Day 8. 47 pages, 21,076 words. No shit done this weekend.
Noro Metak buccaneers, according to the general rules of the goodwill ambassador exchange program, were not allowed command positions on starships over a certain size and armament grade. There were all sorts of rules, most of them imposed by the various Noro nations. The authorities of AstroCorps, the Fleet and the Six Species tended to be a bit more lax, and this was why you ended up with cases like the unfortunate Captain Dool.
It was always interesting, although Drago didn’t often have a chance to talk about it with anybody, when a dumbler species found themselves confronted by a big bad galaxy full of aliens. From the Fleet’s first intimidating “be quiet or they’ll hear you” hail, to Çrom Skelliglyph asking what sort of booze was recommended for washing the taste of cud out of your mouth … it was an adjustment, no question.
And the Noro Metak had handled it well. They were blessed with a resource-rich planet and still more resource-rich planets in their system, and biology naturally exempt from most of the big conflict-causers. Yes, they were ferocious for herbivores. And yes, their world had been a bit of a hodgepodge of different interest groups and cultures. Encountering aliens didn’t tend to unite a planet into a single homogenous unit with a centralised world government. Not overnight. Every little group needed their own first contact with the aliens, and had their own ideas of how it was going to proceed from there. There had been big nations and small ones, but the big ones were always insistent that they weren’t trying to take charge, and the small ones were always shouting that the big ones were trying to take charge. That’s why the diplomats and policy-writers were paid so much. Before too long, they’d nailed it all down.
The Noro Metak had settled back into their own solar system, where they were likely to survive quite comfortably for another ten million years if they happened to last that long without blowing each other up. A little bit of perspective never hurt, and they did have the option for expansion to nearby systems if – for example – their sun burned out. Perspective brought long-term thinking with it, but in the end life just went on. They’d withdrawn, the Six Species had wished them well, and now the only Noro Metak contact with the outside galaxy was the one- and two-person buccaneer crews. And although Dool had gone ‘off script’ here, the general rule held.
One- and two-person crews.
Drago looked at the massive Noro standing between him and the main hold’s access doors. It looked an awful lot like Dool – aliens all looked sort of the same, this was just a fact of evolution and not something you could afford to feel too guilty about – but it was bigger.
She was bigger, Barducci realised. This one was female, and she was stupendous. Was she Dool’s wife? Mate? Relative of some sort? Or just his bucky crewmate?
Not really any way to tell.
“I ought to warn you-” Drago started.
The Noro roared, lowered her huge head, and charged.
“Hell,” Drago muttered, and braced himself as seven hundred pounds of enraged beef crashed down the corridor towards him.