13 September 2016

Kumar Chameleon - A Star Citizen Story, Part One - Inspection and Challenge

I've been writing a story set in the universe of Star Citizen for a while and am now ready to post the first chapter. Instalments will be posted on a monthly basis - with the current plan being for nine of them.

I hope you like it. I'd also like to thank Justin 'Chivalrybean' Lowmaster from the excelllent Guard Frequency space sim podcast for taking a look at this.

****

A Banu and a human walked into a bar. This wasn’t a joke, at least what they were discussing. As they headed over towards the VIP room at the rear, the former was thinking about the woman who had caused him so much problems over the last few months.

As they sat down and the bouncer left them in privacy, he activated his MobiGlas and a picture of a woman appeared on the screen. He made clear, in Terran, what he wanted doing to her. The human suggested an asking price for this. The Banu countered. There was some discussion and an agreement was reached.

Then they ordered drinks to celebrate the murder that they were going to arrange.

****

The life of a merchant hauler could be one of great boredom at times; cargo shipping generally involved a good deal of waiting around as things got loaded, unloaded or checked by customs. If it was all three, as it was now, then the only thing to do was sit back and read a book.

Sunita Kumar’s choice for this particular encounter with the UEE authorities was War and Peace, an ancient, very long tale of war, society balls and Freemasons. She’d just gotten up to the duel scene when the swish of the hangar doors brought another person into the hangar.

Putting her e-reader by the folding chair that she kept on her ship, the Aurora-class freighter ‘Robert Holmes’, she got to her booted feet and smiled.

“Ah, Mary”, she said, looking down from the balcony where she’d been sitting. Mary Grant, a blonde woman in her 50s, clad in a dark blue jumpsuit, had just arrived and waved at her.

“Glad to see you!” Sunita continued saying to a woman who had been her friend for five years.

A UEE goon moved to intercept the new arrival, extending the hand not holding his assault rifle towards her.

“Sorry, ma’am”, he said, “This is closed off for a Customs Search”.

“Go choke on a pretzel”, the woman sneered, “I’m her guild rep… which means I’m as good as her lawyer”.

The soldier looked at her and decided that this was a decision beyond his paygrade. Mary walked past him and clambered up the ladder to the balcony, to join Sunita.

Sunita was a dark-haired Latina woman with pinky-brown skin who could be called pretty when she remembered to smile; at the moment she was. She was dressed in a red leather jacket and black jeans; she’d been planning to head into the city when this ‘random’ search had encountered her day like an unwanted stray cat. She liked cats, but the strays had a tendency to smell horrible and spray urine everywhere… the ship had smelt for weeks after she’d got rid of the one she’d chosen to adopt.

“Can’t believe that trick still works”, she said as Mary stood beside her, the two of them looking down at the unloading of her Stor-Alls in preparation for an imminent tossing by the soldiers and a suited man who was clearly their boss.

“It’s starting to fail on occasions”, Mary replied as she reached into a pocket and pulled out a bag of sweets, opening it and offering one to Sunita; who took it with a thanks, “You got anything dodgy in there?”

“Except for some space-frozen lasagne that possibly contains space weevil, no; you know I’m not a smuggler”.

“No… you’re not that. You’re one of the most law-abiding people I know… you don’t even jaywalk. Why they searching you?”

“Don’t know… don’t care. It just annoys me”, Sunita said with a frown.

“You got plans tonight?”

“I was going to watch the latest episode of Guardians, but that can wait. Series is starting to go downhill rapidly since they got rid of Brigitte”.

“Yeah…” Mary said in the voice of someone who had no idea what Sunita was going on about, “We’re going to Langley Beach for some skeet shooting”.

“Trap shooting?”

“Yeah… you never done that before?”

“Seen it done, but I’ve never actually shot at the things… not with a proper shotgun at any rate. I entered that ‘Space Skeet’ contest that was on at last year’s Murray Cup… and just ended up avoiding getting the wooden spoon”.

“I hear those are collectible these days. So, you coming?”

“Sure… not got anything else better to do”.

“Excellent. See you at 2000. Bring beer”.

“I don’t drink beer…”

The inspection took another two hours and found nothing untoward bar a couple of dead rats that had jumped on board the ship before taking off from Terra. These were duly placed in a sealed bag and sent off to be disposed of. The UEE troops thanked her for her assistance and offered precisely no apology for the disruption that they’d caused her.

The captain and sole crew member of ‘Robert Holmes’ headed out of the hangar and went through the usual entry checkpoints to make sure she wasn’t carrying anything dodgy either medically or weapon-wise. She wasn’t.

Sunita quickly and methodically arranged the delivery of cargo, ship resupply etc. then checked her bank accounts.

****

Sunita hired a buggy from the local hire shop for the drive down to the beach. On the whole, she hated beaches. While seeing the shirtless guys in their tight trunks was enjoyable, the sand that got between her toes and sometimes down her swimsuit generally wasn’t.

At least she didn’t burn easily, which helped.

Reaching the car park, she parked and removed her jacket, then her T-shirt and jeans to reveal a blue one-piece swimsuit; if she ended up going for a swim, at least she hoped the water wasn’t too cold.

