Carver's Anarchy

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Ganelon
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Carver's Anarchy

Post by Ganelon » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:37 am

(This might be the first installment, or it might be the only story about Carver and his crew that I actually get around to finishing. Even just this short story took a few weeks of thinking and rewriting before I felt it's maybe good enough to try and put up here. Oh well, here goes nothing.)

*******

"Aye. Come in, Mr. Sharp." commodore Carver said almost as soon as the first knock sounded on his door. He put down his tablet for a moment and strode across his office to shake hands. "Good of you to come, Mr. Sharp, and right on time you are too, for I'm hearing seven bells striking just now."

Mr. Sharp nodded as he looked around the commodore's office. "Well, I like to try and be punctual, sir. It's not every day you schedule an appointment to see me in your office. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever been in here before." His eyes wandered over the small office, pausing to frown in puzzlement for a moment as he noted the motivational posters before his gaze drifted to the wet bar on the sideboard.

The commodore waved toward the bar. "Make yourself a drink, Mr Sharp. And make free with the smokes and eats as well, if'n yer in the mood for such. I'm just finishing up with some charts, I won't be but a minute. Look around, if ye like." The commodore returned to his chair, making a pretense of sorting some charts and notes as he noted the repair tech pouring himself a glass of a good brandy. He nodded to himself approvingly as he watched Mr. Sharp select a cigar from the humidor and fill a tiny cup with a small portion of real tree nuts coated in chocolate. The commodore preferred to rely on people who liked the finer things in life when they could get them. It made crew loyalty a much more stable factor.

He noted that Mr. Sharp was studying both of the motivational posters on the wall again. He shelved the charts and got himself a drink before joining the older man. "Ah, you like me posters, do ye?"

Mr. Sharp shrugged. "Well, they're interesting. Not quite what I expected for decor here."

The commodore nodded. "This one was a gift from my 2nd year teacher when I was just a boy, since I always admired it so." He gestured at the poster showing several men arranged to make one giant figure, one man for each leg and arm, three for the torso with the middle man of the three also being the figure's head. "None of us is as strong as all of us." He read aloud. "Words to live by right there, Mr. Sharp. Words to live by. You can lay to that, sir."

Mr Sharp nodded and pointed to the second poster. "I don't think I get this one."

Commodore Carver nodded and chuckled. "Well, let's mayhap come back to that one in a bit. It may have some bearing in the course of our meeting. But for now, sit thee doon and make yourself comfortable, mister. We have at least one matter of some importance to discuss."

Mr. Sharp sat down in the comfortable chair opposite the commodore's at the desk. He took a sip of his drink and a few puffs from the cigar, obviously a bit nervous.

The commodore took a token sip of his own drink and picked up his vapour hose from the holder on the desk. Adjusting the dial up to medium nicotine content, he took a long drag and exhaled it slowly. The vapour disappeared in a matter of seconds, unlike the smoke from the cigar. The commodore had no objections to smoking, but reserved it for very special occasions, making do most of the time with the nicotine laced water vapour that was allowed on shipboard, even though the air scrubbers here in the safehold were more than adequate to allow for actual smoking.
"It's been nigh unto eleven years that you and your daughter have been with us here, am I right Mr Sharp?"

Sharp nodded. "It will be twelve years this year, commodore."

The commodore considered his words carefully as he studied his drink. "I feel I have always tried to do right by both of ye, and I hope that you are in accord with me on that point? Well, as much as can be, all things considered."

"Considering that this is a pirate safehold in an anarchy system and we are your captives, commodore.. I would still say that we have always been well treated." Mr Sharp continued, "I would say comfortable, even. Far better than I expected at first."

Carver affected a stricken look. "Mr. Sharp.. 'Captive' is such a harsh word to be usin' now. I have always thought of you and your daughter as our guests." The commodore took another puff before adding "Albeit, maybe not willing guests in a standard sort of way. But ye've hardly been kept in chains, sir. You've both had the run of the place in exchange for your good behaviour, and have been provided for in comfort as fair exchange for your participation in our work here. Or at least that's how I be seein' it."

Mr. Sharp simply nodded, beginning to wonder what was up.

"There's a problem with your daughter, Mr. Sharp." the commodore said bluntly, having noted the older man beginning to look either impatient or uncomfortable.

Sharp sighed. "What has Felicity done now, commodore?"

The commodore raised both hands as if to fend off a wave of parental exasperation. "Now, now, Mr. Sharp. It's not as if she'd been particularly misbehavin' or any such. But it's been almost twelve years, and she's not a little girl anymore. She's eighteen, which is above and beyond legal age in this system, and in all but one neighboring system."

Mr. Sharp's eyes narrowed and his lips drew tight as he responded "And what of it?"

"Well" the commodore said, spreading his hands as if that would lay the whole matter out, "you know that she has done well aboard my ship as a crew member for the past couple of years. She's a good engineer. Takes after you in that regard, if I might say so. But also she's a good gunner and is shaping up to be one of our best pilots."

Sharp began to interrupt, but the commodore held up his hand..

"Bear with me and hear me out, Mr. Sharp. And then we'll discuss how to handle matters man to man. But hear me out first."

Mr Sharp nodded, though his reluctance was obvious.

"Miss Felicity has.. 'Filled out', shall we say. And that being so, and also accounting that she has respectable skills, it is natural that the male crewmembers have been.. Shall we say, noticing?" The commodore continued, "It is no help at all that she kids around with them and has gone out drinking with them a time or two, and it is not being a benefit to discipline onboard my own ship, Mr. Sharp."

Mr. Sharp interrupted, his voice cold and formal, "Commodore. Twelve years ago, you promised to drop us off on the world of our choice within this region when Felicity reached legal age. You gave me your word on that, and I demand that you honour your word now."

The commodore held up a hand. "My word is my bond, sir, and if that is what you want after you hear me out, then I will hold to it, you can lay to that!"

The commodore tossed down the rest of his drink and took another pull on his vapour hose. "But consider this.. Your daughter grew up here in the Anarchies. She might have been a little girl of the Corporate Worlds all those years ago, but she has grown up to be a young lady of the Anarchies. Strong. Capable. Proud. She might not want to go back to a 'nice' life in the Corporate worlds."

