Chapter V - Catch of the Day


Unknown Enemy
Ok, here we go again. Like last time, this is a chapter that has not been edited very much, so expect mistakes. Report them all.

Hmm. So, is there anything else I need to say? I guess not. I'm sure you'll ask if you're confused about something


V. Catch of the Day.
With a dull clang, the locking mechanism finally completed the rotation, and the airlock opened into darkness. Briefly, one of the ceiling lights flickered. The room was small, serving only as a secondary airlock for the Drayman.
As Paladin slowly propelled himself into the room, his suit’s light illuminated the area. The room was totally empty, with just two exits – the airlock being one of them.
Taggart glanced at his suit’s info display. “Atmosphere’s breathable.” He reported, even as he took of the helmet. “Faugh…” He added. “But this air is stale…”
“I whill join yho nhaw.” He heard Rhe’dhi’s voice through the comms.
“Of course, lad. Come on in.” It had been decided that Paladin would not be exploring the Drayman alone. After all, there was no way of knowing what they might find.
As he waited for Rhe’dhi, he wondered yet again what had happened to the Drayman. Back in the days when he still flew a fighter, he often found himself escorting these lumbering freighters. He had seen a few explode under Kilrathi fire, too. However, this – this did not look like it had been damaged in combat.
But if not in combat, then how did it take damage? Accident, perhaps?
The lights flickered again. At least there was power, then. But the life support must be failing, he thought, seeing steam coming out of his mouth. Soon it’ll be as cold as the vacuum in here.
At last, he saw Rhe’dhi flow into the room. The lack of artificial gravity was another indication of the state this ship was in.
“It iss khold hheer.” Rhe’dhi said, as he took off his helmet.
And he’s got fur on his face, Paladin thought. “Aye, lad.” He said aloud. “If there’s anybody alive in here, we’re only barely in time. But… keep yer weapon ready. We may not like what we find.” He also drew his pistol. A rescue with guns, he thought. But such are the times we live in.
He glided over to the door, and pressed the button that should have opened it. Nothing. It looked as though they would have to open it manually. He set himself against the door, and then started turning the handle. It refused to move, obviously rusted over through misuse.
“Allhowh mhe.” Rhe’dhi finally said.
“Be my guest, laddie.” Paladin moved out of the way.
Rhe’dhi approached the door. He took off his gloves, and put his furred hand on the handle. As he gripped the handle, James thought he saw a glint of light reflecting off the Kilrathi’s claws.
At first nothing happened, but slowly the handle started turning, with a screech of tortured metal. Bit by bit, it turned faster. By the time the first revolution was completed, most of the rust had scraped itself off. Quite smoothly now, the handle completed the second revolution.
“Whee mayh prroceedh.” Rhe’dhi gestured, towards the door which was now slightly ajar.
James grinned. “Thank ye.” He pushed himself towards the door. As he approached it, he couldn’t help but to give the handle a look. There were three deep holes along the top of it, and another along the bottom. Paladin looked back at Rhe’dhi’s claws with new respect. The Kilrathi hand may have one less finger than a human’s, but it is certainly no less useful.
Carefully, Paladin peered out through the door. The corridor beyond was much better lit than the room they were leaving. There were ceiling lights all along the corridor, and most of them seemed to be working. The place appeared to be used more frequently, and…
“My God!” Colonel Taggart exclaimed.
“Whath?” Rhe’dhi demanded, sticking his head out into the corridor.
Near one of the doors that ended the corridor, a man floated motionless. They could not see his face, but the skin on his hands had the greyish tinge that told them he was dead. As if to remove any doubts, there was an aura of bloody gel hovering about his head.
* * *
“Another?” Paladin’s voice came through the comm system. Weaver turned his head towards the Drayman. He had been listening to Rhe’dhi and the Colonel through the Ferret’s comm systems. As he listened, he circled idly above the freighter.
“Like the others? Gunshot in the back of the head?”
“Yhess. Hhee hhad no chanss.”
Dammit. Whoever cleaned out that ship sure was bloody efficient, Weaver thought. So far, they’d found four corpses. And each man had died in the same way. A single shot. Did they even know what was about to happen, when they were attacked?
“I don’t know who did it,” Talon called in from the Krak’ni’hra. “But it sure as hell wasn’t the Kilrathi. Not their style.”
* * *
Opening another door, Paladin peered in. In this section of the old freighter, life support systems seemed to be working slightly better; the temperature was almost bearable. If there is anybody alive here, James thought, I should run into him soon.
