Peeru Fanfic

Do you want to *play* with us camper? This is where *fun games* are had!

Moderator: ZFP Peacekeepers

User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 40 - Ingress

Peeru had largely ignored her office - it was claustrophobically small, unlike her post in the command center, and its only advantage was privacy, which until now she had not needed.

Muugko spoke up once they were sealed in. "It's Genlo. He doesn't take my drills seriously. He just does not change based on the results. You get him to change a little, but he backslides quickly."

At first, that could be blamed on Muugko's very softly worded reports. But after the first few, he has allowed himself to call bad performances bad.

"Which specifics is he not responding on?"

"Timeliness in reporting to the bridge. Focus once he arrives."

"Maybe he can tell it's drill."

"Usually, yes, and when the drills are obviously so I can understand - I mark him down but I don't consider it a major risk to the vessel. But the most recent drill was very realistic, and he came close to brushing it off. Look at the recording. He skipped checklist entries. Here…"

Genlo was obviously marking as 'okay' things that he hadn't just verified.

"So, what was his response to your marking him down on that?"

"He said he'd checked them recently. I said the point of the checklist was to check now."

Peeru thought back. That last drill had not been a 'rush to readiness' scenario. "So, what did you say then?"

"I left it at that and came to you. I recognized I was about to do something that could be interpreted badly, and wanted to find out what my real bounds are."

That left Peeru thinking. Muugko had, so far, not had to go near the boundary line. But it appeared that the existence of that boundary was undermining him. Would Peeru applying her authority for him help or hurt in the long run? It would depend on just how she did it. And it also depended on…

"What do you think of him in general? Frankly, no being nice. I won't hold it against you."

He hesitated. "That is very difficult to verify."

"Seriously. I don't care if you hate his guts, so long as you treat him fairly. So what do you think?"

After a few more moments of hesitation, Muugko relaxed a mite and began speaking. "Cocky. Hypocritical. Hates me beyond any justification I've given him, even by my treatment of others. Pretty good at what he does, but he thinks he's utterly amazing. Poor self-control. Impulsive, even. Lives hand to mouth with no long-term plan. And he smells bad." He paused. "What about you?"

"I… hmm. In his domain, he is valuable, and I have positive feelings toward him… in that domain. Outside it, I would not seek any sort of social relationship, for reasons similar to those you gave. As for his odor, I think that's a masking scent he uses for dealing with humans. It gets stronger each time we dock, and decays away after, right?"

Muugko finished relaxing, and began to joke, "Well, maybe he should…"

Red alert sounded.

They shared a 'Is this your drill?' look as they swung out into the command center, where Trifop was the lone watchholder. Peeru quickly got on the fleet channel. Commander Reynolts was announcing, "Mycon battlegroup sighted emerging from Epsilon Scorpii system; unable to evade. Intercept in ten minutes."

Zelnick added, "Looks like it's a big one. When Juffo-Wup fills their fibers and violent action ensues, we go in as one group, and escape as one. We should be able to enter the system that way, and once inside we should be safe."

With a group as optimized as this one is for fighting Mycon, we're pretty safe anyway; I presume he means safe from the prospect of having to destroy some of their ships just as we're trying to pretend to be friendly. Peeru announced to the ship, "We will be engaging and withdrawing from a large Mycon group in ten minutes."

Genlo swung in, and Peeru looked over his shoulder as he proceeded down the checklist. Either he can tell the difference, or Muugko had more effect than he thought.

Then she had to listen as Zelnick customized the formation and began issuing a more detailed plan of battle. Muugko was also listening intently, and she could see him taking notes. Will he really have time to refer to them? Could be just a mnemonic assist. The 1038's role would be counterfire and possible pushback on nearby podships. With eight minutes to go, Peeru took a moment to alert the engine room to prepare for being pulled into Hyperspace facing backwards. With five minutes to go, the briefing was over, and things slowed down.

Another few seconds later, Muugko suddenly left the command center without explanation. Peeru did not inquire, instead relaying instructions to Genlo.

After two minutes, she was beginning to wonder where he was, but he returned, again without explanation. This time, she did sent him a message, "What was that?"

His reply: "Wanted to make sure that one of the props for a drill didn't go off in the real thing. It was already secure, but just to be extra sure, I stowed it."

One minute to go, in the quiet, Peeru could actually hear a slight change in the sound of their passage through Hyperspace, as the nearby group distorted the space. There was a sort of beat laid over the normal whine, as they passed through the outer interference fringes. As they approached, the Vindicator throttled down to stick tightly together. This is it!

But it wasn't quite it - they gelled, and paused for conversation. Zelnick didn't send this out to the fleet, but Reynolts informed them, "There are nine podships." After a minute, Zelnick imitated over the fleet line, "… and it grows turgid. Violent action ensues. Here we go."

"Eyes wide!" Peeru repeated for the bridge crew.

The nearest podship was almost due in front of them, at moderate range, facing away; the others were spread off further and to starboard. The rest of the Vindicator fleet thrusted to get some distance, the Vindicator pushing the cruiser ahead of it. This is a good layout. We should be able to get clear.

The podship finally got around to firing, twice in rapid succession. Genlo waited for the second shot, then fired off two shots - one for the nearer plasmoid and one for the podship. Muugko was already set up to judge when they should decelerate to fall into their place with the rest of the group. That's taking longer than I expected.

The Fury was still on its duty of drawing off attackers, and then the missiles landed.

Zelnick said, "Finally decided to regenerate. Looks like we're clear…"

Muugko said, "We're not. They'll get us. The Fury isn't in position."

Peeru relayed this judgement to Zelnick, who said, "Tifiwilo, tag number 7 up ahead and see if you can drive it away. Wewalia, take number 8."

Peeru watched the nearer podships. One at the edge of the mauler's range was lining up for a gravity whip. "Genlo, target number 4 there."

The ship swung about, and Genlo shot. It was a near miss, as the podship interrupted its acceleration. "Enough. Muugko, form up." If they're intent on remaining engaged with us, we've got a problem.

As it turned out, though, after a few more moments, the podships instead all headed for the planet. Zelnick shouted, "Re-form, now!"

Within ten seconds, they were formed up, and the emergency escape system engaged. As it warmed up, Peeru watched, fascinated, as the Mycon whipped out straight at them. It wasn't as neat a row as Peeru had used in the sims, but it was clearly the same concept.

The escape system broke them free, and within a minute they were into the Mycon homeworld system.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 41: Scale

The Vindicator flew through the Mycon home system fortifications as if they weren't there, overpowering their tractor nets with engines ten times stronger than anything they had been designed to slow down.

A few evasive maneuvers were needed to reach the home world without incident. Finally the net of podships tightened enough they could not get through, but it was close enough - Zelnick started the call.

Peeru didn't bother listening to the call, and instead got on the fleet line.

"... Seriously, this is more ships than the Ur-Quan have?" - Fwiffo's voice sounded torn between relief and terror.

"No, not exactly. I mean, we've never seen this many in one place." - TotToe, one of the Zoq captains (individually Totle).

ToeTot (Totle's Pik partner, individually Toen) added, "Don't be shocked! This is larger than any fleet gathered during the first hierarchy war, too - at least, that I've read about. Two thousand podships is more than were ever in one place then, right?" TotToe and ToeTot were the only Zoq-Fot-Pik group that was all allowed on the line at the same time; this was largely attributed to ToeTot's relative mellowness.

Fwiffo replied, "Building up and up and up. They're out of control."

Snelopy put in, "We were ordered to build up, too. They're just following orders."

"Maybe, but they're not slacking off even a little. It's no secret they want to take us all down, Ur-Quan and all, if they get a chance."

Reynolts cut in, "The conversation is drawing to a close. Prepare to retreat."

Peeru signalled Muugko. This is it. His eyes were wide with fear - he could count, too, and she had not been paying attention to him.

"They're not in attack formation. We'll only need to face the closest few." Peeru somehow felt reassured by his nervousness, as if he was merely displaying inferiority rather than... well, partial information.

And then a few moments later they were free - the Mycon had not attacked, after all. Cheers broke out on the fleet line, and Peeru lowered the alert to orange. Muugko slumped in his chains, drained.

Individual call from Zelnick - "Peeru here."

"Anything worthwhile in this system, as far as mining is concerned?"

"You're seriously..."

"They've all come in-system to chase us. What about that fifth planet?"

"Sure, we can take a look."

As it turned out, the fifth planet was worthless, and they went their way, laying in a course for Bellatrix, with Beta Cerenkov and the VUX to follow.

The chatter in advance of the fleet exercise that evening was relaxed - Snelopy was even joking, "See, running away isn't so bad. You should try it more often."

TotToe put in, "We do it all the time. Scouting, right?"

ToeTot said, "But we got the job done first, right?"

Zelnick arrived and immediately set to work. "So, on to the VUX. Half our fleet isn't really made for this matchup, and half is. The trick is getting everyone out of their initial ambush safely. I've devised this formation... Vindicator pushes the Tobermoon full ahead, skiffs strafing or faking to draw fire from any intruder directly in front of us. Other ships, just get clear. Take a limpet if you need to; careful maneuvering won't be needed. Once we're clear, long ranged ships pick them apart. Everyone stay moving so any followup waves don't catch you."

