Traveller Store CotI Features New Posts Mark Forums Read Register


Go Back TravellerRPG.com > Citizens of the Imperium > General Traveller Discussions > The Cleon Memorial Library

The Cleon Memorial Library For discussion of Traveller fiction, both official and fan-written. Fan-written drafts are explicitly welcome.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old June 21st, 2019, 04:22 PM
The Pakkrat's Avatar
The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 774
Gallery : 240
The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+
Post Zhevra's Dance Novel

This thread begins the novel Zhevra's Dance. A second thread will do for reactions and feedback. Please place such there. The novel started with the 2016 NaNoWriMo 50K-word challenge and sometimes filled the gaps between the illustrations. I hope you enjoy this gift and labor of love to the Traveller community.

A note on lore: Written in 2016-2017, the story uses what we had so far gleaned of the Empress Wave in that year. Since then, we fans have learned more about the psychic phenomenon. This book took Mongoose Traveller 1e characters and other aspects and slowly moved them into Traveller5. There will be elements that prevent this novel from canonization to be sure. So, I have decided to post the novel here.
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5
  #2  
Old June 21st, 2019, 04:32 PM
The Pakkrat's Avatar
The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 774
Gallery : 240
The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+
Default



Zhevra's Dance
By The Pakkrat

BOOK ONE

I. Regina (Spinward Marches 1910) A788899-C
The female stepped from the front door of the local Circle of Mysteries lodge, a structure like a basilica she remembered of the Church Of The Chosen Ones back Coreward, back home. There were only a few hours before dawn she reckoned given her night. She saw the stars’ backdrop to the large gas giant Assiniboia in the sky. It was true night on Regina still with the system’s three stars over the horizon and soon to rise. By the scent of the trees on the campus, she could smell the full onset of autumn or something like autumn on this unfamiliar satellite planet. Taking to a moment to check her surroundings, no sounds were a threat. The sounds of the never-ending, contragravity traffic in and out of nearby Credo Downs were a hum counter to the gentle winds through the trees here at the University of Regina. No one was about this late at night or early pre-dawn, she could not tell which as a visitor to this world.

With this new information that she had gathered from the Dean of Psychoportation, she could begin a vector now that she understood the realm of teleportation a little better. Padding down the steps of the lodge, a thought came to her as she reached the bottom step. The notion had no words, no concepts and no message. It just occurred. Her right claw went for the pistol in the web belt’s holster at her right thigh, but the button snap refused to yield the weapon to her. In the blink of a sudden revelation, the world tilted sideways and she felt her body give out from under her. Her last coherent concern was how hard she felt herself collapse to the ferroconcrete before darkness took her.



“Remember this always: I love you unconditionally always,” reminded her husband before he removed his white, clawed digits from the hair of her mane. It was strong and had his scent and strangely an aroma of frankincense. Then he was gone in the wet mists gathering about him.

The female regained her mind and froze still before moving. For her the sense of smell was a first choice here in the darkness with her eyes still closed. But the sense of touch is fundamental and she felt first, before taking in that first scenting breath through her nose. She lay in a heap of herself on a hard floor. Around her wrists and her neck were shackles and a collar. With barely a move, the female could hear the chains joining each. She had been captured and was alive. Without effort, her eyes came open in a very dim room. Sounds of her slight movement made faint echoes off the metal walls of the small area. And then scents flooded her first breath of controlled surprise. Don’t let them, whomever they are, know you’re aware yet, she warned herself. The old smell of at least two different urinations in different corners of the small room – no, a cell – told the female that she was indeed captured and chained in a dark jail. There was no one else in the cell with her. She would have sensed their scent, heard their breathing in such a small and confined space. A rusty aroma told her the age of her confinement. The walls must have been metal as well. Without light, the female could not tell where, if there was such, the cell’s door was.

Risking a move, the female sat up and bumped her head in the darkness against what she determined by feel to be a table bolted to the floor. There was no chair nearby, so she continued to sit on the floor and gathered her wits. Her leg still hurt where the bullet had barely grazed her left thigh. That gave her a sense of time since her collapse outside the lodge. She began feeling about the room and up the table to help herself to her cautious, digitigrade stance. That was when she found that she had been chained to the floor next to the table. In a controlled panic, she jerked on the chain to test its solidity. The chain to her wrist manacles and collar refused her with a metallic jangle. A table and chains in a cell mean that this was an interrogation room as well as a putrid and rusty cell. So, she was to be questioned. Quickly she recalled that she was no citizen of the Regency and her captors might not afford her any rights. In response, she balled herself in the corner to relieve her bladder separate from the first two, past urinations. She was still wearing her black-and-yellow leathers, her arm sleeves and double thong. The metal collar rode below the lavender leather collar and orich heart pendant given to her by Gev-. She silenced that thought fast. Let them deal with her scent since they cared not for cleaning this cell between prisoners. Then she returned to the table and felt about it as far as her chain would reach which prevented her from reaching the far wall, likely where a door would logically be.

