Storm World Ch. 06byRipperFish©
Finally, I've got this chapter to a satisfactory state. As with chapter 5, this chapter was originally two. I decided they would work better if I combined them. It really helped the flow and I'm sure many of you will be pleased that it also increased the length of the chapter. I can make no promises of this being the norm for the future, but it works for this one.
The main reason there was such a delay getting this done is that I was pretty sick for a week and then just had no energy to work on anything. Oh to be young again when I could bounce back like a rubber ball. I took so many pills for a while there, I rattled when I walked.
As previously requested I am including a list of characters to give readers some idea of who is who and what they do.
Commander M`peth qHo -- Thahn `Den -- Intelligence Branch. Leader of the survivors.
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Liat `del Qha -- Pah`Tht -- First officer of the Char`Noth. Second in command.
Chief Weapons Officer (Gunner) Chep `Urt vEss -- dTel`Qohar -- Second officer of the Char`Noth.
Ima` Nef`Tn -- dTel`Qohar -- Weapons technician.
TaH `Kiy mTh -- Thahn`Den -- Engineer.
Tem l`eth tong -- dTel`Qohar -- Veteran weapons specialist. (This character was injured and walks with the aid of a crutch.)
Ty`em P`tral -- Thahn `Den -- Engineer (This character was injured and remains unconscious.)
For additional notes please go to Literotica Discussion Board > Main Literotica Forums > Authors' Hangout > The Savage Shore Universe.
Fear scent and battle musk hung on the air as the gunner dropped unconscious to the stone floor. Liat `del Qha quickly stepped a few paces to her right, her jeq`istle leveled at the Human in a two hand grip. The Human had been fast. Too damned fast! If he were to lunge at her she wanted as much time to drop him as she could get. The others also drew their weapons, except for Ima` Nef`Tn who stared wide eyed at the fallen gunner, the tip of her tail flicking jerkily from side to side.
"Goddamnit!" shouted the Human. His expression had hardly changed while he pummeled Chep `Urt vEss. Now it was twisted with pain and anger. "I think I just broke my fucking fingers! Fuck!"
Liat `del Qha heard the distinct sound of weapon primers being set and thumbed hers to high emission, enough to blast a fist-sized hole completely through Benjamin at this range. The Human shook his swelling hand as if he might throw the pain to the floor like hot liquid. It appeared he had not noticed the drawn weapons until he turned around. His pained expression shifted into a confused one.
"What's with all the guns?" he asked, still slowly shaking his injured hand.
"Stay back!" snarled Commander M`peth qHo, bringing her pistol up to sight down its barrel.
"That fucker just tried to sucker-punch me," the Human growled back, ignoring the weapon's threat. "Was I supposed to let him?"
"Stand where you are!" the commander ordered, her voice shrill and uncertain.
TaH `Kiy mTh moved to Benjamin's right and back a pace so as to flank the Human on the other side and stay clear of Liat `del Qha's line of fire. His ears were keyed sharply forward. His attention focused entirely on Benjamin.
"Lady, you are going to get that gun out of my face or I'm going to make you eat it," growled the Human. He sounded like he meant it and the scents of the jZav`Etch were suddenly overlain with a strange scent none of them had smelled before.
"Commander," Tem l`eth tong said in a soft, calm purr. She held her weapon loosely, not pointing it at the Human, though it would take only the flick of her wrist to target him. "A fight between males."
M`peth qHo's ears rotated towards the veteran weapons specialist for an instant, indicating she had heard her words.
"Stand where you are, Ben `Jamin," she warned the Human again. Her ears flicked towards Liat `del Qha inquiringly.
"Gunner Chep `Urt vEss did attack without warning or sufficient provocation, Commander," Liat `del Qha said woodenly. She was trying to remain neutral. While the big dTel`Qohar was her crewmate and thereby deserved her loyalty, to her mind and according to etiquette, he had been in the wrong. "Ben `Jamin O' Conn `ur is not our prisoner. His government is not at war with ours."
"And he is an officer in his own right," added Tem l`eth tong, her wide eyes shifting urgently to the commander.
"He is not a military officer and he is not in his right mind," countered TaH `Kiy mTh. "You said so yourself, Commander."
