Do It For Thysen

Writings and chronicles of the OOniverse.

Moderators: another_commander, winston

Post Reply
Malacandra
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 466
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:12 pm

Do It For Thysen

Post by Malacandra »

Do It For Thysen emerged from witchspace into Latile system with thirty-five tons of cheap computers aboard and a clear run in to the Coriolis station, a welcome combination in her commander's book. She seemed to wheeze gently as he brought her up to full thrust and engaged hyperspeed -

"Hyperspeed mass-locked," demurred the computer's pleasant contralto

- wheeze gently as Sutcliffe reached for the injector lever. It was an ingrained move as natural as breathing, both because time spent mass-locked was time spent not making a profit and because it was as well to be able to hit the gas as soon as the combat alarm sounded. Do It wasn't as fleet as an Asp II or a Fer-de-Lance, but she was functional and she could run from most of what she couldn't fight. True, she carried only the cheap and cheerful de Lacy HM3s, but Sutcliffe didn't often bother with them; as he mostly put it, "You fire 'em once and that's thirty credits down tube whether they 'it owt or nowt".

In response to a gesture, Crewman Aerk, who'd been with Sutcliffe since before Reesdice and all that came after, brought the identification system online. Sutcliffe was already scanning the tactical display, but - Nothing was heading for them, there didn't seem any trouble in the wind, and there was still two light-years' worth of witchdrive fuel to dump into the injectors and get this meeting over with. Sutcliffe yawed a little to port, bringing the passers-by into view twenty klicks to starboard. Trading convoy to look at, no need to sit there Trumble-eyed like a youngster on his first trip to the spaceport when time was money. He took a firm hold of the injection lever -

"Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!" signalled the computer, as the tactical display blinked a few times to show who was transmitting

- and released it to bring both hands back to the yoke. Sutcliffe exchanged glances with Aerk. Do It's standard operating policy was quite clear as long as she was undamaged and Aerk had never even murmured a word's disagreement with Sutcliffe on the subject. Maybe he had his own reasons. Sutcliffe wasn't the man to pry as long as Aerk did the job he was paid to do.

The Cobra's interfaces were primitive but they mainly did their job, too. Peering at the display and asking the computer for a repeat of the mayday, Sutcliffe confirmed the identity of the ship in distress. It was an Asp going by the name of They're There, reputation Clean. Even with the computer-enhanced visuals, it was hard to spot the faint scatter of the laser beam she was dodging, or to pick its originator out of the featureless sky. But a man didn't get the Navy's unofficial stamp of approval without managing bigger stuff than that. He made out the rough diamond shape of a Gecko a few kilometres away. Not often you saw an honest Asp, still less one that was maydaying over a Gecko, but like as not this was a fight that had been going on before Do It For Thysen arrived insystem, and all it wanted was... Aye. Nearby, glowing here and there with hotspots on her grey hull, was the hulking figure of a Python, and she'd been up against something that meant business. Chances were the Asp were her escort, which were why she hadn't cut and run faster'n any Gecko could keep up with.

"Stand by for bumpy ride," warned Sutcliffe with a grim chuckle and as though Aerk didn't know the routine quite as well as he did. Sutcliffe had earned the name of a Dangerous man the hard way, one kill at a time and not all of 'em pretty to watch, but it were no treat to get on the tail of a Gecko when she were feeling skittish. If it had been pirates gunning for him, Sutcliffe had that locked down pretty tight by now, for many a space pirate saw nothing better to do than run in fast on a loitering ship and only learned different when they got a hole burned in their hull for their troubles. But he had to lend a hand before things got worse for that Asp, and that meant a roller-coaster ride in a freighter, even a light one like the Cobra 3.

He watched the range down to about five km, the targeting systems highlighting the Gecko as she twisted and turned, trading shots with the Asp then turning to let her energy build up again. The Python was out of the picture, turning cumbrously as though her guidance systems were damaged or her sensors were out. A ship like that could pack a mighty punch, but if she'd taken some system damage then it didn't matter if she had quad LF90s and a belly full of torpedoes. That was all right, though. Sutcliffe yanked Do It For Thysen through a series of tight turns, all brute force and ignorance but knowing the protesting Cobra could take all that and more.

There was no way the Gecko was going to sit there and meekly let herself be gutted by Sutcliffe's laser even if she was concentrating on the Asp for now and unsure which side the Cobra was on. Her pilot had been in a scrap or two himself by the look of him. But Sutcliffe came from a people born and raised on patience and didn't bother heating up his laser prematurely. Instead he watched his chance carefully, led the target momentarily and -

CHACHACHACK!

