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 NSFW/Explicit  Female x Female  Science Fiction/Futuristic Duty Exempt Cargo Relocation Specialist

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by aznarecool, Aug 14, 2019 at 6:48 PM.

  1. aznarecool

    aznarecool Refugee from DR Member

    Messages:
    8
    Local Time:
    11:19 AM
    "Don't get in to any trouble again." An balding man in a blue jacket and cargo pants yelled at one of his subordinates as the ship doors opened to the dry-ports.
    "Yea yea, I will stay safe... now fuck off and let me grab a drink." The woman said as she strapped on her pistol to her belt and slung her blue jacket over her shoulder. The blue jacket had a "Honorable Orion Trade Company" tag on its shoulders but luckily her white T-shirt was mandated to say that as well. The Honorable Orion Trading Company is probably the least honorable trading company funded by the Orion sector's local government, moving large supplies of smuggled Graphite drugs to neighboring countries to decrease the trade deficit. However, the constant moving is a perfect place for outlaws and crooks to work in, especially the shipping industry. Since she was going out for a drink, the woman ripped off the 'Yeli Zhang, Navigator' name tag off the shoulder straps that attached to her blue cargo pants.

    [​IMG]

    The pay was not bad, in fact, it was probably the best in this sector if said person was a navigator. Unlike her co-workers, she isn't a criminal, just a pre-draft dodger as she can't dodge a draft that she never received. Of course, this affects what type of bars one would go to as well, flirting with girls at a rough house filled with criminals is below her. A Gentleman's club was her type of place but once in a while a military bar was something she like to frequent. It just so happens to be that day.
    As the door slid open, a burst of alcoholic and sweaty air greeted the blacked haired lady. It wasn't the only thing that greeted her, a tall man blond in an olive green t-shirt and camo pants came to her with open arms. "Zhang!" It was obvious he had been drinking for a while.
    "Riko fucking Johnson, is that you? Holy fuck, are you back in?" Yeli said as she gave the man a huge hug, even being lifted up by the 6'5" man.
    "Yea, man thats how it be."
    "Shit man, how are the wife and kids?" Yeli raised her voice as the rowdy crowd and music made it hard to hear.
    "With the wife, we are divorced now." Riko said as they walked to the bar and he started to mimic his wife in a high pitched voice. "Riko, I can't take it anymore. You have been gone too long and I have been with the kids alone." He tapped the table for the tender for a beer while he returned to his normal voice. "Now I have to pay child support for three of them."
    "Get that last one checked out, you know how they are. That one isn't probably yours man," Yeli said as she pulled out a box of cigars. It was for a special occasion and meeting Riko was definitely one of them. She held out two of them before giving before giving one to Riko. "Earth. 2721. 10 years. Got this off one of the mission I ran, our vessel was disguised as a cargo ship and a pirate ship decided to board us only to find 400 marines boarding them. There were three boxes and I got one of them."
    "Sick as fuck." Riko came down to Yeli as she lit both of the cigars up before taking a puff of the cigars and blowing it in the the dimly lit bar. They both tapped their mugs of beer before inhaling the entire thing and having the second round come.
    "This time, there is no excuse to not get pussy, Riko. Lets fucking go." The excitement of hanging out with long lost friends was almost like a high for these guys. The two grabbed their mugs and chugged it before placing the cigars in their mouth and lollygagged to where two girls were sitting. Yeli was playing the wingman this time for times that Riko helped her out since he was engaged back then. They approached the women from both sides, Yeli took the older one while Riko went to the other side.