The female could not tell how long she waited, but eventually she could hear dim voices from beyond the table, in the direction of the unreachable wall. Then a mechanical lock’s tumblers turned and a sliding bar outside what sounded to her like a door let lances of fluorescent light into the cell. The bright light silhouetted two figures. One was an upright human form escorted by one of her own race. A Human and a Vargr were her first jailors. Very well, she thought. Not my first cage.

“For Norris’ sake,” complained the Human, a baritone voice of a male. “Why do I get all the Vargr cases? Lights.” The man stepped into the cell as an incandescent light caged in the ceiling illuminated after a side gesture from the Vargr just outside the door. Then the upright, canine form stepped into the cell behind the Human, its clawed feet scratching the metal floor. The female squinted her eyes to adjust to the increase of light from pitch black to a sickly, industrial yellow. It was also when she noticed her captors had trimmed down her claws on her hands and feet to the harmless quick. Infighting with claws was out of the question now.

“Get some chairs while I get set up, will you?” requested the Human male. “You, miss, please join me,” said the man when two solid metal chairs arrived. The female did not immediately move and stayed in a defensive, digitigrade stance. In response to her reaction, the man produced a small package holding twin medicine tabs, a full glass of water, a thick folder of paperwork he seemed to regret and a recording device. “My name is Allain Templeton,” he sighed when the female did not approach the chair offered on her side of the table. “I’m an advocate, your defense in this case,” he declared. “You’re about to get a nasty headache. These are for you.” He then pushed the water and the tablets pack to her side of the table. Keeping his hands flat on the rusty table, the man waited for her.

The female studied the two who had entered her cell. The Vargr who remained standing in the last, unscented corner of the room next to the door wore the same bland, burlap robe style she had seen in the Circle of Mysteries lodge. A blue circular dot between the male Vargr’s eyes was of a dye meant to indicate to others that he was a Psion, a tested and trained adept at psionics. His pelt was a mottled gray with a white ventral coloration and his eyes were red-brown, a typical combination for the Aekhu Vargr of this region Charted Space. The Aekhu had long ago cowed under the Humans of the destroyed Third Imperium, integrating with human society and culture while managing to maintain their personal charisma, the pack level of self-worth and small group esteem. The Psion remained quiet and observed the female. He was obviously a telepath, the female guessed such, here to determine the truth of her answers to this Allain’s interrogation. She flattened her canid ears in revulsion.

Allain Templeton waited patiently as he calibrated the recording device on the table for the size of the cell and its acoustics. He was tall she had noted, wore not some paper-pusher’s suit but an outfit of boots, fatigues, black casual shirt and covered with a bomber jacket. His black hair was short but bushy and neat on the sides near his ears. His face was shaved, something the female in chains always detested, but his eyes were a gentle blue, very blue, like her missing husband’s ocean blue eyes. His gaze, though human, was inviting and patient as he laced his fingers and waited for her.

But then the headache Allain warned her of evidenced. Lancing from the back of her skull near her neck to the front and stabbing out her right eye, the pain blossomed as if it were a scheduled mag-lev train arrival. The female Vargr put her white claw palm over the afflicted eye and wavered in her defensive stance. She had suffered headaches before in the past but this one had a character all its own. She felt it should have been on the tail end of being struck from behind with a blunt weapon. Her resolve collapsing, the female dragged what little reach of the chains she wore to the chair and sat down.

“Go ahead,” offered the Human Allain Templeton. “We have all day,” he said half-sarcastic. He looked over his shoulder at the Vargr Psion to make sure he was present. The Aekhu was in a relaxed stance and yet alert to the two at the table. “I guess you’ll stand, Psion Khzaeng?”
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

Last edited by The Pakkrat; June 21st, 2019 at 04:42 PM..
  #3  
Old June 21st, 2019, 04:53 PM
The Pakkrat's Avatar
The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 774
Gallery : 240
The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+
Default

The male Vargr in the corner nodded as he noted the third chair he had brought into the room. Zhevra detected a slight raise in the hackles of his neck ruff. The male Vargr must not have liked his name spoken in this meeting. Perhaps it was charisma that kept the psionic analyst professional and standing. The advocate shrugged and returned his patient gaze to the female who ate the pills and drank down the entire glass of water. Allain then switched on the recording device. A tiny, blue light emitting diode acknowledged that it was recording the room.

