle had been brutal, with intentional sacrifices made on each side, eventually resulting in an Alliance win. Peeru knew that the cost of her fleet, outside of the Vindicator, was much much higher; and the Vindicator had not added enough value to make up the difference. But she was able to console herself with the thought that podships were generally considered an inefficient use of resources - a one to one matchup would be fair in that view.

The next morning, Peeru had a labor allocation dispute in the fleet to resolve, so Rydra was given the red team for the day. She trained them hard in the afternoon, and went on to thrash Zelnick's fleet twice in the evening. Peeru's more generous interpretation was put in serious doubt.

So she was somewhat confused when she was summoned to the bridge to meet with Rydra and Zelnick the following morning shortly before practice.

Zelnick gestured for them to sit in the two side-seats. Peeru took one; Rydra creakily lowered herself into the seat symmetrically opposite. She really isn't doing that well, is she?

Rydra took a deep breath. "I believe you are the tenth best general-purpose commander in the Vindicator battle group." Out of thirteen - no, fourteen, counting me. Is that supposed to be a compliment? "As such, you ought to have a ship. One that isn't artificially crippled." On the other hand, looking at it that way, not so bad!

Peeru let that stand, having nothing to add. She is clearly going somewhere, and Zelnick either knows or is letting her say what she wants; it's not my place to interfere.

"I trust you do not know how the rapid energy restoration system on your ship works."

Peeru tentatively said, "The reactor of a mauler uses carbon-nitrogen-oxygen catalyzed fusion such as is found in extremely hot stars."

"Have you ever thought on the question of why it is fueled as it is?"

"I have not."

"Start thinking on it, out loud."

"Well, it is fueled by people. People are an odd choice for fuel. Even setting aside all other issues, they're valuable -- even the drones that are preferentially sent. A substitute, if one could be found, would almost necessarily be cheaper. Hunks of meat would be a thousandth the cost. So it must be rather specific. Yet not specific to Druuge. Burvix and Utwig are known to also be compatible with the technology, and they differ substantially."

I have no idea what to add. It is very odd, now that I think on it.

Rydra said, "Of course, devices don't always work for the simplest of reasons. What do you know about telepathy?"

"We don't have that ability, so far as I know. It occurs in stories, of course." Talk about abrupt topic shifts.

"Telekinesis?"

"Not much. I never studied it. Very low reward to effort ratio. It's interesting that the weak correlations in our brains are capable of resonating with the nonlocal subspace field; but taking a year to hold a single dust speck in place didn't seem worthwhile."

Rydra nodded. "Our telekinetic abilities are similar. Very similar, actually. Every sapient race has similar interactions, whether it is capable of taking advantage of them or not."

"They'd have to be very similar indeed if you're capable of using your call on unfamiliar alien races."

"Yes. And your regeneration device displays similar independence of the particulars of the individual... fed to it. While requiring a sapient to operate."

"You're suggesting that the furnace is telekinetic in nature?"

"Yes. Involuntary, untrained, and fatal, but nonetheless telekinetic."

"But telekinesis is extremely low-powered. How can you get power out of it?"

"It is very low force, but that is not the same thing as low power. C-N-O fusion is extremely temperature dependent, is it not?"

"Yes, its power is some very high exponent of the temperature."

"A tiny squeeze in a tiny area, raise the temperature that little bit more, and you get a pulse of power that dwarfs what you put in. It cascades, starts a chain reaction which grows until it is large enough to be signficant. That's my guess, anyway, but it seems reasonable."

"Okay, I get that part. That's fusion." Not that I'm an expert on that, but it makes sense. "But how do you get the telekinetic squeeze, and why are we even talking about this?"

"Extremely abrupt death produces a specific psychic impulse which is very uniform across species. A flat snap to the subspace band. With a proper setup, it could be focused... and the rest falls into place."

"Okay, that's the how. Why bring this up now?"

"He didn't let you use the system because he felt it gratuitous. Now he knows it's not simply pointless cruelty."

"But... sacrificing the crew?" He still won't go for that, I'm sure.

"Oh, of course. You wouldn't sacrifice your real crew, of course. This was just to assuage his doubts about killing those of our enemies we capture. There really isn't a workaround. Are you satisfied?"

Zelnick had been sitting, silent, listening. "I guess I'm all right with doing this to Mycon."

Rydra nodded. "We will have plenty of Mycon. Now, Peeru. In order to control them, we will need to install some small psionic amplifiers, and assign one or two Syreen to you. They will be your crew. Treat them well." Her hand brushed across the handle of her knife.

Peeru was a bit overwhelmed, and hardly noticed the threat. Wait a moment. I'm actually going to have my own ship again. This is great! At least for my chances of success. But it's not so great for my chances of being killed, unless I can get my act together.

Echoing her thoughts, Zelnick said, "You have never used your ship with permission to unleash its full power. I'm assigning you to train on that specifically. You'll join the more prospective fleet simulations as part of the Vindicator team."

"And my liaison duties?"

"We're almost to Betelgeuse. Get started before then, but only as you can. After... as much as you can."

