Chapter Fifty Four - Salvage
We received and responded to the distress call. It took some time to reach the
coords as the Alert had fractured, usually meaning it bounced off something large.
When we got to the region we saw debris. The com matched the bits into a small
private yacht. If there had been a pilot, his body, what was left of it, would be
floating out here, somewhere.
The A.I.'s first guess was an implosion...something very large, moving very fast,
passing too close, and the yacht blew apart, this tied to the bounce back of the
We sucked the debris into the cargo bay, with salvage on our brain. As usual,
the head was intact; there was a body inside.The body matched the name in
The Armand Laker.
Ian was squawking more than usual, I tuned in some of his blather.
"Oh man, he did a great Digre ---"
"Tamerlane? You didn't see it?"
"I don't think...."
Ian continued; "He used the Ji character from Caravansary to create the Digre..."
"What are you talking about?" Cilla cut.
Ian went on to explain Digres, morphs, with more animation than usual. I was more
concerned on how I would report the death, decided to call Hawking, because
Laker was an Important, and how he died might need finessing.
I guess that's why I'm Captain. I know about finessing.
It took about two days for us to get the message from Hawking, asking for a full
Investigation. Well, we could do what we could do which wasn't much.
Something big and fast had passed Laker's yacht.
Was it Sagir?
We mapped the area from which the distress signal emanated, where we found
the body, the time sequence, sent it on. We were instructed to follow a particular course.
Ian was flipping a coin, Dalmar/Sagir, and Shelly was saying that it must have been an accident.
One thing about Gennies; no accidents. Gennies are so conscious of their position
in space that if they brush your shoulder, they meant to.
A standard warship, any ship, that flies above light speed is reporting what lies at
least one minute Ship's Time ahead. No matter how fast the ship flies the scanner
is faster, so the Gennies knew there was a yacht in the path, knew their passage
would smash it, and didn't care.
"Something nasty this way comes...." said Cilla ominously, probably misquoting
something she ought of read at school.
Our new security honcho, a guy called Jason, who thought he was a Gennie. He
spent his time working out, and never wore sleeves if he could avoid it; only his
neatly trimmed beard spoiled the impression he was trying to create;
"The galaxy is at War. Only a fool would fly a yacht out of a solar system."
I looked at him, he met my eyes, I didn't want to tell him he was right, but he was right.
"So where was he going that was so important?" Cilla asked, and answering herself
from the dl'd log; "Smudge."
"Smudge?" I exploded. Of all the cesspools in the galaxy, why there? Criminals,
Smugglers, that's where they go.
People who want to get lost or have something illegal to sell.
Why would a man like Laker go there?
"I'm knocked over..." Jason replied, his long hair hiding half of his face.
"You're not the only one..." I mumbled.
"He has a house there..." Ian perked, "Not by Pier One, tho', on the other side
of the island...Smudge, the planet? Right? Well, only one island is visited. The
rest of it is not habitable."
"How do you know this?" I ask.
"I'm a geek..." he answered as if evident.
"Stupid time to go travelling..." Jason replayed.
We got a speculative trajectory, and went along the route, but there was nothing to report.
As Laker was famous it was going to be major news, and questions would be
directed at Dalmar and Sagir Dalmar wouldn't answer cause they're arrogant,
and Sagirs didn't know how to talk.
Gennies believed they were superior. Their belief was core to their existence.
Armand Laker might be important to us, but he was no more than a cockroach to them.
I glanced at Jason, and he, who'd gotten all the lore of the Presidium, all the bits of
history from Cilla and Ian, said;
"You want to bet Rhyse spins it so that the Dalmar are at fault?"
"You can write the report now..." I toss.
Tomorrow, (if that long) Dalmar would be condemned. I could see some of the
paragraphs circling bleating that Dalmar couldn't care less about Normals.
Not that the Sagirs would have slowed their speed or altered their course, but
as Rhyse, the 'power that be' was pro-Sag that wouldn't be mentioned. The
murder, (for that's how they'd list it) of Laker was by Dalmar.