“Registered Advocate Allain Templeton with Psion Khzaeng, registered telepath interviewing the accused on 341 of 1190 Credo Downs Penal, Regina, Regina, Regency,” announced the Human to the device. “Before me is a red-brown Vargr female with a white ventral pelt, eyes green and standing about five-foot-six. For the record, I don’t think the chains were necessary despite the warnings from the Vargr cellblock guards. The female before me has the ethnicity so-called Suedzuk – also known as a Red Pelt.”



The female narrowed her eyes at Allain. She hated that last moniker. She was no Red Pelt, a term used by others to label her as a bloodthirsty, genocidal murderer, Corsair and ransacking thief. The accusations and rumors blown far out of proportion, piled up through the thousands of years of her ethnicity’s actions, but she was guilty of none of her ancestors’ brutality. Finally, she spoke, finding her voice after the much-needed glass of water. Through the headache, she said, “The Sack of Gashikan was millennia ago. I am no Red Pelt.” Her voice was raspy but getting better and she rubbed her temples in hopes of encouraging the medicine to quell the pain behind her eye.

“Ahh, she speaks finally,” Allain the advocate smiled and brightened. “Please state your name for the record.”

The man’s demeanor and aura relaxed a little. She could tell. She could also tell by his seated stance that this man could defend himself though he was unarmed. She could take him. The Psion in the corner, a psionic lapdog for all she could gather, was a different story.

The Psion, this Khzaeng, bristled a little and re-settled his robes over his shoulder. She guessed it was a reaction to reading her thoughts and revulsion to him. The action and his overall aura confirmed that her thoughts were being read. She looked to the advocate with an accusatory glare. “Are you going to mind-rape me for answers if I do not cooperate?”

The Vargr intoned a memorized oath and recited with a monotone yet honor-bound voice, “I am a Vargr, I am a Regency citizen, I am a Psion. I am a person to be trusted. I possess a gift that-, “ he was cut off by Allain.

“Yes-yes, we know about the Psion’s Oath, Khzaeng,” assured Allain Templeton. “Miss, he’s not here to ‘mind-rape’ you. You are suspected of being an un-registered user of psionics and Khzaeng has been sent to assist me in that you don’t dishonor the Regency Psions.”



“I am no Psion,” the female denied. The headache was starting to let up in the minutes that the three uncomfortably endured in each other’s presence.

Allain broke the silence again, “Your name please? Names don’t incriminate, miss. I am here to help you.” He looked at the recording device as if to make it a further request.

The female, feeling the pain in her head let off significantly, answered, “Zhevra Cannagrrh, of Pack Cannagrrh.” She rattled the chains to punctuate her name and remind the advocate that he was safe. She had somewhere to go, but the cell she was housed in had other intentions.

“Zhevra Cannagrrh,” pronounced the advocate carefully, feeling out the syllables. “Your name isn’t Gvegh or Aekhu, so you are Suedzuk, yes?” asked Allain. “But that surname is Gvegh. I speak Gvegh and Aekhu, miss.”

“Yes, I am Suedzuk. But I am no Red Pelt, Human.” Zhevra Cannagrrh meant that to stick or this interview was over. In her mind, she had always been equated as a bloodthirsty killer on sight of her red fur, a signature coloration which stood out to others to recall again and again the Sack of Gashikan. Zhevra meant to squelch that with this Allain Templeton and to hell with whatever the Aekhu in the corner felt.

Allain opened the thick folder of hardcopy paperwork. Even this late, decades after Virus spread through computer networks via starships throughout Charted Space and faded to rumors, the Regency still took no chances with anything with the processing power greater than a hand computer. The documents were piled inside the folder. Allain produced a pen, carefully from his jacket and wrote the name Zhevra on the first page. “Could you spell Cannagrrh? I don’t think you spell it the same as it sounds.”

“My hus-,” Zhevra stopped herself and amended her answer with, “The Pack Cannagrrh spells it differently to show their opening to Gvegh-Human relations by using Galanglic letters and spelling. I care not.” She then spelled out the name to him in Galanglic letters.

“So, a Suedzuk married into a Gvegh Pack. Gvurrdon Sector? Just Coreward of the Marches?”

Zhevra didn’t answer. By giving her name, she had just admitted to being married, given away her Pack name and telling this Human that she was proud of the name. It was perhaps an asset of charisma to Zhevra. She could not devote more attention away from the here and now.

Allain looked over his shoulder at Khzaeng with an unspoken question.
“She does not shield her mind, advocate,” said Khzaeng. “Until she emits psi-waves or evidences a talent, she is no Psion.”