But was that a good thing? With each new corpse, Paladin became more apprehensive about this ship. And if, like Talon said, it wasn’t the Kilrathi, then who? Suddenly, his sidearm didn’t seem good enough.
What’s in here, then? He wondered, as he pulled himself through the door, his gun held in front of him, ready to fire.
“Dammit!” He swore. “That’s the fifth!”
“Another body, sir?” He heard Weaver’s voice.
“Aye, lad.” Even to himself, Paladin sounded depressed. Certainly, this wasn’t what he had expected to find on the battered ship. “But… wait a second.”
He slowly approached the dead man. Were his eyes deceiving him? And if not, what did it mean?
But his eyes did not deceive him. This man did not die like the others. There were several deep-looking gashes on his chest. The expression frozen on this man’s face indicated that he at least, did not die without facing his attacker.
“Colonel? What’s going on?”
“He wasn’t shot! He was stabbed.”
“Hhow?” Rhe’dhi asked. “Lhayk Kilrathi khlaws?”
“I don’t think so. Maybe knife wounds… Wait… I just heard something.”
Quietly, Paladin turned around. This door should lead to the bridge. He glided towards it, holding the gun in readiness. Elsewhere, Weaver held his breath, and Rhe’dhi abandoned his inspection of the cargo hold, moving as quickly as he could towards Taggart’s section of the freighter.
“I’m going into the bridge.” Paladin whispered into the mike. He pulled himself up towards the ceiling of the room. Lack of gravity has it’s advantages, he thought as he finally stopped above the doorway. Aiming his weapon straight down – so he would be able to hit anybody coming out – he reached down with his other hand and pressed the button that would open the door.
The moment the door started opening, somebody opened fire. As he saw the streaks of energy pass through the door below, Paladin was all too glad that he had maintained the presence of mind to get above the doorway.
The gunfire continued. Obviously, the person – or persons – was firing blindly, without noticing the absence of his target.
Several more seconds passed, and then silence. Or rather, near-silence, Paladin thought with satisfaction as he heard the clicks punctuating the air. Out of ammo.
Time to act, he decided. Using the top of the doorframe as a handhold, he flipped down towards the floor, his gun aimed into the bridge.
Finally, he saw his attacker. A youngish-looking man was staring in surprise at him. He was still holding a pistol in his hands, nerveless fingers pressed down on the trigger.
“Don’t move!” James yelled as the man recovered from shock. “Drop the gun!”
The young man quickly complied. “I… I didn’t know who you are…” he started explaining. “I saw the Kilrathi ship, and I thought…”
There’s something wrong about him, Paladin thought. After many years of experience, he could usually size up a person’s character in only a few moments. But is it that he’s not telling the truth, or just not telling the whole truth? “Who are ye?”
“Uh…” he hesitated. “Pete… Pete Browning…”
“Well, Pete, ye’ve got a lotta explaining to do.” Hearing the quiet clang of someone bouncing off a wall, James risked a quick glance behind him. It was the Kilrathi. “Rhe’dhi, lead him back to the Broadsword.”
“Yhess.” Rhe’dhi replied. He moved forward and grabbed Pete by his arm.
Paladin watched carefully as Rhe’dhi pushed the man out of the bridge. He caught a brief glimpse of the expression on Pete’s face.
In that face, there was fear – but it was not the fear of the Kilrathi’s powerful arms. It was something else. James recalled very well how he felt when he first met with a Kilrathi face to face. To say that he was scared would be an understatement. He had been terrified. And he knew that most people were. What about this man then?
He must have met the Kilrathi before.
* * *
“All done, Colonel.” Weaver announced. Through the window, Paladin could see him moving back towards the airlock. “The Scim’s fuelled up and ready to go. But why are we taking this piece of junk?”
James grinned. Piece of junk… he had flown most of his career on the Scimitars. It was a funny sort of ship. Even when it was state of the art, many pilots hated it. Back on the Tiger’s Claw, there was Iceman. He absolutely detested it. But then, Iceman always went for the lighter, more manoeuvrable craft – the artists’ ships.
Personally though, James liked the Scimitar even with all of its inadequacies. And this one had a jump drive, he thought, as he turned back to the ship outside the window. It wasn’t exactly the sleekest design – particularly not now, with the lousy job somebody had done adding on the jump drive – but in its own way, it was a great looking craft.
“You never know what might come in useful, lad.” Paladin spoke into the radio. “Besides, if you’re going to take as much damage as you did the first time, we’ll run out of spare parts for the Ferret in no time.”