"You do not know that," Ima` Nef`Tn said, shooting a glare at the young male.
"Lady, I'm going to count to three and then make you use that thing," Benjamin grated through clinched teeth. His eyes blazed and his muscles bunched. "Last chance. One..."
"Commander?" Liat `del Qha asked. She did not want to shoot the Human, but she could not allow him to attack her officer.
"Ben `Jamin!" pleaded Ima` Nef`Tn, her eyes imploring and ears back.
"Kill him!" TaH `Kiy mTh said.
Tem l`eth tong raised her weapon.
"Two..." Benjamin continued.
"Commander?" Liat `del Qha set her finger on the trigger of her weapon, ready to shoot.
"End this, Commander," Tem l`eth tong urged.
"He's dangerous!" shouted TaH `Kiy mTh.
"Enough!" snapped M`peth qHo, raising her hands, palms out, weapon pointed up. "Lower your pistols."
"Commander?" demanded TaH `Kiy mTh, incredulously.
"You heard the commander!" snapped Liat `del Qha, glaring at the young male. She rather hurriedly shoved her weapon back into its holster.
"But he is dangerous!" TaH `Kiy mTh protested, still aiming at the Human.
Ima` Nef`Tn's leg was a blur as she lashed out and kicked the weapon from his grasp. TaH `Kiy mTh gaped at her even as she shifted to stand squarely between him and the Human. Tem l`eth tong smirked at that and then slid her jeq`istle into its holster. Clearly Ima` Nef`Tn had chosen which male she liked best.
"Enough, I said!" snapped M`peth qHo, glaring at Ima` Nef`Tn. "TaH `Kiy mTh, retrieve your weapon and attend the gunner's injuries. Ima` Nef`Tn, see to Ben `Jamin's hand. It looks broken. Liat `del Qha and Tem l`eth tong, join me at the computer. There is much to do and I fear we are running out of time."
"What the fuck is going on now?" demanded Benjamin, confusedly looking from one jZav`Etch to another in search of an answer.
"Japanese, Ben `Jamin," Ima` Nef`Tn said, taking his right wrist in her hand and examining his broken fingers. Her tail drooped almost to the floor and her shoulders sagged. "We must fix this. Come with me."
"It's alright," he protested, but he did not resist as she guided him towards his enclosure. "What is going on? Why did that ape attack me? I mean, it is my job to keep you all safe."
"Ben `Jamin, do you remember my name?" Ima` Nef`Tn asked gently. It bothered her that he was switching between English and Japanese, but she was glad he had not been shot and was now merely confused, not dangerous.
"Sure," he replied with a frown and then blinked at her. "You're... Um... Wait. You are Ima` Nef`Tn."
"That is correct," she said with a relieved sigh. Perhaps he had not reverted to his earlier mental state. "And can you recall the Pah`Tht's name?"
"The what?" Benjamin stared at her, bewildered.
"The short one over there," she said, indicating the pilot who was now standing with the commander and Tem l`eth tong by the table and the computer.
"Oh yeah. The one with the nice boobs," said Benjamin, narrowing his eyes in thought. "Letta or Lia something. I think she won the wet T-shirt contest."
Ima` Nef`Tn didn't know what that meant. She shrugged it aside and asked, "And what is your name?"
"Benjamin O'Conner," he grumbled, following her into his enclosure. "You knew that."
"I did know that," she confirmed, settling him down on his cot. "I wished to be certain you remembered, though."
Benjamin looked at her seriously while she took her medical kit off her belt and started examining his broken fingers in earnest.
"Was I acting crazy again?" he asked after a long silence.
"Japanese," she said and read the data from the medical kit's screen. "You have fractured three of your fingers. There is much swelling."
"I knew that. I asked if I had been acting..." He had to think for a few seconds before he recalled the Japanese word. "Have I been acting crazy again? Like I was when you first arrived?"
"Not as bad, but you were... strange," she said. From her kit she took a vial, slipped it into the hypo injector and pressed it to his wrist, shooting a dose of medicine into his system. "That will help with the swelling. Thankfully, there will be no need to... set? Yes. There will be no need to set the breaks. We must wait for the swelling to dissipate before I can put a brace on it. I wish we had a medical bay. Your hand would be healed in a sixth."
