A Justice Provider's Tale
Copyright© 2018 by Vanessa Ravencroft
Blisterbahl II was in terms of galactic distances not all that distant from Gullster’s paradise. In terms of Union space and the core region, the sun Blisterbahl and its four planets were still fringe region.
It was located in the Upward Sector but already within spitting distance of the Coreward sector, figuratively speaking. It was also in the outer spur of the Sagittarius arm and way past Stepping Stone and thus all the traffic to the Large Magellan Cloud. It was on the outer edge of the Galactic disc and Galactic West of the famous Union-Klack corridor which was without question one of the most unstable and potential troublesome regions in known space. A small strip of space that was considered Union space and was right between the Nul and the Shiss empires.
Despite its distance of almost one thousand light years to Steppingstone the Blisterbahl system, was well developed. All planets had some kind of installations. Blisterbahl II was the seat of the regional Union court, a region that included Gullster’s Paradise at its most distant edge. There was the regional headquarters for the Union Ranger service and the seat of the 988th Union police precinct.
I dropped out of Quasi space between the sixth and fifth orbit with not much MolGas left in my tanks, because that three times cursed Starfinder had me actually heading of the galactic plane and in a general direction of Zee Point station. Not that I would have had any hope to ever make it to a station that was more or less a million light years removed from the galaxy an parked at the apex position of the Z axis in relation to the spiral arm view. Speaking to my journal I added. Yeah, me too, I always wonder how they got it there and what they would do there all day long. Come to think of it, I have no idea how someone gets there and if it is accessible to civilians. Well not a place for runners for sure.
I was glad to be in a civilized system again, with a considerable paycheck in the form of a frozen Andorian in my small cargo hold after a nice uneventful climax to the nine weeks hunt I chased after Sodiban Renow. From New France planet, the headquarters of DeNoir, in the core region of the Union, across seventeen worlds until he got his brain container perforated by something very hot and fast.
Just be patient, Friend. I show you how a trail is picked up as soon as I get on the next one.
Whenever I was thinking about the four meter tall stiff, in my hold I got this nagging feeling that there was something fishy the way it ended. Every time I did, I also told myself to forget it. I had all my limbs, wasn’t out of unusual expenses and was soon 70 k richer. Eighty kilo credits, or Eighty thousand nice ones was the bounty, dead or alive. I figured about ten went for expenses. Ten percent I had to scratch for taxes leaving me with enough profit to finally get a new SII Cosmos Auto Nav XI. Dang it galled me to shell out almost twenty k, but I be damned if I ever fell asleep again and ended up somewhere I certainly didn’t want to be.
I wondered why I didn’t see anyone else of the colony, but then they were out scooping that acidly mineral stuff perhaps, and I hadn’t been to the actual settlement anyway. At this point I was convinced, that sun roasted dark skinned descendant of some Terran Asian strain of homo sapiens had killed the Andorian in cold blood to make sure there wouldn’t be anyone challenging him sacking the shuttle. Who knows maybe Renow had some of the credits left he had essentially stolen. Greed was still a powerful motif and I had hunted quite a few suckers who made that old motivation the core of their troubles.
Ah why am I keep thinking about that? Renow had it coming, he had been declared guilty in absence because he failed to appear and aggravated the whole situation by seriously hurting a card dealer of the Golden Dream Casino at Maritime planet. Adding more charges to his already growing account of charges. I guess he didn’t care after this anymore and felt he was beyond redemption. Well his bounty went from forty five thou to eighty big ones and from ‘capture alive’ to ‘wanted dead or alive’.
I was almost right away hailed by a Spatial Navy patrol consisting of a wing of Wolfcraft fighters. “This is Blisterbahl patrol, Lieutenant Burrh, please identify yourself. You have entered a star system controlled by the United Stars of the Galaxies.”
Since I didn’t want to be mistaken for someone or something hostile by an over eager Wolfcraft pilot and end up as a dissipating cloud of energy and molecular fumes, I responded right away. “You have my bloody transponder on your long range scanners, ever since I came within a light year distance and without a doubt ran my reg and all that already. What’s the idea?”
“Citizen, this is a measure of pre caution intended to increase the overall safety of all Union citizens and assets in this system.”