    "I have been all over this sector but you two are the only ones to have distracted me so far." It wasn't the most amazing pick up line but with enough confidence, the two played it off. Within 15 minutes they moved to a table on the side with a sofa, each with a girl next to them. About 30 minutes in, they left the bar, Riko heading to another direction and Yeli heading towards the a hotel. They were a few drinks in and Yeli's arm was around her while the opposite was true as well.
    "Dana!?" A balding man yelled over from behind, as the two looked back. "Y-Yeli? What in the-"
    Yeli was surprised but wasn't that taken back and chuckles a little laughing in the middle of the streets. From the man's facial expression Yeli knew exactly what was going on. Not an unusual sight to her at his point. Many wives of soldiers and sailors cheat on their loved ones since they were gone for so long. "Well Captain Drake, looks like you got a fine soldier's wife here. Ha!"
    "You little- I am going to teach you a lesson!" The captain reached for his pistol and in that instance, Yeli was running for her life. She quickly around a street corner as a bullet whistle pass her and hits the stop sign. Some of the other crew members held their boss back to not kill the navigator.
    "Your aim needs help!" The drunken navigator said as adrenaline pumped through her veins before hopping a rental motorbike and sped away to the space port. Krab Space Hub wasn't just a port but the center large settlement that was build due to the surrounding system's over population. It took pressure off the planet's atmosphere by controlling traffic but also provide housing for the small garrison of military personnel and 5 million inhabitants. Located on Planet Buckle's Lagrange point 1, it helps govern the 10 O'neil type colonies in Lagrange point 1 and regulates the trade for around 100 million people.

    At the edge of the station's artificial habitat was the space port was the space port where a ton of traffic was expected but the small motorbike allowed her to skip most of the traffic. Once at the check point, she turned in the bike at the bike station there and got checked in. Even though Yeli nearly escaped death, she was still laughing at the hole absurdity of the situation and headed towards the docks. "I am quiting." The three words she was itching to say for the past years was finally out of her mind as she greeted the HOTC human resources manager. She turned in her cards and booked out of there as fast as she could. As she was trying to catch a flight out of there, her boss caught up to her with a gang of her co-workers.
    "You are done, come quietly or you will suffer hard." A raper, thief, and another raper, if it was a firefight, Yeli could stand a chance but even on how wild the Krab Space Hub was, fire fights are not allowed in the space port.
    "No thanks." Yeli quickly grabbed the a neighboring luggage back and threw it at the gang before sprinting to the boarding area. This area was in zero-gravity so it made it easier for Yeli to escape as she grabbed a tool box before leaving the area. Once floating, she opened the tool box and allow the many of the tools in there to act as minefields to stop her pursuers before grabbing the automatic rails to quickly glide through the long hallways.

    Yeli stopped when she saw a small ship that was finish loading its cargo. Its structure seemed ragtag with a bunch of ship put together and no outer armor protecting some of the more sensitive parts. Its control room was also located at the front and from the looks of it, it probably has a tangle drive. Most likely, it needs someone like her to help with the operations. A grin came to her face as she kicked the walls and floated over to the small ship, landing on it and using her boots to electromagnetically stand on it without flying off. She knocked on the window of the small control room, catching the ship captain off guard as a sweaty human was on her ship. Squidies as they were commonly called, in the military. They serve in large numbers but it didn't stop the races from using terms like that against each other. "I see that seat is empty there, need someone to man it?" Yeli's message didn't seem to get through since it was only verbal communication so she pulled out her visual translator and instead showed her the message.
     
    • Love Love x 1
  2. Chrystal Dark

    Chrystal Dark Boobie Girl! Member

    Messages:
    1,181
    Local Time:
    4:19 PM
    The Bruth^ie are a race of aquatic cephalopods, basically molluscs with human level intelligence. (NB: Octopii have brains much larger brains than humans - yet without the ability to communicate in a way we can understand, we rate them as non-sapient.) Because water carries sound differently to air, the Bruth^ie hearing and vocal range is greater than a humans. Their language is called L^iooa_-^ which rather unusually has a translation. (Just as English translates as "The language spoken by people from England", so most extra-terrestrial languages have names that "translate" the same way - Mrinari translates as "The language spokn by the Mrinka", for example.) L^iooa_-^ translates as "The Singing". When heard under water Bruth^ie speech sounds very musical. Indeed they have been compared to the sirens of ancient legend. The characters ^ - _ and ' are used to represent supersonics, chimes, subsonics and clicks, respectively

    It had started out as a fairly ordinary day for Bluva. She didn't exactly advertise, but she styled herself as an "Off The Grid Duty Exempt Cargo Relocation Specialist". Of course to most of the rest of The Empire's population, including most of the two hundred or so various local law enforcement bodies, and most especially to the Imperial Navy, the Institute of Imperial Investigations and the Imperial Revenue Service, she was a smuggler.

