Throwback Thursday: Space Cowboys, Season 2 #3 – “Elbow Room”
If it hasn’t become clear yet, Hal isn’t just a source of comedy relief, with his mix of good and bad luck; he’s also a master of moving around with no gravity, in or out of a vacc suit. On several occasions, he took advantage of his skills to perform feats that no one else could hope to duplicate.
The crew had read about the Lueger in the newspaper in the previous session.
The crew raised sail without further incident, working without the assistance of Mel, who retired to sickbay to see to her badly bruised throat. The brothers also raised sail, and the tiny fleet got into formation and shaped orbit for Venus. At dinner that night, the conversation started around the question of what had happened to Pequeño’s ship, with Osolo and Mel maintaining that the main thing to keep in mind was that all the important people were OK, and the bad guys weren’t a problem anymore. A comment concerning money brought up the questionable expenses from ground-side on Miranda, which led to a heated argument over accounting. In the end, Mung and Osolo came to a suspicious peace, agreeing that Mung would handle the finances, but under supervision.
The heavier discussion was interrupted when Caleb called for Uncle Osolo on the communicator, saying he had to come and see the dog, now that it was under ziggy. Hal volunteered to take Osolo for the trip over to the asteroid miner, with Mel coming along. Before going outside the ship, Hal pointed out that Osolo had been wearing his vacc suit incorrectly all this time, and fixed the problem, to Osolo’s great relief. Using a hand-held maglev “bug”, Hal ran the group out to where the two ships’ sail cables were nearest. Hal fumbled the transfer, losing his magnetic link to the sail cable, causing both his passengers quite a fright – Osolo fainted – but quickly corrected the mistake and latched onto the other cable.
In the asteroid miner, they found an entirely new dog, leaping and spinning through the air joyously. It was decided that the dog should be named “Uncle Bubba”. After the exciting trip over, it was decided that the three would spend the night in the miner, rather than heading back to the Cabra immediately.
Seeking off-duty amusement for himself and Nuku-chan, Felix asked for the use of some spare electronics parts to make some robotic mice. In the wee hours of the morning, he woke, drooling on his workbench, having falling asleep while working. Before his eyes, he found an old-fashioned soldier. Surprised, he sat up, rubbing his eyes, only to find himself alone. However, he heard the sound of footsteps outside, in the hall.
Meanwhile, over on the miner, Caleb woke up Hal, reporting a fluctuation in the sail readings, indicating that the cable had been nicked by space debris. Grumbling at the timing, Hal got his suit on and went outside to check on, and repair, the damage.
Back in the Cabra, Felix got on the communicator, reporting a possible intruder on the ship. He trailed the presence to the control room, then, finally deciding that enough was enough, burst through the door to confront the intruder. Inside, Mung, dressed only in a vague cloud of particles hovering in strategic locations, awoke from her sleepwalking with a start, knocking the controls askew.
Outside, the sudden movement caused Hal to lose his grip on the rigging. With admirable calm, he pulled out the hand rocket pack that he had had the foresight to bring along. The incident had put him into a spinning roll, so he lined up for his shot and waited for it to come around. Just as it did, he noticed a magsail trailing the fleet, as if they were being followed by a ship running dark. The surprise caused him to hesitate for a split second, throwing off his trajectory and sending him at right angles to where he wanted to go.
One by one, as Felix called on the communicator, the crew awoke and came together to deal with the emergency. Mel, still in the asteroid miner, went to the controls and used the ship’s sensors to locate Hal, Terreno went to deploy a shuttle, and Osolo went out the airlock with Luke1.
Osolo’s attempt at performing a swinging trapeze capture didn’t entirely work out. By the time he made a couple of failed attempts, Terreno had the shuttle out of the bay and in the neighborhood. He picked up Hal without further excitement, leaving Osolo to take the long way home.
Back aboard the Cabra, Hal told the others about the ship he had seen. It had been overlooked thus far because the telltale light of its sails had been masked by the fleet’s own magsail aurora. Armed with the knowledge that there was something out there to see, Mel quickly dialed in a visual. It was the Lueger, the other tramp freighter that had landed in Corinth, on Miranda, crewed by the Parson boys. Since General Pequeño had been the Warlord of Corinth, this caused a certain amount of unrest among the crew.
Before going to bed, Felix took a look around his room, thinking again of the soldier he had seen. Upon reflection, he realized that the soldier had been only inches tall. Also, he discovered that one of his mechanical mice was missing.
The next morning, at breakfast, the discussion returned to the Lueger. The engineers agreed that it was unlikely that the other ship carried weapons. The pilot and navigator estimated the potential of shuttles likely to be carried on such a ship, and figured that within a few days, there would be no possible way for the other ship’s crew to bother them, as the difference in speed would be too great. Therefore, the plan of playing “wait and see” won out over the idea of mounting what would effectively be a preemptive pirate attack. The expectation was that either the other ship would pull off to aim for a different destination, or they would arrive at Venus a day or so behind the Cabra. The crew felt confident that they could deal with anything the Parsons threw at them, with that kind of head start.
Seeing the worry of the group, Madame Dori offered to read the cards for them. The Tarot spread she laid out emphasized the virtues of family and teamwork, while pointing out the vices of pride and greed. After looking over the fung shui of Madame Dori’s room, Mel declared the whole thing fake and refused to acknowledge it.
The four month trip passed quickly. Felix found the stored parts of Bubba’s old still and got it working again. Mel processed the mega-poppy extract from the ransom trade. Sohio set Terreno to hard training for his upcoming match.
Entering Venus orbit went without undue trouble. The crew left the ship to find themselves in a veritable cowboy’s paradise, in the form of the Venus spaceport. Mung headed out to take care of business, while Terreno and Sohio went to examine their gym facilities, and the rest of the crew went in search of entertainment.
In the inevitable crowded bar, Osolo ran in to Dempsey Solo, the mail carrier who the Cabra had loaned $100K over three years back. He also saw Hu Yi in the crowd, but was himself unseen.
Terreno got a look at his upcoming opponent’s picture, and was introduced to his local guide, Tyrell-I Kalbu. (Meaning, “Kalbu, the indentured servant of the Tyrell Corporation”. Yeah, stole that, too. He was played by a mid-80’s Junk Yard Dog.)
Mung returned with a full set of passengers, political refugees seeking a better life off Venus. After more heated discussion with Osolo, it was determined that she would seek a buyer for most, but not all, of the processed mega-poppy products.
1The Cabra‘s number two inchworm robot.