07 January 2018

Kumar Chameleon - A Star Citizen Story, Part Five: Location



There was a sudden loud bang and the front of the Tevarin’s head exploded. As it slumped to the ground, Mary got up and saw Daniel standing behind her, holding a smoking pistol in his hand.

“Well, the agreed call signal worked”, he said, “Who is this Chris Roberts guy anyway?”

“He was a brainy kid I went to school with. I don’t know what happened to him though. Said he wanted to be a Wing Commander or something…”

At that point, the door to the shop crashed open, revealing a very angry Donald Hood. He turned around and saw the dead Tevarin on the ground, then noticed Daniel’s weapon.

“What did you just do with...” he started to say, then Daniel shot him in the head. Donald’s body collapsed to the ground, twitched a couple of times and was still.

What did you do that for?!” Mary screamed, “He was completely unarmed!”

Daniel holstered his weapon and looked down at the second person he had just killed in the space of a few minutes.

“He knew that we’d stolen his client list and he’d have told everyone he could that he was blown. Including our assassin. Also, to be quite frank, the galaxy is better off without him and his garden gnomes. Now let’s get out of here”, he said, trying to sound as cold as possible and not entirely succeeding.

He started to walk out of the alley, then stopped.

“If Sunita asks at all, Donald shot first”.

****

As soon as she’d heard the gun shot, Sunita Kumar had taken advantage of the distraction and ran out of the shop as per the previously agreed plan. She found a public toilet and gave her mouth a through rinse out. With soap.

Her mind wasn’t entirely focussed on what was going on with the rinsing though. Having heard two gunshots in quick succession, she was naturally very concerned about Mary.

She then made her way back to Tuskegee Airman, fearing the worst. Seeing Mary in the medical bay, being treated for her injuries by Becky (who had learnt a decent amount of medical knowledge growing up on a farm; she had helped cattle give birth after all), was a massive relief.

It then became a case of working their way through the data to try and find who the likely candidates were. Having found the bullet casings on the beach gave them a clear and obvious product to look for, allowing them to eliminate the people who had, for example, only bought anti-tank missiles or items only suitable for use by spacecraft.

They soon managed to get their list down to three people who had purchased the particular type of round.

“Well...”, Mary said, “We can probably eliminate the mining corporation from the equation pretty quickly. So we’re down to some antique collector named Llewellyn and an independent concern by the name of Whoops A Daisy Trading. Fortunately, we’re got a security camera photograph of this guy stored with the records…”

She pulled up the picture, which was of a bald African man with very bushy eyebrows and two missing teeth.

“He shouldn’t be particularly hard to find… but we’ll need to locate him. Sunita, do you fancy going with me to hit up a few bars. Even if we ask around, we’ll probably draw him out even if we don’t find him usually”.

****

Sunita and Mary found their way into a dive known as the Smelly Shack, which didn’t look like a shack but was most definitely smelly. Custom meant that they were going to need to have a few drinks and sources in bars were very wary of people who didn’t drink alcohol.

After three strawberry beers (Sunita didn’t know this was a thing, but clearly it was), their drinking companion of choice, a Banu merchant, gave them what they needed.

“He’s called Mr. Jones. He’s staying at the Kiddie World Convention. Strange that such a big man likes the things of infants…”

“What’s the Kiddie World Convention?” Sunita asked.

“Basically, a lot of adults decide to act like children for a weekend. There’s big slides, ball pits, swings, all that. Plus, there’s a lot of drinking involved, which is even stranger…”

“Right…”

Mary wrote this down on a pad of paper. She didn’t want to forget the information under the effects of alcohol.

There was certainly a lot of that involved. Around drink number six, things become a bit hazy…

****

The following morning, Sunita woke up with a pounding headache, a dry mouth and a general desire for the sweet embrace of death.

She opened her eyes and took a look around. It was clear that she was not on her own ship, or indeed in the hotel. There was the distinct smell of spaceship around, so she figured that she was on Tuskegee Airman. Probably in one of the guest cabins.

