Gray Panthers: Earths Revenge (22 page)

Arizona Space Ship Beater League of Planets Space

14 September 2128

The sensors were showing numerous contacts in all directions. None of the ships detected were nearby and not one of them appeared to show any interest in the Arizona Space Ship Beater. Only navigational sensors were being used since the weapons sensors would be detected.

“Captain in this corner of space it would be considered rude to target neighboring ships. If we were in, say the USA, we would be between Minnesota and South Dakota, a place nobody wants to be, but it is safe. There are no battles or borders near us. This part of the League of Planets has nothing the Libra Alliance are interested in so we can relax. We are a little under a day’s travel to the Republic Border. We don’t want to advertise ourselves by using the FTL drive. Locals would talk about someone either in too much of a hurry or too rich for their own good. We can use the time to go over everything one last time before entering Republic Space,” Captain Young suggested to Commander Johnson.

Looking at the Marine Captain, Johnson knew he was right. “Ship's crew, this is the Captain. We seem to be fitting in with the locals. We will continue at max impulse to the border so use your time wisely. We will maintain 50% alert until further notice. Captain out."

Short Blade had taken most of the containers of gold and moved them to the shuttle. There still remained the portion that was considered for bribes and emergencies in the hold. Short Blade laughed as he saw how the OPFOR team was attired by the shuttle. Each member was wearing a suit and tie. The team was trying to find the best way to pack their weapons so they would not be evident. Short Blade went down to the other bay where the fabricator was. “I need two Kust legal boxes and one Baar musical box please.”

The three boxes were uncomfortably awkward to carry as Short Blade returned to the team still experimenting with how to carry their gear. “Captain Young, I thought you might be able to use these boxes. The two smaller boxes are used by the Kust to carry legal documents like an attaché case. The large case is user by the Baar to carry their musical instruments. None of these boxes will attract any unwanted attention. If you take the boxes to the fabricator you can request foam to make inserts so anything you put into the boxes does not rattle.”

“Short Blade, how common is it to find a Jacka on the planet?” Young asked.

“It is not uncommon to see Jacka who are used as body guards or private security. Some elders from my planet even have their Clans money in the Central Bank here,” Short Blade answered.

“OK Short Blade, I accept your volunteering for the mission. The team will be myself, and you will be number two. Washington and Ramirez will be back up. Sgt. Polanski you are now going to stay with the shuttle. How should you be attired for going to the bank, Short Blade?”

“Sir, if I wear a flight suit it will be obvious I am working for you. It will be perfectly normal for me to be seen wearing a pistol and sword; it would be suspicious if I was not.

“OK, we are good to go then. I will let the Captain know you are now on the team. Do you want one of our extra side arms or do you prefer a Jacka side arm? I know it’s a bitch to shoot a Jacka weapon and ours have less recoil so you can keep it on target for follow-up shots.”

“I have already been issued a modified short beamer. I will wear a traditional holster and it will cover up the weapon so no one will notice,” Short Blade replied.

Twenty minutes later Captain Young found himself having to sell the idea of letting Short Blade go on the mission to Commander Johnson. “Sir Short Blade is the mission. He doesn’t attract attention and he is familiar with the different species. He could stop us from doing something stupid that would jeopardize the mission,” Young argued.

“You can have him, Captain, I just feel like a shit to send the little guy into any danger, especially after all he has done already. Did you know he’s the only one on this ship that has earned a commendation from the Gray Panthers? I want your entire team to come home, Captain, but look out for the little guy if you can,” Johnson asked in defeat.

“Sir, I feel the same way, but he will make the difference I’m sure,” Young replied.

The remainder of the day included last checks of weapons systems. Dart flight used the opportunity to look over their Darts in the event they would need to launch. The Captain set course for the nearest border station noting the large amount of traffic heading in the same direction. The other ships made a point to avoid coming to close to the Arizona Space Ship Beater and they reciprocated by keeping a safe distance as well.

Arizona Space Ship Beater in League of Planets Space

15 September 2128

The Arizona Space Ship Beater neared the border when they were hailed by their transponder number M020562.

“Attention M020562, what is your reason for being at the border?” The League of Planets Border Patrol schooner requested.

“Border Patrol Schooner, we are taking General Krug on a diplomatic mission to Planet Dirt for the Libra Alliance. Is there a problem or is this routine?” Commander Johnson demanded as angrily as he could.

“M020562 you are cleared for border crossing,” the ensign of the schooner said as he turned to the others on their flight deck. “Another crooked General stashing his payoffs in the bank; it must be nice.”

Ten minutes later the ship was again hailed. “M020562 what is the nature of your visit to Republic Space?” the alien ship challenged. Johnson was looking at the view screen and could not believe the size of the Republic ship. “Is the magnification turned up on the viewer or is that ship five times the size of our biggest ship?” Johnson asked.

“Captain, the ship ahead of us is a Republic Battle Ship, the largest series of warship in their fleet. That ship is called the Fury," Beater answered.

