Hellhawk – Episode 18

<back to episode 17

Date: 1601110 through 1751110

Location: On board the Starship Urutu – 200 dton Yacht, in transit to Flammarion.  After a short stop on Faldor, a small backward planet, for refueling and a little hunting along the way. They crew and passengers of the Urutu ready themselves to enter Flammarion space.

Characters

  • Martin Clairmont (Pete Cooney) – Security – Marine Lieutenant C65645 Age 30
  • Gaetan Boucher (Billy Lenoir) – Engineer/Navigator – Retired Navy Captain 835B8F Age 46
  • Drusill Telyn (Robyn Nixon) – Pilot – Navy Lt Cmdr 3455BB Age 42
  • Steac Malabru (falcores) – Captain/Owner Hunter 9A88B8 Age 42
  • Kafla Thingvellir (npc) business executive Age 48
  • Shaki Khuudaarma (Vargr?) – Commander – A79798

Crew

  • Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror (npc) – Second Officer and Chief Engineer – 685845
  • Hephestus ‘Hep’ Tsizkaear (npc) – Engineer’s Mate – 796766
  • Taezllo Ouzra (npc) – Navigator – 565976
  • Ensign Asheaar Kamidaa (npc) – Pilot – 796778
  • Urkoksou Kharrghse (npc) – Security Detail – 89A654
  • Gzanggvek Kangso (npc) – Security Detail – A89565
  • Lloa Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123456
  • Azkorr Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123455
  • Director Earla (npc) – Administrator – 5A799D

Dinner – Day 5

In just a few days, the Urutu will emerge from Jump-space in the Flamarrion system. Expectation and some tension have been building on the Urutu during this week. Gaetan has on several different occasions with several different crew members had shouting matches. He’s obviously stretched to the limit. Normally quiet Chief has been heard to ask quietly after a one-sided shouting match, “What’s his problem?” Taezllo, another victim of his tirades earnestly asked aftewords, “What did I do?”

Lloa has tried to make ammends and has called everyone to dinner, together on one of the last full days before exiting jump-space. She’s promised a big dessert, that has to be eaten in the Lounge and everyone, including Director Earla has made the effort to be at dinner.

Martin saunters in early and takes a seat at the table next to where he’s noticed Gaetan sit a number of times. He nods at the stewards. He had previously assigned Urko and Gzang to guard duty and was expecting them to report to him here before dessert.

Urko and Gzang show up just before dinner starts. They report that they’ve seen a few space roaches, but fortunately no tribbles. They think the ship is safe and request permission to attend dinner.

Gaetan is a little late for the start of dinner. Lloa scowls at him, and shakes a finger while smiling. She quickly makes sure he’s comfortable at the table, Gaetan even manages a smile, but he still answers most questions with grunts and single word responses. He’s still in the foul mood that has worsened on this journey.

Martin leans over. “What’s got your goat, Gaetan?” He says this casually but with the underlying seriousness that colors everything he does.

“Nothing. Why would you think there is something wrong?” He straightens in his seat and forces a smile to his face. He asks Martin, “How is the training with Urko and Gzang going?”

Martin grins. “They’re learning fast. I don’t think they had much real discipline coming up working for the humans. They’ll be good security guys.”

He then leans in close. “Now, speaking of real discipline, that was a nice “I swallowed my cat” smile but it ain’t going to fool me. Somethin’s botherin’ you.”

Gaetan lowers his voice, and some of the false enthusiasm drains out of him. He says to Martin, “You know, the universe is really just a big machine. We’re all caught in it. Some days you have the delusion that you’re in control, but the machine is still running. That day is coming when you’ll remember you’re not in charge. No matter how far up the social ladder you are, you always have a master. He’s never kind.” He pauses and says with a sigh, “If my math is correct, I meet my master in about 2 days.”

Drusil speaks up “I’m really liking the controls of this ship, They are very sturdy and reliable. I’m expecting that we will be able to jump in very close to the Flammarion homeworld when we arrive.” Dru eyes the stuffed head of the ‘Moose’ hanging on the wall above the dinner table “Dang that beast looks tough! Good job guys!” He hitches up the beltline of his trousers with his thumbs and sniffs. “If I had been along, maybe we could have bagged a dozen of them and really filled the freezer!” He stabs another chunk of the meat off his plate and chews it thoroughly as he eyes Gaetan and his discomfort.

After a long silence at the table, Drusill speaks up again “So Gaetan, what are you going to do once you return home after this mission?”

Gaetan looks up at the stuffed head and says, “You’re right Drusill, that was a rather remarkable beast. I’m sure it was majestic in the forests of Faldor. Just a few hours ago it was king of all it surveyed. But just like that Moos.. Moosid, isnt’ that what it’s called. Just like that Moosuid, I expect to be sombody’s prize. Hopefully not stuffed and mounted on the wall, but a trophy all the same.”