And a minute later, they started. The intruders had them pretty well surrounded as they appeared in rapid succession, fairly evenly distributed around them, and uncomfortably close. Genlo, as arranged, fired twice rapidly, and they flew clear with one limpet.

"Genlo - target number eight." Eight of twenty, and more coming in to harrass the Vindicator. Fortunately it's moving, but the sky is filling up with limpets.

The Tobermoon had bounced clear and was firing off nukes at will. An intruder warped in attempting to intercept it, but by the time it arrived the Tobermoon was out of range.

"Change target to number twenty two... Muugko, leave us a little more speed, to keep..." An shadow of an intruder appeared where its projected arrival was, immediately to their ventral port. Peeru jabbed the fire control and they leapt back and away, just a moment before the ship actually arrived. Low on battery already. I'll hold one shot in reserve for escapes.

Muugko acknowledged. Peeru's pulse was racing. They're all over the place. Need to avoid having them come up behind... How many are we up to, now? Thirty? Forty?

The 1038 was so far from the rest of the battle-group, now, and there were so many vessels in the battlespace, that their fight was essentially independent. All of the 1038's shots went to evasion, with most of those dual-purposed to also deal damage. Still, the opposition swelled further and further. There must be a hundred of them here.

Eventually the VUX formed a contracting sphere. The 1038 fired its reserve shots and destroyed one of the intruders, but the recoil prevented them from reaching the hole in time. The limpets poured in, then the lasers. They were out of the sim.

Peeru's breathing slowed. First things first. Credit. "Muugko, good job. We would have been jumped in a minute if you weren't keeping us steadily moving. Genlo, great job on making every shot count. What was your accuracy?"

"Among the aimed shots? I missed 2 of 39."

"Trifop, your warnings of incoming ships were invaluable." It was mostly the computer, but still.

Peeru got back on the fleet line, in the ghost section - TotToe reproached, "... you, but did you listen?"

PorKoo shot back, "We were surrounded, and had their flank! It just screamed for tongue. Did you have a better idea?"

The meeting interface appeared, much more crowded than usual, and the chatter died. Zelnick started off, "We've established that sixty VUX intruders is sufficient to take down this battlegroup without their taking intolerable losses. We destroyed merely four ships. Commander Reynolts, do you have any observations?"

She replied, "The cruiser was reasonably effective until we got in front of it. Tifiwilo, your going ahead was a fatal error. It enabled us to intrude on your position, and the Tobermoon then coasted into range."

"My apologies. It did not occur to me."

Zelnick asked, "What about the eluders?"

"Slippery, but too low firepower. With so many targets, they never got the opportunity to do serious damage. Also, by going in groups, we were able to provide dense counterfire. That was also fairly effective against the cruiser. The mauler was both slippery and we could not shoot its shots down. Had we not been able to trap it, it would have been a hazard."

Peeru felt a mix of pride and shame, that she had had such an opportunity and not filled it, but kept quiet.

Zelnick said, "Hmm. I see. the stingers could have been useful there, forcing an opening. Any other comments - Peeru, you look like you want to say something."

Peeru shook her head, as the only thing she could think of was a difficulty - their difficulty in focusing fire without sitting still - and she suspected that there was something in the flight manual about that, so she didn't want to bring it up in front of everyone anyway.

"Well, anyone else?"

After a moment, Mok raised his hand, and Zelnick called on him. "They never intrude too close to the planet. Orbits, especially the longer orbits around the less de-magnified planets in larger battles, give very good opportunities for avoiding mid-battle ambushes."

Zelnick glanced to Tinkafo, who nodded; he then said, "Well, I think we'll try a smaller scale battle next time. Once we've mastered twenty, we can try sixty again."
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 42 - waste

Peeru panicked for a moment. Where are they? They must have defied our predictors!

She activated the thrust, to rejoin the Vindicator group, which had also taken off to escape the ambush which had not come. In moments, rescaling revealed the truth - the intruders they were engaged with were scattered randomly around the space; the nearest was hopelessly out of its range.

On the fleet line, Zelnick said, "Huh. The Vindicator's drive must have thrown them off. Hold here. I'm calling..." A screen of limpets began forming as the few VUX vessels charged. "Well... if that's how it's going to be, blast 'em."

The battle was extremely lopsided. The only damage was a single limpet on Rupatup's eluder, and all four intruders were destroyed in a little over a minute.

Muugko pondered, "What could have driven them so? They were hopelessly outnumbered to begin with, and we were trying to be as friendly as possible..."

Genlo commented, "Friendliness backed up by the willingness to use thermonuclear weaponry, mass drivers, lasers, and antimatter pellets."

Muugko fumed, and Peeru, curious, did not interfere. In five seconds he brought himself under control, and started over, "I just don't know what they were thinking."

Peeru said, "Maybe they thought they could slow us down so the rest could engage us."

"But... they weren't even close! They'd have had to hold us off for an hour or so!"

"The main question for us is, did they get out a warning that their intrusion devices aren't working? And will this ZEX fellow hold this against us?"

Muugko waved it away. "We can't answer those until it's obvious. But this... I'm actually mad at them."

"What for? Making us kill them?"

Muugko gestured for them to go to Peeru's office. Probably wants to vent without scaring the underlings. Maybe I'll need to clarify what's okay...

Once they were inside, Muugko silently gathered himself. "Four years ago, I had the misfortune of serving under captain Biitur."

He waited for a reaction, but Peeru was not familiar with the name, so she asked, "What was so unfortunate about that?"

"He had a reputation as the greatest tactician, greatest general purpose leader. He had made himself irreplaceable. I bought it for a time, and to be sure he was very good with tactics. I thought myself lucky that my rotation included service with him.

"Then we were assigned to deal with a revolt on Buusek - one of the moons of Paarit. The miners there had suspended mining to make improvements to their quarters - a sanctioned activity under maintenance - but had not resumed mining on time, and there were signs that they were continuing the improvements. We were supposed to lean on them and get them back to work.

"Biitur wasn't feeling well, so when the first minute of negotiations didn't produce exactly the results he wanted, we opened fire - not warning shots, but right on the mine. They were of course all instantly killed. After a minute, he personally targeted and fired a shot off to the side.

"I happened to read his report, and it was a total lie. Searching later, I found he'd copied a report from years ago about miners who had been much more rebellious."

Here, he stopped, waiting for a reaction.

Peeru pursed her lips. "That's very bad."

"I submitted my own report."

"Ah. A bell-ringer. Is that why you were reposted to the 1038, to shuffle you out of the way without breaking corporate policy?"

"Oh, no, not at all! That's why I was promoted to lieutenant from comms. Admiral Huuzarnni was clamping down on waste, and this was a perfect example. Show that no one was exempt, and that those who found waste would be rewarded. Plus, Biitur was aiming for his job."

"So, why such privacy while describing it?"

"How would Genlo react to hearing this?"

Oh no, a typical man problem: how does party A respond upon hearing details of party B's past which don't impact the present directly. Can I reason it out?

... no, not really.

"I don't know. Draw overly broad conclusions about you?"

"He has a poster of great captains of the fleet, with Biitur on it. He wants to have their babies. Literally."

"Okay, so, what made you so mad about all this, again? Isn't anger normally most strongly directed at things that have negatively impacted you, not things that positively impacted you?"

Muugko flailed his fingers around for a few seconds. "Captain... have you ever had a really terrible boss? Those VUX had terrible bosses. The very worst." He said it as if that settled it.

Then, considering her, he said, "You haven't, have you? The horror of the bad boss is just a tale to you. Surely it can't be that bad, you're thinking. They exaggerate. I treat my underlings well, so would anyone. It's corporate best practices, and surely the system is set up so that's what happens. Right?"

"Of course I've had some bosses that weren't so great. One was transferred into logistics from cosmetics quality assurance. He had no idea what was going on."

He looked down at his hands. "No. Incompetence is comprehensible." He was clearly not done, and after a few more breaths, he added, "What's kept me 'in line' these past few weeks is not a threat of dismissal, demotion, even ridicule. It's simply that I cannot bear the thought of being a bad boss. Bad bosses should not exist. Not in charge of me, not in charge of others. Nowhere. Now do you see?"

"Maybe." Great. Another thing to be afraid of.
Last edited by Death 999 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 43: Xenophilia

The worry that she could be a bad boss nagged Peeru. When she came off-shift, she focused on it. This is irrational. It's far more important to worry about, say, failing Zelnick, and the fleet and the galaxy in general, than the several people under me. But... I have heard stories. And he's right - I don't want to be that, setting aside the rest. How can I find out how good a boss I really am? Well, where would criticism go? Serious, honest criticism, not flattery. I remember seeing an anonymous section of the network. If they really trust that, it could go there.

Peeru found the relevant segment of the network where pseudonyms were used, and people could write (not speak, of course) freely. The number of active pseudonyms was somewhat larger than the total crew of the fleet, suggesting the usage of multiple accounts. Various mechanisms were available to further anonymize postings, such as randomly delaying a posting so it could go up while you were on duty doing something important, etc. So much effort made to enable things like this. How bizarre. And the security is actually quite tight - tighter than the security was on the things that are actually important, like logs, technical specifications, control systems - at least, before I got there. And in some ways, it's still more secure. Based on actual distrust of all incoming signals, as it should be, and multi-layered indirection and random message padding. All anyone could find out is that I am in some way connected to the anonymous network, and that's if they're network administrators.

