The Dugesian Saga, Part One: A Broken Peace, p.1Doug Cosman
The Dugesian Saga
Part One: A Broken Peace
Copyright 2014 Doug Cosman
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This is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional. Any relation to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cover Image of Spiral Galaxy M64 Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).
Dugesia walked briskly through the doorway into the expansive hangar deck of the massive starbase. As he entered he beheld the awesome glory of the Market Alliance. He gazed forward and saw there a huge platform filled with all the panoply of commerce. Stack upon stack upon stack of goods and wares from every corner of the Alliance, and beyond, were being processed and shipped onwards. Thousands of crewmen and merchants busied themselves with their inventory. Dugesia turned to his left and made his way through the maze of merchandise. Vehicles went busily to and fro as they unloaded and redistributed the cargo of the trade ships. There was an electricity in the atmosphere of this place. The excitement of prosperity. As he walked, Dugesia looked out to his right at the docking area. Vessels small and large alike were docked, some coming in, some going out. One lifted off as he passed and Dugesia watched as it rose into the distance of the vast cavernous room, and finally up through the shield and on to wherever its destination may be. Dugesia couldn't help but smile. Times were good. After a few minutes walk, Dugesia finally arrived at his small vessel, the Walrus.
"Status Miss Young?" Dugesia asked his First Officer as he approached the loading ramp of his ship.
"Last of the cargo coming aboard now Captain," she replied as two deckhands pushed another pallet up the ramp.
Miss Young did justice to her name. She was in her early twenties, with long blonde hair tied loosely into a pony tail which hung behind her head. She was a few inches under six feet tall, with a slim, athletic body structure. She favoured wearing a leather jacket and pants, with a tightness just so. Her jacket always half unzipped in a comfortable manner, showing a hint of her supple breasts. Her face, ah yes, her pretty face had gotten them through more than a few hassles with customs in the past. She had soft blue eyes, and smooth creamy skin, except for her cheeks which were prone to blushing a slight shade of pink at the first sign of flattery. Her lips gave form to a voice more silver-tongued than Cicero of ancient Earth. But do not let her beauty fool you, she is as tough and strong as any man Dugesia had ever known. She would have her own ship someday, and Dugesia was lucky to have her on his crew.
"Very good Miss Young," responded Dugesia. "Has Mr. Collins managed to get that coolant leak locked down?"
"Aye, Captain," answered Miss Young. "He had to disassemble half the engine bay, getting himself covered in lubricants in the process, but he's got her running smoothly again."
"Hahaha... he has sure earned his share this time," laughed Dugesia. "I'll be up in control, lets get her underway as soon as possible."
"Aye, Captain," replied Miss Young.
Dugesia proceeded through the packed cargo hold of the Walrus towards a ladder at the far end. Climbing to the top, he encountered Mr. White on the catwalk. Mr. White had curly blonde hair just down over his ears. He wore golden glasses with round lenses. He always had a notepad and pen with him, favouring the old fashioned tools over a computing tablet. Mr. White was charged with the procurement of goods for transport, and handling the ship's finances.
"Well, Quartermaster," said Dugesia. "What have you got us this time?"
"Greetings Captain," announced Mr. White in his usual monotone. "We have ten pallets of superconductors, eight pallets of computing equipment, and various other specialized parts all bound for the orbital shipyards at Alcarax IV. As well we have a few bolts of fine Privonian textiles I managed to acquire at a favourable price, which should net us a considerable profit at our destination."
"Excellent work Mr. White," said Dugesia with a smile. "That's what I like to hear. Let's get ready to fly."
Mr. White nodded as his nose was buried in the cargo manifest. Dugesia walked through an airlock separating the cargo module from the rest of the ship, and made his way along the spine of the Walrus forward towards control. There he found Mr. Carter going over his pre-flight checklists, and talking over the comm with the Engineer, Mr Collins. As Dugesia took his chair, he listened in.
"So you're telling me we have to keep her under 80% thrust?" Asked Mr. Carter.
Mr. Carter wore his black hair in a military style buzz cut, having piloted fighter craft during the war. He preferred to wear a dark navy colored jumpsuit with the name Carter inscribed over his right breast and MAV Walrus over his left. He was a proud and accomplished pilot, and Dugesia felt safer with him at the helm.
Mr. Collins' voice came over the comms: "Yes... yes that's right, we cant overheat her until we can get our coolant levels topped up."
Mr. Carter sighed: "Ahh..... well. We're headed for the shipyards at Alcarax, so we'll get her taken care of there, Engineer."
"Is that going to be a problem?" Dugesia interjected.
Mr. Carter looked back over his shoulder: "Shouldn't be a problem Sir, we'll just have to go a little easier on the old girl than usual this run. Might add an extra couple hours to the journey, that's all."
"Roger that Mr. Carter," said Dugesia. "Lets get her warmed up, shall we?"
The pilot began typing some commands into his computer, and flipped a bank of switches which powered up the rest of the ship systems. Dugesia gazed through the window and saw the deckhands had finished loading. A light went green with a beep signalling the cargo hold was now secure. Soon after, Miss Young entered and took her chair across from Dugesia.
"All stations secure Sir," confirmed Miss Young. "Ship is ready for launch."