Gaetan takes a long drink from his glass, lets out a sigh and continues, “I suppose there’s no reason to keep this secret from you any longer. Sometimes there is security in NOT knowing, but ignorance won’t protect any of you any longer. Most of what was said on Walston about my identity was true. I was born, Gaaim Tenbok Arkula von Duur-Dirza, my grandfather was the Duke of the Gulf Subsector in Deneb, a title that was passed to my uncle. My family holds high noble titles. They are hereditary titles. Technically I’m also a Duke, although 4th or 5th in line to rule. In normal times, I would be expected to help my uncle in what ever way possible, but these aren’t normal times.” He pauses now, looking as drained as his glass.

Martin gapes. “Duke Gaetan?” he mutters.

Lloa, who’s been listening from the doorway to the Galley speaks up. “No indeed, these are not normal times. You have made remarkable changes for the better on Walston. All the Vargr there are thankful for the improvements made. We can’t let the opportunities you have provided pass by. We are all working our hardest to see real improvements on Walston.” She finishes proudly, but then notices that everyone is looking at her. She wipes her hands on her apron and asks, “Who’s ready for dessert?”

Gaetan says, “I’ll take dessert, Lloa and you are correct. Things have changed for the better on Walston, in my opinion. I also thought things were changing for the better of Qevar, many years ago. You see this is not the first time I was involved in large changes to government, but there were those who didn’t agree with me. My uncle was one of them. I was almost disowned. He decided if I took up a career in the Navy, he would not strip me of my title. I think since that day, he has been looking for an excuse to disown me. At the end of my career in the Navy, I thought he had his excuse, so I joined the crew of the Hellhawk. I’ve been waiting for him to do something for over a year now. It seems like he’s finally done it.”

Gaetan sighs and continues, “The only person who could have sent those ships that appeared in Walston was my uncle. They must have been traveling for weeks to arrive from the Gulf Subsector. I’m sure the news on Walston will just add to the punishment. Most Imperial war ships are capable of Jump-4. That means when we arrive in Flammarion, they will probably be waiting. They’ve had ample time to reach the Naval Base there. Mark my words, when we arrive in Flammarion, the Imperial Navy will be waiting for me. We will probably be boarded as soon as we emerge in the system. I’m ready to face my fate. I would suggest that none of you dispute what happens with the Imperial Marines. I would only end badly.”

Martin’s eyes get wide. “Marines?” he mutters.

Drusil looks over at Gaetan “Aren’t you being a little over dramatic my friend? And how can you be so sure that its your uncle that is sending these ships? You seem to have been on multiple watch lists. For instance the Order of the Dark Phoenix has been following your movements and don’t seem to keen on you advancing your career. As long as you were keeping a low profile they seemed happy, but now that you seem to be coming out of the woodwork, interest in you has peaked. Look at all those reporters that were flooding the planet as we were leaving. They weren’t there for the rest of us.”

Drusil looks seriously at Gaetan “You heard of this order right? Aren’t they a Nobel order directly opposed to your family interests and bringing about the collapse of several other noble houses?”

Gaetan looks a little suprised at the question from Drusill. He says, “I find it unlikely anyone else has commanded the Imperial Navy to move ships a full sector from their normal patrol range, besides my uncle. Perhaps there is war with the Zhodani coming, but it seems we would have heard rumors of this activity. As always, there are lots of groups that are not happy with me, or my family’s good fortune. I don’t know this Dark Phoenix group in particular. How have you heard of them? I don’t think I’ve seen them mentioned in the news.”

Drusil looks serious, more serious than Gaetan has ever seen him. “Up until a month ago I was reporting to them your activities. They are the Noble order that gave me my peerage after my departure from the Imperial Naval service.”

Martin’s eyes are practically bugging out of his head now. “Peerage? WATCHING US?”

Drusil continues “When I left the service, I was bitter. I was drummed out of the service with no retirement, and no recognition for my years of service with the Fleet. I had heard about you, the pampered younger son of an Arch Duke, who ran away from home and service, and I had not loyalty to you. I was approached by the Order and offered my peerage to knighthood, but under the condition that I seek you out and report your activities back to them. Little things, messages back to them about where you are, where you were going. They never asked any more of me than that.”

Drusil looks into Gaetan’s face, “But on Walstan I got to know you a little better, and got to see the stuff you were made of. Not the spoiled brat that deserved to be spanked. That is when I sent my last report. I didn’t tell them where we were going this time. In fact they should have been following that poor drunkard and his assassin instead. Your family must have pissed off some very influential people. Your family is not the only ones who can command squadrons and fleets.”

“Assuming we survive this little jaunt, I see the Walston transport contract as my way to get away and out of all this mess.” Drusil continues, “Being the captain of a little free trader. That is more than I ever hoped to end up with at this point.”