    She hadn't started out that way. She had studied hard to be a pilot, had past her exams and practicals and then had been unable to find any work. She was never sure if it was because she was female or if it was because she was a Bruth^ie. The amphibious species had achieved space flight in their own right about two thousand years ago and had expanded steadily across their part of the galaxy, looking for worlds with warm salty oceans. This period in the galaxy's history was usually referred to as "The Great Diaspora". It seemed that chance, the Anthropic Principal, or some divine but malicious jester, had ordained that a dozen or so races of varying levels of intelligence and belligerence had all discovered the wormhole generator - commonly called the Tangle Drive - within a few hundred years of each other in one corner of the vast galactic disk.

    Wars were fought inevitably, and the species that came out on top was the Dry Skins. Human, they called themselves, a word that had an unfortunate and totally accidental translation in the Bruth^ie language. And so the Galactic empire came about, and a form of peace was established. But with the dry-skins running most things, largely due to their high reproduction rate, other species often felt they were being squeezed out.

    [​IMG] And so Bluva had finally managed to get a position with a small margin-cargo hauler, as third pilot. She had been lucky to get the job, but even luckier to survive the pirate attack. Parts of the empire were sparsely populated, and there were small areas where the various autonomous regions did not touch, leaving unexplored and neutral space between them. And in these "havens", sometimes the Empire set up outposts, but more often it was other, less desirable elements that laid claim.

    The pirates had looted the ship of it's cargo and anything of value that wasn't bolted to the deck, had killed everyone on board, except Bluva, whom they had left for dead, apparently shot through the heart and drowned in a small pond. In fact the projectile had missed everything of importance to Bluva, and the pond was actually her bed. She felt like a coward for not doing something to help the rest of the crew, but on the other hand, they had treated her like an outcast. When the pirates left, she managed to guide the ship to the nearest space station, that just happened to be a haunt for smugglers.

    She laid salvage claim to the ship, had it refitted and set off on her new career.

    That was all eight Imperial years ago, and right now she was on Krab hub, delivering ninety thousand crowns worth of tobacco to a cigarette manufacturer who preferred not to pay the Empire's duty on controlled narcotics. Never mind that smoking was illegal in eighty percent of the empire, it was legal here, but unfortunately the tobacco plant just didn't like this particular colour of sunlight. She stood by the crates, wearing a thin silk robe that stuck in interesting ways to the slime on her skin, helping to keep her moist in this relatively humid environment, as the buying agent checked each one carefully. With that done and money transferred to the Ugly Shrimp's onboard computer, she turned and headed back to her ship. There was cargo to be had here, legal or otherwise and she was not going to deadhead another run back to Frrbizt, a Mrinka system on the very edge of a grey spot. Frrbizt was well known for being a way-point for smugglers, especially those like herself who lacked a tangle-nav. Bluva had the sight, but not enough that she could make a jump of more than five lyes without the wormhole going unpredictable on her. And five lyes was enough to get her from Frrbizt to Catch-if-you-can, a cobbled-together space station in the grey zone that was her home now.

    Generally, the Bruth^ie ran with faked papers, (the term still in use even though no-one had used physical paper for centuries) her manifest stating that she had a legal cargo instead of an illegal one. As the crates were always sealed, and matched the manifest, the worse that could happen to her if she were caught by the Imps was having her cargo confiscated. Which would mean she made a loss on the run, but could also mean she lost valuable customers and suppliers. From time to time she actually took legitimate cargo, but a small ship like the Ugly Shrimp was better suited to smuggling small quantities of high risk, high-profit merchandise. Three hours of careful searching on the station's web turned up an arms manufacturer who needed to get a shipment of small arms to Jeps - a small colony of Gak'ra where a minority of Mrinka and Human settlers were trying to establish a separate independent colony on the world. The shipment, listed as single shot hunting weapons, was intended to arm the reptilian Gak'ra so they could defend themselves against the aggressive incursions of the dry-skins and fur-skins.

