Who would have thought it.
I have avoided the Mad Monks of Van Maanen's, but Wagar is someone I can follow.
Around the 'verse in 80 drinks would be easy...
Have you ever tried assembling 80 different drinks?
At least the Mug is being kept cool with all the beverages flowing throw it, even if the FSD needs beating back into shape after each leg.
Fortunately, that last world had an eleventh asteroid around the seventh planet. A 7/11, if you will. It allowed me to stock up on the required fluids to keep the nut above the flight chair well-oiled.
Onto the last quarter of the journey around the galaxy.
The paint is almost gone.
The Mug glows gleaming in the night even when the ship is shut down.
The raccoon won't stop ferreting around all the lockers, and the ferret won't stop raccooning with the AFMUs.
Approaching the 3/4 point of the galactic circuit.
Ulysses has turned Uno into a sort of antenna so we can watch Top Gear. We are just about in range for the earliest transmissions to reach us. Back when it was cultured. Before the Dark Times. Before Son of Clark.
The raccoon Bert has taken to riding VINCENT around the cargo bay. This would be fine if VINCENT hadn't taken to yelling WAHOO himself as he careens off the bulkheads.
I think he is going space mad.
27 waypoints into the Hutton Around the Verse in 80 Days expedition, and I heard a rapping on my cockpit door.
Without thinking, I called over my shoulder, "who eez eet?"
That sodding gopher appeared by my side, looking as officious and nervous as ever.
"Uh, Rear Admi-...Duke...uh, CMDR...you see, Alvin is wondering why you haven't checked in in a while, so if I could take a moment..."
I was wondering how he was here when it hit me. Space Madness.
I waved him away. Couldn't he see that I was busy jumphonking, and he should go chat with Ulysses and Winnie the Pooh on the lower deck.
I wish to see the Imperial ambassador to our beloved Orbital at the earliest opportunity for an explanation of their navy's curtness in the matter of refusing humanitarian assistance.
After having been made a Duke, I took it upon myself upon my return to pay a visit to Facece, as an unofficial check-up on all things Mug-related in that otherwise-closed system, now I possessed a Permit and a desire to visit a showroom to peruse one of those rather impressive Imperial Trucks.
Upon entering orbit of the star, my scanner revealed to me a Capital Ship signal quite close by. Aha! I thought, someone who could perhaps give me a briefing.
I was quite taken aback to find, rather than one of Her Imperial Majesty's finest vessels, a rather distressing debris field. No mugs at all, unfortunately. I considered scopping up a few bits of drive plate when my proximity scanners lit up and the INV Achenar's Might, ummm, Majestically appeared out of frame shift.
Naturally, I opened comms and positioned my asp in front of the VIP docking port on the underside.
No response. Not even a friendly tap from a beam laser. They just stayed closed up.
Could they not tell that the Dayglo Viking, Duke of the Empire, Carrier of Refugees and 100k Shifter of the Pleiades, was ready and willing to take all that scrap away to commemorate their lost comrades with a special line of Mugs, available any time one of their officers took shore leave at Eden?
As it is, I do hope the Ambassador to Hutton would be make himself available to clear this matter up. He may find me currently in Wolf 359, playing with some cubes.
Somehow, the gopher had found me on the Pilot's Federation rescue ship in Oraon. I swear Lord Alvin must have given him his own souped-up iCourier loaded with tracking equipment..
"Vice Admi...Dayglo Viking, sir, the Chief Barker has sent me up here with some questions..."
"I know, kid, I know. Pull up a chair..."
Quaglia Dock was afire, and I'd come out here with a paxConda to get as many people out as possible. Hadn't had time to unship the dakkas, and you never know if you might need to bite back anyway. I'd stopped by at the rescue ship to let them know that a Hutton Trucker was on the case. This seemed odd to him, as Quaglia is close to the system jump point, and the other burning station was a decent supercruise distance away.
We don't always make long journeys. Come on. Sometimes we do the milk runs too.
Anyways, things started promisingly. Thank the Lords of Kobol that the access tunnel was only so broad, or there might have been an actual stampede to get into Grabthar's Hammer.
Then...I don't know. Somehow, the evacuees weren't...quite so desperate any more. Noone was refusing to board the Hammer, they just...weren't showing up. I've tried seeing if the migration control guys are slowing things down. Nope, they are just as mixed in with the evacuees as the medics who I thought might have been trying to contain an outbreak of Centauri croup rumoured to be going around.
I got to playing a few rounds of Sirius Solitaire, even CAH with the chief docker. Then he suggested his spanner guys could play with my ship while we wait, so during the lengthening turn-arounds IN A BURNING STATION they took to stripping down my dakkas and making them more efficient. Kinda felt it best to go sit at the opposite side of the dock while they did that. They even made the drives dirtier to cut the round trip down...not like I needed to actually be faster when the damn passengers weren't showing up.
Heck, I even took the chance to see if the Hammer could handle herself against the Xenos. Turns out, she can represent, at least against scouts, but I'm going to need to dust off one of those Fed gunships to really stand a chance without coming back with the hull half-melted away.
"You know, kid, if you want, you could come across to Quaglia on the next run and try get some of those recalcitrant refugees to just get on the damn ship."
He looked at his data pad, almost like he hadn't wanted to hear the suggestion. "uh...that...that would be interesting...but...I, uh, I need to go check on the upcoming elections in Wolf 25..."
Oh good, the gopher had found me again.