The Lance and Ferman's multiple tubes fired one after the other in a sequence too rapid for the human ear to separate, and the persistence of vision blurred their searing red beams into one. Hot spots danced across the Gecko's hull, but only for a moment. The smaller ship's energy banks would have been depleted by that strike, but it was only fleeting, just enough that all the cards were on the table where the players could see them.

"Thanks!" signalled the computer, blinking the Asp's yellow trace again. Still the Gecko pilot stayed to fight it out. Maybe he hoped to lure the two bigger ships into a collision. Maybe he'd noticed how much of a welt Do It's lasers had raised and knew that if he ran straight it would be the last thing he ever did. Sutcliffe didn't spare the time to think about it. He cut his speed as he saw the Gecko turning into him, both of them trading front laser shots but Do It's reinforced shields holding the red scorch comfortably at bay. He kept one eye on the computer to make sure the Asp and the Python weren't near enough to blunder into and throttled back still further to follow the swerving Gecko. Laser fire impacted Do It's rear shields for a second but the computer didn't report a targeting lock incoming, so likely it was a blue-on-blue and that sort of thing happened in battles. No time to worry. Sutcliffe rolled her again and punched the throttle to close the gap, raking the Gecko again with a longer burst. The Asp screamed silently past on an overshoot, lasering wildly and to no purpose, obscuring his view of the Gecko for a moment. But as soon as the bright flame of the Asp's exhaust was out of his viewfinder, Sutcliffe saw the Gecko again, and she was hurt for sure.

No need to rush now. The Gecko was running straight, her drive flickering inconsistently and puffs of hot plasma bursting noiselessly in space. Sutcliffe exchanged another glance with Aerk and the pair nodded grimly at each other. On to the kill, then.

This was the part that felt like butchery: an enemy with no more fight in him, nor even the speed to run. Sutcliffe brought Do It For Thysen onto the Gecko's stern and nudged the injectors for a second or two, no more, before thumbing the gun button once more and with finality. No quarter for pirates, thought Sutcliffe. But - could I go through with it if they cried "enough"? He must have asked that question four hundred times in the heat of battle, a hundred times as many in the long watches of the night or when he was slogging his way slowly through hordes of Workers' Commuters and Commissar Limousines masslocking him all the way from Witch-beacon to station aegis and no fuel left to inject. Up to now, he'd never found out the answer.

Up to now, no pirate had ever asked the question.

Nor did the Gecko. Sutcliffe fired a short burst, then another, muttered "Eject, you son of a Soedian treeoid!", then put the pirate out of his misery with a sustained-fire burst that left nothing but a ball of star-hot plasma where there had been a manned ship a second before. Sutcliffe shook his head. But: "Happen I'd let thee go, next time there was an honest trader all out of guards but one, and that one too green for a good ship like he's flying, there wouldn't be another honest trader hard by to mek something of it," he muttered, scanning the nearby cubic kilometres of space for the triple flamelets of an escape capsule.

The Python was still limping along and the Asp was formating alongside her, so Sutcliffe quickly checked the local scanner for hostile traffic and, finding none, swung Do It For Thysen back on course for Latile main station. He still had enough witchfuel left to cut through the traffic, and while he wasn't on contract this run, time was money. With nothing but basic comms onboard, he settled for giving the trader and escort a cheery waggle as he injected away into the green.

* * * * *

Another system, another Coriolis station, another clearance for docking and another maintenance and refuelling bay where the cargo shifters got busy as soon as the docking clamps were secure. Ninety-three credits five was not top whack for computers but happen it would do while something better came along. Aerk was off duty the moment the ramp was extended and he knew it. Well, eighteen days with no R&R, two sun-skims and seven separate skirmishes left even the best-adjusted crewmen looking to see something other than the same damned face day in day out. But there were a couple of visitors for Sutcliffe, any road up. Both of them were human, a female in the uniform of Amnesty Intergalactic and a younger male in smart business dress. She faded tactfully into the background as soon as the two men had been introduced, which was just as well as Sutcliffe found the youngster quite embarrassing for his display of emotion.

"Nay, lad," he said after a bit - when he could finally wedge in a couple of words of his own - "don't you think nowt of it. Do It For Thysen allus drops slaves off for free. I only hope - " But that would be tactless to a young man who was brimming over with joy for his own father's rescue. Anyway, if that latest scrap out there had left any cargo drifting helpless, salvage would pick it up for sure. Maybe even the Python herself if she weren't too badly damaged; they could generally find room for another ton or so.

