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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 7:58 pm 
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Hi all, usual disclaimers, this and the following Old Ships are Best story sections are supplied under Creative Commons License Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0 which allows you to copy, distribute, display and perform the work and to make derivative works, under the conditions that you must give original credit to me, Adrie Geuken, and that you may not use this work for any commercial purposes and that you must distribute the resulting work under a license identical to this one if you alter, transform or build upon this work.

I am not sure how long this story is going to be. I started it before and din't really like where it was going to here's take 2. It could be of novelle length or it could grow into a full blown novel, all I know is that it is definitely going to be longer than a short story. There will be deep space dredgers, battles, spies, Thargoids and so on but mostly it will be the story of a 'simple' trader who tries to make ends meet and was caught out at the wrong time in the wrong place, a fact that will change him for the rest of his life.

And now ....

I hope you will enjoy......

Old Ships are Best, part 1 (Take 2)

Gepodyne Twoggler stepped out of the airlock onto the gantry surrounding the berthed ship and walked to the edge, grasping the railing of it before he stopped, paused and taking a deep breath, turned around to face the ship.

He winced and cursed. This was far worse than he had expected. He sighed again and leant backwards against the railing. His eyes glanced along the starboard side of the Python Special ET, counting the gauges that the lasers had left near the nose, some of them still gleaming eerily green, following them further towards aft until they stopped at the deep gashes that marked the start of the starboard engine blister. Gepodyne's eyes narrowed as he looked at the deep holes left by a torpedo as it had slammed itself against the already weakened shield, exploding, ripping away the remnants of the energy barrier and spraying the aft section of the ship with hot debris .

Gepo sniffed and could still smell the acrid smell of Qurium from the cut through fuel lines to the engine after which the fuel had seeped out through the holes in the surface, stripping the paint off the outside.

"S'Bad"

Gepo looked down at the figure hobbling out of the airlock. He sighed then looked back at the ship. "I know." he said to the blue skinned dwarf. "I can see. How bad?"

Morgas, the dwarven engineer, looked at the notebook in her hand. "Bad bad. Qurium lining almost all gone, starboard engine is bad, needs new core, needs new facings, needs new controller."

The dwarf looked up at Gepo. "Need new engine. Completely. Outer hull mostly good. Few scratches and holes, but lick of paint will cover. Some small leaks already repaired. Port crew quarters are bad too. Looks like torpedo crashed through hull and went bang inside. "

"We don't really need the port crew quarters, do we? There's only the four of us. Anyway, can you fix it?"

Morgas froze for a second then peered at her notebook again.

"Sure," she mumbled. "Morgas can fix it. But in port section we keep our safe? Sorry, kept our safe. Safe now in orbit somewhere far away. Probably not in orbit either. Or could have been vaporised by explosion. But Morgas doubts that. It was a good safe. Good dwarven build. Could have been made by Morgas if Morgas made safes. But Morgas did ask to place a transponder in safe and skipper said no. Could have been easy to locate and scoop , but ..."

Gepo cursed. "So the Zalatherian Brownie bake recipes are gone, then. Great, that will put us back to square one with our courier rating. It was only sixty seven credits but I thought we were getting really good as a courier. Well, at least we still have the Gold that we have to drop off at our next stop."

Twoggler suddenly fell silent when Morgas squirmed. He narrowed his eyes and looked at Morgas.

"The container that held the Gold is still okay, isn't it?"

Morgas squirmed a bit more.

"Morgas?"

The dawrf winced.

"It's not that the container is damaged. We kept it in a secure spot on Starboard side. So it's not damaged."

Gepo nearly sighed his relief until he realised the dwarf was still squirming.

"But?"

"The container was in the front section of the holds? Under the fuel lines? When fuel lines ruptured, the whole section was awash with fuel and we had to space everything that had fuel on it before we could dock here. So, we, uhhh, spaced it?"

The blood drew away from Gepo's face. He cursed again.

"That is gonne cost us! Seventy thousand credits, gone. And we had to fork out sixty to get the bloody contract in the first place! Is there nothing you can tell me that I would actually WANT to hear?"

Morgas studied Gepo's face for a while.