This was confirmed when the door to the cabin opened and Becky entered, holding a tray. The tray contained a cooked breakfast, a very strong cup of coffee and a fizzing glass of something that was almost certainly intended to aid with the intoxication of last night…

She got up to a seated position and noticed a pile of dried vomit up against one wall of the cabin.
“Was that me?” she asked Becky, “If so, I’m really sorry about that…”

“It was, but you’re forgiven”, Becky said, placing the tray on the bed. Sunita started eating the meal. It tasted very good or as good as you could get when your mouth was like that.

“Did we get the required information?”

Becky shrugged slightly and handed over a notepad. The handwriting was barely legible.

“Can you read this?” she said, “I think that’s a ‘n’, but I can’t be sure…”

Sunita took a look at the paper and started to try to piece together Mary’s chicken scratch with her memory of the previous night.

“Where’s Mary?” she asked Becky.

“Sleeping it off… Apparently she used to be much more able to handle her liquor”.

Was she writing this with her weak hand?

It took a few painful minutes to piece the relevant information together.

“His name is Abraham Jones. He’s nearly 2 metres tall, African in appearance and is built like a brick… something house…”

“Well, he’ll probably not be that hard to find…”

****

Having dealt with her hangover as best she could, Sunita had changed into another outfit, this one to go to the Kiddie World Convention. She was wearing dark blue shorts and a green football shirt, under which was a white bikini. A pair of strappy sandals complemented the look.

 “He’s got VIP access to the Convention and will probably be found in the VIP Lounge of this. You can get in with a VIP ticket, but you have to do something first”, Becky said.

“What do I have to do?” Sunita asked.

“Well… prepare to lose your dignity…”

****

“Sunita Kumar, it’s karaoke time!”

Karaoke? I don’t know who invented the idea, but I’d like to go back in time and punch him in the face. 

Sunita got to her feet and walked over to the microphone, wondering what monstrosity she was going to have to sing. She looked down at the virtual screen in front of her as the music began to start.

I know this tune… it’s rather a good one…

She smiled and started to belt out the tune.

Her name was Lola, she got Ebola

With vomit in her hair and loads of real pain everywhere

She would be nauseous and be real gross-us

And while she fought the bad disease, her friends divvied up her cheese

Across the iso-ward, the stiffs were turning cold…

The diverse crowd weren’t exactly booing at this moment…


His name was Davies, he got some rabies

He’d been bitten by cavies in a pet store, said Mavis


Someone started to clap.

In the D-Ward, the Viral D-Ward…

The hottest spot north of Wisconsin…

In the D-Ward, the Viral D-Ward…

Viral infections were spreading like presents

More people started to clap.

Her name was Asia, she was contagi-a
With Marburg, measles yeah and salmonella, it’s not fair…

There were increasing cheers as she finished…

Don’t go to Maine!!!!!!!

She took a bow and smiled as the crowd went wide. The MC walked over and shook her hand.

“The ‘Maine War’ song is such a catchy tune for such an unpleasant event in our history and you really gave it a wonderful go. Can we all agree what she is?”

“VIP! VIP! VIP! VIP!” the crowd chanted.

Well, that’s one phase done.

She stepped down, collected her ticket and then decided to go play in the ball pit for a bit before making her way to the VIP area.

****

As Sunita clambered into the hot tub in the VIP area, a waiter came over holding a tray full of glasses of coloured liquid with umbrellas in them. She looked at them and picked the light green one. It tasted distinctly minty, more so once she had drunk it. She looked around discreetly, finding that a 2-metre high man was harder to spot than you might think, especially with some many other people around, many of them in limited attire and some of those pretty handsome…

However, she wasn’t going to have to wait for long. Soon she got a glimpse of 160kg of pure muscle heading her way, dressed in a big pair of black shorts that wouldn’t be out of place in a boxing ring.

He looked at her face and the waterproof plaster on her right shoulder, then moved over quickly to her.

His large hand moved over to her head and shoved her face into the bubbly water…

Plans for 2018

Not a huge number this year, for various reasons. However, one thing I plan to do is a few posts examining a railway timetable I own for January 1958, comparing how things have improved. Or not as the case may be.