To Zhevra, the action the advocate had shown was akin to asking her if she was lying. Consulting the Vargr lie detector in the corner was just as insulting as being asked directly in her world. She frowned at Allain when he looked back to her, presumably with more questions. Zhevra tried to fold her arms in front of her breasts but the manacles forbade it. Still the gesture was enough to the advocate to notice.

The advocate put down his pen, closed the folder and pushed it to a side on the table. Sitting back in his chair across the table from Zhevra, he stared at her, his face half-shadowed by the radius of the overhead light. Zhevra thought he might get up and leave her to her cell. Maybe just as well, she thought. She could read his attitude. It was in his position and his vibe. He did not want to be here anymore than Zhevra. And Zhevra shot another go-to look at the Psion who shrugged again in his robe.

Allain Templeton shut off the recording device by leaning forward and putting his elbows on the rusty table. Zhevra noted that his bomber jacket’s zipper was broken. In addition, the advocate had no identification tag or other credentials hung on his apparel.

Tilting his head to one side, Allain spoke in a quieter voice now that the device was no longer recording, “Do you want off this rock?”

The question struck a memory in Zhevra. Her husband had asked her the very same question five years past. She glanced at the Psion watching the two at the table, passively. She nodded the same angry affirmative to Allain as she had to her future husband back then.

“Good,” said Allain, “so do a lot of other people here. If I stop asking questions, will you give me everything from the very beginning? It can only help me to help your case. You are accused of a stack of crimes since coming into the Regency and I can wager that there are more than that in the Splinters to Coreward. Since you say you are no Red Pelt, there must be a motive for your actions. You can tell me your story so I can prepare a defense. Okay?”

“Anything I say will more likely be used against me, Allain Templeton,” answered Zhevra Cannagrrh. “I have no rights here. My life is forfeit for all those other people care.”

“Then choose your last testimony wisely and truthfully,” suggested Allain. “Maybe your reasoning will have weight as well as being truthful as Khzaeng will attest. It is his duty here.” He pointed to the recording device. “May I, Ms. Cannagrrh?”

His demeanor changed again. Its sincerity unlocked Zhevra the way her husband was similarly able to get her to lower her defenses. She decided to test this Human’s integrity and nodded.
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

Last edited by The Pakkrat; June 22nd, 2019 at 07:57 AM..
  #4  
Old June 21st, 2019, 05:04 PM
The Pakkrat's Avatar
The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 774
Gallery : 240
The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+
Default

II. Regina (Spinward Marches 1910) A788899-C
Allain Templeton again activated the recording device. “Please begin.”

It was the way this Human kept using ‘please’, his aura and vibe lending sincerity to the request that gently ushered Zhevra Cannagrrh to begin her tale.

“I was born in 301-1153 on Llotree,” Zhevra began, her mind suggesting that going back that far might be superfluous. But she was determined to make Allain endure it all, to record her entire story if indeed her life was forfeit. “That is, Llotree (Ktiin’gzat 0839) of the former Vargr Enclaves, Coreward-Trailing of the Julian Protectorate remnants if you know where that is.” She saw him nod and wisely avoid interrupting her. “I was an only pup to a loving sire and dam and granted standard ED5 schooling at the Vought City School District. I tested and was rated with a Universal Personal Profile of 7BA565, up from my genetic 4632XX gleaned from my dam and sire. Llotree was a high-population, extra high-tech, industrial trade hub with other worlds and needed to feed its masses even after the Collapse. There was much outbound populace then as the system was not recovering as well as projected. I was accepted into a trade school for a year, took up electronics and majored in jumpdrive technician. The early know-how granted me high enough marks to waiver me into the Llotree Service Academy when they initially turned me away because of my coloration. They wouldn’t have allowed a Suedzuk in otherwise. I spent four years in academy learning drive engineering, specifically jumpdrives and maneuver drives though there were electives I could have taken in other in-system propulsions. It was busy learning and I wisely stayed away from males in the same institution. They stayed away from me, from my coloration. A planet like Llotree teaches one street smarts. Since the Academy was funded by the planetary military sector, I received both a B.A. and an early Officer 1 rating. My parents sprang the extra funds to allow me, after some begging, to tack on Naval OTC curriculum that was voluntary. The Enclave Famuuruergoghz was not at war with anyone and fully half my home polity was ready to sign into the Julian Protectorate which had buffered Llotree from the worst of Virus per the history classes. The OTC coursework saw me through basic power plants and it was fast becoming whispered that I was bound to be a starship engineer in the military. Completing the OTC through the Service Academy required a minimum two terms of Service despite my high marks. The military wanted to see what kind of engineer I had become and I entered my first starship as a junior Engineer O-1 for my first tour.”