"Morgas don't do magic, Morgas is afraid. But Morgas can work on ship, make her well again. Beebee is hurting ... lotly. Morgas can make her better again. But will take time. Much time. Three months? Likely four. Need lots of parts. Quirium system need new grounding and new lining and new seal. So station-gits will want to test Morgas' work. So Morgas say, let gits do it. Probably be cheaper too. Morgas not very known in engine market. Them gits are. And them get parts easier than poor Morgas. And Beebee could do with full maintenance round anyway. Yeah, let gits fix it and do maintenance then Morgas will unfix git's work and make it work properly, no?"

Gepo sighed for a fraction of a second then nodded. "Ok, we'll let them deal with it. Can you let the station engineers know?" He stared at the dwarf until they made eye contact. "In a friendly way." he finished.

Morgas sighed. "You's skipper. If skipper say jump, Morgas jump. Morgas not like jumping but Morgas will do what skipper wants."

She peered up at him. "How friendly?" she asked then after a stare from Gepo she sighed again. "Okies, okies, Morgas will be very friendly."

Gepo nodded.

"Thank you," he said as he turned towards the airlock. "Thorrrrrrrmaaah." he yelled.

He had to wait for a half minute before the feline Firster stepped through the airlock onto the gantry. Gepo nodded at him. "Take Milbron with you and arrange some accommodation for us. It's going to be a long stay so don't make it too fancy. And make it cheap. We've lost too much on this bloody run already. Something planet side perhaps, if you can find anything safe and decent. Then have Milbron collect our gear and drop it off at our quarters. Oh, and split up the bounties. What did we bag this time?"

The feline swished his tail, looked at Gepo and nodded. "Forrrrrrrrty thrrrrrrrrrrrree pIrrrrrrrrrrates! I neverrrrr saw so many bogies! One grrrroup, then anotherrrr and anotherrrr and anotherrrr!"

Thormah purred.

"Best fight everrrrr. We only bagged forrrrrty one, two rrrran. Cowarrrrds. But we got about fourrrrrteen hundrrrred in bounties."

Gepo smiled weakly.

"Not bad. So that's .... three forty per share? Ok, transfer the shares to the accounts and add another hundred from me as a bonus. It's been a rough pair of months."

Thorrrmas nodded in thanks then typed a few commands into his command box and passed it over to Gepo so he could place his thumbprint on it. Gepo handed the box back after he did so and walked closer to the ship. He laid his hand on the cool metal of the hull and tapped it.

"You've done well, Beebee. You weren't to blame. We wouldn't have made it out alive if it wasn't for you. Thank you. Old ships are still by far the best."

He sighed and patted the ship's side once again until a slimy voice behind him spoke up. "Excuse me? Are you Commander Twoggler?"

Gepo turned round half frowning and examined the man that had addressed him. The man was at least two heads smaller than Gepo, who wasn't that tall himself. The man wore dark glassses, a dark hat and a long black overcoat. "Galcop official," Gepo thought then nodded.

"Yes," he simply said, wondering what the man wanted.

"Commander Gepodyne Twoggler? Commander of the Python Special ET Buccaneer Basher II, registration code Alpha Yankee Zero Niner Zero Seven?"

"Yes?"

"Good. My name is not important but I represent InterGal. A request has been made by the Galcop representative for Zaragete to inform you that your assistance is required regarding an ongoing investigation and that you are to remain in this system until a representative of the representative for Zaragete has had an opportunity to discuss this with you. Here's the official GalCop summons. You may wish to verify its validity. Have a nice day, Commander."

"What?" Gepo looked down at the GalCop card in his hand then at the man as he walked away.

"Wait!" he yelled. "What's this about? Zaragete? That's galaxy 2. Why would someone from another galaxy want to speak to me here in galaxy 3?"

The InterGal agent stopped for a second.

"I would not know, Commander Twoggler. I would assume that you would know, but that assumption is based purely on speculation on my part. But then again, you do not need to know that either, do you? All you have to do is to remain here and assist the representative with the ongoing investigation. I would assume that is sufficient to know?" The man turned to face Gepo.

"That is, unless you do not wish to assist? That would not be a wise move, Commander. And surely not one that you will want to make. It would make things ..... difficult for you. Very difficult. Good day, Commander."

The dark clad men slipped away before the flabbergasted Gepo could respond.

(Will be continued)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:24 pm 
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A good beginning! I always like impending doom stories...