    [​IMG] Bluva had no axe to grind either way. Cargo was cargo, it paid for her fuel and food, air and water. The zero-G docks were only a minor inconvenience to a creature hatched in the weightlessness of neutral buoyancy in the oceans of many worlds (including Earth, Kraahh and Schkee), and she made the dock-monkeys envious with her abilities, the only creature to outmatch her being the Zegomor, a creature that to an Earth Human would resemble a cross between a manta ray, a lace shawl and a large spider web with a huge spider at the centre. With her cargo loaded, she made her way forward and began the ship's power-up and pre-flight procedures.

    The Ugly Shrimp was, she felt, well named. Gak'ra built, she was reasonably impervious to the high level of humidity she kept the atmosphere at. Twenty metres on the beam at her narrowest, twenty tall and eighty long, she was small for a tangle-ship, the cockpit at the front along with the crew quarters to give maximum load space, fuel tanks were squeezed in wherever there was room, the tangle drive sat in the centre of the ship in it's concrete sarcophagus, pretending to be nothing more that a few seemingly random coils of precious and radioactive metals, and to the rear and below were the cargo holds. Now filled with crates of "hunting supplies".

    The clunk of a pair of mag-boots attaching to one of the shield generator plates - about the only ferrous parts of the ship - rang through the hull, and sent one of Bluva's tentacles snapping out to where her own side-arm was hanging by the door. A human female made her way to the cockpit's forward window and rapped on it with something metal pointed at the navigator's chair and tried to shout through two half metre thick sheets of clear ceramic, separated by a vacuum gap. The human's message was pretty clear but she put it on a visual translator board anyway, the musical notations of written L^iooa_-^ forming out of the human squiggles - that she was perfectly capable of reading.

    I see that seat is empty there, need someone to man it?

    ... faded and became: Observing your spare seat I could fertilise it for you.

    Bluva tried not to smirk. Whoever programmed that translator deserved spacing! She slipped her weapon back into it's pouch on the back of her head with one tentacle, finished the second pre-flight check-list with six of her tentacles and her two hands, and gestured with the eighth tentacle, pointing at the human, pointed to the rear of the ship where the main hatch was still open. To make the message doubly clear, she screen-locked the pilot's console and pulled herself out of her seat, tentacles shooting out to grab handholds and contracting to pull herself along.

    She arrived at the hatch ahead of the human and waited, one tentacle never far from her weapon. "Hello hurm-n v_a." She smiled warmly. The Bruth^ie knew that humans called them squid-heads or squidies, in spite of the fact that they looked nothing like a squid, and everything like an octopus - Squid was easier to say. But they had their revenge. The word hurm-n was the word for the smelly brown stuff excreted by a lot of the land-dwelling creatures on the Bruth^ie home-world. Calling them "Shit skins" was a natural choice. Bluva greated her guest as such, wondering whether the human would know she was being insulted. The soft Ping of the second syllable came out more as a flat beep in the dry air of the station, but the subsonic in the second word would almost certainly rattle the human's teeth.

    "So you want a job?" She chose to correctly interpret the message. "Why should I hire you? There's plenty of people could sit the right side of a ship on this station." Even as she spoke she noticed a commotion further along the dock. "Say,,, isnt that Deveral Drake with some of his hired thugs? And a Gantran? Hey, I know het, that's Mungo. Het's one of the baddest Gantrans on station..." Bluva turned her eyes back to the human in front of her, who was clearly trying to get out of sight. "Well? Talk, shitskin, and talk fast." She didn't bother disguising the insult this time, just waited for the explanation.
     