The commodore set down his glass and put both hands on the desk, leaning closer. "Mr Sharp. You and I are both men. What's more, we're men with some experience of the world. I think we both know what it is your daughter needs."

Sharp growled, looking at the commodore with a scowl as he puffed on the cigar furiously.

"What that girl needs.." the commodore said with a sigh, "Is a ship of her own."

The commodore kept a straight face while letting himself enjoy the sight of Sharp choking on smoke and going into a coughing fit as he fumbled around picking the cigar up off the floor where he'd dropped it.

The commodore laughed, "Throw that one away and let's get another, matey. And another drink to go with it. The look on your face was worth celebrating a bit. Gile's blood, man.. What did you think I was going to say?"

Mr Sharp stuttered, tears still in his eyes as he accepted a fresh cigar and a refill of his drink, "I.. uh.. that is.. I.."

The commodore set down the bottle and facepalmed before breaking down into laughter again. "What.. Did you think I was going to suggest we marry her off to one of the boys?"

Sharp replied in a still strangled voice, "Err... something like that, I suppose.."

The commodore pointed at Sharp, still chortling, "Oh! Or maybe that we'd raffle her off to one of the boys as a doxie? Be serious, matey. She'd cut both our throats if we were to so much as try that. She's earned her respect here, and so her own command in the fleet is the obvious answer to the problem. "

The commodore opened a small case and took out one of the spiced cigarettes he favoured, lighting it and smoking contemplatively for a moment before continuing. "So we are in accord as to the lass needing her own ship, Mr Sharp?"

Sharp nodded and looked a bit uncomfortable. "Well, if any of the hacker kids can access it, I had a bit of money in my bank account back on Reveabe."

The commodore pulled a sour face. "Belay that thought! Good Giles, man. I wasn't suggesting that you buy a ship for her. A ship is a sizable investment. I mean that we provide her with a ship and she can work off what it's worth, and then she'd own it free and clear."

Sharp nodded, thoughtful. "I think we have enough spare parts that I could at least build her something like a Krait within a few months. There are a few items we'd need to get, but I'd have enough to start on it right away."

The commodore snorted derisively. "A Krait? She's a good pilot, Mr Sharp, and I won't hold to risking her neck in less than a good ship." He blew a series of small smoke rings and looked thoughtful for a moment. "I'm thinking more like we can take my second backup ship out of the back docks. The one she took such a shine to when we first brought it in, that old police Viper ship."

Mr Sharp almost dropped his drink. "Your Viper, commodore? That's an awful lot of ship right there!"

The commodore shrugged. "And I haven't flown her in nigh unto three turns either, now have I, Mr Sharp? It makes no sense to have a good ship collecting dust when we have a good pilot in need of a ship, now does it? Besides, when she was a young'un she was always trying to sneak aboard that one to sit in the cockpit and play pilot." He chuckled. "I think she even had a name for it, though I can't recall it now.. Cimmeree? Something like that?"

"Chimera or something, I think", Mr Sharp replied. "But Commodore, that ship.."

"I know, I know, Mr Sharp." Carver waved a hand dismissively. "It's several years old and would need some updating. So what might we be needin' to iron her ass out to the max? Start with the engines. What is the fastest powerplant we can outfit that old girl with? This is for your daughter we're talking, so sparing no expense, what would be the ultimate choice for speed and handling?"

Mr Sharp shook his head. "I'm not even sure, commodore. I never looked at the ship with an eye to tricking it out like that. Usually a Viper is already considered a fast and powerful ship that can mount some serious weaponry.."

"Exactly so, Mr Sharp, exactly to my way of thinking. We want to rev it up so it can outrun anything in space, because this is your daughter we're talking about here. If she has to run, I want her to be able to run, and if she were to have to fight, I want that ship to have some serious bite to it. Exactly right!" He paused, noting with satisfaction the growing gleam in Mr, Sharp's eyes as he was considering the possibilities. "You are just the man for the job, I can feel it in me bones, Mr Sharp. Now what could be done to that old Viper to make it faster and hotter than anything in the spacelanes? What tricks might we pull that Galcop never would even have dreamed of?"

"Well", Sharp grinned as he warmed to the topic, "what some of the chop shops are doing with racers is to cut out part of the steel of the frame and replace it with duranium rods to take down the weight. We also might be able to rework the superstructure a bit to accommodate a bigger reactor and maybe even bigger engines than anyone has done before. We could cut back the hull in some areas to mount some of the newer fin arrays they use on warships for faster cooling. It would drastically change the energy profiles, but she sure would be a surprise to any stock patrol ship in the spacelanes."

"Ah, now you're talking good sense, Mr Sharp!" The commodore beamed. "We can make it the best ship in space for Miss Felicity to pilot." His face darkened for a moment. "But I see a problem."

Sharp raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean, commodore? I'm sure it can be done. We have the facilities right here."

"Cost, Mr Sharp." Carver shook his head. "If we mod the Viper out like that, the costs will be so high she'd be longer payin' it off than I think is healthy for a young girl with a new ship." He paused for a moment before continuing. "I wouldn't like to see her in debt longer than at most one turn over this."

Both men were silent for a moment before the commodore spoke again. "Well, damn the cost, Mr Sharp! As you tally up the pricess for what you need to make the upgrades, bring them to me and I'll authorize them out of my personal account. Call it a gift. We will only let her pay as much as the ship would have been worth at base cost."

Mr Sharp was stunned. "Are you sure, commodore? This will end up running probably as much as the ship is worth!"

"Aye. Sure'n I'm sure, Mr Sharp." The commodore refilled both their drinks as he continued. "Your Felicity did most of her growin' up right here in the safehold, mate. She's a brilliant girl, and I've never seen a finer young pilot. She loves to fly? Then we should kit her out with the best ship we can, and make no bones over a bit of cost."

The commodore took another cigar out of the humidor and handed it to Sharp, then lit another cigarette before continuing. "You see that poster there, Mr Sharp? The one such as you didn't quite ken the meaning of earlier?" He gestured at the poster as he spoke, a simple white poster with a picture of a crown in a red circle with a diagonal slash across it.