As she stowed them securely in the trunk of the buggy, she turned around to see Mary and her husband Daniel walking over towards them. Mary was dressed in a blue T-shirt and bikini bottoms, looking pretty good for her age, while Daniel’s hairy chest was partly revealed by a Hawaiian shirt. She didn’t frankly like his moustache, but that was his choice.

Mary was carrying a crate with some soft drinks in it and offered one to Sunita, who took it with a soft ‘Thanks’ and then looked for a bin to stick the bottle top in.

“You’re the first one here”, Mary Grant said, “Others will be along shortly. We’re expecting about ten of us”.

They started to walk onto the sand and Sunita winced slightly as she felt the grittiness on her bare feet.

Another buggy was parked further down the beach itself, with three skeet guns lying next to it, a picnic spread and a tin full of some dark blue liquid.

“Er…” Sunita said, “What’s that?”

“The booby prize of course. A little concoction we call Vanduul Gore”, David said, “To be drunk by the loser”.

Sunita hoped she wouldn’t be drinking that… it smelt horrible.

“And what does the winner get?”

“A hundred credits”.

Sunita wondered who was going to show up and realised it was probably too late to back out now. She’d done the odd spot of weapon shooting in her time, but her accuracy had been mediocre at best and if some champion shooters ‘turned up’.

“Don’t worry too much”, Mary said, “There will probably be worse shots coming along”.

The sound of an Aurora flying over the beach above them distracted their attention for a few seconds.
“He shouldn’t be here, should he?” Sunita remarked. The others didn’t say anything; this area was restricted airspace and someone was going to be in trouble with the authorities that was for sure.

She sat on a nearby towel and started to sip at her soft drink; a bottle of orange and lime cordial. As she did, another buggy approached, with a woman clad in a light blue dress and a young man in just his shorts clambering out.

“You’ve not met Jack”, Mary said, “My son… and his wife Becky”.

Sunita got to her feet, putting down her drink on the sand and then shook their hands.

“Sunita Kumar”, she said, “Nice to meet you”.

“Indeed, we’ve going to have a lovely evening”, Becky replied. Becky looked distinctly homely; in fact, she hailed from the Pittsburgh Colony, a colony of what could be described as ‘Space Amish’, who shunned most modern technology unless it was really ‘necessary’ – farming with traditional implements, but perfectly willing to use ultrasound to check their unborn children were OK. Sunita thought, but could not be sure, that Becky was possibly pregnant herself. That or just had a bit of a belly on her. Space lifestyles could have strange effects on people.

Sunita filed this information and the key information about the others who showed up over the next thirty minutes. Soon they were ready to begin.

****

It was your fairly standard sort of trap shooting and they’d brought plenty of ammo for it; each shooter of the ten taking part would fire at 100 targets and the top three would fire at another 25 to determine the winner… as would the bottom two to determine the loser.

They would take turns shooting at ten targets a piece; Sunita had drawn the ball to go fourth. She sat on the beach watching Becky taking her first turn. Becky seemed to be doing very well indeed.

“Pull!” Mrs Rebecca Carrington yelled and a second later, an orange target shot out of the launcher towards the sea. She took aim and blew it apart with her first shot… before it had even reached the top of its trajectory.

“Where did she learn to shoot like that?” Sunita asked Mary, “I thought they didn’t have modern firearms on Pittsburgh?”

Mary nodded.

“They have muskets… which requires even more skill”, she replied, “Becky wouldn’t hurt a fly… unless she had to. If that day comes, I fear for fly kind”.

Sunita didn’t know what to do say to that… especially as Becky managed to hit nine targets out of ten; a professional level performance.

Now it was Sunita’s go. She strode up to her position and was offered the unloaded double-barrel shotgun. Get everyone clear, load the two rounds and place the weapon against her shoulder…

“Pull!” she called and a target shot out of the launcher. She swung the weapon to lead it, waited two seconds and pulled the trigger.

The disc exploded into orange powder and she smiled slightly; that was possibly beginner’s luck, she thought.

She missed the second and then managed to hit the third. As the fourth came along, she watched it fly and fired once.

Nothing.

She reached to fire again and just as her finger closed on the trigger, she felt something hot and sharp in her right shoulder. Then there was the sound of two explosions very close together and then raw pain.

Sunita dropped the weapon and began to fall to her knees as Mary raced towards her. She saw the sand coming up to meet her face and her vision begin to blur. 


“Call an ambulance!” she said Mary’s voice as she began to lose consciousness, “Find the…” 

That was the last thing Sunita experienced before blackness overcame her.

TO BE CONTINUED

****
(C) Silent Hunter 2016

Please note that this is a work of fan fiction, set in the Star Citizen universe. The marks and properties, 'Star Citizen', 'Squadron 42', 'Cloud Imperium Games', and 'Roberts Space Industries' are property of Cloud Imperium Games Corp. and Roberts Space Industries Corp ("RSI"). All rights in content, including places, characters, concepts, and ships produced and created by RSI relating to said marks and properties belong to RSI.

No comments: