Pay Me, Bug! - Chapter 42

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN Our Hero, Having Escaped Certain Calamity, Celebrates His Unexpected Survival

Grif Vindh, captain of the Fool's Errand, was very, very drunk.

They were in Dyorbid's, waiting out the repairs on their ship and celebrating the fact that they had, when all was said and done, not been killed.

By the time they reached Trade Baron space they all had their original faces back--Cutter even had his scars, much to Vod's satisfaction. They were greeted at the edge of the Tylaris system by an Alliance warship carrying none other than Alef Halge. The cargo was transferred quickly, and Velis left without so much as a goodbye, which suited everyone fine. Some of her people nodded briefly as they left, more acknowledgment than Grif had expected, and Bennet actually shook his hand.

"It was interesting serving on your ship," Bennet said. "On the whole. Despite the... ah... awkwardness."

"You'd be a good crewman," Grif replied. "Under normal circumstances. But I trust you won't be offended if I say I hope we never meet again."

Bennet grinned. "No offense taken," he said, and left.

Alef Halge was true to his word. As soon as he'd confirmed receipt of the artifact, he transmitted confirmation that Vindh was the owner of a freshly minted charter to trade within Alliance space.

"I trust," Halge said, "that such a valuable gift will be used properly."

"Of course," Grif said, voice non-committal. "Enjoy your, uh, alien thing."

After that, they took a week floating in deep space to take Ebur Tosk out of stasis and put him back on his meds. Ebur was more than a bit cranky to have missed everything, but he felt much better after taking a proper shower, getting a decent meal, and confirming that he had been paid.

All that was left to do was to repair the ship. Grif chose the Tyrelos system for that, since the Fool's Errand wouldn't be able to land on any planet with an atmosphere until the breach in their hull was repaired. That led to Vindh and his crew sitting in Dyorbid's, getting progressively more inebriated as the hours passed.

Eventually all their bragging and self-congratulation gave way to drunken speculation.

"I wonder what that thing was," Morgan said. "I would've loved to take a closer look at it."

Grif peered at Morgan over his drink. "What, the mysterious piece of alien technology that potentially proves all your views about the origin of life in the universe?"

"Yeah," Morgan said defensively. "That."

"I wouldn't waste too much time thinking about it. Let it go. It's probably sitting in some high-security scientific facility in Alliance space, waiting for the Radiant Throne to steal it back."

"But what is it?" Morgan persisted.

"It's the kind of thing that makes my sister show up," Grif replied.

Morgan thought it over. "Never mind," he said.

The crew laughed.

"I, for one, am happy to be rid of it," Grif said. "It's nice to pull off the impossible, but it's a lot more trouble than it's worth. Entangling alliances, and all that. The less I'm involved with politics the happier I am."

"The further away from your sister I am, the happier I am," Amys added, and there was a general round of agreement to that.

Grif stood and raised his glass. "A toast," he said. "To staying away from my sister."

The crew responded with an enthusiastic "hear, hear!" and everyone drank.

"What about you, Cyrus?" Grif asked. "What are you going to do now? Are you going to buy that ship?"

Everyone fell silent and looked at him.

Cyrus sighed and shook his head. "If it's all the same to you, Grif, I'm going to stay on for a bit."

Grif raised an eyebrow. "Why? Captaining a ship is what you want to do."

"I know," Cyrus said. "But you heard about Tylaris, right? Joining the Alliance?"

The rest of the crew grumbled at that. The official announcement had been broadcast just after they'd arrived at Tyrelos Station.

"Yeah," Grif said. "I heard."

Cyrus shrugged. "Well, the ship I had lined up to buy is on Tylaris, and I won't be going back there to do any business any time soon. The Baronies are going to be a rough place for a while, and anyone who goes into that system will be seen as taking sides. Anyway, a few more years on a ship with a charter to trade in Alliance Space and I'll be able to buy something better. Er… assuming you'll have me."