"Understood."

"Dismissed."

Peeru walked out, simultaneously elated and afraid.

Her mind dwelled on the mauler. Its metallic smoky smell, the prickly feel of the air, the swinging. It had somehow become home, even though she had only lived in it for four weeks, and the Vindicator for seven.

She kept having to suppress the impulse to inform Kaandor so she could begin prepping the ship. It would be months before she'd actually fly it again, but fly it she would.


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 Post subject: Chapter 27
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:37 pm 
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Chapter 27: Surprises
(Previously, on Lost. I mean, chapter 19: Peeru became the host for growing new healing matrix cells - a bit like pluripotent stem cells for Druuge - for use in the hospital)
~~~~

Peeru lay face-down on the examination table, reviewing the Mauler manual on the pad below her, as Nuun extracted a second batch of generic matrix cells. Takes forever, and it's a slightly humiliating position. The doctors get everyone, though. But Nuun is still using chains to get around. Now that's humiliating.

A yellow alert sounded: "Probe sighted, intercept in five hours. All personnell return to their regular stations."

Nuun continued as if the only thing that had happened was that she had been startled.

"Hey, we're in yellow alert. Let me go. I have things to do."

Nuun looked up. "That happens all the time."

"No, it doesn't."

"The light flashing, and a probe? Twice a shift."

"Nuun, it's a shipwide - no, fleetwide yellow alert. Close me up and let me get to my station."

"I assure you, commander, this is not an excuse to get out of this procedure, because it is merely a hospital matter."

"Why is captain Zelnick making announcements for the hospital, now? Do you not remembered his voice by now?" Actually, why should she? I hear it all the time, but she doesn't. And he's probably outside her limited set of recognized voices.

"They said this 'probe', which is a medical term is in five hours. So even if it is a shipwide..."

"That doesn't mean you can hold me here for three more hours! I have preparations to do! Organize the fleet! Do you have any idea what's going on out there?"

Nuun applied another layer of anaesthetic gel and gently said, "Organize the fleet? Who do you think you are?". Peeru realized she had lost control of the situation. Talked down to by a half-rate clueless medic! She went to her pad and sent Nuun's boss an urgent message telling him to get her out. It took her a little longer than usual, as the anaesthetic was not entirely local.

Fifteen seconds later, the door opened and a nurse poked his head in. "Hey, Nuun." Aha! "Where's the sonic imager?" What?

Peeru tried to say something, but found her tongue was too slow. She began to panic.

"Room 3, behind the autoclave."

"Thanks. And try to wrap things up." Ah, at least he has his head on straight. "We're going to have to shift to triage conformation in a couple hours." In a couple hours?

Nuun replied, "Okay.", and the nurse left.

Horrific scenarios flashed through her mind - She couldn't make it, Zelnick got very angry. That had several variations. She couldn't make it, so the fleet wasn't properly organized and the probe managed to destroy some ships. Yet more variations. She couldn't make it, and no one noticed or cared.

The door opened and Wugyup ambled in with a tray of tools. Embarrassment drove the fears away. Who does he think he is, barging in like this? Then he saw Peeru. "Nuun, what are you doing?"

"Look at the schedule."

"No, you look at the schedule!"

Nuun looked. Peeru's appointment had been cancelled. "Oh. Okay." She got back to what she was doing.

Wugyup took her by the wrists and pulled Nuun away; the frame slid across the deck. "No, the schedule doesn't say 'keep going if you feel like it'! What were you using so much anagel for, anyway? Nearly knocked her out. Commander, can you speak?"

"Mmmm."

Wugyup washed his hands and began scraping the anagel off of her. It was acutely embarrassing, but Peeru was relieved that someone was doing something. He said to her, "At least you're alert. We have two options. One, a stimulant to overwhelm the anaesthetic. You'll be a little wired and still fuzzy for hours, and it'll hurt, but it's quick. Second, a second anaesthetic that, as a side-effect, blocks the first. You'll be back to normal in fifteen minutes, but until then you'll be knocked out. Grunt once for the first, twice for the second."

Peeru thought for a bit. Before she could decide, Wugyup had the bed flip her over onto her back. Peeru saw that her entire belly was slick with anagel.

Wugyup shook his head. "Wow. What a mess. If you go the stimulant route, you're going to be really fuzzy."

Peeru said, "Mmm mmm."

Wugyup slipped a mask over her face, and she fell unconscious just as she checked the time.

~~~~

Twenty two minutes later, she snapped awake. She wasn't entirely back to normal, but close enough. She got up. Her belly felt funny, the egg pouch in particular. What did he do to me down there? I'm going to deal with that later. She adjusted herself and refocused: get back into the loop. Check messages, call the captain, get on the bridge.

There were a lot of messages. No time to read these.

Her call was declined, so went back and read the messages as she took the lift. Several syreen requesting docking permission to drop off crew. Her gaze skipped ahead to Zelnick informing them all that Peeru was really unavailable, in response to a complaint that she was unresponsive.