  3. aznarecool

    aznarecool Refugee from DR Member

    Messages:
    8
    Local Time:
    11:19 AM
    Yeli smiled as the Bruthie gestured towards the hatch, indicating that there was room for negotiation. In a jolly manner, she walked over to the hatch and grabbed it by the ledge and pulled herself in since the area was zero gravity. Once in, she reactivated her magnetic boots, which allowed her to easily stay standing on the ground. "Hello, Bruthie." Yeli kept a smile as reply since she knew what "hurm-n v_a" meant. She spent enough time with all of them to understand their curse words, slangs, and insults, especially since they would say it to each other out of friendship and drinking. However, they weren't at the level of making inappropriate or racist jokes towards each other yet. Yeli took another gaze at her potential employer as she greeted back, She was obviously in a guarded mood, with her tentacles around her pistol. Although, firing weapons at the port isn't such a good idea due to the gentlemen's agreement of not shooting weapons in an area with sensitive equipment.

    "Think about it like this. About 95% of navigators on this station work for the Imperial military. The rest are working for bigger trading companies with good pay..." As Bulva turned her attention to the crowd outside, Yeli wandered off in to the ship, not just to hide but also to see what was going on. Yeli could probably guess what was in the boxes based on its sizes and the navigation map the Bruthie had left on when she was doing maintenance on her ship. "It just so happens, I quit both of them and have no interest in go back and judging by how you traveled before, would it be much more efficient to have one trip than multiple small ones?" A peak in to the rest of the ship compartment only showed living materials for one person and it didn't seem like anyone else was there, so it didn't seem to be a bad deal. Once the Bruth^ie looked back at Yeli and asked for her to talk, Yeli decided to bide her time, just for a bit.

    "Well... that is a bit more complicated," Yeli said as he slowly approached the window and popped a peek at the gang before reaching her pocket to grab something. "It just so happens that my captain has an unfaithful wife that felt me up and we were accidentally seen. He prefers to turn on the best navigator of this sector than to divorce his wife." Yeli explained the situation as well as she could, but she did have a back up plan if necessary, though it was going to be a bit messy. At least for the ship.
     
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Chrystal Dark

    Chrystal Dark Boobie Girl! Member

    Messages:
    1,181
    Local Time:
    4:19 PM
    Bluva's gun was in her hand now. The human was on her ship. A ship was sovereign territory according to Imperial law and the laws that applied on board were the laws that the ship's captain chose to make. Her pistol was loaded with LVFSF rounds - Low Velocity Fin Stabilised Flechet rounds, bullets that were specifically designed for use on board space ships and space stations against un-armoured targets. So there was zero chance of her doing any damage to the ship or cargo. "You talk big, human..." She said in response to the human's first answer, but then she stopped, mouth open and tentacles waving wildly while a series of almost musical "DING!" noises came from her vocal cavity, as she realised the truth behind the half-truth of what the human told her. "Wait," she said as she managed to stop laughing long enough to draw breath. "You were doing Drake's missus?" She looked back outside and laughed again, stepped back as she slapped the close button on the inner airlock hatch that irised closed across the main way on and off the ship. The outer hatch could only be opened or closed from the cockpit.

    "Welcome aboard, sweet thing!" She grinned, showing a wicked triple row of pointed teeth that curved inwards. The pistol vanished back into her head-holster. "Anyone brave enough to fuck Missus Drake is welcome on the Ugly Shrimp." A tentacle snaked out and slapped the human on the backside. "Come on, let's get the bru_m'kh out of here, before the fat bastard figures out where you are."

    It was her ship, she was familiar with it and she was better designed for moving in zero gravity, so she was in the pilot's seat and strapped in while the human was still arriving in the cockpit. "My name's Bluva^a Nvae-'-^^'ran." The ultrasonic notes probably set the human's teeth on edge, the two pressure waves came out as soft pops, almost indistinguishable in air from the actual clicks. "Most dry-skins call me Bluva. Pleasure to meet you." She offered a hand across the too wide gap between the seats. As she spoke her tentacles were busy finishing the pre-flights. The main hatch closed with a thud. "Krab control this is Ugly Shrimp requesting departure vector, over?"

    "Ugly Shrimp you are not clear to depart, hold for vector," the emotionless voice of the traffic controller came back over the radio.

