On February 3rd, in my newsletter, I’ll publish a new Privateer Tales short – Marque Restored. If you’d like to receive a copy, sign up for the newsletter at: fickledragon.com/keep-in-touch/
And, just because I’m a terrible tease, here’s the first chapter.
I lifted the battered, boxy, gray ship Fleet Afoot from the loading platform of Loose Nuts corporation’s hastily assembled shipping yard. It was only a day since my crew and I returned to our new home in the York settlement, having barely survived an alien attack on planet Earth.
“Never gets old, does it?” Tabby asked, seated in the starboard pilot’s chair next to me. Her face, the only skin showing outside of her vac-suit, bore the scars of battle – as did mine – but she was as beautiful as always. Her copper-colored hair was braided into a thick pony tail that curled around her neck and rested over her shoulder.
“All hands; check in for hard burn.” The AI would transmit my message to the other two crew we’d brought along: Roby, a young, ebony-skinned man who’d grown up in York, and Semper, an equally young Felio female and native to the planet Zuri.
“Engineering is green,” Roby answered almost immediately. It was quite a change for the young man who’d been forced to grow up quickly during our last adventure. I wished it wasn’t true, but there was nothing like combat to teach the uninitiated the value of professionalism. Roby’s training had been cemented when he survived a direct strike to the engine room and come through the ordeal a better man for it.
“Cargo has a green color,” Semper responded. The young Felio had made impressive strides in her understanding of humanity’s common language and preferred not to use the AI’s translator circuits. The Felio species, like so many in the Dwingeloo galaxy, closely resembled humans (a fact I still struggle to comprehend). For sake of brevity, a Felio can best be described as a favorable mixture of feline and human traits. They have four fingers and toes, fur over their entire bodies, cat eyes, quick reflexes and uncanny balance.
“Hard Burn in ten seconds.”
We’d successfully installed wormhole drive engines into Fleet Afoot in response to Earth’s planned shutdown of the TransLoc system used to jump between systems and galaxies. It had been a hard decision to leave our families behind, but it would have been even harder to leave unexplored an entire galaxy teeming with alien worlds. We held out hope that someday we’d find a wormhole that led home, but there was no guarantee of this.
“I’m showing seventy-two hour burn to Tamu gate,” Tabby said.
“Copy,” I acknowledged and engaged Fleet Afoot’s powerful engines. The ship’s gravity and inertial systems struggled while laboring to bleed off and redirect the crushing g-forces of acceleration.
We sailed in silence as Zuri slowly shrank behind us. Both Tabby and I enjoyed the quiet of space travel. I reached over and grabbed her hand as we shared the moment.
“What do you think of Nick’s new venture?” Tabby asked.
Nick was our best friend from childhood and the brains behind our business. His latest project was the load of grav-sled components he’d manufactured with the help of the York settlement. The components were destined for a company on Kapik that would manufacture and distribute a batch of stevedore bots based on adaptations Nick made to technology we’d brought from earth.
“A lot of people are relying on this deal,” I said. “I hope we don’t have any trouble delivering.”