Martin’s fists come crashing down on the table. “ARRIGHT, THAT’S ENOUGH! Somewhere buried in yer petty agendas and life stories is the fact that the Navy, the Marines and the Order of the Dark Phoenix are all potentially looking fer us! If that’s so, WHY ARE WE STILL HEADED FOR FLAMMARION?”

Drusil is jolted by Martin’s outbust, and jumps to his feet “BECAUSE STEAC IS OUR FRIEND AND HE NEEDS OUR HELP! All indications are that the frakkin beatches that bushwacked us on Walston were taking Steac’s ship there.”

Martin glares. “Fat lot of good that’ll do us. We’re liable to be blasted right out of the sky.” He looks morose.

“What are our alternatives?” Gaetan asks plainly. “I’d rather confront these problems in Flamarrion than in some isolated system far from the Imperium. Sometimes the best way to deal with a trap is to spring it. I can’t run from my uncle forever. I think blasting us out of space is not their style. They would rather see us publicly humiliated. Please remember, there is a rather large Imperial presence on Flamarrion. It’s an X-boat and Naval Base.”

Martin keeps looking sullen for a moment, then looks thoughtful for a moment.

“Perhaps we should get on with the dessert”, Gaetan turns and says to Lloa, who’s listening in open-mouthed amazement.

Lloa quickly gets her bearings again and after a few moments delivers a wonderful dessert to the table. It arrives still slightly flaming, and as she cuts it into pieces to serve it’s apparently still frozen on the inside. She announces, “It came out perfect.” She seems pleased. As she distributes the pieces, she is more careful with two of them. She delivers Drusill and Gaetan’s with the title: “Sir” and perhaps a little bow.

Martin cocks his head. “Arright, so we might not die RIGHT away. But we havta have some backup if we’re gonna get out of this with our skins. What friends you still got on Flammarion, Gaetan?”

Gaetan says, “I have never visited Flammarion before. It’s a little outside the normal patrol range for the ships in Deneb Sector. I suspect, I will know the captains of at least two of the Imperial Navy ships that are there, assuming they arrived before us. What kind of friends would take this assignment. If you’re looking for a list of assets, I think we just have our wits. Again, I don’t think YOU have anything to worry about. I suspect I’ll never leave the space-port, or at least not in your company, perhaps under Imperial Guard. It’s house arrest I fear, not murder. Shaki do you have any idea how our Warrant from Walston will be received on Flammarion? Do Walston and Flammarion have any type of formal agreements?”

Shaki says, “There are no formal agreements, and my recollection is that the Flammarions are mildly suspicious of outsiders.”

At this comment, Director Earla who has been silent throughout dinner speaks up and says, “That may be a bit of an understatement Mister Shaki. I wouldn’t be a good negotiator if I didn’t know a little about my opponent. I read what I could before we left Walston. They are mildly xenophobic would be a better way to put it. This is at odds with the fact that Flammarion is a Naval and Trade hub. Perhaps this is a weakness we can exploit. They are afraid of outsiders, but they need them.”

Martin leans in. “We gotta find some angle…”

Without malice, or any emotion, Director Earla says, “You could sell the Duke to the local authorities in return for honoring your warrant.” As he continues eating his dessert.

The color drains from Gaetan’s face, but he remains silent.

Martin blinks. “Don’t like that idea. Other ideas?”

Director Earla quietly snorts to himself and says, “Too soft.” It was probably intended as a note to self, but it was loud enough that anyone listening for a response heard him.

Martin glares at Earla with a look that clearly telegraphs that the Director might be more circumspect about making comments like that to an ex-Marine.

Gaetan, a little flush now, responds, “We’ll do whatever’s necessary. I think it’s unlikely I’m leaving Flammarion with you anyway. If I can be of use, I would suggest you do it.”

Martin’s face is wash with emotion. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it a bit. But I’m not the CO.” He looks at Steac for guidance.

Steac grunts and says, “I’ve always heard that ‘Battle plans are useless, but battle planning is invaluable.’ We’re not going to know what will happen ’til we get there. What other tools, besides Martin’s Poni-Gun do we have at our disposal?”

Director Earla speaks up and lists these items:

  • The Warrant issued on Walston
  • The rank and title of Sir Duur-Dirza, or Gaetan
  • The rank and title of Sir Telyn or Drusill
  • The ranking security officer from Walston, in Mr. Khuudaarma
  • The Urutu and equipment aboard
  • Martin’s Poni-Gun

He makes snide comments along the way, that everyone has gotten used to ignoring. He finishes by stating, “I addition, you have my skilled services as a negotiator, what else could you need?”

Director Earla quickly excuses himself and returns to his cabin after it’s apparent there are no additions to the list. The rest of the group slowly wanders away, as dinner finishes. Some discussing what was said about the arrival at Flammarion.

Gaetan’s mood seems to lift some, since he’s gotten some of his concerns out in the open. He actually smiles and even laughs at some of Chief’s jokes as the final days of the transit to Flammarion wind down.

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1 Comment

  1. […] <back to episode 18 […]


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