Zhevra paused her story because she noted that her head no longer hurt and she could recall her early years more clearly. She paused to spell out the name of her home polity since Allain Templeton had taken up his pen again and reopened the folder. She also noted that he wrote ‘astrogator’ on the same page. She had leaked another detail to him by accident. Since he asked no questions, Zhevra felt bound to continue her story.

“My first tour put me on a ship of the line that was involved in a siege of a world that was violently opposed to annexation with the Julians. At age 27, as an engineer of jump tech, maneuver tech and power plant ops the ship came under counter attack and the bridge astrogator was killed by a lucky shot. The Chief Engineer pushed me all the way to the bridge and offered me up to the captain. For the rest of the tour, I was the voice of the ship on comms and pushed paperwork, but it landed me on another military vessel for my second, required term to pay for my education. Still an O-1 of Engineering, the ship was assigned a simple patrol now that the uprising had been quelled. I don’t know if it was sexism or what, but the new captain had me working all over the bridge and back and forth from engineering on sensors and life support systems. Then he used his rank to make me into his workout partner during off hours. The jerk was a voyeur and liked watching me move, work, fight and whatever else would draw his sword in the night.”

Zhevra paused for any effect, but saw that Allain Templeton was not going to bite the hook. Khzaeng was beginning to switch his weight from one digitigrade foot to another in subtle shifts.

“So, one night,” Zhevra continued, “the captain became too forward. Thankfully it was at the end of the tour and the ship was on its way home to Llotree. I put him in his place and he put me out of the Service. But news got out and I was exonerated from fraternization charges and was both promoted to O-2 and medaled for exemplary service in standing up for female Service Vargr in the fleet. It helped my charisma but stopped my career right there, all hush-hush and back patting. Captain reassigned and subordinate female out of the picture for all. I had met my required two terms, paying for my education. My final UPP should read 7CB675 and I still am no Psion. I took the bonus of one year’s worth of passages Spinward to leave Llotree after saying my farewells to my loving extended family. From 1184 to 1185 I travelled across the Vargr Splinters, as you call them, in hopes of finding a stable place to settle away from the Wilds.”

The advocate seemed to detect Zhevra’s pause. “Please do go on.”

Zhevra jangled her chains slightly, “Not until I eat since this will take some time. As you say, we have all day.”
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

Last edited by The Pakkrat; June 21st, 2019 at 05:49 PM..
  #5  
Old June 21st, 2019, 05:10 PM
The Pakkrat's Avatar
The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 774
Gallery : 240
The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+
Default

III. Regina (Spinward Marches 1910) A788899-C
The three ate a meal together, the human and the two Vargr. During the meal of two protein bars and water, Zhevra noticed that Khzaeng, the Aekhu Vargr eating fruits with his meat. Though her mouth watered at the carnivorous side of the dish, she questioned the Aekhu’s diet. Of course, he answered her before she spoke.

“Long ago, our people aided their own integration to the arrival of Humaniti by adapting to an omnivorous diet, taking in at first fruits and nuts alongside our meat,” explained Khzaeng who had sat in the third chair at the rusty table in Zhevra’s cell. “It has greatly increased our health, lifespans and ability to better mesh with the Humans, especially at the table. Humans tend to talk more there and among their families at dinnertime.”

Zhevra looked to Allain who was pretending not to listen. He was feeding himself an omnivorous stew, so she asked him while his mouth was full, “And are the Aekhu so cowed, integrated with Humans and human culture?”

Allain Templeton swallowed hard, but answered, “For my experience, Ms. Cannagrrh, the Aekhu are upright citizens of the Regency. The newcomers, Gvegh, Logaksu and such rarities like you are having a tougher time what with the incompatibility gap between Vargr charisma and the stratifications we Humans have accepted. I think they are excellent cooks, rival even to the Vilani.” He smiled to the Psion at the end of the table then went back to his stew. If Khzaeng had some response or thanks, he did not let it show and worked at his meal to finish before the Human and the prisoner.

Khzaeng had not risen at the end of the meal when Allain Templeton reactivated the recording device, resuming the interrogation. “Your journey Spinward across the Vargr Splinters started in 1184, please?”

Khzaeng stayed in his seat, perhaps seeing that the advocate had no preference for where the Psion plied his trade in the cell. Allain began writing in the stack of documents as Zhevra cradled the refilled glass of water and continued her story. The advocate was taking notes in some form of shorthand, the kind of legalese only lawyers shared.