He hoped - on the rare occasions when he'd misjudged the scoop and a cargo container flared yellow against his shields for an instant - that there'd been nothing more than food or furs inside. But there was no way he'd ever know. And if he was lucky, any slaves that died that way would never have known what hit them, in that brief instant when their drugged sleep was interrupted by a bright flame.

"Nope, it's been our family's way since forever," Sutcliffe went on. "We're but space traders, lad - space tramps, more like - but it's like a superstition with us. Whether it's a man, a blue frog, a horned cat or a fat bird in there, we say: when tha's been lucky enough to be picked up in space when t'ship's been blown from under thee, who're we to sell thee now? 'Tain't humanity so much as humility, son - so tha can put thy wallet away right now."

But the young man didn't listen, or at any rate didn't do as he was bid, which came to much the same in Sutcliffe's book. "It's all right, sir, I understand. Some favours can't be paid for in money anyway. If I owned the whole planet I couldn't pay you what my father's worth. But perhaps there's someone else I can reward instead."

He stepped over to Do It For Thysen and slapped hard on the highest point he could reach on the landing gear. "A ship needs care and attention; not just the fuel and the upgrades, but the battle damage, and then just when you think you're all square and you've got all your systems on top line, you find you need to schedule her for scrubbing and de-ionising and having your welds X-rayed and all the rest. Am I right?"

Sutcliffe chuckled. "You're a spaceman yourself, youngster."

"No, sir, just a salesman. Insurance. But I'm not here to do business. Sir, we have a preferred supplier we deal through for all our policy repairs. There's a rep in just about any GalCop station you visit. If you'll hand this card over to any of them - your next tune-up's on the house," said the young man. His face wasn't quite pleading, but Sutcliffe, bluff as he was, saw clear enough that he had to do something by way of gratitude - as who wouldn't?

"Right you are, then," he said. "You're a salesman for sure, then, for you've learned the way to a spacer's heart is through his ship. Make her out for Do It For Thysen, and I'll not forget to cash it in - that's another family tradition!"

The young man spoke into his data pad, then paused to correct the spelling. "Unusual name," he said. "What does it mean?"

"Old saying that Sutcliffe fathers were saying to their sons back when spaceships were in stories for little 'uns," chuckled the trader. "It went like this:

"Hear all, see all, say nowt; Eat all, drink all, pay nowt; And if tha ever does owt for nowt, Do it for thysen".

The data pad flashed up the meanings of the unfamiliar dialect even as Sutcliffe spoke, and the young man smiled. "Family motto, then?"

"Aye," said Sutcliffe; "words to live by, every one of them."

"And you live by them?"

Sutcliffe laughed and stepped onto the loading ramp to see his new cargo aboard. "Why, lad, isn't it plain to see?" he roared, before disappearing inside.

The young man stood still, smiled and shook his head. "No. Not really."
"Sidewinder Precision Pro" and other Oolite fiction is now available for Amazon Kindle at a bargain price.

Sidewinder Precision Pro ||Claymore Mine ||The Russian Creed ||One Jump Ahead

All titles also available in paperback.

User avatar
Mad Dan Eccles
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:54 pm
Location: The Greatest City in the Ooniverse
Contact:

Re: Do It For Thysen

Post by Mad Dan Eccles »

Nice.

And loving "Amnesty Intergalactic"!
Master of Mayhem

"The name's derived from Object Oriented eLite so you could say "Oh! Oh! Leet!", but that might sound too much like g33k sex."

Malacandra
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 466
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:12 pm

Re: Do It For Thysen

Post by Malacandra »

I can't claim credit for "Amnesty Intergalactic" - I have the Illegal_Goods.oxp to thank for that (and indeed the business at the end of the story). But this is based off an incident from recent play with a commander who is named Sutcliffe and whose ship I'd decided was named for the motto... but who does indeed rescue slaves, answer distress calls, help out the police, and generally break his own motto half a dozen times on every run. :D
"Sidewinder Precision Pro" and other Oolite fiction is now available for Amazon Kindle at a bargain price.

Sidewinder Precision Pro ||Claymore Mine ||The Russian Creed ||One Jump Ahead

All titles also available in paperback.

User avatar
Mad Dan Eccles
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:54 pm
Location: The Greatest City in the Ooniverse
Contact:

Re: Do It For Thysen

Post by Mad Dan Eccles »

Not a "true" Yorkshireman then :lol: :lol:
Master of Mayhem

"The name's derived from Object Oriented eLite so you could say "Oh! Oh! Leet!", but that might sound too much like g33k sex."

User avatar
JazHaz
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2991
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:07 am
Location: Enfield, Middlesex
Contact:

Re: Do It For Thysen

Post by JazHaz »

Added to the Oolite Stories page on the wiki.

Post Reply