“I am Angel T. Marifou I just send you my FTL license and this DeNoir Comet chaser is registered as Angel’s Wings and it is fully paid for and almost out of go-go juice. I appreciate your Navy boy’s diligence, but I am in the need for some civilization and intend to take care of my business. Any objections?”
“No, Mr. Marifou it all checks out have a nice time in-system.”
“Thank you, Lt. Burrh. Keep up the good work and all that.”
“We will, Citizen. “ There was a tiny pause and he didn’t disconnect. “Say, Mr. Marifou, we noticed you came from the general direction of Shiss space, seen any Shiss lately?”
“Nope, didn’t seen any, but I smelled one. Wasn’t cross the line in Shiss space, guys, just at Gullster’s Paradise, found what I was after and now headin’ back.”
“Just checking, Mr. Marifou.”
It wasn’t unusual to be checked out by a patrol, but usually by federal police and not fleet. While the region of Space the Shiss claimed past Gullster’s were firmly in their control for longer than there was a Union, it was a thinly populated region in terms of stars and Shiss colonies and had always been a quiet one. Having an active Fleet patrol of a wing of heavy Wolfcraft fighters on the prowl might have just been a routine thing.
Blisterbahl II is the exact opposite to Gullster’s in terms of climate. I had been here a time or two and didn’t need to consult GalNet for conditions. It’s a wet and steamy world. A GWC 4A. Temperatures almost as high as on Gullster’s but there is plenty of water, basically a planet sized steam bath during the day and heavy showers and violent thunderstorms at night. I don’t recommend you go outside, unless of course you are a Shaill, they love the planet and thus make up a majority of Union colonists.
While the D designated a dry world. The A was saying this was a world where a standard BaPhy carbon based NiOx breather could live just fine. How perfect was indicated by the number. On Blisterbahl II, everything was garden so to speak. No outside surface, natural or not was free of some form of plant growth.
Landing was easy as it was automated by port control. To give you a little more travel education, because that is what you will do a lot in this particular field of work, Blisterbahl Port was a Class D port. Meaning basically all the necessities were there. Fuel, basic repair and maintenance, hotels, restaurants, Union clinic and so forth. Just not a very big selection, like on a C port. No complicated repair and space craft service options as on a B port. And you guessed it, everything you could possibly think of and most likely a thousand things you could not, are available on an A class port.
The size of a port was dictated by traffic options as well. At an A class you had space busses leave at every moment, access to Trans-matter tunnels. Big passenger ship service, most likely a space train station within easy reach as well.
My Angel’s Wing was now remote controlled by port systems slipped past the upper cloud ceiling. Once it had descended past the lower clouds, instead of the usual automated process, a very nice looking Chuckian female appeared on the comm. visualizer. “Welcome to Blisterbahl port, citizen. Your registry has been verified and your TL shipmaster license is in perfect order, Mr. Marifou.”
Like all Chuckians, who were a humanoid species, she had her face painted. She had chosen a flowery image and the pink and white flower matched her pink and white hair do with small flowers woven into her curly hair. Her eye lashes enhanced with tiny white flower pedals, looked nice on her. However I was never able to take a male Chuckian too serious.
She continued to chirp with her high voice. “We have you on landing pad eighty seven. There is no landing fee, but we do charge a daily parking fee of fifty one credits for a craft of your size. We do have premier parking available for Ninety nine credits per standard day. Sub surface...”
“Say no more, lovely. I’ve been here before and don’t want to scrape caked on moss of my ship for days.”
“I am assigning you landing bay fourteen. Please be advised Blisterbahl II is a Weapon controlled community and no weapons beyond class VI may be carried. We are also a zero tolerance community for Califerm users and dealers and discourage GalDrifts from coming here, anyone knowingly bringing GalDrifts, will be fined and must take them back.”
“No worries then. I don’t have the permit for Class six shooters. I never touched Califerm and I survived the Heart chamber bombing of 4992 on Gore II. That should give you a fair idea what I think about GalDrifts.”
She blinked with her impressive lashes. “I can imagine. Welcome to Blisterbahl Port and the city of Blisterbahl-Green.”
“Doing anything special after you directed space jocks down in safe berths, today?”
“No Mr. Marifou, I will tend to the needs of my two boys and my husband when he returns from patrol duty. It’s nothing special but quite satisfactory never the less. You might have luck in the Glitter and Glamour district, however.”