After a minute, captain Zelnick called her. "You're up again, good. Captain Rydra has suggested that we include the Syreen fleet in the engagement. Massed fire should be useful, and it would give them some practice. None of them have seen action in decades, and most never. How about you sort out those which are capable of joining meaningfully?"

"Should we crew those ships more completely?"

"I don't think so. If they're not ready without more work, they shouldn't join."

Despite his assigning her to do this, he ended up working through the list with Rydra instead, and Peeru merely listened in while focusing most of her attention on overseeing the transfer of workers from the penetrators to their regular places in the fleet.

The two immobile ships were the greatest concern. The two options considered were to let them drift and actively approach the probe, or to bring them into combat and just make sure nothing got that close. The consensus of the two leaders was the latter, as turning the Vindicator would take a long time in the exaggerated length scale of hyperspace.

Then they were ready, and merely had to wait. The Vindicator group, now swollen with thirty penetrators, trailed, protecting those penetrators not participating.

Peeru twitched with anticipation, and wondered what to do. Zelnick was busy but didn't need help. Her helplessness on the medical bed had not been more agonizing. So she headed down to sensors, as if that was needed.

Andy and Bridget were back in their places; Andy looked up and said, "Hello, commander. What can we do for you?"

"Just keep doing what you were doing."

Bridget put in, "Actually, there's something I've been worried about. It's all the chatter in the inactive penetrator group. What if our easily distracted 'friend' gets interested in them and disassembles them?"

Andy added, "Yeah, we might not be able to intercept in time, with these penetrators around holding us back."

Peeru thought for a moment and placed a call to Zelnick. He didn't answer immediately, so she asked the two, "How much time would we have to react if the probe goes around?"

Andy looked into a corner; Peeru didn't see anything there. "They're two minutes ahead of us... With the offset we have, and relative velocity, having to go around... around twenty seconds."

Bridget added, "Good thing is, they're interested in us so far. At least, they're flying that way. One might even say I'm reasonably certain that they'll come for us." Andy snerked at that. "But since I'm not pseudo-homicidal, let's not leave them hanging, and make sure."

The call finally came through, on the wall. Zelnick chopped out, "What is it?"

"The chatter from the forward group may attract the probe's attention. They should quieten, and we should have a contingency plan in case the probe goes for them anyway."

He sighed. "Yeah, yeah. Okay. Thanks." The call ended.

A minute passed, then Bridget clapped her hands softly. "Good thinking. He sent the skiffs and an eluder ahead as escorts. That'd buy us the time we need to catch up. And they're quietening down."

Andy leaned back and began reading. Peeru couldn't understand how relaxed he was. I guess they've done this dozens of times. It's still new to me. On the other hand, there is still half an hour to contact, and little to actually do. I still feel so helpless!

She signed on as an observer to the simulation that was being held. Andy caught sight of it. "Hey, can I look?"

She stared at him. So forward! Is this acceptable behavior here? I don't think so. But I'm not sure how to withhold it at this point without seeming petty. She attempted to use her tone to signify that this was a favor, but wasn't sure that she succeeded: "You may."

These battles were very quick. In most cases, the probe appeared far off and never got close to the group, felled by massed fire on a scale that Peeru had never seen.

Once, though, it occurred that their entanglement placed the probe in the middle of the fleet. It unloaded its lightning against a variety of ships before breaking free. It was only as it approached for a second pass that it was destroyed. Two penetrators had been damaged sufficiently that without damage control measures, they would shortly explode.

Zelnick led off the after-simulation report, "Good response to terrible luck. We didn't suffer any friendly fire, so good fire discipline. There was a crucial moment. When was it?"

He let the question hang there, addressed mainly to the Syreen. No one answered.

Zelnick added, as a hint, "It halved our total damage."

Oh, got it!

After five more seconds, Rydra said, "Seranis, you answer."

"I... don't know."

Rydra. "Yes you do."

"Well, I shot an asteroid to keep it from refuelling in the middle of the fleet. Is that it?"

Zelnick nodded. "Yes, it was. Are there any comments?"

Abrams took the floor, saying, "If you had all scattered, we would have taken it down with missiles quickly. Probably would have worked out better."

Andy spoke, bringing Peeru out of watching. "They really talk it out like that? It's almost like a classroom in there."

"This is fairly typical. The Syreen are quieter than most."

Bridget asked, "How did Wyoh do?"

Peeru checked. "She's scored 3 hits in 9 battles, survived throughout. Were you hoping she'd be destroyed - in sim?"

"Oh, on the contrary. We're okay now."

"Really?"

"Yeah. It was all really over Danny, see?"

Andy got up. "This again? I'll be back in a minute."

Bridget continued, still focused on the screen, "I've got this guy all to myself. She hasn't seen a male in person in seven years, and even before that, had basically never been around them. So I was nervous and suspicious, and she was jealous and testy. Defensive comments led to needling, and you know what happened next. Well, when she let me out, we talked it out. At length. I get them, she gets me, we're all gotten."

Andy came back in. "Okay, fun time's over. We need to get this view clear so we don't have a bad approach like in that sim."