    "Hurm_n! We may have to bust out of here. I hope you're as good as you say you, gorgeous!" The dock area of the space station was pressurised by virtue of a number of shielded portals of varying sizes. Portals that only opened to let a ship in or out, with an electromagnetic force-field to keep the air in while open - or in the event someone tried to blast a hole in one of the portals. A video screen showed Drake and his minions walking up the port walkway, looking at each ship in turn, One of the henchmen used a fan-pack to cruise around each vessel, looking for the fugitive. "You wanna get out of site, Yeli?" Too late, the fan-pack wearing henchman appeared in front of the cockpit window, peered in, turned away and then did a classic double take. He gesticulated wildly and was clearly shouting something.

    "Ugly Shrimp you are clear for departure, Vector is being transmitted to your navcomp. Safe voyage."

    "Thank fuck for that! Roger Krab control, Vector received and input, releasing clamps. See you on the flip side." Bluva flipped a switch with a tentacle, then gently eased the control yoke up. The ship slid gently away from the landing bay it was resting in. The Bruth^ie pilot pushed the throttle forward, and the ship's atmosphere thrusters hummed, pushing the ship up and away along the assigned vector. The minion in the fan-pack realised what was happening just in time and scooted out of the way.

    "He's probably going to come after us, you realise?"
     
    • Love Love x 1
  5. aznarecool

    aznarecool Refugee from DR Member

    Messages:
    8
    Local Time:
    11:19 AM
    Yeli seemed to have made the wrong impression on the Bruthie as the tentacled alien thought she was actually doing Drake's woman but in fact, it was halted a bit too early. However, there was no reason to correct her as it worked in Yeli's favor anyways. She just replied with a smile and followed her new captain to the cockpit. It would seem her captain is a bit too hyped about doing Drake's woman which didn't seem to catch on with Yeli. Was Drake even that powerful of a man or did she just hate him? Drake was an asshole so Yeli put aside the thoughts as her first priority was to leave the station. Yeli brushed away some loose strands of her hair before taking her seat in the navigator's chair. The controls were familiar enough, while she didn't pilot the area, data does need to be put in the navigation maps and some communications equipment. As Yeli started to do test runs on the equipment to get familiar with her new set up, her new boss started to introduce herself. Her notes was a bit irritating which also dragged Yeli's attention to Bluva who just finished introducing herself. "Bluva..." Yeli said to make sure she could say it right then reached over to shake hands before returning the gesture and pointed at herself with her thumb, "Yeli..."

    As Bulva radioed over to the control tower, they received instructions to hold but that lost of time allowed for one of the henchmen to go try to scout out Yeli. Yeli waited impatiently as she shook her right leg which by that time have been demagnetized. She then proceeded to take out her wallet, which filled with different cards. She took out a Black Military Card, it acts as a military clearance card but only that with almost no information on it besides the owner's name. It should look suspicious to the untrained eye but under the right authority, they know to run a secret code to extract the information. It was suppose to be used for covert operations since Yeli was a navigator one of the operations. It was declassified so none of the codes that would allow the information could work it but it allows for clearance to go very smoothly. Yeli secretly slid it in to one of the access card sliders as the henchman gets closer. It would make it easier for the military to track her once they notice but by that time, she would be long gone and this takes priority.

    Yeli quickly slipped it back as Ugly Shrimp received the clear to go and Bluva was distracted. As the ship headed out, Yeli leaned back on the nice leather cushioned seat and flipped off the henchman as they drove by. "Coming after us? This will be the easy part then. They don't have a navigator right now, they will need to find one which will take a while. If we were to be engaged in the tangle, we will have the advantage. If we able to get on to planet side, they will be walking right in to our trap. Just relax captain."
     
  6. Chrystal Dark

    Chrystal Dark Boobie Girl! Member

    Messages:
    1,181
    Local Time:
    4:19 PM
    Delight that someone had finally got one over on the old bastard. Bluva had history with Drake. He ran a semi-legit operation, and his ship, "Honorable Orion Trading", was big enough to compete with legitimate hauliers like DIS and IPS that had been around since before the Diaspora, And he had on a number of occasions stolen a margin cargo right out from under Bluva's tentacles, just to fill up that last little space in his hold. So it didn't matter if Yeli had been doing the bastard's trophy wife or not. He seemed to think she had, enough to come searching the docks for her with two of his heavies and a Gantran - ultra heavy in anyone's book! And that was good enough for Bluva. It felt good to finally steal something out from the bastard's nose.