“Attention Fury, we are the Arizona Space Ship Beater from planet Earth. I am Commander Johnson. We are on a diplomatic mission to the planet Dirt to establish commerce between our governments,” Johnson replied.

“Earth Ship Beater, explain why you are in a stolen space ship,” the Fury queried.

“This ship was part of an invasion fleet sent by the Libra. We captured it in Battle as we destroyed their invasion fleet,” Johnson answered.

“Earth Ship Beater, we are sending a shuttle to examine your ship. This is not a provocation on our part, but if you attempt to depart or fire on the shuttle you will be fired upon. If you try to take the shuttle crew hostage you will be destroyed. Do you understand?” the Captain of the Fury asked.

“Thank you for the friendly greeting. We extend an invitation to your shuttle to visit us. I have just sent our ships environmental conditions to ensure we are compatible with your visiting crewmen,” Johnson replied as he turned to Short Blade. “Turn environmental down to 55 Fahrenheit, I want our cold blooded friend to make only a short uncomfortable visit. They expect it to be 80 Farenheit in here."

“Captain Young waited at the port hatch as the Republic Shuttle finished docking. The hatch display lights went from red to green as Young pressed the control to open the door. A slight swoosh could be heard as the atmospheric controls adjusted for the hatch opening. Young stood there kicking himself for not checking to see what procedure were in place for receiving the boarding party. Two huge green lizard like beings were the first to come into view. They each wore a bright purple uniform that covered them from boots to neck. They were each seven foot tall and their exposed skin seemed to fluctuate different shades of green. Both aliens had a weapon holstered to their chests. The alien on Young's left had a boxlike unit in his three digit hand. The box emitted a soft white light that was pointed at Capt. Young for a minute. A smaller alien then entered from behind the pair of seven foot aliens. The new alien was only four foot tall wearing a red uniform that had numerous flashes and decorations. The lizard looked at Capt. Young and said, “I am ensign Krakk, I need to scan the humans for our information service. What are you?”

“I am Captain Young. I am the representative for our government. I do not have time to waste with an underling. I will permit you to scan me, then we will proceed to Planet Dirt,” Young said as he towered over the little alien. “Now you may communicate with your superiors that we are unhappy with this delay.”

The little ensign spoke into his microphone and the next moment the Battle Ship Fury had all its firepower directed at the Arizona Space Ship Beater.

“Battle Ship Fury you have an impressive array of weapons. At this time we have enough enemies. We do need trading partners though. If it is your intention to open fire then do it. I do not have the time to waste with you at this time. What are your actions going to be?” Young baited the battle ship Captain.

The ensign looked at Young and said they would be allowed to proceed to planet Dirt on the heading that was now being transmitted to the bridge. They were not to deviate from that heading or they would be fired upon. The ensign then left the ship with his two sailors. The commander immediately ordered the ship on the new heading and requested Capt. Young to report to the bridge.

“Captain Young, you will never communicate on behalf of this ship ever again without the express approval of myself. Do you understand this order as I have given it?” Commander Johnson asked in a very low voice that still came across clearly.

“I understand your order, sir. If in the capacity as mission commander of this operation I require to communicate for the ship, I will try to consult you first. That ship was manned by the Rote Species. They respect courage and are naturally confrontational. If we had conceded to their demands to scan every human they next would have inspected every inch of the ship to see what it would take to start a confrontation. I beat them to the punch and have established us with their military as ones not to mess with. After the mission is over if you feel they need to recommend disciplinary action that is your prerogative, sir.”

“You are dismissed Captain, good job,” Johnson praised. “We are two hours from the planet you may wish to get ready.”

Short Blade sat in the back of the shuttle looking over his modified beamer. He felt the trip would be a simple one, but his heart was pounding in the expectation of combat. His father had taught him the art of war. The humans had taught him the science of war. When his time with the humans was up he was not sure what he wanted to do. He believed he could get a shuttle from the Gray Panthers and be his own businessman. The thought of staying with the humans also stayed in his mind as he liked and respected them. Captain Young walked up to the shuttle wearing his civilian clothing and sat across from Short Blade deep in thought. Short Blade understood and did not disturb him. Young looked up at him, seeing him for the first time.

“Are you ready to assume command of the mission after I’m killed Short Blade?” Young looked intently into his eyes as he waited for the reply. The full seriousness of the question transferred to Short Blade.

“I will not fail you, the team, or the mission my Captain. I would like to be able to make a communication to my home world when the mission is completed. I want my mother to know I am alive and well working with the humans. I also want to report that my father and his command were captured and are in no danger.”

“Keep tight for the mission and we’ll see about the communication.”

“Captain, the planet has sent navigational directions for the ship to follow. I have already mapped the flight to the central space port per their instructions,” the shuttles AI informed Young. As the remainder of the team showed up at that moment.

“OK, are we all set? Major Rogers are we going to have faerie support to make sure we have no surprises?”

“Capt. Young, we have several hundred faeries ready for the mission. We also have an additional two hundred if anyone tries to board the shuttle without permission to repel boarders. The Captain has just notified me that we can launch at any time at your discretion.”