Mr Sharp nodded. "I still can't say as I get it, commodore."

"What is means, Mr Sharp, is 'No Kings'." Commodore Carver paused before continuing. "These are the Anarchies we live in, mister. This is the Lasoce system, right deep in the heart of the Citadels of Chaos. And the essence of anarchy is that it has no kings. Fact of the matter is that is what the word 'anarchy' literally means. No rulers. It doesn't mean we don't have our rules or leaders, mind you. But any man who leads in the anarchies leads because he sets an example that others will willingly follow."

Mr Sharp nodded, obviously struggling to see how this philosophical point bore on their current discussion.

"It also means that if we want life to be good or fair to ourselves and our families, we have to make it so." Carver continued. "Whether that takes fighting or spending some money or whatever else it may be.. We do it, and we let nobody nor nothing stand in our way!" He calmed himself for a moment before continuing. "As I was sayin'. we have to make life good or fair if that is how we're wanting it. No king or president is going to come and do it for us with just his 'make it so'."

The commodore took another sip of his drink and then continued. "Now, Felicity is your daughter. But onboard my ship, I am her captain. Even after she owns her own ship, I will still be her commodore. Understand something, Mr Sharp. I may not be able to be as proud of her as her own father, no sir. But I am proud of her and I watched her grow up from but a wee thing. If she was to get hurt because I was playin' skinflint and didn't deck her ship as well as possible, well who would be to blame? Me, sir, that's who. I'd never forgive myself if that was to happen because of me bein' too tightfisted when I had the means to do things proper for her, and you can lay to that, Mr Sharp."

Sharp nodded, stunned for a moment. Finally he found his voice. "Still, it's going to be an awful lot of ship for a young girl, commodore."

The commodore nodded, conceding that point. "Aye, I can see yer point on that, Mr Sharp. It surely will be." He paused, thinking for a moment. "It will take a bit of time to get the parts, though. She could fly it stock in the meantime and get used to it a bit."

Mr Sharp nodded, obviously relieved. "I think that would be an excellent idea, commodore."

Carver, getting into the spirit of the idea. "I think I can maybe even do one better, Mr Sharp. Now, a Viper can be crewed by either one or two. While we know Felicity is not going to want to share the ship with anyone, I'll tell ye what I can do. We don't have any pressing business scheduled for the next couple of months, so while you get the parts together, I can co-pilot for her. I'll keep her to safer routes and easy money trips for the next few weeks. Sort of back her up as she eases into getting to know the ship. Keep her out of trouble, like. What say ye to that, eh?"

Mr Sharp nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, thank you commodore! You have no idea how much that eases my mind."

The commodore nodded. "An honour, Mr Sharp, and it'll be my pleasure. So if we have an accord that this is a deal that you can advise your daughter is a fair one, shall we call in Felicity and shake on the matter? Papers can be drawn up on the morrow, after ye've had a chance to give the ship a quick goin' over to make sure there's no major problems we haven't noticed before."

Mr Sharp nodded, and commodore Carver touched the communication stud on his collar. "Page Miss Felicity Sharp to the commodore's office please. Thank you."

The two men enthusiastically discussed possibilities for the Viper's modification for a few minutes until there was a knock on the door.

"Enter." The commodore said, and Felicity came into the office.

She was a tall young lady, lithe of form, with blonde hair cropped short on the left and left a bit longer on the right, after the fashion of some of the younger pirates in the Bebege system. Her crimson permadyed lips were pierced with a few small gold rings, as was her thin aqualine nose. She wore knee-high heeled boots of black patent leather to match her panties and tight bodice. A dagger was strapped to her left thigh, and she was still wearing a cyberlink covering her left eye. her right eye was a natural bright green with small gold rings piercing her brow.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" She began, but then noticing her father also sitting in the room her tone changed. "Oh frak! What have I done now?"

"Nothing bad, my dear, nothing bad." The commodore chuckled. "Well, leastways not so far as we know yet." He added in an amused tone.

"The commodore and I have just been discussing your future." Mr Sharp said, his speech slightly slurred since another drink had been poured while they had waited for her.

"Oh?" She arched an eyebrow.

The commodore chuckled. "Nothing like that really, dearie. I was just discussing with your father here, who is technically still your legal guardian at least back in the Reveabe system, the possibility of you signing on as a full crew member to work off the purchase of a ship of your own."

She grinned, the bright silver fangs she'd had installed on her birthday last year glinting prettily. "Really?" Then she immediately put on a poker face. "And what ship might we be discussin' here? Whether I'd be interested would depend on the ship, of course. I'm not up for buying just any old piece of junk."

"Your father and I were thinking perhaps ye might find my old Viper acceptable, with a bit of updating and modification to make her faster and meaner." The commodore turned to Mr Sharp. "If ye would be so kind, Mr Sharp, pour a drink for yer daughter here and she can perhaps find a seat."

"Wait.. Let me get this straight.. " Felicity held up a hand. "By your 'old Viper', you mean your backup ship?"

The commodore nodded.

She turned to her father, "I don't know, daddy. Do you think it's a good deal?"

Mr Sharp beamed. "I can assure you, daughter, the commodore and I have been discussing it, and the terms are more than generous. As your father, I can wholeheartedly advise you to take the deal."

Felicity nodded and smiled. "Ok, daddy. If you think it's best." She turned to the commodore and they shook hands.

Commodore Carver beamed. "Ye'll be needin' to think on what ye want to use as a callsign, girl. Pilot of her own ship needs one."

"My call will be 'Fell Kitty'." She replied immediately with no hesitation.

Her father rolled his eyes, but Carver looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. "It suits. Register it before you fly again." Then he took his key ring off his belt and removed a small chip. he tossed it to the older man. "Here you go, Mr Sharp. The key to my private dock where the Shimaree has been kept. You may go and give her a quick inspection at your leisure."

Sharp was on his feet immediately. "I'll get right on it tonight, commodore! Right this second." He headed for the door. "Are you coming, Felicity?"