"Oi!" Grif protested. "Of course I'll have you on this ship. What do I look like, an idiot? You don't turn away one of the best gunners in the Baronies just because he has future plans."

Cyrus grinned. "Well some might."

"Hey Grif," Hari, said, facial spines settling into a pattern of curiosity. "Speaking of money, how exactly are we paying for the repairs?"

"Sorry?" Grif asked.

"Well we got pretty burned up in that fight with Centurion," Hari said. "And it's being fixed as we speak… but they didn't pay you in money, they paid you with a charter. Which is good! Don't get me wrong! But it's long-term good, not short-term good. So how are you paying to get the Fool's Errand fixed?"

"Now that you mention it," Cutter drawled, "that's a good question. Are you payin' for it out of pocket, Skip? Or did Alef give us some money to cover expenses?"

"Well…" Grif looked up at the ceiling. "I may have agreed to a job after the repairs are finished on the grounds that we were given an advance…"

The table fell silent. Grif looked at his crew and grinned.

Cyrus threw back his head and laughed, then reached over and hit Ktk on its carapace. "I told you, bug! It wouldn't be a month before he got us into something else!"

Ktk sighed and said it would pay Cyrus tomorrow morning.

They drank through the night, laughing and telling stories. As the night grew to morning, more and more of the group fell away, until eventually only Amys and Grif were left.

"I'm glad Cyrus is staying on," Amys said. "He's good for the ship."

"He is indeed," Grif agreed, raising his glass in a toast. "It'll be a bad day when he actually leaves for good."

Amys shrugged.

Grif stared at her in silence. Amys grinned, then frowned, then finally, in an agitated voice, said "what?"

Grif took a drink of Stellis, cocked his head to one side, and asked "so when are you leaving?"

Amys blinked. "When am I what?"

"I'm serious. Some day Cyrus is going to be the captain of his own ship. And he's going to be a good one. But why aren't you one already?"

"Trying to get rid of me?" Amys asked, smiling slightly.

Grif leaned forward. His expression was serious, mixed with curiosity, mixed with… something else. "You should do it. Why haven't you done it? It doesn't make sense. I'm not complaining… but it doesn't make sense."

Amys didn't reply.

"There's no reason you should be stuck in the number two seat, Amys. You keep your cool, you're an excellent pilot… you'd be hell of a smuggler captain. Or pretty much any kind of captain you wanted to be. Bottom line? If I had my way, you would always be XO on my ship. But why should you? Buy your own ship. Get your own crew. I'll help if you need it, but you won't--you've done it all before, only for me. Now do it for yourself."

Amys stared at Grif, trying to think of something to say. Grif stared back, afraid of what she would. Finally Amys smiled.

"You know I never take your advice," she said.

And that was it.

Grif grinned, relaxed, and settled back in his chair. "All according to plan," he said. "Reverse psychology. Works every time."

"You're a liar," Amys said.

Grif pretended he didn't hear.


Comments are active for 30 days after publication. If you wish to comment after 30 days please use the Forums.

Annnnd... that's a wrap, people!

Thus endeth the novel. Thanks for reading along!

If I manage to do everything correctly, it will be available on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes (at least) some time in early November.

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

good stuff!

Hey, that was a very good novel - lots of fun!

Don't we get to know what the alien thingumajig is though?
and what happened at Velis's wedding?

and I hope Mavis doesn't get brainwiped, as he wasn't really all that bad, well maybe he was, but he was a worthy adversary for our hero.

the end????

You once said that you would consider exploring this universe more and the ending certainly leaves that open. Is there room for a prequel or sequle in your head? Maybe a collection of stories about How Grif meets everyone?

Vindh and the Throne

I'm now wondering how long it'll take before the Radiant Throne tries to reach out and touch him, even in Alliance space. (Only it probably won't be a touch, more like a strangle.)

. -- Scott


@captaingrif, I actually have ideas for two sequels featuring Captain Vindh, his ship, and his merry crew of ne'er-do-wells, as well as an idea for a short story/prequel featuring the infamous Kinnar Incident. If all goes well I hope to start posting the first sequel on this site some time next year, or in early 2013, depending on how things go.