"If I can get my auto-doc running, I can fix this in no time," Benjamin said. He was fascinated by how quickly the drugs were working. The swelling had perceptibly diminished and the pain from the break was far less than it had been a minute ago. The medical kits he was used to could generate plenty of drugs, but none of them reduced swelling this fast.
"What is an auto-doc?" she asked, thinking she already knew, but wanting to be certain. Perhaps they could use it on Tem l`eth tong and Ty` em P`tral. Perhaps they could have used it on Es'tl Mei qHa whose injuries had been so extensive she had given him a proper end rather than allow him to linger. She put that sad thought aside. It was too late and there was no point dwelling on it.
"An auto-doc is a portable surgical unit," he told her and then rose. "Come on. I will show you."
Ima` Nef`Tn hesitated a heartbeat, undecided whether it would be wise to take Benjamin through the main chamber again so soon. This was his home, though, and the commander had ordered her to attend his broken fingers, not guard or confine him.
"Very well," she said, folding her sensor and returning it and the hypo to her kit.
To her relief Benjamin led her along the line of enclosures rather than crossing to one of the side tunnels. He entered one that was cluttered with crates and boxes. Part of one wall had collapsed outward, but he hardly paused to look at the damage.
"Someone has been in here," he said, frowning.
"The commander wished to have an inventory," Ima` Nef`Tn explained.
"She could have asked me," he grumbled, shoving a large box out of his way as he crossed to an odd looking machine in the corner. "I think I took the power cell out of this a while back."
Ima` Nef`Tn went to help and between them they were able to lift the machine and set it on top of one of the larger crates. There was obvious damage to the casing. A control panel was crushed and it looked as if something had been intentionally driven through a side panel.
"Was this damaged in the crash?" she asked. Her expression evinced confusion and disappointment.
"We didn't crash," Benjamin told her, flipping a clasp open. "The captain set the Jenny down on the shore just fine. Problem was, Dr. Troi forced him to move her to a valley where the larger animals couldn't get to her. She wouldn't listen to anyone and threatened to have the captain's license revoked if he didn't do as she said. What a bitch."
"What was that?" Ima` Nef`Tn had never heard that phrase and was sure it was not Japanese. It was more in the cadence of a jZav word and she was intrigued.
"Apologies," he said at once, embarrassed. "It is not a nice word."
"What does it mean?" she persisted, a thin, mischievous smile on her lips.
Benjamin glanced at her, the corner of his mouth quirked and his eyes were speculative.
"Is it such a bad word?" she asked, leaning in a bit closer. This was good. As his stress dropped, Benjamin was acting more sane.
"Women do not like it," he said. With a grin he went on, "Men do not like to be called a bitch, either."
"What is a bi`tQh?" she asked, even more intrigued.
"Well... A bitch is actually a female dog," he said. "Do you know what a dog is?"
"An animal of some kind," she said with a flick of her ears. "I have never seen one."
"Dogs are great, but I prefer cats because they take up less room and are a little more independent. Anyway, when bitches go into season they will let pretty much any male dog have sex with them. Once they get pregnant, and especially after they have their puppies, they become defensive."
"That seems normal among animals," she said with a puzzled frown.
"Well, when you call a Human female a bitch it usually means she is being... um... inordinately willful and sometimes stupidly contrary. Mostly it means they have a superior attitude and act nasty towards anyone they do not like. There are a few other things it can mean. None of them are complimentary."
"And when you call a male a bitch?" she asked, even more curious.
"It usually means he is acting like a woman or he has been dominated by another male," Benjamin chuckled.
"So you have made a bitch of Chep `Urt vEss?" she asked, now genuinely amused.
"Maybe," he chuckled. "We will have to see. Come on. This panel has to come off so I can put a power cell in. If I can get the bone growth inducer to work, I can fix my hand. If not, you'll have to splint it for me."
Smiling, the two set about removing the panel, working side by side companionably with Benjamin directing most of the time and Ima` Nef`Tn deftly following his instructions. Neither noticed how close together they remained. Nor did either notice the occasional purr when Ima` Nef`Tn came in contact with Benjamin.