"I'll be along shortly, daddy, I want to go over a few details with the commodore first." She smiled, watching her father hasten out the door. Then she turned to the commodore, her eyes locked on his for a long second. Suddenly she launched herself at him like a wildcat, nearly knocking him off his feet as she wrapped her arms and legs around him, smothering him with kisses.

"Easy now, lass! Don't go breaking my ribs, I may need them later!" The commodore laughed, his actions betraying belying his words as he returned the tight embrace and paid back her kisses.

"The Shimaree? I get the Shimaree?" She bubbled excitedly. "You dear man! I've dreamed of that ship since I was a little girl!"

The commodore chuckled. "Well, I didn't think you were the sort of girl to be impressed with a trinket or shiny gem. You already have enough of those yourself, from being out looting with me and the crew the past five years."

She looked worried. "You didn't tell daddy about that?"

"No, no.. A girl has a right to a few secrets, now doesn't she?" He reassured her, chuckling.

"Damn straight on that, lover!" She laughed, delighted. Then she looked worried again for a moment. "Daddy doesn't suspect, does he? About us?"

"Oh, I think it's safe to say that he doesn't, hotness." The commodore winked. "In fact, he was all for the idea of my taking a couple weeks to chaperone you, as your copilot as it were."

"How in the seven Hells did you manage that?" She asked, astounded. "But... Mmmmm!" she gloated. "A few weeks with just the two of us alone in space on the ship I always wanted. My ship! And it bein' a two seater with a berth barely big enough to sleep one? Neither of us will walk for a week after we get back!" She laughed and unwrapped herself from the commodore and ran over to the bar, pouring herself a glass of Vicious Juice and lighting a megaweed cigar. "This calls for a celebration!"

The commodore took the drink from her hand and stubbed out the cigar. "Belay that. You don't want those on your breath right now. We need to get down to the dock and see to your father who is going over your Viper."

She pouted. "Are ye sure, commodore?" She preened for a moment, showing off her breasts, barely covered by the shiny black leather.

Carver nodded. "We make sure he's well and into the business of going over your Viper and running tests on her engines and such.. And then you and I can come back to my quarters for some private celebration." He grinned and ran his eyes down the length of her body. "I'm in more than the mood for celebratin' and tyin' on more than a bit of a drunk, myself... As soon as we're sure your father is sure'n busy enough for the night."

She giggled. "You old shark, you."

"Damned straight, girl. And you can lay to that."
Sleep? Who needs sleep? Got game. No need sleep.

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maik
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Post by maik » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:59 am

Nice writing! And a good start introducing characters that I want to hear more about--well done :)

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Post by Cody » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:51 am

Good start, Ganelon… as maik says, characters we want to hear more of, and you’ve got great plot possibilities from there. Just in time for inclusion in Drew’s anthology, as well. A caveat… writing ‘Oofic’ can be highly addictive, and can eat-up months of your life.

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Post by JazHaz » Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Have added this story and Vakume Danserz to the Oolite Stories page of the Wiki.
JazHaz

Gimi wrote:
drew wrote:£4,500 though! :shock: <Faints>
Cheers,
Drew.
Maybe you could start a Kickstarter Campaign to found your £4500 pledge. 8)
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Post by drew » Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:07 pm

I'll see if I can squeeze these two in as well. Great stuff! :)

Cheers,

Drew.
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Post by Ganelon » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:09 pm

Thank you for your kind comments!
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Post by OneoftheLost » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:42 am

:shock:

Those devious piraty-anarchist types!

Very well written! Alot of characterisation(sp?) put forth in such a short little blurb. I feel like I know the three characters very well. Good job, and great writing.

:D

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Post by Ganelon » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:13 pm

Glad you liked it. I'm already working on the next installment.
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Post by ClymAngus » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:49 pm

Good Dialogue! Excellent work! This universe just keeps on getting better and better.

It always brings a grin to my face when someone uses the maps we made.
Woot!

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Post by Ganelon » Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:05 am

Note to readers: If you prefer to read in pdf format so there is a nice font and first line indents on the paragraphs and all that, I have this instalment done as a pdf. Pm me through the board with an email addy, if you want a copy. Ganelon


Image

Carver's Anarchy, part 2. By Ganelon

"Ten minutes to EPOI, Commander." The navigator remained bent low over her panels, studying the instruments intently.

"Aye, Miss Sabot," Commodore Carver confirmed. "And how's the schedule for the estimated point of intercept? When did we last have a visual, shipmate?"

"Visual three minutes ago, Commander." Sabot glanced up briefly. "They entered our sphere of influence at that time, as confirmed by our scout. If they hold steady on course and speed, they should be in the spoke for about ten minutes after we intercept."

"Thankee, Navigator." Carver looked to the elderly spacer at the controls. "Helmsman. Steady as she goes.

Grigor the helmsman nodded, his shoulder length grey hair tied back with a scrap of black silk. "Steady as she goes, Cap'n."

Mr. Sharp fidgeted uneasily. "Commodore, should I perhaps get down to engineering? I just feel like I should be doing something.."

"Ah, Mr Sharp..." Carver turned to regard the older gentleman. "This is your first time on our command deck here, and as such we be hopin' that yer services may not be required." He checked the timepiece on the nearest panel. "But ye're due for your time at the head." Carver raised his voice to be heard over the low thunder of the engines as the Helmsman kept pulsing them in about a six second cycle, so the big ship could keep ahead of the smaller ships dancing behind in her wake. "Time for a trip to the head, if any have need. Sing out Navigator!"

"Eight minutes to EPOI, Commander." Kari Sabot announced in a loud voice without looking up.

"I'm fine, Commodore." Sharp quietly insisted.

"Well, ye're new to the command deck, matey." Carver chuckled. "Every man and woman has a scheduled time to hit the head each hour, and walk for a minute to stretch and rest their eyes and such. It's an order, friend. A simple part of ship's discipline. Ye can just wash yer hands or take the walk if'n ye have no need of the facilities, but go ye must." The Commodore gestured to the gangway with a nod and a smile.