Peeru searched for 'feedback' and found most of it was reviews of art and fiction. She nonetheless downloaded it all to further anonymize the request, and locally searched for her name in it.

The first hit was a detailed discussion of the ethics of the rapid energy boost system on board the Mauler - the 'feedback' was referring to positive feedback in the plasma system, and her name only arose to ask the question of whether she'd use it frivolously, with the implication that she wouldn't. That would be a lot more reassuring if they weren't arguing from the notion of 'even if she's totally evil'.

The second hit was a conversation thread almost entirely about Riemann's love life (clearly, the anonymity was stronger for the speaker than the referent). Peeru was briefly mentioned as a metonymic substitution for mock battle practice, with no implications favorable or negative.

The third hit was alarming - a very detailed if anatomically inaccurate image of her, stretched supine and chained down, her uniform torn into scraps that would have been rather strategically placed had she been human. It was labelled as part of the 'Offend Everyone project 2156 edition' The 'feedback' was comments from viewers; some labelled it 'hot', others said that this was much hotter than the real Peeru. One in particular was harsh on her actual appearance while praising the picture. One wondered what Peeru had done to the artist, who responded that it was just his interpretation of Druuge culture, to which another said that was probably a serious misrepresentation, and anyway, Druuge don't have breasts or navels or quadriceps, and a true xenophile would leave everything as it is.

The fourth hit had the same page format and was also part of the same project, which made Peeru nervous, but the image was far more benign - a syreen and human male clearly enjoying themselves on the control deck of a penetrator. Peeru was mentioned once, someone being upset that she hadn't sent him to work on a penetrator.

Peeru realized that there was no centralized anonymous feedback system, so she fiddled around with search parameters. Eventually, she found what she was looking for - a totally non-anonymous but frank discussion of what it was like to work on the lander team, given by one of the lander crew on team 1.

He's not horrified. When he is complaining that I make them work so hard, it's more along the lines of venting about the rough nature of the job than actually thinking I'm doing a bad job.

That was sufficient to assuage her doubts and let her rational choice not to pursue it take hold. Still... what she had discovered while searching grabbed her attention. She returned and broadened the search to all artwork of Druuge.

Wugyup featured prominently, with two high-ranked images - a modified photo of him in his devil halloween costume and a very anatomically accurate and flattering drawing of him in a fistfight. A highly humanized image of Feres with a crooked halo was next, with an extensive set of comments examining how a self-avowed self-interested rationalist had ended up saving 2 people at some risk to herself, ending in the conclusion she had probably underestimated the degree of risk involved.

Then there was Genlo. These appeared to be real photographs, generally of him with various people, usually one at a time, mostly human females, most of the others being Syreen, and one with a Pkunk. There was a progression in each case from generic social situation to entwined, sometimes in not very much clothing - in the sauna, the gym, or, in one case, entangled with a crowd in someone's quarters. What should I even make of this? The expressions read as insincere in most cases. The comments are bizarre and nonsensical. Peeru tried to decipher one:

"Ohnoe - How can I get out of here? Too much awesome human! Cannot... res..."

So is it good or bad, or what? Perhaps this requires more context than I'm willing to give it.

Confused, she gave up.


ZEX was very happy to see them - Peeru had trained herself in VUX reactions, and she could see the dilations and wiggles. Very happy. Muugko glanced to her and she said, "Relax. Remain on alert, of course, but he doesn't look upset."

"... Shofixti Maidens."

What? Shofixti females? They're not extinct, then!

Zelnick was taken equally by surprise. "Well, actually, we hadn't heard of them. I came here hoping to be able to talk to you about the state of the galaxy and what the VUX could do."

ZEX's left-side head tentacles writhed, which Peeru interpreted as the VUX equivalent of itchy horn-stubs. "The galaxy? Surely, for a matter of such importance..."

"But now that you mention them, we're very interested!"

ZEX waved his primary in abeyance. "Of course you are, and all in good time, my dear captain."

Zelnick sat back for a moment and glanced away to someone outside the view. "Well, then, what are you doing here?"

The conversation meandered along for some time, ZEX gradually becoming more excited. If these indications are correct, is he seriously aroused? This can't be based off of military signaling, but perhaps a captured colony world would have relevant materials. As the conversation drifted to ZEX's appreciation of human physiology, Peeru ceased to have any difficulty accepting that interpretation.

Zelnick hastily changed the subject to the notion of a trade. While ZEX went on describing the beast he wanted, Zelnick sent an image.

"Oh... my..." ZEX stopped speaking and stared. "Yes... YES... this is the pinnacle" he glanced up, "but one, of my collection. For this I would gladly trade away the maidens. Hard to even see them in that cryotank, and... No more nattering. Send it right on over, immediately!"

"And the maidens?"

"On the surface, don't worry, you can get them later."

Zelnick rubbed his nose. "Well, here's the thing. It's also in stasis, and I think you'd better leave it there."

ZEX again waved dismissively with his primary. "Oh Captain, I'm touched by your concern! Rest assured, we will have plenty of time to take care of you later." That wasn't a response at all.

Zelnick turned and gave an order, and the transfer began. "So, ZEX. I was hoping we could get on to bigger matters still. Like, say, the Kohr-Ah?"

"Never heard of them. But really, captain, isn't this such a wonderful occasion? The beginning of a bright and wonderful partnership?"

"Yes, I'm sure; and the main issue of this partnership is going to be dealing with the Kohr-Ah, if you get my drift."

"So so impatient!" The lower two head tentacles momentarily straightened, stiff, then relaxed. "I'll break you of that habit sooner rather than later, I think. Are these Kohr-Ah right here? Yet it's so cute, rushing off to be a hero. Ah, the joys of youth. But really, don't you think that whoever they are, the Ur-Quan Hierarchy can take care of them without your help?"

Zelnick sat down, perplexed. "Well, not really. And I'm not sure where you're going with that thought."

"Ah! My new child is on board. Such a big one, isn't he!? ... and so frisky! I am delighted beyond words that you have given me the beast, Captain, but I am afraid that there has been a slight change in our plans. Regrettable, but necessary."

Peeru saw the signs, the careful curling of the tentacles. He means to fight. She stopped watching as she hollered "Red alert!"

The ship was nearly ready, but she had fixed her attention on long-range sensors, and in particular what ZEX's fleet of intruders was doing. Sure enough, the flagship was powering up - to levels significantly beyond those of a normal Intruder, and it was emitting heavy hyperspatial jamming; though the rest of the fleet was still idle. This could be a countermeasure to the effect that blocks the intrusion device!

And... nothing happened. Peeru resumed watching, wondering if Zelnick had managed to salvage things diplomatically, but the call was over.

Zelnick called the fleet just as she was failing to reconnect. "Their fleet is still expecting us to collect the maidens. He didn't get a signal out, it seems. Let's play along and get out of here clean, okay? In the event that they fight, you'll have to cover me for the recovery. As long as the intrusion devices keep not working, it should be okay..."

He looked aside, listening. "And it seems they're moving off, retreating. In that case, Peeru, why don't you clean the place out? Should make Greenish very happy." He rubbed his hands.
Last edited by Death 999 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 44: Reproduction

"So, we really just left them in stasis?" Wugyup was incredulous.

Peeru paused lifting her legs, and let the weight come off of them. "I would have woken them, but Zelnick thought they might appreciate a more familiar face first." Done speaking, she slowly put the weight back on and resumed exercising the muscles necessary to walk.

Wugyup didn't seem to notice her slipping from the workout plan. "Oh, I thought the issue was to get his experience with shofixti thawing before risking it. Swing extra carefully when carrying an egg, and all that."

"A little, I guess. But speaking of eggs... what do you think of the MDAP? Are you joining?"

"MDAP... the one where if some of us die, the others arrange for their postumhous reproduction? Eh. Not much interested."

Peeru gave up on the exercises and just sat. "That's odd. I thought you were... far-thinking, and would want to be represented in the next generation."

"Thank you, but I have children."

"You never mentioned them! And here I thought I knew you. Who are they?"

"I'm contractually bound not to look into it, nor to reveal the identities of the mothers, nor seek contact. I also waived my parental support percentage."

"What kind of arrangement is that? Why did you agree to those terrible terms?" Can he really have been a cheap stud for rich ladies?

"As you said, to be well-represented in the next generation. Much better-represented than I could achieve if I negotiated more aggressively."

I thought he wouldn't be just that... "But... to waive your cut completely? You have no reason at all to contribute anything to them, then."

Wugyup, too, stopped exercising. "But I couldn't materially contribute to the raising of these children anyway! The mothers see it as a monetary investment - they get the full 20% instead of half. I get prosperous children I wouldn't have otherwise had. Using Yuuko's 'Descendants as currency', I'm quite wealthy."

Peeru tried to wrap her mind around that for a bit.

He went on, "That's why I particularly wanted to protect my investment by coming out here. I already saw most of my value as being in the future. You could say, saving the galaxy was the only way I could materially contribute to raising my children."