    "Activating gravity coils and shields". A tentacle reached out to flip a switch and a row of lights glowed green on the console in front of Yeli, indicating that all the electromagnetic shields were at full strength. They would be of no use whatever against most military grade projectile weapons, some defence against particle beam weapons, definitely no help if Yeli wasn't as good as she claimed and they hit the side of a tangle, but absolutely essential and the Empire-mandated defence against stellar radiation, and an unpleasant death by various forms of cancer.

    A second tentacle wound the gravity control dial up to 8.82 m/s². The ships coils were capable of producing a stable internal gravity field of anything up to about 30 m/s², but as Gantrans were the only Diaspora race capable of surviving such acceleration for more than a few minutes, very few ships ever used the full range. 8.82 was the gravity of Hydophil, Bluva's home world. It was actually a decent compromise between Earth's 9.8 and ^iv_yne-'s 8.1. A sudden loud splosh from the open door to the captain's cabin just behind the control room indicated the one luxury that Bluva had allowed herself. The Bruth^ie sleep tank was watertight and sealed in zero gravity, but while the gentle acceleration towards the station's portals had caused the mass of water to settle to the rear, the sudden change in "down" had caused nearly a metric ton of salt water to redistribute it's mass in one massive rush.

    The heat and humidity in the ship were rising sharply too now the relatively cold and relatively dry air of the habitat was no longer mixing with the ship's air. Krab station was probably a bit hot and humid for humans but Alnilam, the human (and therefore official) name for the star that Buckle orbited (otherwise known as Epsilon Orion, or Orion's Belt Buckle), was right on the border between the Human sphere of control and the Gak'ra sphere. The reptilians administered the station, the humans had colonised the planet, as part of the Treaty of the Belt.

    The inner portal of their assigned exit slid open and the ship drifted casually in. The portal closed behind them, with a thud that echoed through the external pickups. It was followed by a high pitched Whoosh, that didn't so much die away as "empty", as the air was forced out of the chamber by a powerful force field, that made the ship rock physically. Bluva killed the fans and nudged the OMS to keep the ship moving the right way as the portal in front opened. The small amount of air trapped between the hull and the Ugly Shrimp's own shields was sucked quickly into the ships tanks by automated systems. The pilot pushed the throttle forward and eased the ship around, then flipped switches. "Main burn in ten... Five, four three two one now!" The ship kicked forwards, the gravity coils compensating so that a slight jolt was all that was transmitted to the inside as the ships main engines accelerated them at around ten standard gravities, up to a velocity that in atmosphere would tear the ship apart but was still well within the Newtonian range and no where near Relativistic. Any vessel incurring measurable time dilation within a populated system was also liable to incur heavy fines.

    Ahead of them the two rings of the system's jump-gates came into view, two rings of concrete half a kilometre in diameter, the maximum diameter a stable wormhole could be. In truth, any ship exceeding that dimension on height or beam was owned by the Imperial Navy and would always have it's own Tangle Drive. Pre-empting Yeli's possible objection, Bluva told her, "Yeah I know we could tangle out of here, but why waste the fuel? It's not like we don't have clearance..." She grinned and turned to her new navigator. "So... I take it from your intimacy with Mrs Drake that you are into females, the big question is, do you like calamari?"