"Sorry, Sir." Sharp muttered in apology as he unbuckled his harness and stood. He made his way to the gangway, walking somewhat stiffly since he was still unaccustomed to the new suit of gee-armour he wore.

As soon as Mr Sharp was out of sight, Fell Kitty slid from her seat at the gunner station and slid up behind Carver, her arms wrapping around him as she whispered near his ear. "Bad enough that we had to come back home after bare two days o' that time in space ye promised me. But did we really have to bring daddy along on mission?"

The Commodore winced as she nipped his ear rather sharply. "Ow! Lay offa me ear, girl. I may be needin' it later." He chuckled. "And this be neither the time nor the place fer this talk. Parts were available, and so yer father put yer ship into drydock for a few days. Doin' his duty, as agreed. Now git yer fanny back over to stations, girl. We've business to attend to."

Kitty sighed and reluctantly disengaged her arms from around the Commodore, pouting at him for a moment before assuming her post. Some members of the command deck crew hid smirks and Carver allowed a slight smile to show through.

Mr. Sharp returned after another moment, losing his balance as the ship surged and partially tumbling into his seat. "This damned gee-armour is too stiff."

Commodore Carver chuckled. "Non-Newtonian fluid pouches in the inner workin's of the joints and main body areas, Mr. Sharp. They stiffen in response to any sudden moves or impact. Ye just need to get used to movin' a wee bit lazy. Ye'll get accustomed to it fast, matey. But it's some o' the best stuff to keep yer insides in, if anything rough happens. Navigator! When away?"

"Two minutes to point of intercept, Commander."

"Buckle back in, Mr. Sharp. We're comin' up on showtime." He looked to the helmsman. "Ready on the helm, Grigor?"

"Aye aye, Cap'n. Steady as she goes and ready on your command." Grigor flipped a set of switches.

Carver settled his hands onto his set of controls, and toggled a switch. The ship gave a very slight shudder as his controls became active and he took over the helm. "Coded tone message to our ships in space. Have all of them drop back out of sight except for... " Carver studied the scanner for a few seconds. "Number five. Five is in a good position. He can pull ahead with us and make sure they see him."

A short series of musical beeps played for a fraction of a second and the messages were sent, then there was a long moment of tense silence, save for the rhythmic thrumming of the engines.

Miss Sabot broke the silence. "Commander, we have scanner. Two ships. Three. Four. Looks like four total. Identifying."

"Aye, Navigator. I have them on scanner. Confirmed.

Kari Sabot continued, "Looks to be an Anaconda, sir. Two Mambas and a Cobra MK III as escort. We'll be in our sphere of influence in four... three... two... one... We're in, commander."

"Communications!" Carver barked. "Open a hail to the Anaconda. Record mode and put it over ship's speakers."

"Going on speaker, Commander. Now."

"Hail unknown Anaconda. You are in Rahooranian space. We are a duly authorized Rahooranian patrol. Identify please, and state your purpose."

There was a pause, then the reply crackled over the speakers. "Rahoo..uh whatever it is.. Never heard of it, buddy. This is the Lasoce system. Be good lads and bugger off, eh?"

Carver smiled as he steered the ship into an almost parallel course with the Anaconda, letting it slowly drift closer as he kept talking. "Attention, Anaconda. Confirmed this is Lasoce system. Rahooran is a country on Lasoce Prime. Your ship and escorts are in Rahooranian space at this time. Repeating. Identify and state your purpose."

Sharp watched, listening to the exchange. He was tense, his fingers digging into the arm of his seat.

Carver turned to Sharp and grinned as he pressed a button to mute the microphone. "I'll bet ye a glass that this lot won't be easy about this, shipmate." He chuckled.

"And repeat to you, in the ugly ship. We know of no... Rahooray, or whatever it is, and we have no business there. We are enroute to the Galcop station at Lasoce Prime. Now back off, or we'll hull that... junkyard you call a ship."

Carver enabled the mic again. "Actually, she's a prototype Griff Industries Boa. But that makes no never mind. This is the good ship Lady of Fortune, a duly appointed vessel of the navy o' Rahooran. By the authority granted to us from Her Honour the Din-soo of Rahooran herself, we hereby formally order you to stand down your engines and deliver yourselves and your ship up for a records check and a cargo inspection. Failure to comply may result in consequences legal and otherwise." He switched off the mic again, checking the scanner. Lady of Fortune was slowly edging closer to the Anaconda, and Carver switched the main viewer to her portside cameras to watch the ship as it gradually grew larger on the screen, it's escort still holding tight in formation.

"Order refused! Now get your garbage scow freighter and that pathetic MKII Cobby off our scanners or we'll blow you right out of the sky. We give no quarter to pirates, scumball!"

"Communications, open a verbal channel to squadron ship number five. No scrambler, standard ship to ship frequency." Carver nodded to Fell Kitty. "Weapons ready to go hot, gunner?"

"Ready by your command, Sir!" Kitty grinned and checked over her control panel.

"Frequency open to number five, Commander." The brown and white long-haired feline communications officer added, "The Anaconda hasn't sent a mayday yet, sir."

Carver nodded. "Mr Jeeb." He addressed the pilot of number five by name. "Fire a warning shot across the bow of that Anaconda."

As they watched the angry beam of red light sizzle harmlessly over the Anaconda's bow, Carver took a long drag off his vapour tube, letting it out slowly before setting it down and hitting the mic enable switch again. "Well now... If it's pirates that ye lot prefer t' be dealin' with, sure'n we can oblige." He grinned and lowered his voice into a coarse growl as he brought up the mic gain dial to make sure he'd be heard loud and clear. "Stand and deliver, or ye'll be meetin' Lord Giles a whole lot sooner than ye may have been expectin'!"

"Commander! The Cobra has missile lock on us and the Mambas are coming around." Sabot's voice was cool and precise. "Neither the Anaconda nor the Cobra are changing course. They'll be in the spoke for another six minutes at present course and speed."

"Communications, tone coded message to the rest of the squadron. Weapons hot, injectors hot, intercept and engage. Peel off their fighters and leave the Anaconda to us. Send!" Carver hit the injectors and turned the big ship towards a spot just behind the Anaconda. Scanners erupted with activity as a rolling mass of a dozen smaller fighters sped in from the blackness of space. They shot past the Lady of Fortune, injectoring hard towards their targets, assorted colours of laser lancing out.