Peeru still balked. "You're not being compensated by them for this. Many of the ills of our society stem from people not demanding what they're really worth. The whole crash wouldn't have happened."

Wugyup paused, looked to her. "I'll set aside the history, which I see rather differently." He collected himself. "I take evolution very seriously."

"Genetics? What about memetics? You forfeited any connection to your children."

"I also mentor. It's a little awkward that my memetic continuance and genetic continuance are entirely separate."

"And again, you're not compensated for it."

"Do you need to be paid to eat? To breathe? I'm doing what life does, and what intelligent beings do. People refusing to do what they needed to do for their own sakes, I suspect you'll agree, also contributed to the crash... even if we disagree on which people."


Peeru meekly hung next to the pitchblende hopper and practiced eir visual derivative abstraction center, largely ignoring Meeso's rant. "Gods! Why are we still in this business? We're just building up inventory we'll never be able to clear. Should go into farming, at this rate, as pathetic as that is. That way even if everything craters out, Gods forbid..."

As he ranted, Meeso was fiddling with his homemade lunch, with his carefully cleaned hands. Triple-cleaned, even. He even brought his own soap. Now that I think back on it, I finally understand that. It and his provocative dress (going so far as to be in violation of safety codes) were attempts to attract boss-lady, get him easier work, and more reward for what he did. But that wasn't a great strategy, was it? Heavy metals could easily leak around and into his pouch, rendering him sterile... which would greatly reduce his attractiveness to boss-lady. And she never did look at him twice.

"Not the gods, Meeso. The market sees these things and corrects." Fuusi had peeled the wrapper back over his hand and was eating the mealstick in big bites, even as clots of dust fell from his fingers.

"Does it? We are purifying excess inventory, with no plan to clear it. Oh, don't look like that. I'm putting in a suggestion. See, I'll submit it myself."

"Suggest that our operations are suspended? Do you want to be fired?"

"No, we'll stay our department, but we'll shift our operations to purifying something else."

"Like what?"

"Rare earths. We've got gigatons of tailings to go through, rich in decay products. Medical isotopes, electronics components, you name it. We'll be busy, and productive."

"We don't know a thing about rare earth extraction!" Fuusi roared.

Meeso gestured to Peeru, and e suddenly began paying more attention. "You're in school, right?"

"Yes sir." To a labor intern, everyone was 'sir'.

"How much for a mineral extraction course?"

Peeru happened to know that figure, as e had been considering it. "Fifty-five hundred credits."

Fuusi crumpled the empty wrapper and dumped it; it fluttered down, to the not-exactly-distant floor. "Can't afford that." You could have, couldn't you? Just have to give up your luxuries for a year. There was still time, then. "And we'd want real experts."

Meeso affected hanging limp for a moment as if struck. "You wouldn't be footing the bill, the department would be. Look at the cost of new equipment we've invested in - just the new separator we haven't had to use is half a million. We could hire one true expert and the rest would learn."

Peeru felt acutely uncomfortable. Meeso was playing with fire, here, criticising the direction the department was taking. Peeru stared down at the floor - it was almost close enough to touch with eir toe. Though it was as low as possible - normally not a good thing - it felt unnaturally safe, like the resting cube, as if one just couldn't be fired. Up to now, that had made this internship relaxing. Today, though, Peeru only got the image that the floor was just the intake of one of those hoppers, and such a short fall could be awfully long.

Meeso pulled himself up straight. "But I... I think I will take that course. I've got most of that saved up." And it didn't do you any good, did it? You were the first to go, and the one who could have saved the department. Because you were the one who could have saved the department, and not boss lady.


Peeru was about to say 'Maybe not' to Wugyup's 'disagree on which people' comment when Wugyup suddenly said, "We should also set up climbing ropes. For exercise. Why walk when we can swing and shimmy like our ancestors? And if power goes out..."

"If power goes out that thoroughly, then we're all dead."

"I suppose so. So. You asked me about the MDAP. What about you? Are you in?"

"I still don't know. Who wants to have to raise children? Advancement, goodbye."

"Oh come on. First off, you're not getting any higher than this. Second, you can hire someone. And you'll have your cut. Hey. I could join as an asymmetrical partner. Won't require any of you to go and have my kids if I die, but if any of you does, I've got you covered, and I get the parental cut from their earnings. Is there a provision for that?"

"Check yourself. As for me? Eh, it's not urgent." She suddenly resumed the workout hard, as if she was running.
Last edited by Death 999 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 45: Disbelief

"Well I don't have one right here."

Peeru took one look at the Yehat's reaction and upgraded to red alert. It was just like Tippy's mask back during the play! Righteously calling out deception.

On the fleet line, she called out, "Get ready!"

Jay concurred, saying, "Yes, it seems they do not believe us... unfortunate." Neither of these declarations was particularly surprising or useful, since the Yehat took her time threatening the fleet and posturing rather than attacking immediately - Peeru neglected the exact content of the speech and addressed the crew. "Ready all hands."

When contact was broken, Zelnick got on the fleet line. "I'm not giving up on it yet. We maneuver to remain disengaged while I keep talking. The only one with any reason to fire is the 1038, and then only to push them back. Call your shots so they can shield."

Against seven? Can we really remain disengaged against them if they split up? They're slow enough that we can just get as far from them as possible and escape, so long as they stick together and can't slingshot. That'd be lucky.

The groups started not far out of autocannon range, and a few misses were fired before the Vindicator group moved off. At first, the Yehat stuck together and pursued directly, so avoiding them was simple.

Zelnick got on the fleet line. "They're not responding. Still at it, though. They should be aware that I'm talking."

After a minute, the Yehat headed to the planet and slingshotted in two groups. Avoiding them took some planning, but remained possible.

Muugko asked, "Why couldn't they just be skeptical, instead of pinning their honor on the notion that we're liars? They committed themselves to something that's just not true?"

Peeru said, "Focus..."

"Yes ma'am. Next pass will require adjustment at... oh, they're breaking off."

Indeed, the terminators were returning to the planet to each slingshot on their own, to force an engagement. There was nothing they could do to prepare for a few more seconds, and Peeru said, "I would suspect it's just psychological projection. Common to most sapient species. No more on this. We're going to be a lot busier."

Indeed, both of them were busy planning evasive maneuvers. Then they needed to fire the cannon just to slow themselves down, to avoid entering one terminator's field of fire.

That terminator engaged its engines, slowing it from its supercruise, and turned to pursue them directly. Peeru fired the cannon twice more to back up, intentionally missing the terminator by a wide margin.

"Number six approaching along (7, 6, -5). Eight seconds." Peeru saw it and they turned, and fired twice more... that gave them a few seconds, then they were approaching the planet, with terminator three approaching it as well. Peeru kept the planetary projection between them - just barely - with the terminator's fire skipping off its surface, and then they were moving apart. That was pretty slick, if I may say so myself! Wait, they're coming back to slingshot right on our tail...

Tifiwilo was on it, though, and flew up on terminator three's rear - insistently not firing. The terminator nonetheless turned to scare the skiff off. Don't do that! Focus on your orbit! Even if you think they'll fire, you have shields for a reason! Tifiwilo teleported away safely, and the terminator, still attempting to slingshot despite the distraction, collided. You could at least have aborted the slingshot and avoided the crash...

Muugko called out another intercept. "Dead ahead, in supercruise straight at us. Shall we knock them back? They'd lose their speed advantage."

"Yes. We've been told we may."

Genlo lined up the shot, and fired. The terminator's shields flared up, protecting it from damage, but not the momentum.

Peeru focused on avoiding drama for a minute to let the weapons recharge, and as luck would have it, that was simple.

Muugko, though, was shivering. She messaged him, "Problem?"

He silently responded, "They almost hit us back there at the planet. We'd be dead."

"If they could have, I would have done it differently."

He still seemed skeptical, and rightly so - Peeru didn't have any particular alternate plan in mind. She banished the past and focused on avoiding the one ship heading their general direction.

Wu suddenly called Peeru, "I could use some knockback over here. Terminator one."

Peeru replied, "I'll see what I can do... How about in fifteen seconds?"

"Good enough."

"Trifop, send them a warning. They're probably focused on the cruiser."

He acknowledged and sent the terminator flagship a five second countdown of exactly when to shield. This is ridiculous. How long are we going to keep this up? Dishonored Yehat can't be reasoned with. They made even worse customers than the honorable ones.

The shot flew, and landed, without being blocked.

Zelnick got on the fleet line. "Okay. With that, it's clear that they're simply not listening. I've sent them the video of recovering the maidens, and of Tanaka; I've offered to show them the physical evidence that we had the cryotank; I've even offered them a few of Tanaka's hairs, which are recent enough to be proof on their own. And they aren't even receiving it. I am getting a little annoyed. They've even suffered over a dozen casualties just chasing us around."

Autocannon fire burst out from terminator six, catching PorKoo's stinger.

"Shit. Enough of this. Engage with the melee plan from last night."

The second half of the battle was far messier than the first. Each eluder hung around the outside of a terminator's range, peppering it with missiles, forcing it to keep its shields up. Similarly, skiffs opportunistically sought out exposed rears, compelling them to break off or shield, then teleporting away. The stingers and fury tried that, but had to be more cautious. The Tobermoon, Vindicator, and 1038 fired as they could from range; the Vindicator spent much of its time as a tugboat keeping them from getting in range of the Tobermoon.