“I don’t intend to do so, sir.” Weaver’s voice came from behind him. Darn, that boy moves fast, James thought as he turned around. Indeed, the young Lieutenant had already gotten through the airlock, and here he was.
“I’m glad ta hear that, laddie. And I was glad to see you fly with your wingmate this time.”
Lawrence smiled, a wry sort of smile. “You both gave me a lot to think about. I still haven’t quite figured it all out yet.” He frowned. “Right now… all I know is that we’re in this together.”
“Right now, lad, that’s all ye need to know. The rest will come in time. Well, shall we leave this ship then?”
Weaver grinned. “I’m your wingman.” He pushed himself away from the wall, and headed towards the airlock where his Ferret was docked.
Paladin was also grinning. It wouldn’t be much – just a minute or two – but it was for real. His mind was reeling with joy as he pulled himself through the airlock, and into the cabin of the Scimitar. He strapped himself into the seat, and switched on the engines. Behind him, he could hear the shield generator powering up. God, it felt good to be back in the cockpit!
“Ready to go, boy?” Paladin spoke into the helmet mike.
“I’m ahead of you… granddad.” Weaver’s voice came through.
The tiny Ferret raced right past the Scim’s nose.
“Granddad… why, ye little scamp!” Paladin laughed. “I’ll show ye what a granddad can do!” He put the engines into full thrust, and kicked in the afterburners. The Scimitar’s burners left a charred mark on the Drayman as he charged forward, after the Ferret. It only took him seconds to catch up.
“I see that machine is still working… but I’ve also got afterburners!” Weaver told him. And suddenly, the Ferret was ahead again.
“All right, laddie.” James replied, still chuckling. The sheer velocity was pushing him deep into the seat, and he couldn’t remember when he last felt that good. “Let’s head for the Kamekh. This little display of ours… it’s not fair to Talon.” Paladin sighed inwardly. If it had been possible, he’d have let Talon fly the Scim back to the Krak’ni’hra. It wasn’t though. “Rhe’dhi?” He added, looking around for the Broadsword. “Form on my wing, and let’s head on home.”
“Jasst ah sshek’nd. Whe Kilrathi do noth leev falhon khomrradess forr the en’my.”
He was right. Even these men, whether they were pirates or smugglers, perhaps even traitors, deserved a proper burial. And this was the only one they could get. He sighed. But it still didn’t seem right.
“Very well, Rhe’dhi. Fire.” He finally said.
A bright spark appeared beneath the Broadsword. It sped towards the now-deserted freighter.
The torpedo struck square into the ship’s power plant. A vast globe of fire rapidly enveloped the Drayman. It dissipated just as quickly, quenched by the empty vacuum. But now, all that remained of the freighter were the chunks of metal racing outwards – towards the stars.
From its ‘perch’, where it had been poised above the Drayman, the Broadsword dove towards them.
“Let’s get to the Kamekh, lads.” Paladin told them both. “We’ve got a jump to make.”
“And a prisoner to interrogate…” Weaver added quietly.
“We don’t know who he is, Weaver. I wouldna call him a prisoner just yet.”
“Maybe… but what would his dead friends call him?”
* * *
“Yes, I’ve had dealings with the Kilrathi. I’m a smuggler… but I’m no traitor!” Pete Browning was pleading. In his eyes, Lawrence could see the desperation. He thinks we’ll kill him, Weaver decided. Makes you wonder what he’d do if the situation was reversed.
His eyes wandered over to Paladin, who was sitting in front of their pris… guest. Colonel Taggart’s questions took on an interrogatory tone, and rightly so. The Drayman had been heading towards the Deneb jump point – into Kilrathi space. That’s enough to make anyone suspicious.
“All right. Let’s say I believe you. What about yer ship, and yer crewmates then? What happened?”
Pete sighed. Already, Weaver did not like this man. Something about him reminded him of Javelin. Besides, a smuggler who dealt with the enemy certainly would have no qualms about lying.
“We’d just entered… we’d just set the course for the jump point. The engines blew while powering up. A simple malfunction, but the chain reaction screwed them completely. We got a bit of a push from the explosion… we’ve been drifting at maybe ten kps. Took us several days, and we’d run out of supplies before we got here…”
Paladin stared at the man in shock. “Those men were executed… did you kill them? To preserve supplies?”
An odd look flickered across Browning’s face. A cornered beast, thought Weaver. “No!” Pete almost spat that word at them, in a hurry to clear this new charge. “Er… Jones did… but I was ready for him… I killed him when he came. But I was the last one left by then.”
“Jones… he was the man outside the bridge?”
“I see.” Colonel Taggart said, his face expressionless. “And then?”
“Then?” Pete looked down on the floor. “Then I waited… at least I had enough supplies for a while.”
“Yes, that you did.” Weaver threw in from where he was standing. The man looked up at him, as if detecting Lawrence’s complete lack of faith in his words. “What were you doing in Kilrathi territory?”