Fell Kitty sang out. "Anaconda and Cobra are firing missiles!"

"Signal all our ships to ECM every time they score a hit with lasers. Grigor, ECM from us every ten seconds." Carver sped a bit past the Anaconda, then turned and pulled in behind her. The whole deck of the Lady of Fortune throbbed as the injectored engines roared, and then Carver cut injectors, matching the Anaconda's speed, just a little behind and below the more massive cargo ship.

Carver checked the screen, then reached over and nudged Mr Sharp gently on the shoulder. Sharp had been watching the main screen, transfixed, silent and tense. "We have a moment, shipmate. Any questions?"

Sharp swallowed hard. "Uh... Yes. Yes sir." He swallowed hard. "Won't all that ECM disable our own missiles as well?"

Carver laughed... "Ah, that's what I like about ye, sir. Ye be a thinkin' man, and I see yer mind is as sharp as yer name, even in the heat of battle." Carver continued, even as he turned his attention back to the scanner. "Don't ye fret on that, shipmate. This sorry little lot of mollyfrakkers ain't worth spendin' good missiles on. Hang on tight, shipmate. We'll be done in a nonce."

Suddenly there was a shriek and a vibration shuddered through the deck as a laser scored a hit on the Lady of Fortune. "It's that Cobby from her escort, Giles damn his eyes! Communications! Signal all free ships onto that Cobra. Stat!"

As the rapid sequence of musical tones played, sending out the coded order, Kitty spoke up. "Mambas are all neutralized, Commodore! All ships coming to bear on the Cobra."

Carver took a hit from his vapour tube and a sip from his caffeine tube and then nodded grimly at the Anaconda almost totally filling the main screen. "Alright, ye sarky bastages." He growled, "Time to dance!" Smiling grimly as his hands flew over the controls.

There was a sudden flash from off screen, and Sabot announced, "Cobra is neutralized, Commander."

"Communications!" Carver barked. "Order all ships to retreat to a safe distance immediately. Send!"

Carver turned his head, cracking his neck, and then pressed the button on his console for the ship's intercom. "Attention all hands... This is your captain speaking." His tone was suddenly calm and congenial. "We apologise for any inconvenience, but we are about to experience a wee bit of... turbulence, shall we say. Hang on tight if ye please, and of course we thank you for flying Anarchy Spacelines." He chuckled as he switched off the intercom.

"Communications, announce maneuvers on my mark. Gunner station ready?" He glanced towards Fell Kitty.

"Hot! Ready on your command, sir!" Kitty replied, her hands waiting on the assorted switches as she peered intently at her screens.

"Right then. Maneuever on my mark. Zaria Pinwheel, larboard e' starboard! All hands ready?"

Each person on the bridge replied "Ready.", and since most of them knew what was coming, they grabbed hold of their seat or a strap or anything handy. Grigor added in a quiet moan, "Oh, I hate this one.."

Mr Sharp decided to follow the example set by the others and gripped the arms of his seat tightly.

"Weapons fire on my command. And it's three... two... one... Mark!" He hit the injectors for a few moments as he pulled the ship, sliding in just over the Anaconda's top deck at close range.

"Fire!" He barked as he took the Lady of Fortune into a hard clockwise roll over the larger ship as he held her steady and at close range.

Sharp wasn't sure who was switching the main viewscreen to keep the Anaconda in view as the Lady of Fortune spun on her axis, but his jaw dropped as he saw the effect of the maneuver. Mounted on the top and keel sides of the Lady of Fortune as well as her port and starboard sides were plasma turrets. Slow firing and only really capable of causing much damage at close range, such weapons were usually used mostly to deal defensively with incoming missiles by the few ships equipped with turrets. But at near point-blank range, and with the ship rotating so that all four of the turrets got to fire in the time it usually takes for a single turret to fire and recharge, the effect was devastating.

Blood red plasma balls in a constant close range barrage literally bathed the top of the Anaconda in a bright lurid glow, and within seconds he could see her hull plates starting to buckle.

"Cease fire!" Carver shouted, as the lady of Fortune dropped back behind the wounded Anaconda, still being careful to avoid the bigger ship's rear lasers, if she actually had them.

"Please don't kill us! Let us escape!" came the message from the Anaconda over the ship speakers. In the background, one could hear alarm klaxons and hectic noise and chatter.

Carver chuckled and took his hands off the controls, letting the Lady of Fortune cruise along behind and just under the Anaconda, which was already leaking plasma. He took time for a leisurely puff off his vapour tube and blew a few rings before responding. "Well..." He began. "Seein' as how ye'r in a bit of a fix and I be a far more reasonable man than you yourself was a few minutes ago... If'n ye stand down yer throttle to zero, we'll allow ye the use of escape pods. Pods will not be fired upon, ye can lay to that." He paused for a moment and then continued. "If'n ye lack sufficient escape pods, let us know and we will attempt to rescue. So long as your people are unarmed and in clear sight when we board, they will not be fired upon. You have my word on it."

"We have enough escape pods. Confirming agreement. We are throttling down... now."

Carver adjusted speed to stay in position as the sputtering engines of the Anaconda went dark. Less than a minute after the message, the tiny bright lights of several escape pods slid out and away from the now dark hulk of the Anaconda.

Carver turned to Sharp and grinned. "And that be that, shipmate. All over. You can unbuckle and head down to the lounge if ye'd be so kind. I'll be along in a moment and we can talk, as I'm sure ye have a dozen questions." He raised his voice enough to be heard. "A good job! Commendations to all hands. Call in our rescue and salvage teams, and we'll stand guard here over operations. I want every pod scooped, and a preliminary damage and casualty report on my pad within 5 minutes." He turned to the navigator. "How's our sphere, Miss Sabot?"

She checked a readout and punched a few numbers into her pad. "Safe, Commander. We still have forty seconds before the spoke passes."