Bridget rolled her eyes. "It's essentially random anyway."

"It's definitely easier with clearer information."

"Easier to see how you're approaching a chaotic maelstrom that's going to rearrange your approach to be random after you carefully guide yourself in. All we can control is shred or not, unless we get an intrusion device installed somehow."

"Well, in case there's a useful effect, I'm going to deliver as refined data as I can."

So they got back to work. Twenty more minutes, right on schedule, the probe approached. It warped in close but not too close, and was obliterated in four seconds by massed fire from the fleet.

Peeru was left with nothing to grab onto. She had built up a great deal of tension, and yet its focus, the actual battle, was so trivial that it could not serve to release it. Reassigning the repair teams was tedious and didn't help.

When roles had again been sorted out, Peeru tried to get into practice simulations, thinking that they'd resolve the stress. Though she did well, it wasn't visceral enough to have the effect she wanted. As soon as her shift was over, she headed to the gym. She hadn't been there since she had built up her leg strength. It at least might tire her out.


Last edited by Death 999 on Thu May 02, 2013 2:50 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:45 pm 
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Chapter 28: Tension

The tiny gym was packed with a dozen men. Just about all that was available were barbells. Peeru realized that her arm muscles were atrophying from lack of hanging, so she took a twenty kilo bell and did a set of lifting it above the opposite shoulder. When she moved up to thirty kilos, that attracted some attention, and more so when she moved up to thirty-five. That was her new, distressingly low limit, and she settled in to exhaust herself at that weight.

Then Wugyup came in. Peeru's concentration shattered, and she stopped. He came over to her and spoke in the trade language. "All worked out?"

Aside from that weirdness in my egg pouch... need to work out what to do about that. "Mostly."

"Did you feel a bit... odd after you woke up?"

"Yes."

"I'll send you the video feed, so you know just what happened, and what didn't. Don't fret too much."

So he doesn't think I'd blame him for anything. But he thought to tell me, which means something did happen. Unless it's just old lawsuit-prevention habits."... Good." I'm definitely going to watch that video. And it is a load off my chest to be able to find that out.

Wugyup went about his business, and Peeru wrapped up. She wasn't exhausted, but she didn't feel comfortable with him around. And then she saw what he was doing. It helped that everyone was giving him as much room as possible.

Jumping, on one leg, and kicking with the other. Kicking high. He stopped and stretched one leg up, touched his horns with his toes. Then he switched sides. Holy losses, he's... the opposite of Trifop. Really been taking care of himself.

Wugyup picked up one of the weight-lifting bars and began twirling it in one hand, then passed it to the other.

The man who had taken Peeru's barbells grunted out to him, "Going to win this one? For the pride of the flagship?"

Wugyup left his focus on the bar, but said, "Don't worry. It'll be a good fight."

Fight? Her mind searched, and recalled that two cruisers had been granted permission to dock for the evening - which hadn't created real trouble for her as it was to occur in half an hour or so, during the light work shift. It must be something for this evening. Like the Frungy match? I haven't really been paying attention to these things. So much procrastination on my networking. Never was good at it, and having to take so many things into account... Well, mainly I was ashamed of losing my ship. Didn't know how I should relate to the captains. That's done now, at least.

"It's nothing. Really, I'm sure. She's looking through me." - Wugyup. Peeru snapped out of it and tried to reassemble what had happened. I'm not focused at the right distance... Oh! I seem to have been staring at Wugyup. Enough that the others noticed, even.

She went along with his mostly correct interpretation. "Sorry, zoned out there for a moment. Tired."

Somewhat embarrassed, she stepped out and went to her room. Officers got private showers, and though even the hottest water available was tepid to her, she appreciated the privacy. Especially this time, as she carefully inspected her egg pouch. The feeder cap is not where I normally keep it. The flagellae are in disarray. Something definitely happened in there. Once she was straightened out, cleaned and drained, she wrapped up in blankets and set up the recording of what had happened while she was under.

To her relief, the recording started the moment Wugyup entered. She fast-forwarded to the parts where his hands were on her. Nothing problematic there... whoa, back up. She turned on the sound and listened to him explaining, "There appears to be more anagel in the pouch, enough to slow recovery." His face was sober. He drew out sterile pads and tucked them under the edge. Okay, that's reasonable.

Pulling them out, he noted, "The pads are entirely soaked." Replacing them, he pushed the next set deeper, and drew them out. "The anagel penetrated to a depth of ten centimeters." Totally clinical.

She resumed fast-forwarding and there were no further suspicious incidents. Relief set in, mixed with a peculiar disappointment that, again, there had been a big buildup with nothing behind it. The gym must be empty again now, for that fight. On the other hand, I could go to the fight. That could do it.

She went up to the forward dome, and found people gathered around. Odd. It seems so sparse now. When I came here for the frungy game, I would have said it to be extremely crowded. Thinking back on it, this is all together around the same size crowd, around 50. But it feels so different.

The fight was already in progress. Wugyup was hurling punches in a brisk offense; whenever he was attacked back, he swatted it off with a sharp counterpunch. It wasn't long before the match was called in his favor. This is getting ridiculous.