“I travelled for a full year through Amdukan, Mendan, Meshan, Windhorn, Provence and into Tuglikki Sector. Every polity, every pocket empire still struggles to recover from Virus. Most are not going to make it. I have seen. For my part, each turned me away at first sight of my red coloration. No one wants a Suedzuk. They still harbor their horror stories of the Sack of Gashikan to this day, like some mythical, cautionary tale to tell their pups and hold themselves superior to my people. So, I moved on or was chased out of a system or pocket empire.”

Zhevra walked her first two fingers along the links of the chains that restrained her before continuing. It was a gesture to give adequate pause and punctuate her next words.

“My story does not gain any true depth until the liner I had booked passage was attacked by Logaksu Corsairs, some forty years after the extermination of the first wave of so-called Red Pelts to make it all the way to the Trailing border of Tuglikki Sector. The Corsairs pretended to be answering our distress call, Signal-GK or Mayday you Humans name it. The liner’s maneuver drive became unstable and was flickering on and offline intermittently and delaying our transit in the system. The Logaksu pulled up beside our liner, nice as you please and offered to help realign the drive. Since everything seemed Virus-free to the liner’s captain, he opened the hatches to the Logaksu Corsairs. I was in my stateroom shaking my head at the small view port when the Corsairs in vaccsuits crossed the gap between ships. I saw their weapons and knew before our airlock was overrun that we had been fooled. A former navy Spacer, I was able to recognize the trick, but as a passenger I was unable to do anything as the Corsairs overwhelmed our liner in the Wilds.”

“The crew were slaughtered one by one as their uniforms marked them for death as soon as the laser sights dotted them. Anyone who resisted was summarily spaced without expenditure of ammunition. I had the sense to dress in civilian wear though my pelt gave me away immediately. Passengers were rounded up and gathered into the emptying cargo hold as commodities, supplies, luggage and anything else valuable was seized by the Logaksu. We, the passengers of mostly Vargr females, injured males and pups huddled in the hold as a Logaksu hauler took over for the Corsairs. I remember the captain of the hauler addressing us as the Corsairs took their loot and left the ship for salvage after being stripped. In our only clothes left he announced our worst fears, a fate worse than death.”

“Slavery,” guessed Allain to which Zhevra nodded. “Let’s continue this tomorrow, Ms. Cannagrrh. I want to hear how you dealt with the Corsairs. Logaksu are some of the shrewdest merchants of the Vargr that we know of.” Then the advocate and the Psion picked everything up and left Zhevra in the cell with table and chairs. Perhaps it was a kindness to her that they chose to leave the yellow incandescent light on in her cell.

Allain Templeton and Khzaeng found Zhevra the next morning sleeping on the detached cushions of the steel chairs. She was still chained but had somehow gathered all three of the chairs and ripped the seats from them. She lay on a line of them in the cell as a makeshift bed.

“Damn, I forgot the chairs,” said the Human advocate. “What are we going to sit on now?”

Rousing from a stiffened and sore position on the scavenged seats, Zhevra answered inside a wide-mouthed, canine yawn, “You could always move me to a more comfortable habitat, Human. Vargr are not dogs, as we try to tell you century after century and still the comparisons arise.” She then stretched and twisted her torso to adjust her spinal vertebrae with audible pops.

As Allain formed a facial response, Zhevra offered, “I am not some Urzaeng barbarian, Templeton. Surely I have been manageable until now as to make this cell and these restraints an overreaction.”

The advocate looked to the Psion in a new robe of gray, workman’s canvass. Khzaeng shrugged, “The Suedzuk has been away from her people for years, has married into a Gvegh Pack. I believe her. At least a better room if not the restraints.”

Thus, the two had Zhevra transferred to a medium security, one-person cell that thankfully had a folding bunk, a sink and a toilet. Allain with the help of the guards brought in new chairs and breakfast. Khzaeng stood his unobtrusive sentinel in the corner as Zhevra accustomed herself to the cell. A tiny, barred window that slid open enough that she could stick her nose out and smell the morning air was the first order of business. Then, though still chained at the wrists and neck, the Suedzuk lay on the padded bunk which featured a prison blanket and a down pillow. It wasn’t her favorite stateroom, but it was an upgrade from the rusty cell. Every wall was painted with a thick sky blue, no doubt a color that encouraged rehabilitation and the promise of freedom someday. The two males, Allain and Khzaeng allowed Zhevra a female’s privacy before sitting down with her for breakfast. Then the advocate produced the hardcopy folder and the recording device again.

“How long is this going to take, Advocate Templeton?” asked Zhevra from the bunk bed. “I have things still that need doing.”

“That depends on your story and if I can get a magistrate to be lenient on the charges against you,” explained Allain. The Human sat down and activated the recording device once more. “Please continue, Ms. Cannagrrh.”