"Excellent, Miss Sabot. I'll be in the lounge if I'm needed. Grigor, you have the con. Shall we go, Mr. Sharp? Nothing intoxicating or flammable until we get back to port are allowed, but I could do with a cup of real coffee right now." He started for the gangway.

Sharp nodded a bit numbly and followed.

The lounge of the Lady of Fortune was fairly spartan, just a few dispensers and some comfortable slings one could clip into. The two men got their coffees in insulated vacuum pouches and settled into slings near the large viewscreen where the early stages of the salvage operation were already underway. It would be hours yet before the Hognoses would arrive to tow the Anaconda and the larger bits of debris back to the cove, but the fleet's Cobra Clipper SAR was just finishing up scooping the last of the escape pods and the Anaconda's cargo was already being transferred to other ships.

"So, shipmate," Carver began, "Now ye've seen a patrol mission and encounter, I'd lay that you have some ques..." He broke off as his tablet chimed. Taking out the tablet, he whistled low. "Well, now. Quite the load in that cargo hold, indeed. And some of it be in high demand to certain friends of ours." He skimmed his thumb down across the small screen, scrolling through the reports. "Mr. Sharp. Would ye be so kind as to have a look at the status report on the Anaconda? One of our ensigns thinks they may be able to power her up and we could limp her on back to the cove under her own power." He handed the small tablet to the older man.

Sharp looked through the data briefly before handing the tablet back, nodding. "Only the one plasma coupling looks to be severely damaged. If they keep that shut down and don't fire the engines up to more than maybe 25%, they could get her underway and probably make it back to the cove. Damage to hull plates looks worse than it is, and she needs some work before she's really spaceworthy again, but the engines look like they're in good enough shape to make it back to the cove, if they watch them closely for any signs of hidden damage that a preliminary inspection might have missed."

Carver nodded, tapping in instructions for a few seconds before putting the tablet away. "Sorry for the interruption, but we're out of our sphere, Mr. Sharp. The quicker our 'perfectly legal rescue and salvage' operation is done and out of here, the better."

Sharp nodded. "I really don't understand any of that. I heard you and the others talking about spokes and spheres and I don't know anything about that."

"Well, Mr. Sharp," Carver unclipped and went over to a set of cabinets near the beverage dispensers. He returned with a couple of recyclable prepackaged vapour tubes, handing one to the older man as he opened the other for himself. "It's a matter of legal points, it is. I can explain the very basics, if'n ye like. But Miss Sabot, our navigator, she'd be the one to really ask about it." He took a couple drags of vapour and another sip of coffee before continuing. "Or the hacker boys and girls, now they really know the fine points of the maths and laws and such. But basically it is a matter of what may be called jurisdiction. One of the nice sounding things Galcop does is to guarantee each country of a world like Lasoce Prime their very own bit of space."

The Commodore held up his coffee pouch and pointed to a spot on it to illustrate the point. "Now, if ye can allow that this here spot is a small country... Why, that country's chunk o' space would be what's right overhead. Since worlds like this one haven't any globally agreed laws regarding space, it's easiest to just extend the idea of their airspace out into actual space. All the way to the orbit of the system's outermost planet, even. It sounds good and fair enough, and they'll usually agree to that readily."

Sharp nodded, taking a sip of coffee and a cautious puff off his vapour tube. He grimaced at the taste.

Carver chuckled and continued. "All those territories extend out into space like the spokes of a great huge wheel." He shrugged. "Well, except fer the fact that it's three dimensional and more of a globe, o' course. But anyway, Galcop guarantees them their very own piece o' space, each and every little country on a world like this. It's a way of getting them to be more agreeable to allowing a Galcop station in their orbit, y'see."

Sharp nodded. "I get the idea. But what can they do with that space?"

Carver nodded, chuckling. "Ah, ye're a quick one, mate. That you are, indeed. Since most of those countries have no actual spacer capability and certainly no space navy of their own... Well, it's a nice sounding thing that costs Galcop nothing to give and almost never is any inconvenience, y'see." He nodded, sipping coffee. "A cheap and impressive sounding concession to appease the local planetary governments, but that actually costs Galcop nothing at all."

The Commodore continued, after checking his tablet screen briefly. "However, once in a great while, one of those little planetary governments will make an agreement with some independent contractors. That's where we come in, y'see. A private force agrees to act as a sort of space navy to protect the interests of one or more o' the planetary governments in exchange for... " He paused thoughtfully for a few seconds. "Certain concessions on both sides. A mutually agreeable contract o' sorts. Then that there government, they issue a formal statement that goes on record, that the private force are acting to protect and forward the country's interests in space. The term for such a force is privateers. That's what we be, mate. Privateers."

Sharp frowned and shook his head. "I don't see how that could possibly work on any practical scale. Planets rotate on their axis, so this useless 'territory' each country gets in space would be constantly changing."

Carver beamed and punched the older man lightly on the shoulder. "Right ye are, matey! Exactly so! Ah, but you're a bright one, and don't let any man say otherwise! Now, y'see... mostly that constantly changing territory is sweeping through useless chunks of empty space. But in our case, once every Lasocian day, it happens to sweep right near the main spacelane between the witchspace beacon and the Galcop station. And that is when we have what we call our sphere of influence. That's the time when we can act as the navy of the country Rahooran of Lasoce Prime."

Sharp looked incredulous. "So you're trying to tell me that we are actually legal? 'Privateers', rather than a band of pirates?"

The Commodore looked thoughtful for a moment and and then shrugged. "Well... In a manner of speakin', matey. Ye have to bear in mind that Rahooran is a very small country. She has only a bit less than half a percent of the planet's total populace, and is one of the very poorest countries there are on that world. So if we make a planetfall in her borders, why we're her royal navy droppin' in fer a visit. But if we was to land most anywhere else on Lasoce.." Carver leaned close and grinned and growled in a low voice. "We'd be nothin' but a scurvy lot o' filthy pirates... And ye can lay to that, mate."

The door slid open and Fell Kitty strode into the room. She handed a coded tablet to Carver and plucked the vapour tube from his hand as he keyed in a security code. She took a couple of long drags off the black tube before he could recapture it. "Giles, but I could do with a proper smoke. How long afore we be haulin' our iron out of here, Cap'n?" She nodded to Sharp. "Hi Daddy. What did you think of yer first taste of combat?"

