Gray Panthers: Earths Revenge (17 page)

BOOK: Gray Panthers: Earths Revenge
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The lights were off as he entered the mess then the lights flashed on as the crew hollered, "Surprise Cowboy!" Short Blade stood in wonder not understanding what was going on. Commander Johnson pulled out his tablet and proceeded to read it loudly.

 

"Attention to Orders.

The Governor of the Great State of Arizona has reposed special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity, and abilities of Crewman Short Blade. In view of his qualities and demonstrated potential for increased responsibility, he is therefore promoted in the Gray Panther Militia to the grade of Chief Petty Officer

Signed, The Honorable Sigmund Goldstein Jr.

Governor of Arizona."

"Congratulations! Your fellow crewmembers and myself have full faith that you will perform your new duties as outstandingly as you have in the past. However we are not done here. Commander Johnson began to read loudly from his tablet.

Attention to Orders

Crewman Short Blade distinguished himself by an act of courage as a crewmember assigned to the Arizona Space Ship Beater on 28 August 2128. During this period, a Dart Fighter sustained damage while in space. The Arizona Space Ship Beater deployed one shuttle with Lt. Askis and Crewman Short Blade. After arriving on station Crewman Short Blade exited the safety of the shuttle and navigated to the stricken ship using a manned maneuvering unit for the first time. The destruction of his shuttle and death of Lt. Askis did not deter Crewman Short Blade from continuing on in rescuing the Dart Fighter. When Crewman Short Blade was injured and almost died from his injury from a micro meteor hitting him, he selflessly performed repairs to his suit then continued to repair the Dart Fighter that was then able to return Crewman Short Blade to the Arizona Space Ship Beater before he could succumb to his injuries. The distinctiv
e
accomplishments of Crewman Short Blade reflect credit upon himself and the Gray Panther Militia of Arizona.

Signed, The Honorable Sigmund Goldstein

Governor of Arizona"

Commander Johnson then then pinned a medal that consisted of a gray ribbon attached to a bronze star to the Chiefs chest.

Short Blade did not know what to do after the medal was pinned to his chest and the commander stood before him holding his salute. Guessing correctly, he returned the salute then was further amazed when the commander shook his hand.

"Gentlemen, a round of applause is in order for Chief Petty Officer Short Blade," the Captain stated as everyone stood and clapped then hollered in celebration for their crewmate. Short Blade just stood in amazement of all the attention he was getting as he started to become self-conscience. Guns grabbed his top right arm and pulled him to the back of the mess where a table had a cake that said "Congrats Cowboy" with a picture of him riding a Dart Fighter. Short Blade stood confused as what to do next as Jimmy picked up a knife and cut the cake, then gave out pieces to everyone with a new cold food Short Blade had not seen before. Taking a piece of the cake he tried it and was disappointed that there was no flavor but continued to eat it as was expected of him. Spooning the cold item in his mouth was an excellent taste that made him want even more. Soon he was noisily slurping the plate clean. With his medal and promotion forgotten, Short Blade could only focus on this new food.

"Guns, what is this wonderful food called?" Short Blade asked between mouthfuls.

"We call it ice cream. You must like it I guess since it's plastered all over your face."

Immediately embarrassed he wiped his face then smiled in the way of humans. "Yes, it's wonderful."

Short Blades crewmates all looked on in amusement as he laid down and went to sleep in their midst after eating a pint of ice cream.

Commander Johnson made the simple observation. "Looks like kitty can't handle cream," To the laughter of the entire crew, "Guns and Jimmy, put our hero to bed."

Shuttle Rogers Rangers en route to Arizona Space Ship Cornucopia

1 September 2128

Captain Young was enjoying the view as he left Earth as he maneuvered his shuttle from the atmosphere into space. He let the AI Rogers do the driving as he was trying to envision his upcoming meeting with Arizona Space Ship Beaters Captain. The ship entered the bay of the ship Cornucopia and continued until it parked next to the Beater. Before he could get out of the shuttle, he saw an elderly man wearing the trademark black flightsuit of the Beater waiting for him. Exiting the shuttle Capt. Young saluted and introduced himself to the commander. Johnson had already heard about the mission for his ship and was unhappy that he was perceived as a taxi driver instead of the mission commander.