Zhevra ate breakfast from a seated position from her bunk as Allain and Khzaeng listened. She told her story, replete with details, as much as she could recall.
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

Last edited by The Pakkrat; June 22nd, 2019 at 08:02 AM..
  #6  
Old June 21st, 2019, 05:17 PM
The Pakkrat's Avatar
The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 774
Gallery : 240
The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+The Pakkrat Citizen+
Default

IV. Regina (Spinward Marches 1910) A788899-C, Tuglikki Sector of Zhevra’s testimony

The Logaksu captain was slightly taller than Zhevra and was nowhere as intimidating as the actual Corsairs that had stormed the Vadar, a stripped and scavenged liner capable of very rare three parsecs jump transits. Zhevra had booked passage on this ship’s very rare capabilities in this era. The male was dressed in work coveralls normally meant for typical ship crew. She guessed that the departing Corsairs kept the best wardrobes for themselves. This immediately dropped the loot hauler captain before her a few notches in Vargr charisma.

“I am Captain Aeghzllo, former passengers of the Vadar,” said the Logaksu captain addressing the captive passengers corralled in the cargo hold of the liner. “This ship’s drive is very valuable and it is my lucky day at your unfortunate expense. The Corsairs of this subsector have no need of prisoners, mouths to feed and have already taken what they could fit in their armed Sorrgeghg. This leaves me with just the ship and I don’t have the crew to take care of two vessels. Therefore, you are to be moved to my hauler as this ship is disassembled for its systems, components, spare parts and whatever is left.”

The passengers, including Zhevra began to whisper and huddle closer. Worries of being killed were whispered before Captain Aeghzllo continued, “Play your cards right, and you will see dirtside safely in the slave markets of nearby Ksoun, a vacuum world just now restarting itself in the Wilds of Tuglikki Sector. Miscreants and resistors will see the quicksilver of jumpspace up close and personal. Do you get me?”

Drooping Vargr tails and flattened ears seemed to answer the decree of the hauler captain. No one wanted death for now and Zhevra had to agree with them. To be enslaved was at least a chance at life and later freedom. The captive passengers were to be transferred to hauler’s vast cargo hold in pairs. Zhevra and the other females were separated from the males. One dam was separated from her male son. The two had been Splinters refugees, much like Zhevra. She remembered them boarding the Vadar. Further separated into pairs of the same gender, Zhevra managed to whisper to the bereft dam, “You will see your son again. The hauler may be big but they will keep us in the same hold and you will be able to at least see him.”

“How do you know?” sobbed the dam, a Logaksu Vargr like the Corsairs and scavengers.

“I saw the ship through a stateroom view port as it pulled up behind the Sorrgehg Corsair. The hauler’s main cargo will be filled with the scavenged hulk as we are packed into a secondary hold on a different deck. I used to be a Spacer, navy Service though not for very long. I am familiar with that class of hauler.”

“Quiet, you two!” commanded the female Logaksu scavenger in charge of the female captives. “Get out of those civilian clothes. Here are your new clothes. Find your size as best you can and put them on.”

There, on a nearby table were a wide size range of crimson red dresses for the eighteen female Vargr. Zhevra hated dresses ever since her bad experience with Captain Thueg on her last tour who demanded that all females on his ship take on utilitarian skirts as part of their uniforms. The Suedzuk engineer had always schooled and worked in ship flight suits, work pants and utility tops for their pockets. These dresses before her had no pockets, were a solid crimson and to her surprise were slit up both sides to her lower midriff. Baring her thighs and shoulders the sleeves and falls also threatened to bare her chest to the breasts. All the better to keep her from concealing objects and displaying her physicals to observers, Zhevra concluded.

“Put it on, Red Pelt,” sneered the scavenger. “It matches you perfectly.” She was referring to Zhevra’s red-brown fur coloration and ethnicity as a Suedzuk.

Zhevra narrowed her eyes at the Logaksu female and though began disrobing her civilian garb down to her breast garments and undies, she corrected her with, “I am no Red Pelt. I am no pirate either.”

Pulling the dress over her, Zhevra was met with the Logaksu female who had come close to her, well within personal space. Zhevra could smell the alcohol on the gray-furred female’s breath and the faint tell-tale of tooth decay when the scavenger spoke directly to her.

“Soon, you’re going to be someone’s red bitch, Red Pelt. I ought to paint your ventral with your blood to liven up that pelt, but you’re worth more unspoiled. So, shut it and learn your new place.”

Zhevra stepped back and closer to the dam Vargr who was dressed in crimson over her light beige pelt and whispered. “Come, let’s see if we can find your son on the hauler.”