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:12 pm 
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Thanks Clym! I hope I can keep the interest up. Don't expect Gepo to be a hero, though. I intend him to be like a beach ball that is blown all over the water, never landing anywhere for more than a couple of seconds, to be mercilessly dragged away again. He'll be battered, for sure. Bruised, undoubtedly, and ever getting closer to the point that he will land on a sharp rock, which will put a little hole in his beach ball, deflating it bit by bit, until it will sink into the sea. I just hope he will be close to land when that happens otherwisse this story will turn out to be a tragedy. But at the moment there is still enough buoyancy to keep him afloat and for me to narrate what happens in the life of a trader when the motorways have been replaced by interstellar jump routes.

So without further ado, let's see what kind of winds the guy has to deal with today.

****

Gepo sighed as he lifted the glass in front of him, examining the purple liquid inside until he drained the contents in one gulp. He looked over his shoulder and nodded at the waitress before he turned back to examine the empty glass.

He sighed again and put the glass on the table as he leant back and closed his eyes. Life simply wasn’t going his way. It was bad enough that every day the base-engineers were finding another fault with Beebee that required more repairs and more testing and led to more things going wrong but after three weeks the Galcop inspector from Zaragete had still not shown up and Gepo’s crew was beginning to get restless. Milbron, their gopher, had already been found looking at vacancies on other ships, and Thorrrma was showing ever more signs of anxiety, like a caged animal. The only one who kept behaving normally was Morgas, unfortunately. Every morning Gepo was woken up by another call from the base engineers with one more complaint about the blue dwarf and her persistent interfering with the ship’s repairs. It was good in a sense that the dwarf felt so close to the ship and if things had been different, Gepo would have continued to congratulate himself every day for finding the dwarf in a rundown rock hermit’s base. But it would be nice, even for one day, if Gepo could wake up undisturbed without the need for additional credits to smoothen things over.

Gepo sighed again. Credits. These three weeks were eating faster into his savings than he had expected. He still had enough to pay for the repairs and find a new cargo but he wasn’t sure that that would still be the case in another two weeks. Plus there was the question of the ship herself. Gepo knew that she was aging and Gepo quite often placed her in harm's way because of the need to make a specific run in time or his inability to run away from pirates. If another ship challenged him or tried to coerce him into dropping a few tons of cargo, Gepo would see red until the miscreant had been properly dealt with.

His savings were meant to provide a little extra for when the time came that a new ship had to be obtained and at this rate in another three weeks all he would be able to afford was an Adder with both engines missing.

*THUD*

The sudden clang of a glass being forcefully slammed onto his table broke Gepo’s line of thought. He looked up at the waitress who sneered at him before turning back, causing another sigh from Gepo. That was another problem. People were starting to regard him as a phoney. Sure, at the beginning, just after the battle against the pirates, they all had celebrated them as their staunch defenders against pirates. But after several weeks, especially weeks where Gepo was the only Captain who had not come to the defense of the base when Thargoid war parties had attacked it, some people were starting to wonder if Gepo had actually participated in the previous battle or whether he was just another loud-mouthed conman, who had trashed his own ship just so he would not have to fight. It was easy to believe especially if you would have done the same, given the chance.

“Dredge?”

Gepo looked up.

“Burpo?”. He started smiling at the sight of the rotund trader, who he met for the first time when they were both assigned to a Galactic Navy reservist squadron, Gepo with his Python and Meddelfurt Gangrist with his brand new Boa Class Cruiser. They had survived their first battle together and started drinking together and kept drinking together ever since.

“You still here?” Meddelfurt asked as he forced himself on the bench opposite Gepo, signaling to the waitress for another round of drinks. Gepo just nodded after which the rotund trader frowned.

“After three weeks???” Middelfurt snapped his mouth shut then leant over to Gepo.

“You expecting someone?” he hissed. “There was this Galcop character in the entrance hall and she was asking after you. If you … uhhhh … need to skedaddle I would do it now, rather than later.”

“And go where?” Gepo said with a grunt. “The ship’s still in dock and there’s nowhere where I could be safe unless I give up my life as a trader and I do not want to do that just yet.”

“A wise choice,” a third voice suddenly spoke up as a woman, clad in black, nodded at the two before sitting down next to Gepo. “I’m Inspector General Talsi of the Galcop Investigation Bureau. I believe you were expecting me. Since I have been fully briefed on this case and I did my homework, I was aware of the connection between you and Burgher Gangrist so when I saw him, I asked him if he knew you, expecting him to lead me straight to you. Thank you, Burgher. It saved me some ….. legwork.”

The nod was brief, almost non-existing. The woman opened a bag and took out two cylinders and placed them on the table. Then she took a pad and switched it on before placing it next to the cylinders.

“Just to make sure we all understand each other, this is a simple, routine investigation. No crimes have been committed that I am aware of and nobody is under suspicion. You, Burgher Twoggler, are here simply to assist me with finalising the investigation and once we are done, we can all go our own merry ways. And as this is a simple investigation, you may choose a witness to be present at all times during the proceedings. In fact, I would strongly suggest that you do, to prevent any misunderstandings later on. I assume Burgher Gangrist will be acceptable to you?”

The Inspector General turned away from Gepo before he could nod and stared at Meddelfurt.

“Just so we understand, Burgher Gangrist, your role will be solely as witness, you are not required or even allowed to take an active part in these proceedings. And neither will be ……. Now where did he go?”

The woman looked up and along the row of tables in the bar.

“He was behind me just a moment ago…. That’s all we need, more delays. Oh, there he is.”

She nodded towards a man who had just run into the bar, breathing heavily. The heavily sweating man approached their table and looked down at the benches on both sides of the table, the one that was fully occupied with Meddelfurt and the other where the GIB-officer and Gepo were sitting.

The officer didn’t shift as she briefly nodded at the newcomer.

“This is Burgher … Mitfurst, wasn’t it? Anyway he is here as the representative of His Most Sincere Father Lorgnum, the present ruler of Zaragete. It is on his behest that I am here. Are we ready?”

“It’s Milfirst,” the man hissed as he looked at the table, figuring that there was no place on the bench carrying the heavy trader but when he moved towards the GIB officer she made no attempt to move clearly blocking the man from sitting down himself.

Talsi didn’t seem to have heard him or if she did she made a point of not acknowledging him. She picked up one of the cylinders and turned it round to flick a switch on the bottom of it. A black cloud emerged from it which formed a globe that completely enveloped the four people, creating a separate universe for the inhabitants, ensuring that no sounds or light could enter or leave it.

“Good, now that we have some privacy, the reason for this all is this.” Talsi said as she activated the other cylinder, which formed a holographic picture of a spaceship.

“This is the SS Durocotorum, one of the five Aegidius class spaceships that were built twelve hundred years ago. Burgher Twoggler, I assume that you recognise it? Anyway, this ship was ..... acquired by one of the forefathers of Burgher Lorgnum and has been in the Zaragetan Navy ever since as flagship and personal transport of the Zaragetan ruler. Unfortunately six months ago the Dauff, the person destined to take over the rulership of the planet once the current ruler dies, took the ship out for a …. I believe the correct term was .. a little spin? He was jumped by a squadron of Thargoid warships and the Dauff apparently panicked and activated the escape pod. The problem is that the ship is more than just a ship. It’s a status symbol, a sign that the ancestors approve of the actions of the current holder. And Burgher Lorgnum lost it. But now over to you, Burgher Twoggler.”

Gepo looked at the woman then at the holo-image. He nodded.

“I remember her. She was a beauty. Quite big, as well, about the size of an Anaconda but with a lot more grace and beauty. When I found the abandoned ship, I made several tours around her, not having seen one before. Every curve of the ship was deliberate, almost exquisite in detail. There were no ungainly bumps, just one surface of smooth curves. I would have loved to make her mine but all I had was a salvage droid. I had despatched the Thargoids with the assistance of a Viper Cruiser, who had come to the scene, probably alerted by the calls from the …. Dauff? Strange though, the way the Thargoids behaved. They had already launched their thargons and had them surround the ship but didn’t fire on it. It was more like the thargons formed a shield around it with the warships protecting the shield. Anyway, we were able to take out three of the warships and the Cruiser took care of the other three and then left me with the ship as it returned to the starbase. I scooped up the tharglets and then, according to space law, as the ship was clearly abandoned, I salvaged it. The salvage droid had some trouble accessing the ship’s systems but finally managed to make the correct links. I received a message that the HMS Braben was awaiting the ship. There were some pirates along the route to the space dredger but they didn’t really persist and we received a salvage bonus of about five thousand credits.”

