A Rake by Starlight

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 12

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN People Who Are Not Friends Make Important Decisions

Major Velis Talisha Enge sat in her office, squinting at the display on her desk. There wasn’t any reason for her to squint—it was a top-of-the-line viewscreen, and she had nearly perfect vision. She was squinting because what she was reading didn’t make any sense, and she thought that if she intentionally made it blurry it might rearrange itself into something more comprehensible. It didn’t work. She hadn’t expected it to, but it annoyed her anyway.

Major Enge was, for lack of a better word, a spy. As a spy, she needed the information she received to make sense, and when information she expected to make sense didn’t, it meant that a fundamental assumption was wrong. When a fundamental assumption was wrong, it meant that the Organization was in trouble, and when the Organization was in trouble…

Keeping the Alliance of Free Worlds out of trouble was the entire point of the Organization. It was very important that their fundamental assumptions be right.

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 11

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN Our Hero Recognizes the Gravity of His Situation

Amys, Cyrus, Ktk, and Grif stood around the Captain’s Table, watching a holographic display of their tactical situation as they all frowned deeply. Well, the humans were frowning—Ktk ground the plates set behind its mandibles, a low, throbbing, grinding sound that communicated displeasure. It was the bug equivalent of a frown.

The holographic display was split into three views: the first showed the Fool’s Errand in orbit around Uru, the second showed the seven ships sitting motionless outside the system’s gravity well, and the third showed a large-scale tactical map with the Fool’s Errand, the seven ships outside the system, and the two that were closing in.

“So,” Grif said, “here’s our basic problem: they’re sending two ships in after us. We’re faster than they are, so we can avoid them if we exit the system at a full burn. I’m going to assume that’s what we want to do, based on the likelihood of them probably not wanting to talk.”

Nobody spoke up to agree with him. It wasn’t necessary.

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 10

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN Our Hero’s Daring Plan Encounters an Unfortunate Wrinkle

The Fool’s Errand was not a tempting target for most pirate ships, and Grif was almost completely convinced they were the only ship in the system. That said, as they sat in orbit around Uru he couldn’t shake a vague sense of paranoia. They’d launched the fuel drones thirty minutes ago—four unmanned, cylindrical craft designed to dive deep into a gas giant’s atmosphere without being crushed like a grape, collect all the hydrogen they could, then return to the ship for processing. It would take another hour or two before collection was complete. Until then, Grif had nothing to do but keep the ship in orbit and twiddle his thumbs.

He was impatient to leave, but the ship needed fuel. He sighed and waited.

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 09

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN Our Hero Senses a Limited Opportunity and Resolves to Act Now

The Wardroom of the Fool’s Errand was Grif’s second-favorite room in the ship.

As part of a military vessel it had been the officers lounge and mess, but when he first bought the ship it had been entirely gutted. Grif spent a great deal of time and money trying to restore it to its former grandeur, and to a large extent he had succeeded admirably. A year ago, however, they had to gut it again—in order to prevent one of the greatest heists in modern history from being blown apart by a simple, overlooked detail. Putting the Wardroom back together had been an all-consuming project for Grif, and it was only very recently—in the past few months—that the room felt right again.

The floor was covered in a dark synthetic material that looked very close to polished wood tile. The paneled walls were also faux wood, and the standard ceiling light panels were replaced with globe lights. The light was softer and worked well in the space, giving the room a more refined, less sterile feel. The Captain’s Table stood in the center of the room, smaller tables were set against a bulkhead wall, and on the opposite side was a bar that Grif always kept well-stocked.

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 08

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN a Really Big Thing is Explained

Inside the container sat a silvery, translucent, cylindrical object. It looked vaguely like a coffin—a feeling re-enforced by the medical insignia stamped at one end—but there were no seams where you would expect to see them for a lid. Underneath the medical insignia was a data port, and through the translucent material, Grif could see dark spindly shapes twisting their way through the entire structure. There was no way to determine what they were for.

Grif had never seen anything like it before. He had no idea what it was.

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