In pairs, the females were reunited with the males in the upper deck cargo hold. Kept separate by huge, 20-ton slave stock cages that had been erected for them, the dam of the son rushed to the corner closest to the males’ cage as Zhevra took note of the other females in crimson dresses with loose sleeves. There was subdued expression and whisperings of hope among them.

The male Vargr in the cage nearby were in worse shape and worse apparel. Each had been herded into their cage after being forced out of their civilian clothes and into barely concealing crimson kilts that while covered their hips and thighs, they left their torso and arms bare to their pelts. Zhevra immediately was grateful that the females’ dresses were long enough that Vargr tails did not expose them as they did on the males’ kilts.

The cages were called stock barracks as each had ports for serving trays of food and each had a mounted, brushed nickel toilet with no privacy whatsoever. Within arm’s reach of each other, Zhevra saw the dam from earlier reaching through the bars to hold claws with her pup son. Zhevra herself began to hear the other females whisper behind her back. Her coloration was betraying her to the Vargr of this region of the Splinters.

“A Red Pelt,” noted one of the fellow females.

“Rare nowadays, but don’t get too close,” warned another. “I’ll tell you later about them. For now, let’s just sit and keep our wits.”

Other degrading vocabulary and unmentionables were whispered about Zhevra as she found her own corner to rest. It had been folly to think she could cross the Vargr Splinters without the Vadar getting attacked by desperate Corsairs and scavengers in this era. Zhevra decided it was not worth asserting her self-identification on the others in the barracks and tucked her canid muzzle in the folds of the dress’s sleeves to contain herself.

The journey to Ksoun, the vacuum world Zhevra had overheard was the hauler’s destination, was a rarity. Zhevra had been educated that after the Collapse of the Third Imperium due to the onset of computer infections by Virus and the infested starships called vampire ships. Many states of the Vargr Extents slowly crumbled in desperate struggles with the various and often deadly strains of Virus that was the downfall of interstellar community and empires. The Vargr Splinters, as the Extents came to be called, suffered slightly less than the Human empires of Charted Space in that the Vargr made less use of robots and the fight to eradicate, contain or quarantine Virus strains was easier. However, the ever-changing Vargr charisma that made the Extents so mutable allowed the catalyst of Virus to shatter empires which ‘collapsed’ in on themselves to cores of six systems or so so-called “pocket empires”.

As worlds failed due to lack of interstellar trade for survival needs and technological failures, either by Virus infestation or by everyday wear and tear, entire systems suffered exodus. Worlds that could not maintain life were abandoned often with begging and pleading citizens stuck planetside, left behind on a doomed planet. It became known as the Doom Trade, offering passages off world to safer worlds within the Wilds as technology continued to plummet below the minimal needs of Virus infection. Society backslid until every starship that approached a civilization was treated with xenophobic standoffishness at best. At worst, the vessel was at risk of being shot out of the sky as it descended to dilapidated starports.

Decades later after Virus had mutated and self-reduced to smaller numbers and thus became seldom encounters, many worlds were attempting to reach the stars again in recovery. The entire Vargr Splinters had been labeled as Wilds, lost to the Collapse and without lines of communication. Vampire ships still roamed the stars and communications were still silenced lest infection occur. Precautions in starship operations kept the spread of Virus in check. If a computer showed signs of infection, now it meant that only that block of computers could be extruded from a ship and destroyed, saving the remainder of the ship to undergo refit if suitable technology was available. The Wilds were just that. Without interstellar law and without any sure lines of communication above hardcopy in technology, worlds were severely hindered in their recovery.
__________________
Virus: When you care to infect the very best.
Empress Wave: Not something done in a local stadium.
Incoming Code: tc 23- mt+ mgt++ tn++ t20- t4- t5++ tp? tg- th? to~ ru+ ge- 3i+ c+ jt- au+ ls+ pi+ ta he+ kk hi+ as++ va++ dr+ ith? vr? ne? so+ zh+ vi+ da+ sy~
The Pakkrat 0608 X58738-8 S va++ so+ zh+ vi+ da+ 534
On assignment: Dhillourr (Gzaefueg 1413) B110A7A-G Hi In {5} (D9F+3) [8F3F] 102 F9 V VRo5

Last edited by The Pakkrat; July 14th, 2019 at 07:37 AM..
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Tags
new era, vargr, zhevra's dance

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Novel Teaser - Zhevra's Dance The Pakkrat The Cleon Memorial Library 0 July 12th, 2017 09:51 AM
Advocates of Space Exploration do a Happy Dance Sifu Blackirish Random Static 3 June 4th, 2008 03:14 PM

This website and its contents are copyright ©2010- Far Future Enterprises. All rights reserved. Traveller is a registered trademark of Far Future Enterprises .
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright (c) 2010-2013, Far Future Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.