Peeru couldn't follow all of it, so many things were happening. She carefully marked what she was monitoring, so Muugko could keep an eye on other things. Peeru didn't even have the time to watch their back before each time they fired, so she put Trifop on 'fire veto' duty, checking to make sure they wouldn't back into something.

The fleet line was mostly silent, with nothing important enough to take everyone's attention, until Koos called out, "Got you, you malformed Zebranky-lover! Number six down!"

Zelnick put in, "Now they know about the tongue, expect them to be more careful. PukYor, back off! Number seven is on your rear!"

"Too late, cap." PukYor, facing the rear of terminator two, patiently waited until her target's shield weakened, and drilled into its wing just as terminator seven's autocannon fire began ripping into her vessel from the rear. The stinger exploded into shrapnel in moments.

We lost a ship. I... we haven't lost one while I've been in the group.

Genlo, unaware of the loss, fired another carefully timed shot. "Hit! Is it? Oh yeah, it's going to blow! Number three down!"

Peeru, adapting to their new velocity, saw terminator five approaching obliquely from the rear - she turned and began thrusting, to avoid. Muugko said, "Where are you going?" as the Starrunner flashed by them. They're leading number seven, right?

Sure enough, terminator seven, fresh from killing PukYor, was coming right at them. If we fire now, we'll be caught by number five. If we don't fire... She fired. It was a near miss that seven snapped its shields for anyway, but she barely noticed, concerned instead with the likely interception they were backing into. Terminator five was turning... She fired again to gain speed. Five opened fire full-stream... Phew. Just clipped us.

A little more distance and a slight turn, and with Genlo's timing, the shot landed despite the huge proper motion. Did it block? Oh, of course not - they're depleted from firing on us. A nuke landed a moment and two moments later, and number five was dead in space.

Soon, it was all wrapped up, seven being vaporized by blaster fire, and the rest having been disposed of without her awareness.

The fleet line was still silent, even as the Vindicator swept up the debris. One little tractor beam lanced out and retrieved a body - Yehat.

Koos called out, "I hope you're retrieving that so you can excrete on it! They killed Porm and '! Fertilizer is too good for them! False-accusers! Murderers! Idiots! They wouldn't know honor if they ate it!" She got off the fleet line.

After a short pause, Zelnick said, "I hold only their commander responsible for the tragedy today. The loss of their entire battle-group, and two of our vessels," Two? ", and at least fifteen other losses. But not this one. Not the others." Zelnick continued, but Peeru was stunned. Tifiwilo's dead. My second teacher. How? Let's see... teleported in and didn't see the terminator at medium range directly below.

"Casualty report ready." Muugko said it flatly.

Peeru pulled it up. Nabek - fatality.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 46: Tradition

"Lot 12 - unlabeled dataplate, 100 terabytes capacity, 1.6 gigabytes in use. Starting bid, eighty cents."

No one was interested. Peeru inquired, "Wugyup?" Oh why did I say that and not just move on to the next item? This is dragging enough already.

"No bid."

Muugko muttered, "For eighty cents?"

Wugyup returned, "I don't see you making an offer."

"You're the one that's been buying everything up."

"I'm pretty confident I won't miss this one. Thanks for making sure."

Peeru pressed - "Only pretty confident? If she put her innermost thoughts down, don't you want to know?" Peeru, just shut up.

"I already have her main plate. I'm no sucker. Move on to lot 13, please."

She set the plate aside. "Lot 13 - sixteen envelopes with writing in English. Names and 'Merry Christmas'. Starting bid, sixteen cents."

Wugyup asked, "In the event of no bid, what is the disposition of these envelopes?"

"Return to the extrusion system. Why?"

"It seems to me that they were intended to be delivered. Most likely this evening or tomorrow."

"Yet she did not deliver them."

"Because tonight or tomorrow is the customary time for delivery. As executor..."

Peeru, already worn a little thin, let her voice take an edge. "It is not the role of the Crimson Corporation to assist the deceased with participation in local rituals."

Wugyup stared for a few moments. "Fine. Sixteen cents."

"Thirty." - Muugko.

"What are you doing?"

He shrugged. "Seeing just how much this is worth."

Wugyup narrowed his eyes. "Fifty."

Offhandedly, Muugko replied, "One credit."



Wugyup wearily said, "Six?"

With a grin, Muugko said, "Ten."

Wugyup suddenly returned his grin. "They're yours."

Muugko shook his head. "So, when it comes down to it, all your intangibles and all, Nabek was worth somewhere between six and ten credits."

Wugyup shrugged. "Eh. Say, you're in charge of the fab here, aren't you? Can you take an order for sixteen envelopes, and a pen?"

That's way less than one credit. But as much as it's nice to see someone who's willfully interfering with an auction reap a huge loss... Peeru interjected, "Please do not interrupt the closing of the accounts and final auction with other business. Especially as that was the last item. The remaining balance is a debt of seventeen thousand, four hundred and eighty six credits, one hundred and two mills, all to the Crimson Corporation. May she..."

She stopped. The prescribed words don't seem appropriate to this situation. It wasn't Nabek's fault that she had died young, and her debt was not unwise to take on. What would I want said for me? I don't really care. So this is really about us, here and now. Pure morale boost... or at least damage control.

After a gap of ten seconds, Genlo said in the Eastern dialect, "May she find a better deal in the next life, in the event that there is one."

Muugko frowned. "What was that?"

Peeru gestured for him to stop. "It was fine."

Still, she thought something a little less Eastern would be best to finish on. The prescribed words didn't make sense here, so she improvised. "We invest much in those who follow us. We know that all investments are risks. Investments in time of war, more so. When she was taken from us, all the work we put into her - all the work anyone put into her - was lost, but for the small repayment she had begun. That doesn't mean we did the wrong thing to invest in her, and it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep investing in each other. Write it off."


"It was very traditional. I liked it." Wugyup was writing carefully, copying the names from her list onto his new envelopes.


"Yes, totally. Pre-crimson."

"Pre-crimson? Did I just violate corporate policy?"

"Not at all. This was one of the things that was only lost, not stamped out. Just... the manual said something needed to be said, gave some uselessly vague guidelines, and listed a few examples of things you could say. Am I right?"

"Pretty much."

"How tempting was it to use one of those examples? Was there a link to any of the huge volumes of other options? Would you have dared to make something up if we were still near the trade world?"

"No links - but why not make something up?"

"What if you messed up? No one would blame you for following the manual word for word." He looked at his handiwork and nodded. "All done. I would like to deliver these."

Drat. He knew to ask. Silly inefficient special orders. "Very well."

"Do you want to come? It could help our reputation."

Peeru was pondering that when Muugko's announcement came over the ship channel, "Stand by for docking with the Vindicator."

Peeru asked, "Did you already ask him to dock?"


"Then he must want to go himself. I expect he's going to try to get something out of the cards he bought."

"That won't work. And speaking of reputation, if he tries to trade tonight, it could get messy."

Peeru set her chains for the umbilical, Wugyup right behind. Peeru told him, "You go ahead." This will be simpler without him.

When Muugko arrived, he was leading a heavily-loaded cargo chain. Now that's a bit more sensible than just a few envelopes, but we're not going to pay the price of reputation for a few credits in a economy so tiny there's no meaningful exchange rate.

"Are you selling all that?" Peeru asked.


"I've been given to understand that this is a time of gifts. Do not interfere with their traditions."

"It's not interference."

"Going among them and selling things at a time you don't sell seems like interference."

"They did not think so."

Oh. So he actually ran this by them?

"Captain. Trust me, please?"

If he's right, we take no rep hit, and probably a gain. If he's wrong, we do, but it can be mitigated. Either way, letting him gives the benefit that he figures that I trust him. This could improve his overall performance.

"If you looked into it, then it's fine. I trust you made sure?"


She dismissed him, and he disappeared up the umbilical. It's one thing to project being confident in him, quite another to actually not worry about it. Can I look it up? Where would I start? A simple call would cover it. Who would be best? Not Zelnick. Needs to be human... Mok.

She gave him a call, low priority. He took it after a few seconds. "Captain! How can I help you?"

"A quick cultural question, if you're not busy?"

"I have a minute. Is it about Christmas?"

"Yes. It's really basic. I'd appreciate if we can keep this somewhat discreet, in case it turns out to be inappropriate."


"Is it okay to sell things for Christmas?"

He started laughing. That's neither a good sign, nor is it at all discreet. I suppose that itself could be a good sign, since I conditioned the discretion on it being inappropriate. He gathered his voice and very soberly said, "Most gifts are purchased."

Phew. "Thank you very much."

"It's a little late to get into the business."

"I imagine so, and I am not. You just resolved a dispute we had here."

"Glad to help, captain."

She signed off, very glad that she had asked him rather than Zelnick. She was also glad that Muugko had turned out to know what he was talking about. Maybe I can trust him a little after all.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 47 - Arrivals

There was only one penetrator waiting at the rendezvous point. It moved towards the Vindicator group, and joined smoothly. Peeru watched Zelnick's first call with the captain. She was standing, wearing a clasped crimson cloak with the hood up. Visible in the background were another, shorter Syreen in similar clothing, and two Mycon.