Browning’s eyes narrowed. “Am I a prisoner then, to be interrogated this way?” He gave Weaver another spiteful glance, and then turned back to Paladin.
“That remains to be determined.” James told him.
“Colonel Taggart, surely you don’t believe…” Weaver started.
“Believe him? He just admitted to being a smuggler and a murderer, though in self-defence. Does that sound like he’s lying?”
“But his ship was heading into Kilrathi space… they could have been Mandarins, for all we know!”
Paladin sighed. He too had such suspicions. However, experience told him that it is better not to accuse people of treason when trying to get information out of them. When inevitable execution looms above your head, you don’t really feel like cooperating. “Talon, how long till the jump point?”
“Two minutes, sir.”
“All right then. Weaver and Rhe’dhi, go to your ships. I know you must be exhausted by now, but none of us can rest until we get to the asteroid belt in Deneb. Be ready to undock the moment we complete the jump.”
“Sir…” Weaver started. “This man…”
“Lieutenant, that’s an order. We need you ready, in case there are enemy ships at the jump point.”
“Yes, Colonel.” Lawrence saluted him, and left the bridge, Rhe’dhi close behind.
* * *
“Does that guy seem as suspicious to you as he does to me?” Weaver asked as they approached the docking hatches.
“Indheedh.” Rhe’dhi replied. “Bhat hhe mmay alsso bhe usseful.”
“Maybe. I don’t believe a word he says, though.” Lawrence said, even as he dropped into the hatch.
Rhe’dhi watched in silence as the hatch sealed itself above Weaver’s head. The young Lieutenant was as distrustful as ever – but this time, Rhe’dhi agreed. Still, the Colonel surely knows what he’s doing. As he opened the hatch, he suddenly remembered that the Broadsword was at the elevator – the strange old fighter had taken up the second hatch. A Scimitar… relic from decades past. “You never know what might come in useful”, Paladin had told them. Perhaps there is truth in that. Then maybe, this man – this smuggler or traitor – could also be useful. He sighed. The Kilrathi did not betray. Sometimes, these humans are so difficult to comprehend. What a strange, strange species, he thought as he entered the elevator. So noble, and yet so base.
* * *
“So, what’s going to happen to me?” Browning asked, watching Weaver leave the room.
“After we return, we’ll hand you over to the authorities. If you cooperate with us now,” Paladin replied, putting stress on the ‘if’. “Then they’ll keep that in mind when they decide on your punishment.”
Hope briefly flickered across Pete’s face. It disappeared just as quickly, replaced by resolve. “You want information?”
“For a start, I’d like to know why you were heading into Deneb.”
“We had a meeting to attend to… in Tamayo system. Deneb was a shortcut.”
“A meeting?”
“To pick up some cargo.”
“Ah. So, you’d risk yourselves and the ship going through Kilrathi space just to get some cargo?”
Anger flashed in Pete’s eyes, but he controlled himself. “Times are tough. We had no choice. Look, I’m sure the… authorities… will extract all this from me soon enough. So, maybe you’d like to get to the point?”
Taggart forced the irritation away. “All right. What do you know of Kilrathi and Confed ships in Deneb?”
“If you think I’ve got Kilrathi contacts, you’re barking up the wrong tree. And my comms died a few hours before you got here, so all I know is what I picked up before then.”
“Which is?”
“Not very much.” Pete replied, a grim smile on his face. “I caught some Kilrathi broadcasts, but they were coded. And yesterday I even heard a Confed destroyer in Deneb… I guess you’re probably supposed to meet it, eh?”
Paladin ignored the question. “Did you get the destroyer’s location, then?”
“As a matter of fact, I did.” Browning replied all too quickly. “I even wrote it down. Never know when knowing might save your life…”
Like if you met the Kilrathi, James thought. “Let’s have it then.”
Browning pulled out a worn piece of paper from one of his pockets. There was a set of numbers scrawled on the paper in pencil.
“Talon, plot these on the map.” Paladin passed the paper to Captain Burkeheimer. “And what, Mr. Browning, might your excuse for knowing Confed codes be?”
“Like I said.” Pete grinned oddly. “Knowing can save your life.”
“Jim?” Said Hharak, who had been sitting at the console. “Whe arr rhe-dhi to jhamp.”
“All right. Initiate sequence then. And Talon, go and lock him up in the brig.” Paladin pointed at Pete. “He already knows enough.”
Talon got up, indicating that Browning should do the same.
Pete looked at him, then at James. Finally, with a show of reluctance he started getting up. “I guess I know all there is to know, anyway.” He gave the Colonel a mocking sort of salute as Talon led him out of the room.
Just then, the swirling blue tunnel opened up before them.
“Ready or not, here we come,” Paladin said to himself.