"Don't worry, there'll be more." Peeru turned to the voice, and found Chou near her, behind the crowd, half hiding. Peeru hardly recognized her out of her space suit -- she was instead fully cloaked against the cool air, and wore a crystalline tiara which negated any of her slight efforts at concealment. She's not supposed to be here. Chou gave her a look that flatly stated that Peeru would not make an issue of it.

Maybe I won't raise a big fuss, but I do follow the rules. "Come on, let's go."

Chou stepped in alongside and they went in silence to the lift. Once it was closed and they were on their way to the loading bay, Chou hesitantly said, "Would you like to fight me?"

"Excuse me?"

"You want to fight. I could use a tussle."

Peeru pondered this proposition for a moment, and let it roll around her mind, which was beginning to sag as it usually did when she was around Syreen. "I don't know how to fight, even a little bit."

"Don't worry, it's not serious. Losing is not allowed." And they were in the lander bay. As they were heading to the umbilical, Chou held her hand up and stopped; Peeru took another step past, wondering what the holdup was. They listened.

Rolling. A hanging frame came around the end of the lander. Nuun. Peeru's head finally fully cleared as she focused on Nuun. Her fingers were trembling. When Peeru looked more closely, she saw Nuun's eyes were zoomed in further than was practical. She's really nervous. Was she behind how I was... rearranged? Really? But why would she? She must be here to try to do damage control.

They approached and let her start. "Commander, how do you feel?"

That's a difficult question. I've never really felt like this before. "How should I be feeling?"

When Nuun didn't say anything more, Peeru continued, "Let's just get to the point --"

Nuun said, "Yes. I have no wish to disturb any of my patients."

"Great. Can I have the recording of my treatment?"

"Er. No, I didn't make one."

Chou murmured, "Guilty."

"How do you know? You don't even know what we're talking about!"

Chou shrugged. "Still guilty of something. You're practically shouting it."

"I was telling the truth."

Silence fell as Peeru and Nuun looked to Chou. She shrugged. "Seems like she is, mostly anyway."

Peeru's anger found a focus. She came in close to Nuun. "Since you don't wish to disturb your patients, then... don't! To give you a little help in that, I'm ordering you to record every treatment. If you treat anyone without that recording, I'll find out just how far the disciplinary system around here can be stretched."

Nuun froze. She knows I know, but she's waiting for the real punishment to come.

Peeru continued, "Why did you put your hands in me?"

Nuun remained frozen. "Why?", she repeated, louder.

"Why are you asking? You know! Or are you dead?"

Chou stepped in even closer to Nuun, and touched her cheek. "Come on. It's not easy, but you don't need to be alone."

Peeru, shocked, backed up to the lander. What is she doing?

Nuun followed her into her ship, leaving Peeru alone, and again frustrated. She slapped the lander hard with her open palm. The stinging half satisfied her, so she did it again. That was too much, and she leaned her head against it. Nothing works. I can't shake this feeling. And what did she mean by dead? Oh, it's a slant-translation of an idiom. I'm not frigid, there's just no one around I can be with. Plus, even before I came here, it'd been years... Maybe hitting someone is not the issue. I'm just frustrated enough to want to hit someone. If she hadn't gotten me started, though, I'd still be blissfully unaffected by these stupid inappropriate urges. But that can't be it. Hitting this lander was satisfying. Clearly, it's anger.

She leaned there like that for a few more minutes, drained, aching, unwilling to give up and fully admit to herself that that wasn't all there was to it, that something long dormant within her had been woken up by a club to the face.

"You all right?" - Zelnick had come down from the bridge.

"No."

"Want to talk about it?"

"I could use a distraction." She finally lifted her head and went with him back to the bridge.

She flopped into the chair next to his fancy one, and asked, "What have you been thinking about?"

"Honestly? Talana. I kind of got the impression that she's interested me, and looking back through the logs, I still think so. Not overtly, except the jokes about it. But I get the feeling that I'm not just a breath of fresh air and the deliverer of her vengeance. She sees the real me. Do you think I'm just fooling myself?"

"Are there any other subjects at all we could talk about?"

He thought for a moment. "It must be tough for you."

"I repeat my request."

"Okay. You know Reynolts... crud. That's basically the same thing too. Oh, I've got one. Take a listen to this, that Jef worked up." He worked a few moments on the computer, and music started. It was surprisingly decent to her ears. "Says it was inspired by space exploration. He's been doing musical sketches of a variety of subjects. Has an industrial one for the factory in the starbase, a really creepy one for the Kohr-Ah, so on."

"One for the Druuge?"

"Er. Yeah, I'm not sure you'd like it, though."

"He did redo some music to be listenable by Druuge ears, and it worked."

Hesitantly, Zelnick put it on. Indeed, it seemed to have been written for Druuge. Metallic drums and groaning engines opened it, giving a sense of progress, giving way to voices on long chords. The dissonances were strong enough to keep things interesting.

Even though the music itself could not be mistaken for Druuge music, it used elements of it somehow. When it ended, above all, Peeru felt homesick. "How did he do that?"