She bowed slightly, saying, "I am Zev. Our battle - successful."

Zelnick rubbed his hands eagerly. "That's good to hear! So, are you clear to join the group here, or are you only going to make a delivery?"

"Both. Cass?"

The second syreen stepped forward, and Peeru recognized her as Cass - her new crewmember. She said, "I am ready to transfer any time. How many Mycon should I bring?"

Zelnick rechecked the figure and said, "Six."

Zev nodded, and Cass left.

"Welcome to the group, then! We were about to start our daily mock battle in fifteen minutes. If you would like to join, we can delay some to accommodate you."

"I'm ready now."

Zelnick pursed his lips, considered a moment, and issued a software close call offer, which Zev took - without any sort of spoken signoff on either side.

Moments later, Zev silently submitted a flight plan for the 1038 to dock with her vessel for transferring Cass, her equipment, and the six mycon. The whole operation was to take only thirteen minutes. We had better be efficient about this!

The approach was much quicker than most docking maneuvers, and involved intentionally bouncing once at multiple meters per second. She's crazy, but I'm not going to back down from this...

The transfer proceeded as efficiently as she could have hoped - the equipment and the Mycon had already been loaded onto floating palettes, which were sent down the tube as soon as it was open - and the connector resealed meters behind Cass.

Cass stayed with the mycon, assembling the smaller palettes into a large palette in the cargo hold. Kaandor got to work giving power to the psionic amplifiers before their three hours of battery life ran out; Heeran began fitting harnesses suited to mycon.

Peeru joined the fleet practice session; Zev was already there, and turned to stare at Peeru, coolly.

Shortly, Zelnick arrived. With a glance to Zev, he said, "Tonight, we'll have a simple exercise - our fleet against an equal force of marauders. In this case..." He went on, reviewing their usual tactics, mainly for Zev's benefit.

Peeru barely heard this, with the distracting stare from Zev. She wasn't really getting an impression of psychic forcing, but she was getting the feeling Zev disapproved. What is it? She's been so curt, it's not like anything I've done could feel unwelcome... Oh. Not her. Cass. I probably should...

"... Any questions?"

Peeru nodded; when acknowledged, she said, "If it's all right with you, I'll leave my second-in-command here and deal with the recent additions to my crew."

Zelnick nodded and she disconnected. Muugko was scrambling to set himself up for top command instead of assistant. We'll need to work on that - if I'm knocked out, he has to be ready to step up quicker than this.

Peeru swung down to the cargo hold. Cass had doffed her cloak, revealing the black-strapped syreen crew uniform. She stood right in front of the vent, eyes closed, holding her loose, damp jet-black hair above her head. She had changed the studs along her collarbone from metal and sparkly gems to red velvet. It set off her blue skin. Peeru got the impression that Cass was aware of her. If so, then she's being very disrespectful. On the other hand, I could be imagining it...

Peeru brought her chain all the way down and stepped on the floor. At the sound, Cass opened her eyes abruptly, evincing surprise. "Oh! Captain?" Peeru felt a twinge of syreen befuddlement, but only a twinge.

She smiled.

It was a peculiar smile, wide but with a curl at one end - a little mischievous - but it seemed to let Peeru be a co-conspirator. Have I really gotten that good at reading human/syreen expressions, or is this psychic, or am I making it up?

"Welcome to the 1038, Cass. Is it hotter than you were expecting?"

She shook her head quickly. "Exactly as hot. Just letting my body adapt. Zev kept things a little icy in there." After a moment, she added, "That's not good for her mycon. They'll get blocked fibers, and infections. This temperature is much better for them." Again that smile.

Peeru got down to business. "I see Kaandor and Heeran are working on getting you set up here. Did you meet them?"

Cass nodded. "They're a little quieter than Zev. I wouldn't have thought it possible."

"A little reticent around strangers, that's all."

"And the odd thing was... the skinnier one - Kaandor, was it?" - "Yes." - "Like the second thing she said to me was to quiz me on some hideously complicated math problem." She shook her head ruefully.

"I take it you didn't answer."

"Sure I answered! I looked it up in less time than it took her to say it. She wasn't too happy, though. What was that about?"

"You are going to be placed under her immediate supervision, as your mycon will be performing emergency repairs. Can they learn complex tasks?"

"They can learn procedures, but I wouldn't trust them to do any math."

"Math is procedural."

"Ha ha - I mean, any math where it's, well, you know..." She cast about for the right criterion.

Peeru hinted, "Involves a lot of relatively free choices in how to proceed?"

"Yeah! That's the heart of it. We keep control by limiting their options. Guiding them. Letting them forget choice. So whenever we need them to process information we need to allow them as few options at once as possible. Never a moment of uncertainty. Never a moment to suggest they ought to challenge their understanding of how things are."

"So, you need to keep them happy?"

"Not necessarily - you can embroil them in a desperate teamwork fantasy, or a rigid punishment framework. But yeah, I go with happy. Speaking of which, they're getting restless - so... is this completely absolutely accurate?" She showed Peeru a diagram of the ship's layout. Peeru glanced it over - it even included the walking deck. What does this have to do with restless mycon?

She looked up - several mycon were shifting uneasily on their palette. Cass walked towards them, saying, "Story time! I got a bunch of new stories for you all." She sat down right among them and began speaking as if she was reading from the pad, but her eyes darted around as she spoke - she wasn't reading right out, and as far as Peeru could tell she hadn't moved from the ship's map. "Pod flup-jhup-hrurlm was glad they were feeling warmer than before. Their tendrils could relax. But this new place had more wonderful things to it - swings that would bring each one where they should be, and new games to play. Fildaai jumped right into the harness and it went up a long shaft. There were lots of little nooks off to the sides, and long tubes along the length, and rings - soo pretty."

And so on. She calmly took them on a verbal tour of the mauler, guided by the map, with various characters happily - and passively - experiencing it. She talked up every part of the ship - though she was careful to say that these characters felt that certain areas just weren't such happy places - the resting area, bridge, and sensor suite.

Peeru was impressed by the craft, but after a few minutes, as these fictional mycon were taking their second pass around the ship, Peeru set her chains for the bridge. She has astonishing patience to be able to drone on like that!

She took a view of the simulated battle as she approached the bridge. The 1038 was damaged but still in one piece; most of the Vindicator group was in similar shape. The Kohr-Ah were tightly clustered, occasionally sending out waves of blades that were tough to avoid completely. These waves left mines all over the battlefield. Replaying the battle quickly, Peeru found that the light vessels - skiffs, fury, stingers, and now penetrator - had been completely unable to do any damage, and were instead on the duty of scavenging away blade mines so they didn't get out of hand. That left the 1038, Tobermoon and Vindicator as the main offenses, with the eluders providing supplemental picking away. With all of the mines around, building up speed was obviously crazy.

Peeru, having caught up to the present, waited for a clear moment. She slipped in and asked Muugko, "How can I help?"

He took a moment to register her - "What? I mean, captain - shouldn't you take over?"

"It's your battle. I can help like a bridge officer."

He hesitated, monitoring a blade coming in their general direction, but decided it wasn't a threat. "All right. Keep an eye on our rear. We drifted into two mines for lack of someone watching."

"On it."

She issued several warnings. Odd how quiet it is Then Muugko said something that she couldn't quite hear becase it wasn't relayed to her. Oh, right, I'm used to hearing the fleet channel. I guess I could listen in there too.

Upon connecting, she heard Zelnick saying, "...tempt them, it's ended badly. Patience! We will not practice losing. If you're fading, pass the controls to someone else."

That said, Muugko got a good line of fire and hit one marauder twice in rapid succession, knocking it out of the protective blade-shell, and facing away. Moments later, the fury swooped in and darted away at the last moment, trying and failing to draw out a FRIED. The two stingers approached, but didn't close for a sting, instead chewing up the surface with antimatter pellets.

Peeru was barely aware of this, focused on her actual task - she made a course suggestion to avoid getting close enough to a mine that it'd hit them. A quick check, though showed that they were moving into a clear zone. A glance at the action revealed that the lone marauder had been reinforced - the Kohr-Ah had split their forces, and now there were two balls, each fairly well fortified.

Their defenses are weaker, but this may not be an improvement!

Indeed, it was substantially harder to dodge fire from two angles than from one, and three of the marauders were focusing fire on them - as many as the Vindicator had on it. So Peeru stopped listening to the fleet line to be able to concentrate better. She only noticed that the Kohr-Ah were losing by its becoming easier to dodge.

And it wasn't that the 1038, or cruiser, were doing this damage - the eluders, having been largely ignored, had worn down the marauders. For every ten torpedoes that had splashed uselessly against those thick armor plates, one had found a weak point and done significant damage. The balls merged to thicken their defenses, but then the 1038 and cruiser were able to effectively engage again (the Vindicator was still forced to spend its effort dodging). And so things were brought to a close.

Three and three quarters hours. Normally the after-battle visit to the Vindicator would have ended by then.

The post-battle conference was unusually well-attended - all the spathi and arilou were there.