"Commander Johnson, thanks so much for meeting with me. I heard you immediately tried to learn as much as you could about the Republic and the Libra Alliance as soon as you joined the Gray Panthers. I look forward to learning what you know."

Looking at the young Captain before him, Johnson was impressed and wanted to learn the plan ahead of them. He led the young Captain onto his ship and to the mess where there would be room to talk and interact.

Captain Young was initially shocked when he entered the mess and saw the little alien wearing a black flightsuit with Chief Petty Officer stripes on his sleeve. The alien did not look well but appeared anxious to assist his commander.

"Captain Young, this is Chief Short Blade, he has my one hundred percent faith. He has earned those stripes on his sleeve also, will that be a problem?" the commander asked looking the Captain in the eyes.

"Not at all, Commander Johnson, I was anxious to get his view on our mission as well. If it’s alright with you I will review the highlights of the mission then we can go over it item by item if that sounds OK to you.”

“That is a good way to start I guess, can you stay awake for this Chief Short Blade?”

“Yes Sir, I just feel a little under the weather from the celebration this morning,” Short Blade replied nursing a coffee between his paws.

“Did I miss a good celebration?” Young asked smiling.

“After the chiefs promotion ceremony we found he has a reaction to ice cream. It has an effect on him like alcohol,” Johnson replied smiling.

“I’ll try to avoid planning to use ice cream during our mission. The plan is to depart here using the FTL drive for five days. Come out into regular space to confirm navigation then depart for five more days using the FTL drive again. We should come out in normal space near the League of Planets, Republic space border. We will cross over to Republic Space and navigate to the bank planet. I will depart in the shuttle to the planet with two men armed only with side arms. We will negotiate with the bank for rights to the Planet Zia. If successful we will proceed back across the border to League of Planets Space and contact the Zians to purchase the merchandise. We will then engage the FTL for five days then drop out to normal space for a navigation check then depart again for the last five days till we arrive home. Pretty simple mission huh? What are your thoughts Chief Short Blade?”

“We are safe when we are using the FTL drive however we never used it more than two days straight because the Captain did not have faith in his crew and because of the effects of using the FTL for any extended time is bad for morale. When we drop out to normal space at the half-way point we will be safe because that is unpatrolled empty space. When we arrive at the border area there will be numerous patrol ships on both sides of the border. We could easily use surprise and fight our way across the border but we will have the entire Libra Fleet waiting for us to cross back over. The best we can do it try to cross in a less busy area and perhaps bribe the patrol ship to look the other way, especially if we use the original ships transponders identifying this as a Republic Freighter. The Republic Border patrol will most likely ignore us. The problem will be getting landing permission on Planet Dirt without prior authorization. It is one of their major planets and they are cautious about new species and diseases. The atmosphere there I believe is similar to Earth, but if we exited the ship in environmental suits they would not be as worried, and we could hide the fact you are humans. The Republic is very powerful but I heard my old crew talk about economic troubles they were having so if we can bring in a business opportunity they will be very happy to see us. There would also be a good chance we could get a military escort to the planet Zia that way the border patrol would not look twice at our ship. We then conduct our business and head for home,” Short Blade ventured.

Johnson looked at the little warrior in amazement. “Short Blade that is the most I have ever heard you speak. Very astute observations, I agree with almost everything you have suggested. We should however enter into our negotiations with the Central Bank as a political opportunity. We can use that as a first contact between our species and perhaps end up with either a business partner or even an ally."

“Sir we might also end up with another enemy that decides they want Earth for themselves. I agree with your assessment though and will go into negotiations from a position of power. We should explain we destroyed the initial wave of attackers and learned of the existence of the Republic from prisoners. I will explain we used a captured ship to avoid our technology from being stolen. We also need to plan on fighter support if everything goes South, do we go with all our ten of fighters or just a token, or none at all. I do plan on having my entire team with me in case we have to repel borders, with your permission Captain.”

“Captain Young, I would welcome Marines on my ship. I also approve of your plan even though we both know it will only take the first contact with the enemy and the plan will go out the window. I think having ten Darts as our own fighter cover can’t hurt either"

“Sirs I would like to suggest when you interact with the bank to be arrogant and superior. In their society that will make them respect you. The bankers are scrupulously honest; however they will omit facts unless you ask. The bank is also notorious for their fine print in their contracts. They will try to take advantage of you as new customers,” Short Blade warned the officers.