Zelnick shrugged. "He worked on it with one of your guys. Vaando, was it? Yeah."

"Vaando?" I... I guess I remember him. He was one of the menial crew, wasn't he? It seems like everyone down there had more to them than it seemed.

She politely listened to several more, but already her restlessness was setting in again, so she excused herself. As she wandered out, she found herself looking Vaando up - he was in the kitchen. She went there in person. Even as she approached the kitchen, she heard him singing. It wasn't much, but it intensified her homesickness.

He was alone with the machines. He stopped and saluted at her arrival. The distance it placed between them rebuffed that tiny desperate part of her, and she paused a moment in embarrassment. "I'm not here officially." He took his hand down. "I just wanted to thank you for helping make that music."

When Vaando didn't seem to understand, she clarified, "With Mr. Gantrand."

Vaando nodded. "Thank you." He said it in a local dialect that had been nearly totally replaced by the trade language. Trying to figure out why she understood him took her back -- it had been Peeru's own ancestral dialect, and when she had been told stories as a child, it had had snippets of these sorts of phrases.

As she stood there, lost, he returned to singing and making food. After a minute, he came over and handed her something. She reflexively accepted it -- an egg.

She stared at it incredulously. You dont just do that! But as she looked at it more closely, she realized it wasn't quite right. It wasn't a Druuge egg -- the curves were wrong, and dull end was mostly flat. "What is this?"

"Hard-boiled imitation chicken egg, shelled. That is what it is. Good nutrition. You hang around kitchen, I guess you are hungry. Right?"

"Of course, of course."

She retreated to her quarters and used the egg in ways that neither terrestrial evolution nor its human designers had optimized it for. But for her purposes, it sufficed.

~~~

Edit: removed a wrong word. Also, if you're feeling disturbed, you are right to be, but not as much as if these were humans. An explanation that goes a bit further than the next chapter is here

Further edited to correct grammar in several places.

Further edited to replace a wrong Syreen commander with the right one, and to indicate that Peeru didn't simply leave the bridge peremptorily


Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Peeru Fanfic
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:44 am 
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Chapter 29 - Breakfast with Chou


Peeru woke to a message chime. It was one she had set aside for Syreen. She took her time getting up and ready before reading the message. As unfamiliar a sensation as it was, her belly felt right with the synthetic facsimile of an alien in it.

The message was from Chou. Peeru's sense of well-being cracked a little. She was invited to talk over breakfast.

I really don't want to deal with this, but I suppose I have to.

Walking with the egg in was so awkward that she was tempted to revert to using the framework; but instead she took it out. It was already covered in a thick goop of nutrients. I've been letting that build up for a long time, haven't I? She dumped it in the disposal and washed up.

~~~~

Chou's vessel, the Incision, was looking a lot better than it had the last time Peeru had been through it. The leaks were long since plugged, both of the venting to space variety and the working fluid to air variety. The air had a slight tang of solvents, but those were from the cleaning efforts.

Chou's quarters were open, and Peeru knocked and looked in. Comfortable and decorated, though I can't say whether they're any good; not our aesthetic. Clearly remnants of the previous captain, decades ago.

"Come in." Peeru found Chou bustling about in a fuzzy blue bathrobe, setting a tray. "Would you like tea, or juice?", she asked as she finished, standing behind one of the lounge seats.

Peeru took the facing seat, and settled in. There were all sorts of foods on the tray, with a variety of odors, mostly pleasant. As Chou settled herself, Peeru replied, "Juice. Where did you get all this?"

"Leftovers. The ship was captured while being repaired, and it had just been restocked. Totally uncontaminated, and perfectly preserved."

"It's twenty years old?"

"Absolutely."

Peeru sniffed again. Can it really be? I wonder what preservatives they used... I'm not getting an artificial odor from it. On the other hand, it could have just been flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen. It was definitely edible, though the flavors were strong and exotic. Chou described each in terms of colors, textures, temperatures, even emotions; Peeru couldn't begin to understand any of the analogies.

When a pause arose, she said, "So, you wanted to talk with me?"

Chou wiped her mouth. "Yes, well. I found out what happened. I'm still trying to make sense of it all. I... don't have any experience with aliens. Very important to remember."

Peeru let her continue.

Chou sighed. "But one thing is clear. Nuun is not someone you want as a doctor. She knows medicine - she's actually quite knowledgeable and educated - but... well, she did what she did. I don't know quite what that means. It'd help if I knew what was normal and acceptable. How private is your egg pouch?"

"Private? Well, it's not normally visible in work or casual circumstances."

"I mean, how reserved is it? How many people does one expect to touch it? How much trust must you have in them?"

"Oh. Pretty reserved. Just a mate, family, close friends, about five bearing assistants for each child, and doctors - who are inspecting it at the time, of course. Well, usually that reserved. Some are more open with it. On trusting them, well, it's a sensitive area, not nice to be poked in."

"I... see. Well, that's good."

"Oh?"