The Zaragete-representative made a sound like he was being throttled but kept quiet after a stare from Tasli. She then nodded to Gepo.

“That ties up nicely with the report I received from the cruiser commander. Only he was quite certain that you took care of four Thargoids and he despatched two. But that is a moot point. Is there anything else that you wish to add? Anything else that you want to share, anything strange?”

Gepo frowned trying to remember the circumstances. “Now that you mention it, there was something strange. The captain of the dredger, a Commander Bell, invited me for a visit. Apparently he was quite pleased with the ship and he wanted to know everything I could tell him about where I found it and what the circumstances were. I assumed that he wanted to make sure that the ship was obtained completely legally. I didn’t get the impression that he wanted to sell the ship on, though, which is what dredgers tend to do with derelicts that they receive. I got the feeling that he wanted to repair her and make her his own.”

The Inspector General looked at Gepo.

“And do you know where the Braben is now? Did this Captain say anything about where he intended to go next?”

Gepo shrugged. “They go wherever they want to go. They would not share that information with anyone outside their clan. Perhaps they might hint something to other dredger captains but they are quite secretive and insular. They trust no-one from the outside.”

“Not even you? I understand you have a history with a dredger? Which is why you are called Dredgerman?”

Gepo looked at the woman then looked away.

“Especially not me. Even on the USS Hood I was nothing more than a slave, just allowed to perform certain tasks for them. I was made aware that my presence on that ship was only tolerated because I was picked up by them as a baby from a wrecked ship. Use me? Sure. If there was an asteroid that needed mining, I would be called upon. If the outside of the ship needed cleaning? I'm the first port of call. But trust me? Hell no. It might have been different if I have decided to stay on the ship, continuing these menial tasks. Then, after thirty or forty years they might give me a second look. Until then, I was nothing to them. But instead of continuing these tasks I decided to leave them and make my own mark on the universe. And for that I am a pariah. Which is why the invitation was so strange. I am sure Bell knew about my background, they all do.”

Talsi pulled a face.

“I see. So much for finalising this investigation then. We knew about the HMS Braben already since you logged it when you returned to the station but as you may have deduced, we are currently having a few difficulties making contact with the HMS Braben. We know she still exists but wherever we look, we get a door slammed in our face. But that is not your problem. Thank you, Burgher Twoggler. We will continue our investigations. Oh, and for your information, since there were only five ships built and the designer died almost immediately afterwards, the estimated current price for one is seventeen and a half million credits, give or take a few million. It would look that you were taken for a ride, Burgher. And quite severely. Five thousand credits? Ridiculous. But that is not my concern. I would suggest to make it yours though. I would impress on the both of you the need to keep whatever you have heard here to keep amongst yourselves. I do not want anybody to waylay my investigation.

Officially, since this is not a criminal case, I do not have the authority to demand your silence, but you would do well to remember that GalCop has means to make life difficult. Like ordering a tax-review for a trader who had gained access to some ….. questionable income from the Dramaga sector, was it not, Burgher Gangrist? Not that I am particularly interested to find out but if I get cross I might be. But again, thank you for your time.” She nodded then turned off the holo-cylinder first before switching off the other and the dark cloud disappeared instantly. She got up from the bench and waited for Gepo to get up, once he got the notion that it was indeed over and he was expected to leave.

He looked almost helplessly at his friend who shook his head with a warning look at Gepo. “Come on,” Dredgerman,” Meddelfurt said as he extracted himself from the bench. “I have a few bottles of Mazargian schnaps on the Rose of Samarkand. Let’s have them like in the old days, eh? Officer Talsi, Burgher Milfurst.”

Gangrist nodded to the two then laid his arm around Gepo and guided the man away, squeezing him a few times, just when Gepo tried to open his mouth. Gepo looked at him, a million questions running through his mind. Finally he decided that a stiff drink and a safe place to talk would be best in these circumstances and he let himself be swept away by his friend.

-To be continued-

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Last edited by DredgerMan on Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:53 pm 
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A good story!

(Nit-picks: you have 'despatched of'; and . . the dwarf changes sex!)


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:01 am 
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Ahhhh! Well spotted, that man!!!