Zelnick offered the first word to commander Reynolts - she said, "We bet you'd get tired and slip up. You didn't - not in a big way, not enough to lose. We began fading ourselves, even though our job was easier. How did you do it?"

Zelnick replied, "Spathi, arilou, and druuge can maintain concentration for long periods of time. The rest of us called on our officers to do the piloting when we wore down. For my part, we passed the controls around a fair amount."

Zev raised a finger, and Zelnick gave a go-ahead gesture. She said, "I helped some."

That got a visible if not audible reaction from nearly everyone.

Zelick said, "... with us maintaining concentration?"

Zev nodded.

Zelnick licked his lips. "Would that work in an actual combat situation, or did it rely on us being all gathered together in formation like we are? Because if it's something we can do in an actual fight, then great! If it's not, then don't do it again."

Zev thought for several seconds, then said, "I'll stop."

Zelnick sighed, disappointed. "I'd been hoping... well, in real fights, don't hesitate to do what you can. In practice... if you have anything that helps us learn quicker, that'd be good."

She nodded ambiguously.

Zelnick yawned. "Well... let's talk about it tomorrow, then. There's plenty to go over. Good night, everyone." The meeting closed.

Peeru looked to Muugko - he seemed tired too, though still functional. He normally would just have been starting his shift. "You look drained. Do you think she was boosting you?"

Muugko nodded. "I thought I was just doing really well, on my own..." He squinted and shook his head.

"Take the rest of your shift off. Trifop and I will split it."

"If I get hazard pay for having her in my head, that covers my loss of hours."

I can't very well refuse - if he was really worn out by that, it was definitely not a purely friendly act. "Done."
Last edited by Death 999 on Thu May 02, 2013 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 48 - Idle

Peeru woke from a deep sleep at an odd hour - she'd been on a non-schedule lately, running mining operations. She was still stiff, but wanted to know how things were going, so she silently listened in on what was going on on the bridge.

Trifop was saying, in the trade language, "You really cleaned up on them." It was in a congenial sucking-up tone.

Muugko replied, "I found out something they could want, got them to want it. That's all there is to it."

A few moments passed before he continued, "You really need to know what you want. For instance. What did we discover lately?"

"Discover? We've ruled out locations of the Ilwrath homeworld, and done very rich mining - I suppose that's discovery... hmm... before that? We found three of the last four portal locations."

"That's right. Where were they?"

A moment while Trifop looked it up. "Near Camelopardalis, and near Lyrae and Centauri, and just now between Squidi and Gruis."

"Now, wouldn't those have been useful to know before?"

"Of course."


"Trifop, that seemed awfully... automatic. Can you say why it would be useful?"

Peeru was a little confused by this new self-satisfied and patient Muugko displacing the bitter, sarcastic one. It seems better in the short run, and if he takes the right lesson from it - that you worry about your worth and if you're going to pull someone down let it be someone above you, not someone below you - it could be a great thing (especially since I'm pretty confident he can't pull me down). But will he learn that?

"Whenever we need to go there, we could use a portal, saving time and fuel." Tension entered Trifop's voice as he realized obsequiousness would not get him through this.

Silence. Peeru winced. Trifop is a watch-holder! Yes, he wasn't a watch-holder on the Vindicator, where we were when we would have wanted those portals, but still...

"Trifop. Here are the controls to the big screen. Why don't you explore and figure out the specifics?"

A few seconds passed. Peeru mirrored the big screen onto her console. Trifop had had the computer show the locations of the portals they'd discovered, and was bringing up a trace of their path.

That's not complete at all... oh, right. That's the trace of where the 1038 has been, not the Vindicator group.

"The Lyrae-Centauri portal is significantly closer to the starbase than the one we used to reach it, that time."

"That is true. Might there be some other reason?" Pause. "Do you remember..." He stopped as Trifop began working the big screen again.

Engagements. He's thinking in the right direction, but he's still working off of the 1038's path.

Trifop shakily said, "I can't find the battle against the Kohr-Ah. Or the Ilwrath."

"What was that like?"

"Short-ranged sensors. Right above the blasters. We were hit, and there was a fire." Pause. "And it's not on this map! The only time I see us being in Ilwrath space is us now, not going home last time."

"What is this the map of?"

Trifop wandered around the interface, trying to figure that out. After a minute, the Vindicator's full path appeared. "Okay, found the Kohr-Ah battle. Hm. One ship? Oh, over there. Ah." Pause. "Having this portal would have let us get in and out cleanly, without a fight."

Thinking back on it, that place was busy enough that we would have had to fight the same fights with or without the spawner. The Ilwrath ambush, on the other hand... But what I'm impressed most by is Muugko's asking and letting him get there with only a little help, and without cutting him off or taunting him. She relaxed, some more tension going. I wonder what they taught him. I wonder if I should be taught that too...

Peeru opened her cube and stepped out onto the platform.

She was greeted by the sounds of alien music, and Cass dancing. The music was shrill and abrupt, and Cass was having trouble matching it. She stopped when she saw Peeru.

"Is that traditional Syreen music?"

"Hell no. I didn't think to bring my own, and Zev doesn't believe in music. No, this is human. Got it from the ship's library."

Peeru scrambled to remember what to do about idle lack of respect. Calling her out seemed excessive, and she couldn't remember the right tone for a nudge. Her mouth went on without her - "The ship has human music? And... how did you get enough credit to afford anything from the library?"

"It was free. Something about a holiday, and 'sorry for the pun', which was lost in translation."

Peeru looked up what was being played - The title was specialized musical terms that translated into something rather long that she skipped over, but the composer was named Mahler. "Ah. A homophone for the English name of this design of vessel." His complete works had apparently been given to the 1038 as a whole on Christmas with so little fanfare that Cass was the first to have noticed.

"Anyway, not exactly my style." She wiped her forehead and stopped the music. "I thought it was promising, what with it having 'Burleske' in the name."

"How are the mycon doing?"

"So settled in that Heeran can handle 'em."

"Really? I hardly saw you up here at all the last ten days."

Cass nodded. "Hard work, getting to this point."

"How stable are they?"

"Pretty stable. I can feel them, and they're calm. If they act up, I'm not far from the amplifier remote. That can confuse them until I get down and on the amplifier proper."

"How likely is it they'll act up?"

"We'll find out. As long as I stay on them several hours a day I can soothe them back on track."

"I'm surprised you're being so... nice to them."

Cass shook her head. "Is erasing their identity and infantilizing them really nice? But anyway, with the limited equipment, and only one of me, I don't really have any other options. This is high maintenance, but I don't need to watch them every single moment."

"High maintenance? You said several hours a day. That's next to idle."

"Idle? Just because I'm not forcing them doesn't mean I'm not working. I need to plan, and keep my mind clear."

Sounds like an excuse to be lazy.

Cass drew herself up tall, but didn't say anything - and for the first time since Cass had came on board, Peeru felt like something psychic was going on. Did she read my mind?

Cass looked away. "I need to plan." She glowered as she climbed into her cube and hooked herself up to the chains.

As she slowly swung past, she murmured, "... thought of that before I signed up."

Peeru coughed. "Excuse me?"

Cass swung to a halt, surprised. "I said that out loud?"

"What did you not think of?"

Cass gently swung back and forth, her energy the lowest Peeru had ever seen. Again she got an impression of psychic forcing for sympathy. "I can't leave the ship, and I can't get even a little bit drunk, or high, or anything. I can't even get into a fight. And Genlo's not quite what I'd expected. So my free time isn't even all that high-quality."

If free time is low quality, it will be taken in greater quantity. This is a problem. She was trying to dance... "Are you aware that we can access the Vindicator library from here?"

She snorted. "There's an access fee and I've got no credit." Peeru got a sense of claustrophobia.

"Access fee? Oh, right. When I made it free that didn't apply to you. I'll get you on there. I'm sure they have Syreen music."

Cass nodded and swung off, marginally cheerier.


Her mood did improve once she had network access, and improved further when they docked the next evening. Three gentlemen she'd contacted came aboard to visit her, and she gave them a tour of the ship. Peeru was confident that there was more to it than that, and so was not surprised they hadn't finished the tour when she had to announce that it was time for them to leave.

That evening, the ship was generally a happier place.

Now, to see whether this translates into improved productivity... Peeru dropped a note to Kaandor suggesting that she try getting a bit Cass a bit more involved next shift.

The result wasn't particularly positive - Kaandor reported that Cass was willing to try things, but got distracted easily.

Before Peeru could focus on that, though, she herself was distracted because the fleet was placed on high alert.
User avatar
Death 999
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:07 pm

Re: Peeru Fanfic

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 49 - Vanguard

Zelnick reported to the fleet, still chuckling even after they'd exited to quasispace. "Okay, that's the first time I've ever started a war with a race I'd never even heard of."

Jay was shockingly livid, exclaiming, "Your jokes were most unwise! If you had accidentally succeeded in convincing them that channel 40 is not a line to Dogar and Kazon, then their next actions would have been determined by their natural impulses, which are far bloodthirstier than you imagine. The rules of engagement that the Umgah imposed upon them were all that enabled us to survive all this time."

A breath, and another torrent. "And you didn't speak a word to save the Thraddash? Why not aim them at the Kohr-Ah? With their cloaks, they could minimize their being attacked by their masters."