That a hot war is going on and Gennie ships are chasing each other all over
the galaxy, Laker as culpable as a suicide victim, was not going to be the story.
Since I knew someone would be asking the Presidium for their report, Shelly
was pressed into service as 'spokesperson'.
I moved to my quarters. Jason, surprisingly followed, and surprisingly, I didn't mind.
"I've spent most of my life in space,
running from one place to another,
and seen my share of Gennies,"
he began as I entered..
"If this is how you start to pump me for scuttlebutt, it won't work." I reply, leaving the door open for him to follow, as I moved to pour myself a drink.
"I like the Sags better than the others..." he said.
"Why?" I ask.
"If you know history, you'll know that the Sags were never anti-normal. They'd as
soon sex you as one of their own."
He asked for a hit with an eye, I gave him a nod, he poured a small one.
"I flew with them before signing on with you...I've always been a Hawking man,
so was my father."
The diff between a Spucker who rides a space truck, and a Company Man...
Comps were fiercely loyal to their Comps, like religious zealots.
"No doubt," I say, taking a bite, "you've flown with Gyes."
"Gyes, Nals, Priams, Vans, others. Seems a name group is assigned to a
particular ship, like you usually have Gyes."
I didn't make a move. Let him talk.
"Wasn't until about eight years ago Hawking started using them. All of a sudden,
every Hawking boat had Sags doing security."
He gave me one of those gloms, checking if I had enough headroom to have
groked it, before going into his palaver.
"I was on the Arctaurus..." he gave, which pricked, something about that ship....
"Anisette Rhyse made her distress call." Yeah, that was the connect, "Her yacht
was being attacked by pirates, we were there quick enough to rescue her."
He took a bite of his liquor; "From the moment their eyes met, she and a Gennie
called Gye linked. A few days later, when her yacht ready to go, he went with her."
I knew this.
"He was gone a few days, came back. He never gave details. We had it as a
romance. But I guess it was business."
"Could be both..." I shared.
"I'd think so," he gave.
I let the silence go on a bit, assuming he knew Gye had been our first Gennie. Something about how he stacked words or held his face, that plucked the scab, and I took a swallow, dropping; "He died, you know."
Jason looked at me.
Insanely, I was still grieving. I don't know why I couldn't let go. I'd lost lots of people
in my life, move on. I don't know why Gye remains.
Jason caught it, poured us second drinks, let a minute roll then said;
"What I couldn't get my mind around, was how they saw themselves. Ants. Worker
ants. They'll march into fire, die, but enough of their roasted carcasses create a
bridge and the Queen can be dragged across."
"I didn't notice that," I dismiss.
"You never really talked to him." Jason dropped.
Jealously I shook my head, "I did."
He got quiet, looked into the drink, then up;
"My brother had died, you know? I was sitting in some corner someplace, grieving.
And a Gennie came up to me, asked "Was he the Important One?" The way he
said, 'Important', it was a title, ya know? I asked if he had lost brothers. He said
he had many brothers. Some were dead. But not the Important One. I thought
he spoke of himself, ya know, typical Gennie ego, but he wasn't. Another brother
was the Important One. He was just one of a batch of brothers. Not important."
I remember having a similar conversation; where Gye told me he had fourteen
thousand brothers, or something like that.
"There are thousands of them made in petrie dishes, a couple Important, others
are extras. He was extra..."
"No he wasn't, he was important. Even Rhyse said so...after he'd died..."
"Not in their line up, Captain. He was useful, he was more useful than many,
but he wasn't the Important One."
Maybe Gye wasn't important to them. Maybe he was only important to me. And to Rhyse.
I realised I was acting like a child. A foolish child.
In Gennie society Gye Tomaka wasn't a man, he was one of a batch. Maybe
he had seen himself as one of fourteen thousand when he came aboard the
Presidium. But he didn't see himself like that when he left.
Jason raised his glass;
"To Gye Tomaka, that particular Gye Tomaka,"
And we drank.