Ok, I amended it. I should really have 'Ur-that-shall-be-obeyed-at-all-times do the proof reading. I read through it several times, picked out some typo's but she is a lot better at finding faults than I am. (secret of a good marriage? :wink:)

Anyway, part three should be arriving soon!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 11:55 am 
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Typos - gotta get 'em all. Thing is, you rarely do - there's always one! Some of them are crafty - they hide 'til you think you've got 'em all and publish, then there they are plain as day, cockin' a snook at you. I've found that printed copy often catches the more elusive typos, but as I say, you rarely, if ever, get 'em all.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:48 pm 
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So true, Cody, so true. :(

We will still try, of course.

But I will gove no guarantees regarding the below. :wink: :D

======

Gepo pressed the buzzer on the wall next to the door and wondered again what had been so important that Meddelfurt had to go to his room on the starbase rather than the Rose. After a few seconds waiting for a reaction he pressed it again.

"Yes?" a grumpy sounding Meddelfurt's voice rang out from the grid under the buzzer.

"Gepo here. You decent? I'm in need of a stiff drink, remember?"

"Ooh, Dredgie! Sorry, didn't expect you so soon. Come on in, I did promiss that drink, didn't I?"

Gepo shook his head and tried the door and was relieved to see it slide open. He stepped through, and nodded at the trader.

"You sorted yourself out?" he asked.

Gangrist nodded. "Yes, sorry about that. I forgot that there was this opportunity of a lifetime that i was going to go after, after I had warned you about her. Oh, that reminds me. Keep still."

The trader walked away to the back room and came back with a box with an aerial on it which he swept across Gepo's body.

"Good, you're clean. Can't trust GalCop, you know. They're sneaky."

"Huh?" Gepo pulled a face. "What? What's that?" He pointed at the aerial box.

"This? Oh, a snooper. I picked it up at a salvage outpost. Totally non GalCop technology so guaranteed to work on GalCop bugs. Can't be too careful nowadays. So, ready for that drink? I don't have the schnapps here but there is some Cexecan Liquor around. Not as nice, I grant you, but still potent enough to burn the paint of your ship. So what are your plans?" he asked as he walked to the backroom.

Gepo missed part of the question as he followed the box in the other trader's hand with his eyes. He had recognised the gadget alright, but he had problem placing it in the trader's posession, knowing that one of those would cost as much as a new Cobra Mk 1. Meddelfurt always had had an aura of wealth around him, always piloting the most expensive ships , eating and drinking the most expensive delicacies but even so. Nobody who would make his money trading would even consider getting one of those. There was no .....

Meddelfurt broke his train of thoughts when he returned with two glasses in his hand of which he handed one to Gepo.

"So?" Burpo asked again. "Plans?"

Twoggler took a sip and grimaced. "I don't know. it all depends on when I get my ship back .... IF I get her ever back."

He sighed.

"Can't make money with sitting around. And I can't trade without a ship. Every thing else is on hold for the moment."

He took another swig.

"Mind you, 5% of 17 million .... what is that, nearly 900.000? Enough to pay this one off and buy two new ones to boot!"

Another sigh.

"But to get to that money I need a ship again."

"You think of going after it? But you don't know where this Captain ... Bell is? And besides, even if you find him, you do not seriously think that all you have to do is turn up, claim the extra cash and he is just going to give it? It IS a a tidy sum, even for me. But could he have that amount just lying about?"

Gepo grinned.

"Just imagine all those vessels that they salvage and resell. Bell has the money alright and plenty more where that came from. And yes. He will just give it. He will have to. It offends the way the dredgers operate and their Dredger Code. "

He smiled.

"One thing I did learn when I worked for them was that their Code is everything to them. But it is all moot at the moment, without a ship."

Burpo cleared his throat.

"Perhaps that's not too bad a thing," he offered. "I understand that the Zaragetan leader must produce his flagship every year to show he still has the support of the ancestors and without that ship? He'll be gone before the year is over. And since Zaragete is a main player in the Dictators Brotherhood, with him gone, they are going to be considerably weakend."

Twoggler grunted.

"Politics, you can't make money when politics are involved. Besides, who needs politicians. We're dealing with GalCop, not planetary hotshots."

"True," Meddelfurt started, "But have you never thought how your actions could improve the lives of millions, no, billions of people? Your actions COULD make life better for billions of people!"