And thus concludes another chapter. Start commenting.
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That's 48 hours, and still no comments. If somebody doesn't post something today, I'm gonna go sulk in a corner
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Aw, crap. I write a reply and then it goes off into the unknown. Like I was saying, I'll wait till you go sulk.

I read through it quickly - detailed comments to follow in near future. So yer just gonna hav'ta wait.
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Oh, now this is an outrage. 72 hours, and just one measly reply?

Here, 'Zoners... got a nice little story for you... come on. Don't be shy... I won't hurt you.

Sigh. Where's the nearest sulk-able corner?
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Well here goes *deep breath*. As usual I'm being super nit that you may ignore half the comments and still get a great story.

"As Paladin slowly propelled himself" - Better "smoothly" than "slowly."

"his suit’s light illuminated the area." - Maybe "the light of his suit" since you use "suit's info" soon after.

"he took of the helmet." - "took off"

"However, this – this did not look like it had been damaged in combat." - "Craft" after second "this."

"Accident, perhaps?" - "An accident perhaps?"

"At least there was power, then." - Then what? In speech it's fine but not here.

"seeing steam coming out of his mouth." - Technically it isn't steam.
Besides, a non "s" word would fit better.

"Soon it’ll be as cold as the vacuum in here." - Good simile.

"At last, he saw Rhe’dhi flow into the room." - "Flow" or "float?"

"only barely in time." - "Just barely" to avoid two "ly" words.

"But such are the times we live in." - Now your story is getting philosophical.

"obviously rusted over through misuse." - I'd lose the "through misuse."

"and put his furred hand on the handle." - "Furred paw" - logical since it *is* a paw.

"As he gripped the handle, James thought he saw a glint of light reflecting off the Kilrathi’s claws." - Nice touch...pun fully intended.

"At first nothing happened, but slowly the handle started turning, with a screech of tortured metal." - Now who's getting poetic?
I'd erase the second comma and use either "slowly the handle turned" or "the handle started turning" but not both "slowly" and "started."

"By the time the first revolution was completed," - Change "revolution" to "turn" and leave the second one in "completed the second revolution."

"he couldn’t help but to give the handle a look." - Well I guess I can live with that if you take out "to."

"There were three deep holes along the top of it, and another along the bottom." - You do realise cats have four claws on the paw tip and one on the side?

"Paladin looked back at Rhe’dhi’s claws with new respect." - Ditto.

"The Kilrathi hand may have one less finger than a human’s," - You've been watching too many cartoons me thinks. Artists often remove a finger - supposedly cause it's easier to draw.

"but it is certainly no less useful." - Quirky negative. How about "just as useful?" In fact you've just shown they're *more* useful.

"and most of them seemed to be working. The place appeared to be used more frequently, and…" - "Seemed" then "appeared." Why not "and most of them worked (to some degree)?"

"“Whath?” Rhe’dhi demanded, sticking his head out into the corridor." -
Just the image of a Kilrathi poking his head around a corner and saying "What?"

"there was an aura of bloody gel hovering about his head." - Ew! Gorey but original. Extra brownie points for bleeding in zero-G. Now have Rhe'dhi sneeze.

* * *
"through the Ferret’s comm systems." - Uh, "radio?"

"As he listened, he circled idly above the freighter." - I tend to avoid these. Better to write "He listened in, circling" or "Listening in, he circled." I know I'm really nit picking but I'm sensitive to these things.

"Whoever cleaned out that ship sure was bloody efficient," - That's an understatement...and a pun.

"So far, they’d found four corpses." - I read "they'd" as "they would" at first. Consider "they had."

"Did they even know what was about to happen, when they were attacked?" - A tad odd.
* * *
"the temperature was almost bearable. If there is anybody alive here, James thought," - Hmm, that change of tense due to thought was unexpected.

"I should run into him soon." - You never know, it could be "them."

"Suddenly, his sidearm didn’t seem good enough." - I'm sure you can find a more poetic synonym for "good enough." Like "adequate."

"What’s in here, then? He wondered, as he pulled himself through the door, his gun held in front of him, ready to fire." - Lengthy, too many commas and that problem with thoughts running into narrative again.

"But his eyes did not deceive him." - "But his eyes saw true?" Beats "deceiving" again.

"Elsewhere, Weaver held his breath," - Good transition. You might want to use something similar to maintain continuity in the previous section.