I was sat in Lorenz Station over in Toromona. Had to visit a Factor thanks to an...unfortunate discussion with a surface turret and a Vulture whilst dealing with a wanted felon on Teide A before I'd raced the Truckers to the top of the mountain. To be fair, the Vulture should have thought about the risks involved in lazing a full-MC corvette.
"What is it you want this time? And I told you, I'm the Dayglo Viking. You can knock that Fed rank stuff on the head."
"Ah...yes...sorry Vi...Viking Sir. It's just, Lord Alvin is compiling a full accounting of Trucker Activities during the Teide race and I've been sent to get your report. From you. Directly sir."
I motioned for the young lackey to take up a seat, for the barman to fetch some more drinks, and that this was coming out of the boy's credslip. He wants a story, he is paying for it.
I told him how I had been taken off combat patrol duty in Hutton Space to join in the Teide Climb. I'd brought along 4 SRVs just in case. A group of Truckers were down on Sol, performing a very old-fashioned method of exploration of the original Teide for research purposes involving "hearing dogs" and "special effects." Meanwhile, we would be out there carrying out a very accurate mapping action on a lump of rock on Teide A. Someone back on Hutton must have been sniffing the fumes from Cubicle 3 again, but suggestions are orders when it comes to Lord Alvin's barks. I saw what happened to that trader's leg who was insisting he should get a 'Conda at the Orbital.
I told him how I'd pointed uphill and gunned the drives on the Purple Wonder after dismissing the Endeavour. Turns out, the view can be deceptive, and another Trucker in a Krait had handily used his lights to correct my course, how the self-repair system had stopped me from trying to breath vacuum more than once, and that flying sideways up a mountain side can be disorienting.
I showed the holofac image of us at the top, and he wondered if it wasn't wasteful to discharge 5 chaff banks simultaneously when another Trucker had crested the peak. Goes to show he's still not cut out to be promoted above gopher yet.
"Vice...Viking sir, it's just the following hours...you were then Away From Kontrols for several hours. What, I mean what you do in your ship is your choice of course, but what were you doing then if I can ask?"
This was the reason why I was sat in the zero-G bar at Lorenz.
"Seems to me, kid, that the Sol-Trucker-Team deserved some spiritual support. Y'see, I've got a centrifuge gym fitted in the larger ships. Costs me rack space in the hold but that's how comes I am still svelt and good to look at. The guys down on Sol had a 65km path, so I was down in the hold wheeling my own 65km. Truth is, I feel sorry for those guys, they had to deal with the atmo back on Terra, and word is someone stole a pair of my socks. Someone even suggested Cecil was seen out of the pool Type 9..."
Weeks since I have seen the beauty of Hutton.
Days since my megagin ran out.
My Mug continues to warm up every time my FSD spools up, and when the Fleet has come together, it has glowed with the white intensity of an O class star as the FSDs of all the other ships caress it with their energies.
I had been receiving an ancient transmission from Hutton Radio as I polished my Remlock helmet, some ancient ditty, singing along, a rock band from Terra crooning "Save me, SAAAAVVVVE ME..." when the comms were interrupted by my contact in charge of Small Worlds 3. Before I could do anything, the holo-emitter had locked in a two-way link
"Ahh. I see you're naked and all alone, Commander."
"With due respect, sir, the line is 'naked and far from home. What do I owe this pleasure to, sir?" (you can never be too polite with these bureaucratic types...)
"We would just like to discuss your initial scan reports. Of course, we appreciate what you are doing for the scientific community, we just have one or two issues with the manner in which you are going about the work"
"How so, sir?"
"Well, you just aren't getting in the same jumps per hour that some of the other commanders on SW3 are making. It's great that you're stepping off-route to find the less-visited places, although I do have to wonder what we can really learn from L Dwarfs."
"Small things need love too, sir. At least, that's what the Commissioner's wife was heard to say at the departure ball."
"Yes. Moving on. Back to the jump issue. Last night, for example, after the Fleet rendezvous, most of the commanders involved made it to the next waypoint within the hour. I note that you yourself have only just arrived. Hardly efficient. Why don't you speed up a little bit?"
"Can't do that, with all due respect. Sir"
"Would you care to explain yourself?"
"If you insist. First off, although I am under contract to the SW3 commission, this is my ship, and I run it how I see fit. Secondly, I may be on this expedition, but I am first and foremost a Hutton Trucker. For this reason, may I draw your attention to this communibone from the Lord and Master of Hutton? He thought I might face such an issue..."
I activated the device, not unlike a synthetic thigh bone in appearance, with curious tooth marks around the ends. It had been nuzzled into my hand by the very being who had charged me with representing the Orbital on this journey, the fluffiest and most fearsome booper of snoots himself, Alvin. The Commissioner visibly flinched on the holoscreen, his ankles retracting subconsciously below his chair as if afraid of a chewing. The sweet voice of my Lord sounded across the speakers: "Woof grrraaargh arf arf. Garrrr rawww fnuff grfff aarrwww. wooooOOOOOOOo. blep."
"So you see, Commissioner, it is very clear. It is my duty as a Hutton Trucker to go the distance. No ice moonlet is too distant for me to scan. No T Tauri is so unremarkable. I am required to sniff out anything of any interest, and the more light seconds I fly, the better. I hope this clears matters up. I must also say that I am disappointed at the number of preceding pilots who ignored those worlds. Who knows what we might find out here. Now if you don't mind, I am going to put my communibone away and get back to polishing this helmet. For The Mug, Commissioner."
Before he could get a retort in, I cut the feed and got back to the radio.
"...I'm a creeeeep, I'm a weirdo, I don't belong here..."