I grinned, disconnected and watched an ocean of lights in every conceivable color appear between the sheets of heavy rain that also pelted the transparent material my ship’s bow section. The landing field was a sizeable six sided field of black wet glistening material with yellow painted markings and more colored lights. Small orbs of red, yellow, green and blue set flush with the black material to designate lift off segments, landing areas and elevator platforms.
Robots unfazed by the torrent of rain pouring out of the almost pitch black nigh sky serviced various types and all kind of different sized space craft. The biggest one present, an eight hundred meter tall Meteor class freighter, also a DeNoir product. was in the process being loaded. The giant sitting on the far left of the hexagon landing field received a stream on standard containers. Handled with great speed by two Octo-bots. These enormous, many story tall machines with their long tentacle arms of flex metal and syntho muscle looked disturbingly alien as they grabbed containers with machine speed and precision to lift these heavy objects into the open cargo holds of the freighter.
The Angel’s Wing, deposited by a tractor beam on a parking platform sunk beneath the surface and a big robot arm took platform, Angel’s Wing and all deposited it on a track of rails of sort and moved horizontally for at least a mile or two before it came to a stop and was pushed sideways into a yellow stripes marked open sided box of sorts.
Well here we are. Now comes the fun part of the jobs.
Turning everything off and putting Angel’s AI in sleep mode I strolled down the underbelly boarding ramp and lowered the freight compartment access. To no surprise really, the Andorian was still there. Just a whole lot stiffer than even before as I hadn’t bothered to put him into the stasis box where he would have been if I caught him alive. Instead I had exposed the compartment to space and kept it air free. No need for Mr. Renow to stink up my cargo hold. You’ll learn that bio forms of all kind, especially the carbon based type starts to decompose after they’ve been dead for a little. Plastic tarp or not, you need a lot of Scrub-a-deck to get rid of that smell. Coming from a place that is essential a planet sized dead body, this wasn’t something I had to learn, but you might never seen someone no longer among the living. Especially being in that state for a bit.
At the outside of my ship’s park box. I found as I expected to find a call point in the otherwise empty looking corridor that, brightly lit extended in each direction apparently for many miles. On the opposite site were bright yellow and blue colored glass doors of a Personal transport system.
“Hey, guys. I am here at parking bay five-five-three. I need service.”
It took less than five minutes those doors opened and a Plato-Slave wearing a dark blue coverall stepped out and approached me.
He had the logo of the Yellow Ribbon service company on his coverall and on the coverall matching cap he was wearing. “Good First Hour, Citizen and welcome to Blisterbahl-Green port. I am Lun, Yellow Ribbon Inc. You called for services?”
“Sure do, Lun. I need to rent a porter bot and how much is fuel?”
He tabbed the call point next to me, and a Two-Dee display showed the SII-Energy logo. We sell SIIMGAZ, for 1005 per standard slug.” The number appeared on the display. “If you purchase 5slugs or more the first five days of parking are free.”
“Fill her up then. She’s pretty much dry and you guessed it, she’ll gonna need all five she can take. Also do a Level two on both pods.”
Thousand -five credits for a slug of MolGas isn’t bad. If you aren’t a spacer and own your own ride you may not even know, but ships or pretty much all space craft create the energy they need from the controlled annihilation reaction between matter and antimatter. The matter and the antimatter come from your fuel tanks. Half of the matter goes one way and the other half is changed into Antimatter by the Isah-Schmitt process. Both components come together in a force field -magno core chamber and create the immense energies needed to propel your space craft, establish the ISAH field and slip you inside Quasi Space. In order to increase your space craft range fuel, usually hydrogen or helium as it is easiest converted and controlled into anti matter, is compacted. Meaning the space between the atoms of the liquefied element is compressed, thus much more atoms and thus fuel fit into your tanks. I thanked the Plato as he expertly and without even consulting an expert system found and opened the umbilical ports of the port side fuel intake valve. Then swiped a fifty credit tip in his cred receiver.
Like all Plato’s he was humanoid in shape and standard human sized. He had dark blue skin, a face and head that looked as if carved by a very untalented artist trying to create a human face using a blunt chisel out of a lump of granite. I wasn’t too familiar with the Plato, only a relative small number lived on Union side as free and independent beings. The majority lived outside Union space as a slave thrall species of the Kermac and the Galactic Council. Some say the Plato are the genetically altered form of a similar looking life form to suit the needs of the Kermac.
The Plato so I heard, were used in the most degrading and dismissive fashion by the Kermac. Bred and kept alive with only the most basic necessities, to serve and perform the most menial labors. Without regard used in the most dangerous and life threatening work conditions. Easily and cheaply replaced. Not allowed to have names, possessions or form any sort of social bonds with one another.
All this was only very rudimentary knowledge, I heard here and there, but the few I had met on Union side were usually utmost competent and detail oriented in whatever they did. I did know that they insisted to being called Plato-Slaves as a reminder that their brethren was still in bondage on Kermac and GC side. I also knew no one hated Kermac more. The robot came and I directed the S-10 to pick up, the frozen Andorian package and follow me, but before I left I snapped my finger as I remembered. I said to Lun. “I also like to get a new Astro-Nav. Would you know a place here that sells used space craft equipment?”
“Yes, Citizen. There are several. There is ‘Bromey’s Everything-Used’, right outside the North exit and to the left. He is an Oghr, hoarding and collecting everything. He’s honest they say for a used equipment dealer that is. We got Pick-your-part, all the way over by the freight and cargo terminal. Cheaper than Bromey, but you got know what your looking for and most likely un install it from whatever the scrap scavengers bring in.”
I sighed.”I guess I have to get a new one.”
“Not necessarily, Sir. We have a very nice SII-ACUR-45. Navy surplus, it’s not the newest model, but genuine Union navy, still in the box. I take yours out, see if it has still any value, put the ACUR in for sixteen and credit you whatever the old unit is worth.”
I smiled. “Now that is a deal I can live with. Make it happen, Lun.”
With the robot following me, I left the Plato to his work. Plato’s were known for their honesty. Yellow Ribbon Services was perhaps the best commercial thing that ever came out of the Union. Three former Navy Captains and two genuine honest to Mickey real Union fleet engineers came together about a thousand years ago or so and started a Non for profit space craft rescue and service company out of Frank’s planet, the busiest and most frequented planet in the universe. Using an old surplus Army barge space tug they modified the thing and towed space craft in trouble free of charge and even offered repairs charging only the parts. In return for a donation of whatever the stranded space craft owner could afford and a membership in the Non for profit organization. As a Yellow ribbon member you agreed to help and if possible tow any other space ship in technical distress to the next port and give a small donation to the service annually as much or as little as you could or wanted.
The concept spread like a virus. Today you can find Yellow Ribbon services on virtually every space port D type and up. It has turned into a for profit company, but still operated under the same principles. They offered help to anyone in distress, you paid only what the emergency service actually cost, towing within service range to the next port remains free and you still were encouraged to sign up to become a member. If there is ever one thing I would endorse without any restrictions, its Yellow Ribbon. They probably helped and unquestionably saved millions of lives. To this day they are trusted, know to be honest and utmost competent. They now operated a fleet of very specialized, special built and designed space craft, known all over as the ‘Yellow Bugs’.
I know out of my own experience what a welcomed sight one of these pot ugly but utility craft can be. Drifting without fuel, a busted mag core line, 200 light years away from the nearest port.
The doors of the roomy Person-Mover closed and started moving towards the space port terminal.
Yes, my friend if you start on this path you need your own ship and unless you are related to Rex Schwartz or something like that, you aren’t going to start out with something first rate, brand new and free of problems. A used space craft means there are bound to be issues. Go become a member of Yellow Ribbon. Those 50 credits a month won’t hurt you.
At the actual terminal I was stopped like everyone else by a hard light barrier from progressing into the actual terminal and from there to the rest of the planet.
The customs officer was an actual being and not a bot. From the looks of it a Triple-Strong. She was human in appearance as her species was the result of Genetic tinkering and engineering long before the Anti-cloning laws and the strict gene tailoring laws existed. The woman looked as if she could arm wrestle a Botnaar and win the match and from the expression in her bored face, I could see she was actually hoping for a chance to do something like that. She waved me over to the inspection desk after the CITI-check turned green and let me pass.”Mr. Marifou, CITI checks out fine, but I like to know what the Porter bot is carrying. You aren’t trying to sneak in a Non Cit? That plastic wrap job isn’t very convincing.”