Plus a few reviews of things, including hopefully resuming my Star Trek: The Original Series posts once Discovery has finished airing.

30 December 2017

Salve Tredecim!

"Twice upon a Time" was a highly enjoyable and emotional Christmas special for Doctor Who, a wonderful ending for the Twelfth Doctor. The 'old-fashioned attitudes' of the First Doctor were slightly over done, but this was a relatively minor issue.

Anyway, I want to talk about the new lady. While she only got two words, those were excellently picked ones, squaring the circle of the Doctor discovering that she has become female for the first time. Whittaker's got a wonderful smile and while the accent may take some getting used (especially for non-Brits), she has already won over a lot of people.

So, onwards to the era of Chris Chibnall, who I'd not actually seen a photograph of until today. Considering he can carry off a velvet jacket just fine, I think we're in good hands.

24 December 2017

Vale duodecim

Tomorrow at just before 6pm GMT, the Twelfth Doctor will regenerate, four years to the day after his 'birth' in "The Time of the Doctor".


While looking very much forward to the arrival of 13, who is of course a major change for the show, let us take a moment to give a huge round of applause to Peter Capaldi, who imbued the Doctor with such memorable spirit - and gruffness.

Those eyebrows will be missed.

23 December 2017

Christmas wishes

In a year with a lot of sound and fury with normal decorum becoming increasingly rare it seems, I have to draw comfort from something.

I draw comfort from God's son, who came down to Earth, became a manual labourer and then went around for three years preaching that there is a better way of doing things than acquiring wealth and power.

This Christmas, my call on people is to play the ball not the person. If you disagree with someone's argument, attack their reasoning and persuade them of their point of view. Don't call them stupid or traitors. Understand why they might think that way.

Otherwise words will soon turn to blows.

On that note, have a safe and non-argumentative Christmas.

10 December 2017

Brexit Phase 1 agreement

So I've had a look at the understanding reached on the 'divorce bill'. Here are my thoughts:
  • Protecting the rights of EU citizens already here is important, asking them to apply for permanent residency is an inconvenience, but a necessary one so we know who has a right to live here.
  • The Common Travel Area cannot be eliminated in the British Isles anyway, it's been there for too long. Customs checks are impractical - but perhaps there could be a 'clearing house' system allowing for bulk payments each quarter?
  • Any trade deal will likely involve us making some payments. There is no such thing as a free lunch in these matters.
  • The UK should adopt standards for goods equal to or better than the current EU ones. That is effective regulatory equivalence while not tying ourselves to the single market rules if we don't want that; some goods might have to be labelled differently when rules diverge.
  • This could still all go pear-shaped.

05 December 2017

Northern Ireland and Brexit

It seems that the main sticking point over moves to trade talks is what do about the Northern Irish/Irish border. A ‘hard border’ on the island of Ireland is going to be immensely disruptive. A border across the Irish Sea is also going to be rather disruptive for places like Holyhead (who will need a lot of building work done for customs facilities) and will put the whole of the UK under strain. No border at all i.e. staying in the Single Market and Customs Union is remaining in the EU in all but name and completely unacceptable to a lot of leaver supporters as it will mean accepting freedom of movement.

 

Theresa May is probably regretting having become PM now…

25 November 2017

Net neutrality

On 7 December, the US Federal Communications Commission is likely to vote to remove "net neutrality", the requirement that internet service providers treat all traffic coming through them equally and do not discriminate for or against a particular traffic source with different speeds.

This has got parts of the Internet, Reddit in particular, up in arms. With internet provision in the US largely restricted to four big providers (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon & Time Warner), with some areas only having access to one, they are concerned this will lead to sites that particular ISP doesn't like being throttled or even blocked, especially if the site doesn't pay what the ISP wants. Netflix has had this problem in the past. With US internet costs pretty high as is (like $120 a month) this is something that they are not happy about.

I don't want this to go - it won't personally affect me and there doesn't seem to be any danger of it happening in the UK, Brexit or otherwise. It will be bad for many start-ups - survivable, but still bad.

However, I sincerely hope that social media can also get as worked up about issues more important to all our future than internet speeds. Like climate change.