    The word for deep-fried breaded rings of Loliginidae had taken on an alternate meaning in the freer regions of the Empire, where inter-species relationships were not punishable by death or castration. Squid-rings. The Bruth^ie had pretty much accepted that humans would call them "Squid-heads" being two syllables instead of four needed to say "Octopus-head". So it followed logically that a cetain part of the Bruth^ie anatomy would earn the name "Squid-ring". As it happened the common squid had transplanrted well to various ocean worlds and was considered a staple on many, the Bruth^ie having no qualms about eating their less-evolved relatives from another world. "Eating Calamari" was therefore a euphemism among female Bruth^ie as much as among humans. A tentacle reached out and wrapped itself around the Navigator's waist, another ventured up under her teeshirt. "You know, this item of clothing is really quite offensive, considering who's logo is on it..." She smirked. Her own rather diaphanous robe slid to the floor, leaving her naked, her arousal clear by the wiggling of the tentacled between her legs.

    "Once we get into the gate-hole what say we let the ship fly itself for a bit and explore each others' wormholes?" That was the other advantage to the jump-gates - the stable wormholes they generated were relatively straight and curved in predictable ways, and as long as a ship was moving at the assigned trans-light-velocity for the wormhole, the automatic navigation systems on board were quite capable of steering the vessel through.

    Another tentacle was easing it's way into Yeli's pants, when the radio crackled to life: "Ugly Shrimp, this is Alnilam Gate Control. We have been informed that you have stolen property on board. Property belonging to one Captain Deveral Drake. Please slow and prepare for docking at customs port one. I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding, and as soon as we've cleared it up you can go on your way..."

    The Bruth^ie's tentacles snapped back and she swore violently in half a dozen languages. "See, I told you that bastard wouldn't let it go. Doesn't matter that I don't have anything belonging to him. I can't stop and be boarded, I've got fifty crates of illegal weapons on board! And the bastard probably knows it. Shit, he'll know I'm not hauling what's on my manifest, regardless..." Bluva was frantically flipping switches and typing on the screen in front of her, "Well, pretty one, this is your moment to shine after all..." She took a breath and flipped the transmit switch. "Gate Control, this is Ugly Squid. I have a delicate cargo and my hold grav rings are showing a possible malfunction if I brake too hard. Request permission to thread the needle and come around to dock?"

    There was a pause during which the ring of the gate got closer and closer. A sudden distraction of the inbound gate, a mere half million kilometres away, suddenly lighting up with flashing orange warning lights, followed seconds later by the ring being filled by the bright blue vortex of a stable incoming wormhole. The ship or ships travelling it could be seconds or hours away. Bluva didn't care, she wanted to be out of this system by then anyway.

    "Ugly Shrimp, this is Gate Control. Permission to thread the needle is granted. Two escort ships are waiting to ensure compliance."

    "Fuck! Okay, ape-girl, this could get messy, especially if they're expecting us to do what we're going to do...." The ship shot through the ring of the outbound gate, no wormhole active, in a manoeuvre known as threading the needle. Normally a ship executing the move would swing around and slow down, looking to either re-try the jump or dock at the customs station. The Ugly shrimp did not. Instead Bluva triggered a main burn the moment she was through the gate, cut it off after ten seconds and glanced at her navigator. "Ready? Tangle in three two one, now!" She slapped a tentacle on an uncapped red button. From outside it would look like the centre of the vessel seemed to shimmer, then four streams of energy, visible only on a computer enhanced display, shot out of the emmiters mounted top and front of the vessel. Where they converged they tore a hole in reality, and the muddy-brown of an out-going tangle wormhole formed, directly in front of the ship, which dived into it.

    One major disadvantage of wormhole travel is that as long as a ship is in a wormhole it has generated, that wormhole will remain open. making it totally possible to follow another ship through a tangle. The one real danger was if the ship exited before you did, because when the other ship killed their tangle-drive, the wormhole collapsed. What happened to a ship inside a collapsing wormhole was one of the universe's big mysteries because so far no one had survived to tell the tale. This also made tangle-combat a tricky affair. Unless one of the pursuing ships was also a tangle-ship.

    The two fighters sitting in a holding orbit near the gate accelerated hard and trusting to their orders, dove into the tangle in pursuit. Following not so very far behind them came a larger vessel, about the same size as the Ugly Shrimp, but having far more weapons than cargo holds. It too followed into the muddy-brown vortex, which suddenly brightened and became a much deeper red bordering on claret.
     

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