Zelnick held up a hand. "Just one moment. First, they did buy it, so let's take a deep breath and focus on actual events. Second, why don't we pay them a visit and give them a warning, and maybe some assistance? We've got some clues where they are from the old Chenjesu maps, and it fits with the orders we're hearing going out. Third, I was looking for an opportunity to regain control of the conversation, but I didn't think I could pull off a sufficiently commanding voice to talk over him. And that would have tipped them off more than any ridiculous commands I could have given."

Jay huffed a little, trying to calm himself. "I just have a bad feeling about this. The spirits are bustling like I've never heard, and none of them want to explain why."

"Well, keep your second ears to the celestial ground for the sounds of any astral hoofbeats. To play it safe, we'll approach from the northwest. If we can keep the Ur-Quan out of it, maybe we can avoid a fight."


The Thraddash finished his monologue, took a moment, and inquired, "What have you to say before we begin combat?"

Zelnick thought for a moment. Then he mildly said, "Well, we came to tell you something useful, but..." He smiled broadly and cheerily added, "Make sure to keep transmitting so Culture Twenty will be able to learn as much as possible!"

The Thraddash rolled its cigar to the other side of its mouth. "Culture Nineteen."

Zelnick shook his head.

"HARG! What a laugh! You may be the least battle-worthy creature I've ever seen commanding a starship, but you got a big mouth." The cigar migrated back. "Blasting a hole in your ship will teach you a lesson. To keep it sporting, we'll attack you one on one."

Zelnick wisely restrained himself to, "Okay."

"And you attack us one on one too. No doubling up!"

"I wouldn't dream of ganging up on a force that outnumbers us two to one."

"Har harg! You know what I mean! We each get one ship in the bubble. Straight duels. The purest way to fight."


"See you on the battlefield, captain, after I've ripped through your whole fleet."

The transmission closed. One vessel broke off from the Thraddash fleet, moving to engage. It didn't press, giving them a chance to select a champion.

While this was occurring, Zelnick hurriedly convened a conference. "Our scans show their ship is slow, but reasonably fast to turn, and it has a moderately long-ranged weapon." He paused. "Volunteers?"

The fast ships would suffer from facing a vessel with a good turn rate. The cruiser might or might not be able to stay clear and wipe them out at long range. We almost certainly will, especially if there's only one around. We can just coast to long range and build up battery. Peeru arrested herself. Whoa! I was about to volunteer to go into a fight, essentially alone. And not just one fight, but twenty five fights. How many times can I defeat these seemingly weak enemies flawlessly?

After a moment, Zelnick added, "It looks like withdrawing is allowed under the rules he just provided, just so long as we don't have more than one in the battlefield at once."

Whew. In that case, time to go perform some 'exceptional service'. "We'll go."

Zelnick gestured. "Great. Go ahead."

Peeru closed the connection.

As they began to warp in, Peeru had a falling feeling. She was out in the open and no one was at her back.

Muugko commented, "Looks like a good match for us... What will I do? We don't need anyone watching our backs." The coincidence of wording matching her thoughts struck her as especially reassuring.

"Watch it anyway. Planets, rocks."

The two vessels appeared side-by-side at close range. Peeru fired once to back up, turned slightly, and fired again. The torch exploded.

They turned to threaten in the direction they were moving while waiting for the next vessel to enter. As a consequence, when it appeared behind them, they were moving away.

While they were turning again to face it, it did something completely unexpected - it abruptly accelerated aside, to stay behind them. This is a much faster vessel than we'd been led to expect!

Most startlingly, it left a persistent trail of flame behind. How is that not dissipating? Could be the same effect that holds the puffs at rest in respect to the planet.

After a few seconds, the torch turned to charge. The 1038 faced it head-on and fired. The Thraddash vessel took the shot and kept coming, but a second finished it.

As they again tried to slow down, Peeru asked, "Are those flame trails a hazard, or just a side-effect?"

Muugko asked, "Who are you asking?"

Another Thraddash ship warped in; it had favorable facing, and managed to get a hit in before the 1038 retrothrusted out of the way with three unaimed shots.

The torch zoomed off to catch them on the wraparound. Peeru turned the 1038 to threaten it; it swooped ahead of them before they could quite get in line and dropped a flame trail. That answers that - they're treating it as a weapon. Peeru fired again not attempting to hit, to brake their motion. Now we're low on energy reserves. I can delay, or...

An opportunity presented itself as the torch swung around for another pass - she sent the first Mycon to the furnace and fired twice, destroying the third torch.

This pattern continued: the Thraddash had excellent aim and hit them a few times, but they did not get many opportunities to fire; and sometimes the 1038 would run low on energy. In this they were aided by the increasing caution of the Thraddash captains, which gave them more time to regenerate. For the most part, though, the Mauler was putting them down hard with a mix of Genlo's carefully aimed shots at long range and Peeru using the defaut target lock as the enemy charged them. As they destroyed their eleventh torch, Muugko notified Peeru that she had just burnt their last mycon.

I wish he'd told me a few moments ago. We could have set the escape... well, I guess we should be all right with half our reserves, for one more fight. We're at rest.

The twelfth torch charged in an irregular spiral. Genlo missed once, and then again. This did have the positive effect that they maintained range. The torch broke off the charge as it was no longer gaining well.

The 1038 slowed so the torch couldn't leave a flame trail ahead of them. As it did, the torch flew about in the distance.

To Peeru's astonishment, it bumped into one of the asteroids, knocking it cleanly at the 1038, and followed it in.

They shot and destroyed the asteroid to keep it from serving as cover, but that gave the torch time to break off once more - and they'd wasted two more shots. We really are running low on energy now!

Since it had thrusted from a near-standstill instead of an opposite-direction charge, the torch was moving around the battlefield faster than usual. Shoot. We're going to have to face them before we can come to a standstill ourselves. Don't want to take on a dynamic role in this fight, but we'll have to.

Peeru thrusted aside and they got out of the line of the torch's charge. It turned and got their rear in its sights. It fired and struck. Is this enough for three shots? Peeru fired twice to retro-thrust and zoomed out of where torch was aiming, turned a little, and shot it.

It survived the blow. Now we're really in trouble. We're moving quickly and it can just slip ahead of us...

But to her surprise, the torch's response was erratic, and it made no coherent attack until the 1038 had regenerated amply, and even then it lacked the skill of the earlier attempts. An easy snipe destroyed the target. This time, Peeru activated the escape system promptly, and they were out before the next torch could close in.

Once they were in the fleet, Peeru relaxed. "Damage report?"

Muugko hesitated. "Nothing critical. Kaandor and Cass are in the infirmary."

Trifop twisted in his chains, looking up sharply.

Peeru looked over the list of problems. "Muugko, get down there and help Heeran." He's the most experienced with repairs - and I might need Trifop on comms, and Genlo in case of another fight.

Peeru monitored the battle - the Tobermoon had been rammed and was careening around at high velocity. The torch dropped a flame trail not far in front of it. To Peeru's surprise, the Tobermoon swung around, no longer trying to slow itself. It launched two missiles on an indirect course and, just short of the flames, started the emergency escape. Its motion was immediately arrested as its engines drilled down into the bubble's surface, committed to the escape attempt.

One of the missiles was lost in the flame trail as the torch attempted to escape, but the other had been launched at a different angle and struck, destroying its target.

The Tobermoon warped clear. That's thirteen down. Twelve to go. And none of the rest of our ships look like good matches, except the Vindicator.

Sure enough, the Vindicator came up next. Zelnick pursued the same general strategy as Peeru had, with almost as much success - the Vindicator's shots were not as precise, fast, or damaging as the 1038's, which made up for its advantages of greater power and ability to remain completely still.

It looks like we have this well in hand.

Peeru set her monitor to view what was going on in the infirmary: Cass was treating herself for what appeared to be a deep cut on her arm, and Wugyup was deep in surgery on Kaandor.

She opened the line and asked him, "Do you need anything? We're clear of battle." He didn't respond, and she didn't press.

After a few minutes, the battle was over.

Peeru was summoned to the fleet line, and she joined.

Zelnick said, "If their leader is to be believed, by taking him out we've taken over the entire Thraddash 'culture'. Not bad for an hour's battle, was it?" Looking to Peeru he said, "Good work. Do you need more Mycon?"

"We will, later. We are not presently ready to receive them."

With that, Peeru sent Genlo and Trifop to help with the repairs. She swung down to the infirmary and poked her head in. Cass was gone, and Wugyup was out of his chains, leaning on the wall. With too-zoomed eyes he looked through Peeru. "She'll make it."

"You don't seem entirely well yourself."

"It was close." He drew out of the deep zoom and focused on her. "I wasn't afraid for myself. I didn't even think about the danger. I was just terrified that I'd lose a patient. If Cass hadn't calmed me down, I might have flipped out."

"And she's alive. With help or not, you did it."

He nodded. "Yes. There's more to life than simply being alive, though." He shook he head free of that thought, and lurched into motion towards the exit. "I'll be resting, unless you have any objections."

She let him go. Everyone else is working, but he didn't seem fake, and isn't all that good with maintenance anyway.
Post Reply