“OK, acknowledge the Captain and let him know we are launching in five minutes. Everyone strap in. Major Rogers, you will fly us down and scan for as much intel as you can also. Let's close her up and be on our way.”

The back of the shuttle was quiet until the AI Major Rogers turned on the display so the team could see what the city looked like. An overlay appeared showing the different ways to get to and from the bank. The only bottleneck was that there was one entrance to the space port with a long high wall around the port.

The landing was normal and five beings were waiting for the shuttle to open. The hatch opened letting in the first smells of the planet Dirt. The strongest smell was that of un-burnt fuel, followed by a smell that seemed to be a mixture of body odor and urine. Two Rotes were the first to come to the open hatch representing customs. Young was mentally ready for them. “Yes I see you are the customs for the planet I think it very nice of you to offer your services to us. I do not think we will need your help, unless the central bank sent you.” Taken off-guard by these new aliens the Rotes immediately started to argue between themselves as Young waved the other aliens to the shuttle. The first one to the shuttle was a representative of the space port. The creature was eight foot tall and resembled a Kodiak Brown Bear wearing coveralls.

“Welcome to Dirt I will be responsible for ensuring the security of your ship and any maintenance you may need. You will need to pay me for the first day. That is 1200 credits please,” the representative said slowly as if he had read it from a script. He then stood there with an expression that could either be humor or confusion as he waited for payment.

Young commed the AI, “What’s the going rate for gold?" I need to pay the rent.”

“The rates do not appear to have fluctuated for a couple years. That means they most likely are artificially keeping the price low to prop up the credits in use. Our ounce just happens to convert to a “B” in their measurement system. Gold is 100,000 credits per B.”

“OK my friend may I open an account with you since I do not have credits? I will pay you an initial one B of gold. When we leave you can give me the change in credits. Does that sound fair to you?”

The huge alien nodded his head exaggeratedly up and down as he reached out with a huge paw four times the size of Young’s hand. Young dropped the coin in the creatures paw and tried not to laugh at how excited the Baar was. “I’m going to get a receipt for that right?” Young asked amused.

The Baar immediately had an obvious hurt look on its face as it replied, “I am of the Baar, we are honest, I no cheat you.” He pulled out a small scanner ready to scan payment.

The other alien who had been waiting for the transaction to be complete stepped forward stopping the Baar from recording the transaction. The new alien was a light pink color and resembled an eight foot grasshopper.

“Excuse me; I am Second Teller Copper from the Central Bank. I would like to purchase that interesting coin. I will offer you 110,000 credits for it.”

“You would have to ask our huge friend here. The money has left my hands so the transaction is complete. Being from the bank I would hope you can respect that,” Young replied. The grasshopper quickly turned to the space port employee. “I will give you 110,000 credits for the coin, that means that 100,000 will go to the port and you have 10,000 credits.”

The Baar only looked confused at the bank representative’s offer feeling he was being somehow cheated but not how. Young walked up behind him and whispered in his ear. The Baar perked up and told the grasshopper, “I will take 140, 000 credits nothing less.” He then picked up the scanner ready to scan the coin.

“I will pay the 140,000 credits do not scan the coin!” the grasshopper shouted.

The Baar grinned as he handed the coin over to the grasshopper. There was no way to tell any facial features on the grasshopper as he paid the credits.

“Now Second Teller Copper from the Central Bank, I am a busy man and do not have time to watch you do black market money changing,” Young said arrogantly.

“My apologies to you, sir. I will do my best to make it up to you. Do you have anything you wish to take to the bank? I brought a worker with me just in case,” Copper asked.

“I have just one box. My assistants can get that. Perhaps we can get moving to the bank now,” Young said as he motioned for the team to come along with the box. Short Blade led the group as each man kept an eye out for any dangers or possible ambush. The vehicle they entered resembled a short school bus with eight doors. The seats were bench style and very uncomfortable for the short ride. When they entered the Bank there was a beam that scanned them from the ceiling that was similar to what the ensign from the Fury had used. The group was only able to take a few more steps when a gigantic bright red grasshopper greeted them.

“Greetings, I am First Officer Plat of the Republic Central Bank. Welcome on behalf of the Republic. I would—”

"I must say Plat I have been insulted on many levels since arriving in the Republic. First, the ship Fury tried to intimidate me by aiming all their weapons at me after I had established I was a diplomat from Earth with one of their own officers at my side. When I arrived here on Dirt, I was forced to pay extortion to park my shuttle. Then you send an obvious low cast employee who then commits a crime in front of me. He bought the gold I used to pay the parking extortion. Then the vehicle used to convey us to your facility was atrociously uncomfortable for our species. I understand gold is acceptable for transactions in the Republic," Young said as he nodded to Short Blade who then opened the case for the banks first officer to see the gold. “I have 1600 gold coins for this first transaction to see how well we can work with each other. Can we work together well, First Officer Plat?”

Plat tried to overcome his initial shock and intimidation from his first meeting with this new species human. The box of gold coins helped him decide what he was going to do.

“Captain Young, you have my deepest apologies. I will make things right by firing the underling then I—”

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