"and Rhe’dhi abandoned his inspection of the cargo hold," - He was inspecting cargo? A single speech line above could eliminate all doubt.

"moving as quickly as he could towards Taggart’s section of the freighter." - Since the sentence is long enough, shorten to "Moving quickly toward Taggart's location/position."

"I’m going into the bridge." - Uh, "into?" Usually one goes "onto" a bridge.

"The moment the door started opening, somebody opened fire." - Too many "openings." "The moment the door slid aside" or something.

"above the doorway." - Oh I see. Took me a while to grasp that.

"was firing blindly, without noticing" - "Not noticing."

"as he heard the clicks" - Skip "the."

"he flipped down towards the floor," - It would've been funnier is he popped his head in, upside down.

"staring in surprise at him." - "Staring at him in surprise?"

"After many years of experience, he could usually size up a person’s character in only a few moments." - That's a gift, no matter how many years of experience in command.

"But is it that he’s not telling the truth, or just not telling the whole truth?" - Odd negative again. "But is it that he's lying, or just not telling the whole truth?"

"James recalled very well how he felt when he first met with a Kilrathi face to face." - Um, unwieldy.
* * *
"he thought, as he turned back to the ship outside the window." - Ick. "Turning back to see the ship outside the window."

"It wasn’t exactly the sleekest design – particularly not now, with the lousy job somebody had done adding on the jump drive – but in its own way, it was a great looking craft." - At least one of those en dashes should probably be a fullstop.

"we’ll run out of spare parts for the Ferret in no time." - "We'll run out of Ferret spare parts in no time."

"and headed towards the airlock where his Ferret was docked." - So Lawrence came through the airlock to say three lines to Taggart only to leave through the airlock again? Or did he dock the Ferret, and fly the Scimitar to refuel on the Kamekh?

"It wouldn’t be much – just a minute or two – but it was for real." - "Much" different to "long."

"The sheer velocity was pushing him deep into the seat," - Actually it's acceleration that pushes you into a seat.

"the Broadsword dove towards them." - Hmm. "Them" is explained way up above so you may wish to change to "the two fighters."
* * *
"Something about him reminded him of Javelin." - Change one or both "him" to a name.

"“No!” Pete almost spat..." - Begin speech on a new line.

"they could have been Mandarins," - Smuggling mandarins for the Kilrathi? I didn't know they liked citrus fruit that much.

"looms above your head," - "Over" rather than "above."
* * *
"So noble, and yet so base." - Hmm, "base?" What about "crude?"
* * *
"watching Weaver leave the room." - Er, this section should probably continue on from the the one that ends with "Lawrence saluted him, and left the bridge, Rhe’dhi close behind." Seems odd to have them leave and them warp back to see them leaving...unless it's a jump anomaly.

"putting stress on the ‘if’." - Usually stressed words are in italic but this is just as good a way.

Well you asked for comments and comments ye got. And this is actually a *cough* shortened list created over two days. I could have been working on my story instead, so it had better been worth it in part at least. At least I made up for the lack of other comments.
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Don't be so impatient Quarto
, I just read it, and I liked it just like the other chapters.

A good soldier is not the one who die for his country, it's the one who makes his enemy die for his.
Gen. Patton
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Cricket: That's the way it's supposed to be

Earthworm: Hey, I had to wait three days for comments. I think a bit of impatience is in order

Matrix: Pushing the envelope today, aren't you?
I haven't seen that many comments since... since. Well, let's start ignoring then

1. I'll stick with slowly.
2. All right. But it'll be "from" rather than "of"
3. How did that one get past me?
4. Fair 'nuff.
5. Well... At least you don't point out that it's a fragment sentence that I should consider revising
6. So what it ain't steam? Vapour better?

7. Thank 'ee.
8. Flow. It suggest a much smoother movement than float does.
9. Only. When it comes to speech, the characters know best
. After all, not even Paladin holds a PhD in English
10. Now my story is getting philosophical? When wasn't it?
11. I wouldn't
12. That's a genuine mistake; to be corrected immediately. Done

14. Interesting suggestions, but I've just figured out my own. "but finally, the handle started turning with [...]"
15. All right.
16. Nope. "to" stays where it is.
17. To quote Day of the Tentacle, "You're just jealous cause we've got opposable thumbs"
. Opposable thumbs are almost a necessity when it comes to using tools. Ergo, the Kilrathi will almost have to have them too.
18. That's right
. Respect those claws...
19. As a matter of fact, I have. They've got three fingers all through Academy. They've also got three fingers in the KSaga manual drawing... As I recall, they've also got three fingers in WC 3, though I can't remember that one for sure. Will check it later, and make corrections if necessary.
20. I've decided on "were actually working". Better?
21. I've seen Eryk do that... of course, he doesn't actually say "What?", but you know he would if he could
. Such a nice feline
22. Well, I'm aware of how silly it would be to have a pool of blood on the floor, so... but Rhe'dhi will not sneeze
23. Let me guess. I've used "comm systems" so much that it's becoming ridiculous
? Fair 'nuff.
24. Nope, that stays. I did swap the two parts around though.