"This is the same data I found when I began working earlier," grumbled Tem l`eth tong after she touched the computer screen to reactivate it. "All these strings of characters make no sense."
"Odd," agreed Liat `del Qha, squinting at the screen. "Is it malfunctioning?"
"I have seen this before," M`peth qHo said, thoughtfully. "Not this precisely. Something like it, though."
"What does it mean, Commander?" asked the veteran.
"Usually it means nothing at all," M`peth qHo said, flicking her ears dismissively. "Often it is a series of images. I think it is an art form. Humans call it a screen saver. In jZav, a screen saver or a preserver of monitors or displays. They've been doing this for hundreds of years. Perhaps since they first developed computers."
"Screen saver?" murmured Liat `del Qha. "Why would the screen need to be saved? Humans are so odd. It is fascinating to look at, though."
"It is a waste of effort and storage space," Tem l`eth tong snorted irritably and tapped the screen. Instantly the streaming, flipping and whirling lines of multicolored characters vanished. "This is what I found earlier."
The charts with their red lines and numbers appeared on the screen with a touch of her finger. She arranged them chronologically as she had done before. Something was distinctly different about the most recent one, though. While there had been a few peaks none had ranged beyond the fifth mark on the left of the screen. Now the line had a new peak that topped just above the seventh. She looked up at the two officers hoping they could explain what it meant.
"It is nearly identical to what was on the display in the building above," said Liat `del Qha. She sounded concerned and her ears trembled uneasily.
"Did not that display register the quake while you were looking at it?" asked the commander.
"It did," the pilot confirmed with a nod.
"Tem l`eth tong, you said you found programs for satellites and sensors," M`peth qHo said.
"Give me a Taq'a, Commander," the veteran said. "I will try to bring them up again."
She worked her way through several menus until a long list appeared in the middle of the screen. She tapped one and it expanded, revealing a chain of code that filled the screen and continued to scroll up until she tapped it.
"It goes on for quite a bit," she explained. "It is very similar to Conglomerated Planets codes that control surveillance systems. There is another that looks like it should control satellite positioning systems."
"Can you determine if there are any satellites to control?" Liat `del Qha asked.
"I am not certain," Tem l`eth tong said. She tapped on the screen, minimizing the program code and then selected another title from the menu. She worked her way through a series of submenus until she located another long string of characters. This she had to backtrack to a new menu from which she selected a new title. What came up was a three dimensional diagram similar to what orbital control techs would use to monitor the comings and goings of spacecraft. There were six icons on the display. Each appeared to be holding position around the planet which was represented by a translucent, light blue sphere. The icon over the north magnetic pole and three circling the equator were red. The icon over the south magnetic pole and the remaining one at the equator were both green. "If this was one of our displays the active satellites would be yellow and the inactive would be blue."
"The Conglomerated Planets use red and green, the same as this," Liat `del Qha said.
"True," agreed M`peth qHo. "To them green means functional. Red means damaged or non-functional."
"The Free Worlds were founded by Humans from the Conglomerated Planets," Liat `del Qha observed. "Much of their technology correlates with current CP technology, does it not?"
"It does, but there is an easy enough way to find out which of these is working," M`peth qHo said and reached past Tem l`eth tong to touch one of the green icons.
A schematic blossomed to replace the diagram of the planet. A text menu was displayed to the left of a simplified image of a satellite with thin lines connecting certain words from the menu to points on or in the satellite. The three jZav`Etch considered the image contemplatively. For her part, Tem l`eth tong made little of either. She could not read the words and the diagram was too simplified for her to relate parts or components to anything she could identify. In fact, she felt sure these were not representative of actual components. Rather, they must be symbols.
"Power cell," murmured Liat `del Qha, squinting at the menu. "Transceiver, antenna, thrusters, processor core, camera, laser transmitter, relay antenna, memory core..."
"Try the processor core," M`peth qHo said judiciously.
The pilot nodded absently and touched the item on the menu. The schematic shifted to what looked like a wiring diagram with another menu of the components. Below this were three rectangles with words inside.
"Access, test and back?" wondered the pilot.
"Test, I think," M`peth qHo said and touched the corresponding rectangle.
The schematic flashed red, then blue, then returned to green. Words scrolled along the top edge of the screen.