Of course, that assumes we survive Friday!

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Two small typos in an excellent closing chapter!

"until the breech in their hull" should be "breach" - the other word is half of a pair of pants. :-)

Also, when toasting someone, the phrase is "hear, hear," indicating agreement with the words, rather than with the place.

Otherwise, thank you for an enjoyable read!

I think the dramatic tension with Amys at the very end was a good closer. I feel that it might need another sentence somewhere, but that is battling my instincts which say that fewer words are better.

No matter what, i look forward to reading more about the Fool's Errand.

Assuming we survive Friday,

Assuming we survive Friday, of course.


Thanks for pointing those two items out. As for the end, perhaps it didn't need extra words, just a little separation between some of the ones that were already there? (See above.)

Thanks for reading!

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Alien Artifact

I'm with Morgan and Fiona. I want to know more about the weird gizmo the crew of Fool's Errand stole. If it were merely an inert black box, I wouldn't mind, but at one point it actually seemed to connive in its own theft. Is it self-aware? Was it taking sides? Will we see it again, perhaps in 2013?


I know what it is.

And if everything works out and I'm able to continue these stories, eventually everyone who keeps reading will also know what it is. ;-)

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Chris that last comment was a

Chris that last comment was a tease. But I am definitely following your latest story with intense interest. That will be intriguing and I hope all turns out well and your character doesnt go insane over something that probably has a mystical explanation.

Bloody fantastic!

Dad is still enjoying reading this and its a very good read! I sent $10 your way to pay for any other copies I may hand out :P


First... I've enjoyed reading. I laughed my fool head off more than a few times and I'm looking forward to any sequels.

I do have to say that the story seemed to end rather abruptly. And it never felt like it fully peaked to me. The later might have been a side effect of reading one chapter per week instead of ramming them into my brain as fast as humanly possible like I do with most books... so take it with a grain of salt.

But as to the former... the last chapter seemed like just any other chapter. Not exactly sure how to put it... seems like it lacks the nostalgia or foreboding that most novels end with. Not that being like most novels for the sake of being like most novels is necessarily a good strategy... but... it just seems like it didn't really "conclude."

Look at the first and second parts of most trilogies. The end of Star Wars ep4, Matrix, Pirates of the Carribean are each obvious conclusions (cause the writers weren't sure there would be another one)... but even the ending of LotR: TFotR is ending a story (the story of The Fellowship) and foreshadowing the harsh events to come.

It seems to me it would have been a better ending if Grif had gone to his cabin after talking with Amys set his glass down on the sink and stared at himself in the mirror. Remembering the face he had worn... and the face of the man it was meant to flatter... and perhaps wondering at the fate of Mavis or the nature of the artifact. Then he grins at himself for worrying about foolish things, downs the last of his drink, and turns off the lights to sleep.

Something like that.

Then gain... I've got exactly 0 writing credentials... and I can't say there is anything inherently wrong with the way you ended it (like I would really even know if there was). So don't think I'm saying it was done wrong or poorly. Just not to my taste I suppose.

/2 cents.

More what?

This is the end of the story. Please feel free to buy the ebook. ;-)

If you're asking for further adventures of the crew of the Fool's Errand, I do plan to do that--but it's not going to be till late next year/early 2013 at the earliest because I'm working on something else right now...

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.


It was really dead at work this evening and luckily this wasn't blocked by the firewall. I really enjoyed finally reading it in one sitting. I hope you don't mind me pointing this out and I'm sure you've probably edited this out by now, but you spelled "psychosis" as "psichosis" in one of the chapters. It probably isn't something most people notice, but I have to use the word a lot in my job ;)

It's intentional.

I really need to put it in the Guide to Known Space, though. It's the phrase used to describe telepathy-induced psychosis.

Thanks for reading!

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Ah. In other words, it's not

Ah. In other words, it's not going to be in the DSM any time soon.