Dugesia nodded in approval: "Alright Mr. Carter, take us out."
The pilot signalled for permission to depart: "Starbase control, starbase control, this is the Merchant Alliance vessel Walrus requesting clearance for launch and departure, over."
A response came quickly back: "Rrroger Walrus, you are a go. Good journey."
The pilot reached down with his left hand, throttling up the engines. With a slight jolt, the heavily laden vessel lifted off. Dugesia and Miss Young watched as the docking area grew smaller in the window, then the Walrus wheeled round and pointed up towards space. There was a pulsing glow of light as they exited through the shield into open space. The ship levelled off and gave a magnificent view of Privonia off port. The planet appeared a deep shade of dark green, which glowed with white city lights. As the Walrus rounded the planet they all took a moment to gaze at its beauty. A multitude of other vessels soared silently through the space all around the Walrus as she floated on towards the jump lane to the Alcarax system. The Walrus was of an old, but time tested design. She had a single engine in the aft with a small engine bay, smooth sloped hull on the dorsal sides which housed the crew quarters along the ships spine, and a small control deck on the bow. In the middle of the ship the large rectangular cargo module could be attached or detached as needed. The entire ship was a dull shade of metallic grey. She was armed with a small laser turret just under the control deck. It came in handy for blasting away pesky spac
An hour or so later, the Walrus arrived at the jump lane, and took its place in a queue of ships waiting there for departure.
A voice crackled over the comms: "MAV Walrus, this is Jump Control, you are twenty-seventh in queue, estimated wait time three minutes, please make your ship ready for jump to Alcarax, over."
"Roger that Jump Control," replied Mr. Carter.
Miss Young activated the intercom to advise the Engineer and Quartermaster: "Mr. Collins, Mr. White. Prepare for system departure. Jump is imminent."
"Copy that First Officer," responded Mr. White.
"Roger control," added Mr. Collins.
The queue was shorter now with only a few ships ahead of the Walrus. They watched as a large cargo barge warmed her engines and then blinked out of existence in front of their eyes. Another smaller ship followed a moment later. And then the Walrus was up. Mr. Carter threw a few switches and a tunnel of light began materializing ahead of their vessel, then he threw the throttle forward and with a loud hum of the engine they entered it. Faster than light travel had always fascinated Dugesia, and he often found himself watching the light outside the ship as if he were staring up at the particle showers on a planets magnetic field. The brilliant dancing light and humming vibration of the ships engine soothed his nerves.
"ETA Mr. Carter?" asked Dugesia.
"Twenty-two hours Captain," replied the pilot.
"Alright," said Dugesia. "I'm going to check in with Mr. Collins back aft, see how things are going with the engine. I'll be back in ten hours to relieve you Mr. Carter."
"Aye Sir," replied the pilot as Dugesia exited the control deck.
Stopping by the galley, Dugesia quickly prepared some chow for himself and the grizzled old engineer. Mr. Collins was partial to spaghetti in a nice tomato and meat sauce, and Dugesia hoped it would draw him away from his fretting with the engine for a spell. A few minutes later Dugesia emerged from the small galley carefully carrying the trays of steaming food down the corridor towards the engine bay, along with a mysterious satchel bag hanging at his side. Setting the trays down for a moment, Dugesia spun the wheel on a heavy metal door and opened it with a long screech. Gathering up the meals he then cautiously descended a few steps into a small workshop. Setting the food down on a workbench he moved along the side of the engine pod to find Mr. Collins monitoring the engine controls.
"Russell!" Dugesia yelled over the droning of the engine.
Jolting up from his chair, the engineer turned his head to identify the intruder. Mr. Collins, or Russell as he was known to Dugesia, had messy brown hair, and wore a set of goggles over his eyes. His face was sweaty and smudged with black grease. He wore thick brown overalls and what used to be a white shirt. His muscular structure was strong, evidence of his years of back breaking labour.
"Ah, Dugesia!" Russell exclaimed. "Shes purring like a fat little kitten after a meal, eh? What brings you back here today?"
Dugesia opened the satchel he was carrying and produced a bottle of liquor. Mr. Collins' face lit up with a wide smirk.
"Come, Mr Collins," Dugesia said joyfully. "Let us drink and eat and drink some more! A toast to your efforts!"
Dugesia headed back to the workbench and Russell arose and followed closely behind. The men sat at either end of the table as Dugesia opened the bottle. Russell eyed the spaghetti with joy and took up a big handful into his mouth, not worrying about his dirty hands or using the utensil Dugesia had provided.
"Mmmmm," murmured Mr. Collins. "Mmm itss so good."
Seeing that Russell was busy stuffing his face, Dugesia proposed the first toast: "To the future, Mr. Collins! Soon we shall have a bigger, better ship. One to fly us into a new era of wealth!"
Dugesia took a long swig, at the end of which he gasped and shook his head at the sting of the liquor. Handing the bottle off to Russell, Dugesia began to dig in to the spaghetti.
Mr. Collins proposed another toast: "To bigger, faster, and more powerful engines! And hopefully one that isn't so temperamental!"
The men continued eating and drinking into the night. The Walrus sped along in a shower of light and dancing colors and all was good. There was not a thought of troubles in the crews minds...
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