"I'd been using as an analogy our own reproductive organs. They are... substantially more reserved. For instance, forcible contact with ours is a high crime. Doing what she did to you, to me, she'd spend years in punishment and rehabilitation. Even the sight of them is not granted lightly. I now doubt that the same degree of reservation is true of yours. Would it be rude for me to ask, for example, to see your egg pouch?"

"It would suggest you have an interest, but it would not be rude. So, it would be rude to even ask to see your... what do you call it?"

"Yes, it would."

"Oh." That's odd, considering the massive area of the ship's computer devoted to essentially that. Cultural Syreen-Human difference?

Chou crossed her legs and continued, "Anyway, that means she wasn't being outrageously presumptuous."

"But she was."

"How so?"

"Well, she refused to let me go, overrode my order to release me!"

"I meant on the hand inside issue."

"I was helpless. I couldn't even talk clearly! Because she just carried on as if nothing were happening. That's unacceptable."

Chou stared to Peeru, and for the first time that morning, Peeru got a bit of that disoriented feeling. Then Chou took a drink of juice and it broke.

She said, "Well, as far as she is concerned, that was more of a simple error than a moral failing. I'm sure she won't do it again. But I'm a little confused. Why did you make a deal of it on the lander deck if it isn't?"

"Well, I understood her worse presumption. She thought she was right and didn't listen to anything. Not the alert, not me, not even her fellow doctors and nurses. The bit with the hand was confusing."

Chou stared into her drink. "You're downplaying it."

She's right. I am. It's not so much the act itself, which, despite what Nuun said about it, is still kind of hard to understand; it's that she handed me a major distraction, two if you count homesickness; and it's shameful how major a distraction they are. Peeru mulled it over for a few seconds but diverted onto a side track. "Consider, though. I need Nuun."

"You had better not need her. Fortunately, I understand there's another Druuge doctor?"

"Yes, but the ship would automatically execute him if he returned. Even aside from my not trusting him much either. Look. What's wrong with her?"

"She came to me for help, in confidence. It would be unethical for me to tell you anything beyond the recommendation I've given, without her permission."

That restraint itself made Peeru a little homesick - people claiming contractual obligation not to share information had been rife in some of her workplaces. And as annoying as it had been, it tugged at her.

But Peeru focused, and thought about running the ship without a Druuge medic. After all, there'd already be a Syreen or two and a bunch of Mycon... and bringing a separate medic for each of them would be ridiculous. On the other hand, that was presuming the rest of the plan went off without a hitch. And they hadn't even really gotten started.

Chou was similarly absorbed in her thoughts. With half an hour to shift change, Peeru excused herself.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:29 am 
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Chapter 30: Interviews

Peeru waited at the docking hatch with a few dozen men eager to get onto the Syreen starbase. Time stretched, and any reasonable wait was exceeded. I don't suspect they have serious needs aboard that starbase, but I need to find someone for my crew on that station. Someone I can work with. She made her way to the bridge; on the way, she encountered Zelnick coming her way. He gestured her back and came to the opening of the chamber. He addressed the ship, and those present in particular,

"I'm sorry, but our visit here is not as long as hoped. They're itching to get some revenge served reheated, so everyone back aboard by 2200 hours. I know, I know, just four hours. That includes me, too, you know. So, let's make the best of what time we have."

Four hours to find a crew-woman?

Zelnick was practicing what he preached as the door opened and he jogged through the umbilical to the crowd on the other side. Peeru's view was blocked as the men thronged through. Once the crowd was past, Peeru began to bring the chain framework through. As she was most of the way up the umbilical, some syreen tried to come back the other way. While two people could pass, the frame was too wide.

"What's this?", the one in front asked.

Before Peeru could answer, the next said, "We can go through. We have permission."

Peeru said, "I'd just like to get this out the other end, and then yes, you can go through. Please back up?"

Another said, "Go under it!"

The one in front didn't seem eager to mess up her elaborate styling by doing that; as those behind her passed back the message to back up, she said, "Sorry. What is that, again?"

"It's a hanging frame. I'm here to recruit a crewmember or officer to run a psionic amplifier on my ship. Whoever comes will have to get used to using something a bit like this."

The syreen stared at it in confusion and disbelief. "You might have some trouble with that. Hmm. I... I think I know someone, though..."

The syreen behind her said, "Lain? Cass? Leah?"

"I was thinking Mersdin, but those are good too."

The line began moving back, and Peeru got those names down again. The moment the frame was clear, the rest pushed through. Peeru watched them go, wondering whether letting them in had been such a good decision on Zelnick's part. Hopefully they won't wreck the ship in four hours...

She accessed the starbase computer and looked up the four. She couldn't find where they were or where they worked, only able to send messages. Well, I'll send them, but I'm not very hopeful that they're going to notice in time.

"Excuse me - are you Commander Peeru?" A violet-shaded syreen was at her side.

"Yes. I'm hoping to recruit a crew member for my ship."

"Yes, Captain Rydra told me of this opportunity."

"Excellent! What's your name?"

"Keili."

"What are your qualifications?"