"Better?" Gepo snapped. " I have often been called a fool and I have often done foolish things. But I quite aware of my own restrictions and since I have no idea about what will make the lives of billions better I'll just stick with the actions that make my life better, thank you very much!"

If the sudden outburst of Twoggler had surprised Gangrist, he did not let is show. " As do we all, Gepo. As do we all. I just meant ....."

He fell silent when Gepo's communicator suddenly started beeping. He pulled the small box out of his trouser pocket.

"Gepodyne Twoggler." he spoke into the little grill at the bottom of the device.

< Ahh, Mister Twoggler. Bergerand Follics here, teamleader of the starbase engineering section. We are about to finish off the repairs on your vessel. You should be able to pick her up in 40 minutes time. We will have the complete list of repairs for you to review when you come and pick her up. Truthfully, Sir, your ship has been repaired as best as we can. It should work fine even though a number of side-effects are to be expected. Those effects are a direct result of the structural state of the ship, Sir, which is quite poor. We are most concerned about the structural integrity of the engine bays, Sir, which is something that we can't fix. It would be best to replace your vessel with a newer model, and if I may make a suggestions, this time make sure you buy a Python Eunectes Turbo Spcial from a reputable source, not one that has been butchered in a salvage gang outpost. The workmanship is outright shoddy. However, we were able to determine that the root cause of the currect structural issues were heavily influenced by some poor repair work that was performed on your vessel in the Anisis system. We have already contacted the engineering section there and they have agreed to pay the repair charges which were attributed to their shoddy work for the amount of .... where is it .... ahh, yes, ninety four thousand three hundred and sixty eight credits, which leaves a balance of four thousand and twenty six credits to be paid in full when you come to collect your vessel. I am afraid we can't accept traveller's bonds or cash, only GalCop Bank transfers. I hope that will be acceptable. Oh, Sir? Just as some free advice. Next time please make sure that the repair shop that you bring your vessel to has the correct technology level for your vessel as well as the GalCop Quality Approved Repair Workshop sticker. It may cost you a bit more but it can safe you so much hassle. Anyway, I take it I can expect you shortly to effect the transfer? With the appropriate funds?>

Gepo sighed.

"Of course. I will make the necessary arrangements. See you shortly."

Gepo sighed again

"That was a close one. Ninety eight thousand?" He muttered to himself before raising his hand with the communicator.

"First mate Thormah of the Buccaneer Basher, planetside, please."

It took a while before the communicator beeped and the feline's voice could be heard speaking through it.

<Thorrrrrrrmaaaaaah herrrrrre.>

"Thormah, the skipper here. Good news. The ship is going to be released in an hour's time. I intend to launch in four hours at the most. First port of call will be a PA. Pick up Milbron and Morgas and get the kit back to the ship. I'll meet you there when I have got us some cargo. Oh, and Thormah? Tell Morgas that I gave you permission to gnaw off her hands if she is doing anything to the ship that she hasn't cleared with me first, ok?"

<Rrrrright!>

"OK, see you at the ship. Gepo out!"

Gepo then turned to Meddelfurt.

"Sorry, Burpo. Gotta dash. I spoke to a guy a couple of days ago and he complained that he had a large amount of ZX Spectrooms and BooBooCees that he couldn't shift. I might be able to assist him if he hasn't already thrown them away. I'll catch up with you an hour before we leave, okay?"

"Sure, Dredgie. It's good to see you active again. Do what you're good at, trading. You're not a roving investigator. Oh, and give my regards to Bergotti. He tried to flog those early game computers to me as well. I'd be surprised if he hadn't tried to shift them on every other trader here. But like me, nobody was prepared to even touch them."

Gepo grinned.

"True that they are not the latest in technology but I have shifted plenty of them to some poor aggro's where they didn't have the cash to get anything more recent. And they do give a whole lot of paople something to do in the evenings. It's amazing how many copies of Lairds of Midnight and Oolite I have sold to those worlds on my return to them. Ok, see you later, then!"

Gepo nodded and walked out. His smile disappeared when the door shut behind him.

~Did Burpo just try to stop me again? And why is he carrying a snooper? There is something fishy going on here. But first let's see if we can come to a deal with Bergotti!~

Gepo grinned as he stepped through the corridors of the base.