Carver snorted. "Hardly worth callin' that a combat, girl. Those poor green boys barely knew their afts from holes in the ground."

"It was over almost as soon as it started." Sharp agreed. "But it was something to see, certainly. I had no idea our fighters were that good."

"Don't be too impressed so soon, mate." Carver warned. "This is an easy one, so far. Most are more than a might more difficult." He handed the tablet back to Kitty. "We'll be haulin iron outta here by the top of the hour, girl. Now be a dear and run along and be gettin' escorts and such set up for the trip home. I need to have some words with yer father, here. But pass word that I said we're all lookin' at fat shares this time. Advances have already been posted."

"Aye aye, Cap'n." Kitty grinned and strode from the room.

Sharp's tablet beeped and he took it out, frowning and tapping in the presses to check his massages. "Six hundred credits have been deposited in my account? Why?"

Carver chuckled. "You were crew today, mate. Crew always gets paid. That's an advance, though. Precise numbers won't be posted till a wee bit later today after a better inventory is done. But I know fer a fact that it'll be summat over six hundred a share for crew on combat vessels."

"But I didn't do anything!" Sharp protested.

"Not true, mate. Ye consulted on the engines of that Anaconda and you were aboard the flagship as crew during battle. In an emergency, ye would've done some duty, I'm sure. No arguments, it's the way we do such things. Take yer share and don't shout about it." Carver scrolled through his own tablet. "Now I further want ye to take a gander at this, if'n ye'd be so kind." He handed the tablet to the older man.

Sharp studied the tablet silently for a few minutes before looking up. "It appears to be a combination of a large scale ship repair and building dock with an engineering lab." He handed the tablet back to Carver. "I'd need to put it on a bigger screen to make much sense of the diagrams."

"Right ye are, mate. And smart as paint besides, as usual!" Carver chuckled. "That be the original plans of a chop-shop in G-4. Some say the best chop-shop in all eight galaxies. I aim to have something belike, within the next few years."

Sharp nodded. "Well, that's a risky business, but I'm sure you know the demand and market better than I. Would I be working there under the chief engineer?"

Carver pulled a sour face. "Fer a smart man, ye can be daft some days, mate! I'd like you to consider taking the post as senior engineer." Carver held up a hand as if to ward off protests. "No answer right now, mate. There's more to discuss, and we'll be havin' a talk tonight on that and a few other matters. But I wanted ye to know what was at stake for you personally and for you to have money in yer pocket before we speak further on it." Carver unclipped from the sling and set his feet to the deck, the heels of his magboots glowing as they activated. "Right now, we have business to attend to."

As he made his way to the door, he paused and glanced back to Mr. Sharp, who was still unclipping. "Now if ye insist on feeling useful this trip, matey... Drop by engineering and get a look at the place. Check the damage reports and do as ye see fit for the good of our ship. Get the feel of the place, so to speak." Carver smiled to himself. "Oh, and mate? Since I get the feeling that you maybe doubt me as to some matters, we'll be takin' ye along when we make planetfall at Rahooran in a couple o' days. I think it's past time fer ye t' be hob-nobbin' with some dignitaries. We'll need you kitted out with a decent dress uniform."

Carver chuckled and strode through the doorway, leaving Sharp standing alone in the lounge and looking somewhat stunned.
Sleep? Who needs sleep? Got game. No need sleep.

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Post by Cody » Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:43 pm

A good plot brewing there, Ganelon… I like your idea of how an anarchy system might operate… clever.
Ganelon wrote:If you prefer to read in pdf format so there is a nice font and first line indents on the paragraphs and all that, I have this instalment done as a pdf.
I'll pass on that... I hate indents.

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Post by Ganelon » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:13 pm

Well, the world is kind of divided on the matter of indents. They're sort of a holdover from printed books, but a lot of us have gotten more used to reading without them due to places like this. I figure it's nice to offer the option. Part one is also available in pdf format now.

Thank you, El Viejo. I've felt for a while that pirates and anarchy systems tend to be a bit lacking in dimension so far as the fiction goes. In most discussions on the forum, pirates are basically targets and anarchy systems are rough places one can run through to find bunches of them. So I've been giving some thought to what the circumstances of life might be like for people who live in anarchy systems and why people/characters would end up being pirates.

I even started a new game in a fresh copy of Oolite with different OXPs and such to play as Carver. My usual Oolite identity, Ganelon, is more of a "mostly clean" legal rating sort of character.

That's why it's taking a while to get sections written. The hours of playing as a pirate, which are uh.. purely for research purposes, of course. Yeah. That's it. :twisted:
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Post by Cody » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:30 pm

Ganelon wrote:I even started a new game in a fresh copy of Oolite with different OXPs and such to play as Carver. My usual Oolite identity, Ganelon, is more of a "mostly clean" legal rating sort of character.

That's why it's taking a while to get sections written. The hours of playing as a pirate, which are uh.. purely for research purposes, of course. Yeah. That's it.
Yeah, don’t you just love that ‘research’… be warned though, running illegal can be habit-forming.
I’ll be on the look-out for a new member called Carver… ‘zap on sight’ rules of engagement will apply.

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Post by Ganelon » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:59 pm

Well, but.. If you already have 'fugitive' status, then there's no point in not running guns and narcotics at least. The local system patrol cops are going to try and shoot at you anyway...

As Carver might say on the matter:
"Well, now.. If'n they'd really been plannin' on collectin' their pensions, then they'da headed the other way when they saw us comin'. Eh, shipmate?"
I don't know about there being a new member of the forum named Carver, though. Somebody where "Every day is 'Talk like a Pirate Day'" might get tedious fast in discussions. LOL
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Post by Cody » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:05 pm

Ganelon wrote:The local system patrol cops are going to try and shoot at you anyway...
So will every two-bit hunter that thinks they can take you for your bounty and cargo… many have made that mistake with Rolling Thunder, and most end-up as just another digit on my kill count… contrabandistas rule!

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