"I know how to operate and maintain a psionic amplifier, and I am capable in a machine shop."

"Do you have these in a document I can review? What is your post aboard the starbase?"

"Refuelling. I haven't written about what I can do, and I don't think anyone else has, either."

"All right. Why do you want to work on my ship?"

"It's a chance to get off this station. See new things, meet new people, get into the action."

"You'll mainly be taking care of Mycon, until we need to incinerate them. Does that appeal to you?"

She didn't even get around to verbally answering before Peeru got the idea. She'll tolerate it. I'll see if I can get someone enthusiastic. Otherwise, she'll do.

"Okay, I'll make a note of your application and get back to you. Now go meet some new people. Actually, wait a moment... can you help me find some people?"

~~~~

Leah was easy to find, as she was performing in a dance. That did however make her unavailable. Peeru did find pictures of the other three, and scanned the audience, then wandered the common areas. Five minutes passed, and a general sense of this not working settled over her.

I don't have time to follow the rules. Peeru got out the computer access software toolkit. Twenty minutes later, she could see whatever cameras the central hierarchy station security happened to be looking at. Mostly, that was ordinary sensitive locations with no one in them. She set up an automatic monitor to tell her if one of her targets was spotted.

Then she saw that Genlo was on the station. She accessed his uniform's computer and added it to the checking queue.

Just then, a hit! A security camera had seen Mersdin one deck up, walking down the promenade with a human male. Peeru got into the framework for speed, and rushed. Down a corridor to the lift... Mersdin was halfway across the camera view as the lift came. Once she was on the right deck, Mersdin was almost out of sight. She got rolling just as she saw her turn into a cross-corridor. Out of sight, but... this the route to Mersdin's quarters. Peeru resumed, a little slower for the narrower space, and came around a corner practically on top of Mersdin. She had stopped, her man in tow, and met with another syreen.

The three of them stared at her in surprise.

Peeru was still rocking back and forth. "Glad to meet you. I've got a position open, and was wondering if..."

"Is it supine?"

"... what?" Bad computer translation?

"Is the position on my back? Because that's how I plan on spending the next few hours. Buzz off."

The human held up a finger. "Hey, this could be good. A chance to get more later..."

Mersdin smirked. "You may be cute, my earthling, but I'm not going anywhere without Ceeta. Isn't that right, sugar?"

Ceeta nodded and leaned in for a kiss. "You'd better not, or you're sleeping under the bed for the rest of your life!"

What.

The three left arm in arm. Peeru just blinked and stared. Can cultural differences do even that? Women together? Does that even make biological sense? Whatever. Moving on.

Peeru returned to the promenade, dismounted from the framework, and began asking people randomly. While some were interested in the prospect of joining the fleet with a large number of humans available, the few that were qualified all lost interest when they understood the conditions more completely. Someone must be willing.... No placement system set up to find this person? How nearly barbaric!

A message came in from one of the leads:

Commander Peeru, I hope the position on your ship is still open. It sounds dreadfully exciting, in so many ways. As your message said, we can meet by the Vindicator docking. I'm already waiting.
-- Cass

Peeru didn't waste any time getting back. She saw a syreen waiting, talking with Genlo. Shortly she recognized her as Cass. Why didn't I... oh, he has something draped over his uniform, must be occluding the view.

Cass was short; her teal skin was studded with various embedded decorations, and her black hair was tied into a tight knot. She perked up upon seeing Peeru approaching, and nodded respectfully.

"Hello, Cass, was it?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Do you know how to maintain and operate a psionic amplifier?"

"Absolutely. And I heard you're down a sensor operator. I know my way around that, too."

"Do you want to wrangle Mycon until such time as they are sacrificed?"

She cracked her knuckles and grinned. "I'll have 'em doing tricks."

"You've been speaking with Genlo. Do you understand the conditions aboard?"

"You mean the heat and the chains? Is that frame here for me to try out?"

"Yes, it is."

She stepped up, and Genlo and Peeru helped her into it. Cass wiggled. "Funky."

A few passing human males stopped and stared at her parted legs. "Good day to remember to wear underwear", she commented. "Let's see..." She tried moving various ways, flipping around, leaning back, twisting side-to-side.

She'd put the advanced restraint harnesses to the test... fortunately she seems to be right at home, and they won't be needed.

Cass asked, "What's the gravity on board your ship?"

Peeru looked it up. "Point nine four of current gravity."

"Good. So, commander. What are my chances? Should I get my hopes up?"

"I have a few other leads."

Cass released herself and stared to Peeru. She knows I have basically nothing. "I look forward to hearing from you, Commander."

~~~~

Peeru did eventually find Lain, and though she was as interested in the chain-works as Cass had been, she knew nearly nothing of amplified psionics; and as for Leah, it turned out she was violently allergic to druuge. Towards the end, Peeru asked an officer and verified that Cass was indeed capable in the fields she claimed. Though she didn't seem very professional by druuge standards, her attitude was a bit less scary than that of most other syreen Peeru had encountered. The position was filled. Cass would meet them after the ambush.


Last edited by Death 999 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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