“You must be new on the job. That former citizen inside that wrapper is dead.”
“I am doing this for three years now. Any reason you travel with a dead body?”
“None that concerns you, lady. I am a lawful citizen and I have a valid reason indeed, but none I need to explain to you, dead bodies are not contraband or restricted from being shipped or carried from point A to point B.”
“No, they are not but it might be used to conceal illegal wares or restricted goods.”
“I have no time dealing with a bored Customs officer. Either you let me pass right now or you state the reason you detaining me.”
“I am detaining you for suspected illicit trade of wares or goods and potential crime of murder. Please remain still, so you may be scanned, searched and disarmed. I will also confiscate the wrapped organic item for detailed examination.” She grinned. “You picked the wrong woman to mess with. My shift just started and I got all day.”
“And my PDD just recorded and transmitted everything you said to Legal Central.”
She didn’t like that at all, but was joined by two of her colleagues and a security bot.
The bot scanned me and the dead Andorian.
One of her colleagues, a male Chuckian with a orange paint scheme on his face said. “His credentials check out. There are no warrants, he is not on the POI list of either the Federal police nor the justice department. He is authorized to carry all weapons he carries.”
The other checked the scan results of the Andorian, he was an ant like Klack. “Deceased male Andorian. CITI information links to Sodiban Renow. Declared Non citizen by Union court decision and sentenced to death in absence. There is a warrant out for him.”
“And that explains him being wrapped up in plastic and brought in by me, a fully licensed private justice provider. Can I go now? I have business at the closest police precinct.”
The Klack said. “One moment, citizen. Scan shows and active tech device on the deceased that does not conform to Union tech.”
The Klack had the robot cut open the tough plastic film and moments later, Mr. Renow was stared at by several individuals. The robot not having any feelings and thus not being the squeamish type, had no problem frisking the dead man. Something that I should have done, to be honest. I sort of expected the sheriff of Gullster’s Paradise to have done that, before he locked this Andorian outlaw in whatever he called the local jail. In retrospect and considering the individual that presented himself to be the local law enforcement officer, among other things, this was another one of those mistakes I was talking about.
The robot retrieved a small assortment of things and laid them out on the table. Three hundred credit casino chips of the Golden Dream Casino at Maritime planet. A small Interlink jack. The kind Data brain users often had to jack themselves into Virtu entertainment, six rad shielded Polo-coins and a greenish oval thing apparently made of a somewhat flexible plastic material that looked almost like a flattened egg of something, small enough to fit into the palm of a hand.
The Klack picked it up. “A Shiss Nituzzuzh, that what I thought it is. Nothing illegal here.” I am sorry, Mr. Marifou but we just have to be careful. With the Nul threatening to go to war and all that.”
The orange face paint wearing Chuckian put the things in a little plastic bag and handed them to me and gave my Porter bot permission to pick up the Andorian, now mostly unwrapped and beginning to thaw.
I pocketed the plastic bag.”The Nul threatened with war?”
“We don’t now details. The warning to be on heightened alert went over GalNet One just about two hours ago. I am sure there is more on the news soon.” The Chuckian said.
The Klack motioned the Triple-Strong to take care of another arriving person and paid me no longer any attention.
Luckily I did not have to go far, the local Union Police precinct was in the same district as the space port and underground shielded from the wet greenhouse conditions of the planet. I wondered if the world had moderate regions or if all of it was more or less the same, not that I considered to settle here.
Once outside the space port, I did notice the large number of hover sled using, man sized naked snails everywhere. Considering the conditions outside, this world must have been paradise to the Shaill.
The desk sergeant behind the entrance of the police building however was a standard human without any distinct features that could have given me a clue as from what world or society he might have originated. Instead of the usual police helmet or duck bill cap, he was wearing an orange cloth strip that had been wrapped around his head in many layers to a towering thing of sorts. His skin had a darker complexion than mine but was shades lighter than that of the sheriff of Gullster’s. He also featured an impressive moustache that extended past his face to both sides of his nose.
He leaned forward and inspected the stiff and then looked over a display I could not see from where I was standing. “Alright, this is indeed Sodiban Renow. Everything checks out Mr. Marifou.”