26. Nope.
27. Odd is what I am
28. Should be used to it by now
29. Drat! How did that happen? I must have been thinking ahead too much.
30. I was about to change it as you suggested, but then I decided that "adequate" seems kinda wrong. "Good enough" stays.
31. Lengthy, yes. But all I'm gonna change is to swap the last comma for a ";".
32. "Were not lying".
33. Nah, the other one will stay as it is.
34. He was moving through the ship, much like Paladin was. He just happened to be in the cargo hold at this time
35. "Location", agreed.
36. Into seems better for some reason. Again, I guess Paladin's English dinna ken be perfect, laddie.
37. Ok.
38. It was a bit difficult to describe it.
39. Hmm... all right.
40. Roger that.
41. 'Tisn't a comedy, laddie
42. More conventional, I guess.
43. Aye, 'tis.
44. Hey, I'm trying to be poetic here
. You know, the truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth and all that
45. "James still recalled how [...]" Better?
46. Definitely. I've been using "as" way too much lately.
47. All right. That last part deserves its own sentence anyway
. Kinda funny how I like both the Scim and the Ferret, though they're almost exact opposites.
48. That stays as it is.
49. Kinda confusing, I guess. It goes like this, sorta. Rhe'dhi picks up the "guest"... locks him up in a turret, I guess
. He takes off (so "guest" has no way of sneaking back out). Then Ferret docks. Weaver takes some of the fuel from the Ferret, and dumps it into the Scimitar. This has to be done outside, simply because these ships aren't really designed for maintenance from inside an air-lock. It's something they can do, but not very well; capships specifically designed for using fighters in that manner (like the Kamekh) would have robotic arms to refuel the ship automatically, but the Drayman does not.
Anyway, then he has to go back into the Drayman again, because that's the only way to get inside the Ferret without depressurising its cabin. And then Paladin gets into the Scim for a joyride
50. Much is better, because we're measuring an experience rather than time.
51. Yes, but let's not get technical. I don't want to use "acceleration" too much, and everybody understands anyway.
52. All right.
53. True, true. Second "him" is now Lawrence.
54. Originally, I didn't because the whole paragraph was about Pete anyway. But you're right, it does look better.
55. Oh, they love citrus fruit
56. Hmm... Ok.
57. Base sounds better... once you look it up
58. Now that you mention it, that transition is a bit strange. I'll see about changing it. But I can't swap the two sections, because that would mess up the start of the next chapter.
59. Then it stays as it is.

60. Huh? Oh... that's it
. This is a shortened list, y'say? I don't want to see the longer list.

BTW, no comments in regards to the story itself?
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1. I still prefer "smoothly"

3. Sabotage.
5. Oh but I did.

You missed 5.5.

8. It also suggests Rhe'dhi is a liquid.

9. Neither do I, but I hear "just barely" more often.
11. Well "misuse" suggests use of some sort, thus not allowing the build up of rust.
14. Good. I like to see initiative.

16. I can't live with that.

17. Read this again: You do realise cats have four claws on the paw tip and one on the side? That's a total of FIVE claws - four fingers and one opposable thumb.
19. Hmm. Artistic license I guess.
19.5. Another one you skipped. Pay attention!

20. Yes, much.
22. Aw, no sneeze?

* * *
23. Nah, just seemed out of place there.
24. Good 'nuff.
26. Fine, be that way.

27. Well try being odd in a less odd sort of way.

* * *
28. But I didn't see it coming.

29. Thinking ahead is bad for you.
30. What's the matter? "Adequate" not good enough?

32. Lying eyes? Heh.
34. Well I didn't know.
39. Actually I didn't expect you'd change this one.

41. Yes Sir!
43. I thought you'd pick up on the "experience in command."
44. Poetic lies? Okay.
45. Much better.
* * *
47. Nothing wrong with liking opposites.
48. Just as well.
49. Well you've got it sorted, so put it in. Don't skimp on words, it's a story for goodness sakes.
50. Not much better, just different.
51. Everybody except me.

* * *
53. And I was hoping for the first "him" to change.