“Beater, when we go into the bank will you be able to monitor what is going on and offer advice?” Kyle commed to the AI.

The AI Beater projected its avatar before the commander, initially surprising them all. “Sir, the bank has a level 2 AI for operations and security. I will be able to effortlessly overcome the AI if needed and easily download all its data if you desire the intel for a negotiating edge.”

“We don’t want to rob a bank the first time we meet this new species, but we don’t want to get screwed either. Let’s be sure we have full coverage. What can you tell us about the occupants of the planet Dirt?” Kyle inquired.

“The planet was terra formed because of its ideal location. All member's planets of the Republic contributed towards the cost. Each species has an area they call their own. The bank is located in central city where all Republic government offices are located. The species Kust have cornered the market for banking throughout the Republic. They are similar to the locusts on Earth except they come from a low gravity world and can grow to ten feet tall. The average height is around eight foot tall. They are quick in their movements but lack any real strength, and do not fly though they have wings. They are a red colored and in their culture the brighter red they are the more appealing they are. If you meet one that is pink or brown they are the lowest of the worker cast.”

“Does that mean if I wear a bright red coat I’m going to make a good impression?” Kyle ventured.

“The best way to make a good impression is to be argumentative, to them it considered the same as being honest. If you are friendly and polite it will appear you are being dishonest. If you show any type of generosity it will mark you as a fool and weak,” Beater reported.

“So if I go in as a loud arrogant asshole wanting my ass kissed I’m set," Kyle ventured again.

“Yes, for the most part as long as you avoid any type of confrontational contact. If you touch one of the elites that way its considered a challenge to the death. Their approved method of a duel is with a single knife immediately after the challenge; any delay is viewed as cowardice,” Beater informed the group.

“How about anyone else we need to worry about?” Johnson asked.

Short Blade responded before Beater could reply. “The locals you will see the most of are the Baar. They are the ones that do all the lower labor for the planet. They are similar to the Kodiak Bears on Earth. They are a simple species, utilized for their great strength and willingness to work hard. They are basically low grade morons who are also painfully honest. They perform ninety percent of all manual labor in Central City. The Baar are also very affectionate and loyal, if you hurt or anger one of them most likely they will just look at their antagonist with confusion. When they fight they will fight to the death, but that is rare. The other species you most likely see are the Rotes. They are the species that perform all civil functions. The males will be the customs agents, police, and space port security and military. They are a cold blooded species that is very antagonistic. They respect physical courage but can be easily bribed to look the other way. They are lizards with an armored body and can be found any color or size. Rotes are considered some of the best fighters in the Republic. Their only weakness is they quickly become lethargic if they are exposed to cold weather. When Libra ships have visited before they make a point to keep their ships cool to ensure any inspections are brief,” Short Blade briefed the officers.

“Short Blade was correct on all accounts and I have no additional information of value,” Beater added.

“So all these species just work and play well with no problems huh?” Young asked.

“The planet is the jewel of the Republic because of how the different species work so well together. Each home world would be very unhappy if their people created any type of incident while assigned there. The planet is almost crime free except for the space port area where there is an entertainment area that caters to alien space crews. Fights and petty crime are very prevalent there. Drugs and smuggling are illegal but accepted part of life there as long as it is not blatant,” Beater reported.

“When we get the approval from the Bank to go to Zia, what can we expect from the Republic Fleet or the scientists on the planet? What else do we know about the Zians?” Young enquired

“There may or may not be a military presence at the Zian home world. The military most likely has monitors setup. If so we could go there without any problems after gaining permission. The military could try to play hardball for a bribe depending on the ship's Captain. They are reported to be social anthropologists so they will not be happy to see us there. The Zians will be happy to see us so they can sell their product,” Beater reported.

“Thank you everyone for your input. I need to start reviewing everything we’ve covered. I need to get back to my command for now. I will return on 4 September to begin our mission if that is acceptable to you commander,” Captain Young stated.

“That will be acceptable Captain Young, we will be ready for you and your Marines then. Good luck.”

BOOK: Gray Panthers: Earths Revenge
7.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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