- to be continued -

_________________
Flying The Sizzlin' Suzie VI, a trusty and venerable Boa Class Cruiser in Oolite 1.84 on

under Windows 6.1.7601 Service Pack 1 64-bit
with a Geforce GT610 videocard


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:10 pm 
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Location: Some buggy planet at the edge of the known universe
Milfirst stared at the retreating couple , pulled a face and looked at the female Inspector. She nodded with her head twoards the empty seat next to her. Milfirst immediately sat down and hissed.

"You were rude to me!"

Talsi shot him a glance then reactivated the black cloud cylinder.

"I am truly sorry," she said with a deadpan expression. "But I am not in the habit of child minding. I do NOT have a mother instinct. Instead I am a well trained Inspector General of the GalCop Investigation Bureau with a near perfect succes rate. And I do NOT take kindly to being required to include others in my investigations."

She interupted herself, waited a second, then continued.

"I would say that was a stroke of luck, don't you think?"

"Luck?"

"Oh yes. To be sent away with only a fraction of the actual value of a vessel? Credits are quite good at motivating people to get their hands on them and the more the better. No, we don't have to lift another finger. Just follow Twoggler who will do his utmost to get the proper amount due to him. Which reminds me....."

Talsi grabbed a communicator stick out of her pocket, drew out the earplug and placed it in her ear then activated the stick

"Inspectpor General Talsi here. You can release the spaceship now. Mister Twoggler is free to leave."

She intently listened to the response which was inaudible to anyone who did not have a correctly aligned earplug until her brows furrowed.

"How much?"

She sighed and looked at her pad.

"No, that is too much. He can just about afford that but it would leave him awfully short. I don't want him to be short, I want him to be unrestricted in his actions. He needs to do a few things for me and I do not want his movements to be restricted. So, unless you want to cause ME some problems, Mister Starbase Engineer with five wives in three cities, I would suggest that you find a reason to reduce his bill a tad. Three, four thousand? Something like that? I know you will find a way. Now then. are my devices in place?"

A small smile played around her lips.

"Excellent. Well, you better get on with it, then, don't you. Talsi out."

Her demeanour changed back to the deadpan expression when she took the plug out. She took a deep breath then turned to the man.

"Now then. What's this I hear about twenty Zaragetian Chimera Gunships suddenly appearing in this galaxy?"

Milfirst shrugged.

"A little flag flying, showing support for the set upon planets of the Brotherhood in this galaxy. Those flights have been logged with GalCop for quite some time, in fact, almost immediately after Zaragete received the first deliveries from the GalTech Industries Corporation. They are a bit pricey, for sure, but we need the additional firepower in the Zaragetian fleet to keep those miscreants at bay. You know the ones I mean. The Link, that group of hotheads who UNOPPOSED are allowed to attack any members of our Brotherhood as so-called freedom fighters. There have been twenty three unprovoked attacks on Brotherhood members in Galaxy three already! And what does GalCop do?! Nothing!"

Talsi shrugged.

"GalCop does all it can do, which is very little at the moment as those fights are not spilling out in GalCop controlled areas. Which was made explicitly clear when the GalCop Directives were agreed with all planet leaders. Do you wish GalCop to take control of all space? That was discussed, you know. Discussed and completely rejected, I might add. GalCop doesn't do politics. It's not allowed to. But we can still observe. And we are busy enough to keep the Thargoid threat away from your Brotherhood as well as any other system in these 8 galaxies. We do try and obtain information that we will gladly share with all systems to better protect their citizens. But we can NOT fight your battles for you."

Milfirst snorted.

"Words! All empty words! But ......"

He fell silent as the hand of Talsi shot up.

"As I said, we don't do politics." she said, "nor do I think that we have the time to discuss the finer points of it here, not now that our person of interest will be about ready to leave. Now if you don't mind, I need to report back. Burgher Milfirst."

The nod was this time a bit more pronounced and she deactivated the cylinder but only long enough for the Zaragetian to get up and leave.

Talsi sighed and picked up the earplug from the stick to place it in her ear again. She thumbed some controls on the stick and waited, suddenly nervously licking her lips.

"Ahhh. Admiral Curruthers? I am Inspector General Talsi."

-to be continued-

_________________
Flying The Sizzlin' Suzie VI, a trusty and venerable Boa Class Cruiser in Oolite 1.84 on

under Windows 6.1.7601 Service Pack 1 64-bit
with a Geforce GT610 videocard


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