* * *
57. I guess I'll have to now.
* * *
58. I'm sure you'll work it out.
59. It was meant to.
60. Yep, short.

Story? What story? Oh, that! The story was fine. As progressive as ever. Like I said, I can't write it for you...but I can annoy you by pointing out long lists of mistakes.
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8. Maybe he is...
9. Well, we all have our little quirks.
11. Disuse better?
17. I've yet to check WC 3 out. If it's got four fingers rather than three, then I'll change it.
27. <Dying Alien voice> Impossible! </Dying Alien voice>
32. If they can deceive, then they can lie
34. <sigh> I'll see about adding something... maybe.
43. Ah... decided to throw a cryptic one in there just to confuse me, eh?
I'll think about it.
49. Maybe... it didn't seem necessary, at the time.
53. Weaver has too much disdain for him to use the guy's name

Well. Now that we've got all that sorted, maybe I'll post the next chapter... or will I
? I might just make you wait.

...Hang on. Then I'll have to wait even longer for comments. Dang.
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8. Probably just drank too much milk.

11. Yes, since it means a lack of it.
17. Lemme know when you do.
32. Not really but I'll let it lie.

43. Well you couldn't expect me to make them all clear, now could you?
53. Heh. I like that.

My suggestion is you wait longer for comments.
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"Without your flight recorder as evidence..."

Sorry. I was watching the WC 2 intro, so now I'm just fighting the urge to quote...

"You question my orders, Khas-"
"Yes! And I question why you're still in command..."

Sorry. I watched the WC2 SO1 intro too
. I really must resist the urge...

"...The one they call... Angel."

But hey, I also watched the WC3 intro

Right, so let's deal with the problem of fingers once and for all.

In WC 1, the Kilrathi had four fingers and a thumb, just like the Terrans. Or at least one of them did. The other might have had three, or four. Too hard to tell from this distance (and there were really only two Kilrathi with whom you could tell the fingers apart

In WC 2, most of the time it appeared as though they had three fingers and a thumb - however, in one scene the Emperor most definitely has a fourth finger. A leftover from the era when the Kilrathi had four fingers, perhaps? After all, the Emperor is very old

By WC 3, however, as a result of an obscure evolutionary process, all the Kilrathi are most definitely down to three fingers + thumb. So, this is the one I'll stick with.
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So the moral is, that only the Emperor is entitled to an extra finger.
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Actually, not quite. Back in WC 1, it was Admiral Gilkarg that most definitely had four fingers, while the Emperor looked like he only had three... but then, that was the cutscene in which he has Admiral Gilkarg shot...

So it wasn't about the loss of the Sivar! Admiral Gilkarg was shot because he stole the Emperor's finger!
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What's this? Don't play around with your fingers!

But back to the serious stuff, i.e. my comment on the latest chapter of your story. Ok, here goes:

"Whath?" Rhe’dhi demanded, sticking his head out into the corridor.

Hehe, just the thought of a big Kilrathi head popping up from behind the wall makes me giggle.
It would have been even funnier if his head had popped up in a door but from above!

YES, I finally did finish reading this chapter. Another great piece of work! Only one little point of criticism, though. Perhaps it would have been better to leave out Paladin's accent in the interrogation of the smuggler because this is an important conversation and it is said that in such occasions he tends to loose his accent.
But this is just one minor thing that I came about when reading the story.

Keep up the good work!

No one will hear your cry of death in the void of space
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Thanks for the comments. Paladin actually only lost his accent (as far as I know) in the WC 4 novel (or rather, the preview chapter that served as the manual for WC 4). Prior to that, he always had his accent.

Well, I guess I'm not getting any comments from the other people. Time to post the next chapter?
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Nice work. I'm going to post some of my work here, hope I can do OK. I've attempted to write before, but never followed up on it. However, discovery of this board has inspired me to persevere.

Keep your stories, coming, and wish me luck with mine.

"In fighters, one must seek to become a well-oiled machine.....because in the end, the ultimate to flame the enemy and screw his old lady." -Anonymous Top Gun instructor

[This message has been edited by FireHawk (edited February 28, 2000).]
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FireHawk: Did you read the other chapters too? Otherwise, you probably won't know what's going on

Anyway, go ahead and post your work. We'll take a look at it... and be sure to post comments on others' stories. Can't expect comments for yours if you don't give others comments, ya know
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Good point... which is why I'm going start reading the other stories around here and posting comments.

It's getting better with each chapter, the tension is building, and the story is progressing nicely. Rhe'dhi's speech impediment is getting a little grating, but it's not a big deal.

I'll read Chapter Six a little later... Gonna work on my story now.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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