Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Way Of Being, Chapter One

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates

Chapter One

March 5, 2150

10 Ursae Majoris System

The Federation Ship Epping Forest dropped into normal space off of Loki, the fourth planet of 10 Ursae Majoris A. Like most vessels in the service of the Federation Space Force she was armed. But she was not a proper warship, merely an armed transport. Even so she was not flying alone on this trip.

On the bridge of the Epping Forest the command pilot, Major Franz Bergmann, softly cursed in his native German. Like all citizens and officers of the Federation, Bergmann was fluent in Standard Anglic, he just didn’t want the curse to be understood.

The problem was that the other vessel in the two ship convoy, a chartered liner named Meridian had not yet reentered normal space with the Epping Forest.

Bergmann rechecked the status display, cursed again, and then turned to the young lady who was his executive officer.

“We will wait here until Meridian drops in.” He said. “Watch the shop.”

“Yes sir.” Said the Exec.

As Bergmann turned to exit the Bridge the communications panel chirped.

Bergmann turned back to see the Executive Officer reading the message from her station.

“It’s a Freyani patrol ship,” she said, “they’re asking if we require assistance.”

For a moment Major Bergmann contemplated the damage the tiny colonial patrol ship could do to a space going piece of junk like the Meridian.

“Tell them ‘no’”, said Bergmann. “But think them for the offer.”

Bergmann exited the bridge.

On the civilian version of the Ashland class transport the next compartment would be the forward passenger lounge, with the crew lounge in a separate compartment just forward of the engineering spaces. On the Space Force version there was no separation between the crew and passenger spaces as in most cases the few passengers who flew on military transports were members of the Federation Armed Forces.

Except on this trip they were carrying a V.I.P., the newly appointed Governor of the planet Loki.

Ian March Weymouth was a descendant of the founder of the Federation and as a child of privilege he would have been expected to travel out to Loki on the chartered liner Meridian. Instead he chose to take a cabin on the Epping Forest because he felt more comfortable on a military transport than on a civilian liner. But then Weymouth was not a normal child of privilege.

Unlike many members of upper class families, who would drink and otherwise party their way through elite universities, Ian Weymouth chose to enlist in the Regular Army of the Federation and served out the full twenty years to retirement. And though he retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Weymouth did not neglect his own education, earning a Doctorate in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

So when the Federation President decided to appoint a Governor for the planet Loki, Ian Weymouth stood at the top of the list of candidates.

In the crew lounge Major Bergmann found the newly appointed Governor attacking a small pile of scrambled eggs with melted cheese sauce, hash brown potatoes, and toast.

Weymouth took a sip from his cup of coffee, and then spoke.

“Good morning Major,” he said. “I take it that we’ve arrived in the system?”

“Yes, sir.” Said Major Bergmann. “We are still waiting for the Meridian.”

“I’ll bet it’s going to be another sixteen hours.” Said Ian. “That would be a reasonable assumption, sir.” Bergmann replied, politely declining to cover the wager.

“Right.” Said Ian.

Before Major Bergmann could turn around the aft door to the lounge slid open and two Federation Marines entered the crew lounge and moved straight to the breakfast buffet line. First Lieutenant Otomo and Gunnery Sergeant Burnette headed up the Marine Security Detachment for the new Governor of Loki.

“Good morning, Skipper.” Said Lieutenant Otomo.

“Good morning, Lieutenant.” Replied Major Bergmann as he picked up a tray and joined the two marines in the buffet line.

“We’re waiting for the Meridian again, sir?” Said the Gunnery Sergeant.

“Afraid so, Gunny.” Said Bergmann.

Major Bergmann watched as both marines heaped scrambled eggs, and other stuff on to the plates on their trays. Lieutenant Otomo piled on sausage patties and hash browns, and Gunnery Sergeant Burnette opted for bacon and grits.

“I’d bet that its going to be another sixteen hours before they drop out of jump, sir.” Said Lieutenant Otomo.

“That would be a reasonable assumption, Lieutenant.” Bergmann replied, again declining to cover the wager.

Major Bergmann picked up a plate and started piling his breakfast on it. Scrambled eggs, corned beef hash, and hash browns, all covered with melted cheese sauce.

The three officers sat down at the table with the Governor and proceeded to devour their morning meals.

“So was there anything else of note, Major?” Ian asked.

“The Freyani are still running an anti-piracy patrol, sir.”

Freya was the other inhabitable world in the 10 Ursae Majoris system. It orbited the G5 binary companion of 10 Uma.

The people who colonized Freya believed in Laissez Faire Capitalism and being armed to the teeth. And they had no love whatsoever for the small band of “Apostolic Socialists” who had settled on Loki.

“I don’t understand why the Freyans would run a patrol over Loki, sir.” Said Lieutenant Otomo. “Don’t they hate each other?”

“They do.” Said Ian. “That’s why the Freyani are running the anti-piracy patrol.”

“It means, sir,” said Gunnery Sergeant Burnette, “that we are going to have a very interesting deployment.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good read, Les.