Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Several Travellers walk into a bar IMTU

Bar Fight

Bil Gunderson, Senior Purser of the Liner Sunset over Litton sat back in his chair and looked across the table at his new assistant Purser, Holden Cass.  Cass was gazing around the starport tavern, obviously much impressed with the buzz of activity around him.  "So, things don't get this exciting where you're from, do they, Cass?"
            Startled, Cass looked at him sheepishly.  "Well, I guess not.  Mostly I'm just trying to figure out where all these folks are from."  He gestured at the array of military and civilian uniforms to be seen around the room.
            "Oh, now, that's easy.  Pay attention and I'll point out a couple," Gunderson edged forward in his seat and pointed his mug at two men in tan jumpsuits standing by the bar.  “See those two?  They’re Corellian League traders.  The one on the left is wearing the League crest on his collar, and neither of them has spoken two words to anybody but themselves or an order to the bartender.  Leaguers keep to themselves.  As far as I can tell, it isn’t arrogance, they just don’t like to get involved.”
            “Over there, on the other hand, are some Dothan Alliance navy types.  Tall one seems to be a non-com from the way he’s acting.  Dothans can get really aggressive, and don’t mind invading your space.  Look ‘em in the eye and deal straight, and they’ll respect you.  Dothan space is a safe place to run cargoes, they deal with pirates really hard, and so they’re all right with me.”
            “Speaking of navies, here come some Kassiran Marines,” Bil indicated a troop of four men and two women in matching grey-and-green dress uniforms.  “They’re not a bad lot, just don’t talk politics.  Their gripe with the Stedhard Alliance goes way back, and you’re either with them or against them.  Just hope there aren’t any Stedmonts here too, or there may be a fight.”
            “What about that fellow there?” Holden asked.  “From the uniform, he’s Navy, but I’m not sure whose.”
            Bil glanced at the man, seated comfortably a few tables away.  “Why, that should be the easiest for you to remember.  He’s a Talaveran.  They’re the only ones who use gold on black, and that patch on his shoulder is another dead giveaway.  The Empire’s got the biggest navy in space, and they won’t let you forget it.  Imperials are easy to get along with, though.  And they’re just as tough on piracy as the Dothans, so we’ll be visiting the Empire quite often.”
            Just then another group of spacers arrived, pushing their way through the crowd.  They wore gray and blue uniforms, and scowls on their faces.  Cass watched in surprise as they appropriated at table in the middle of the room, physically removing the two people sitting there.  The leader of the gang shouted for a waiter over the rumble of conversation.
            Bil snorted in disgust.  “Lycoskys.  Now there are some folks you want to remember.  Remember to avoid, that is. The Lycosky Trade Protectorate is the biggest shipping outfit in space, and everybody knows it, especially them.  They seem to think that no one else knows has a right to ship cargo.  I’ve heard more stories than I could count of independents and other national shippers getting harassed, threatened and worse by LTP crews.  They’re just plain arrogant, and act like nobody can touch ‘em.  Which unfortunately is almost true.  Complain to the captain, and he defends the crew.  Complain to the LTP ambassador and he defends the captain.  These guys can just about get away with murder.  Just look at that.”  He pointed to the rowdy gang of men.  They had stopped a woman dressed in the uniform of the Morgenstern line.  Cass couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but it was obviously derogatory.  The woman snapped a reply and started to walk away.  One of the crewmen jumped up and grabbed her by the arm.  She slapped him, and he wound up like he was going to hit her in return, when the man in the Talaveran navy uniform stopped him.  Cass hadn’t noticed him getting up, but he was boldly stepping between the two, pushing the crewman back.  The Talaveran said something Cass couldn’t hear, but the man’s arm pointing towards the door made it obvious. 
            The rest of the LTP crew was standing now, crowding around the lone Imperial, making threatening noises.  The Talaveran stood his ground, repeating his command for them to leave.  “Oh, this is going to get ugly,” Bil muttered.
            Suddenly the Kassiran Marines appeared behind the Talaveran.  The marine sergeant pushed one crewman back, and repeated the order for them to leave.  The crewman pushed back, making more threats, which were plainly audible.  Everyone else in the room seemed to have stopped talking to watch the fireworks. 
Cass turned back to his mentor. “Say, Bil, shouldn’t we call… “  He was talking to an empty chair.  Gunderson had already stood up and was marching resolutely to join the Talaveran officer.  Cass jumped up and hustled after him.  By the time he and Bil reached the Lycosky’s table the Dothan spacers had joined in as well.  All talk had ceased throughout the bar, as everyone waited to see what would happen.
The leader of the LTP gang flinched first. It dawned on his arrogant mind that the mix of uniforms arrayed against his crew had them outnumbered, and that most of the men and women were combat-trained. He spat a curse.  “Come on, guys.  Let’s find someplace else.  The service is too slow around here.”  With this weak excuse, he turned toward the exit and gave one of his men a shove towards the door.  The Dothans stepped aside and let the crewmen file out sullenly.  As soon as the last blue-and-gray uniform disappeared from sight, the bar erupted in cheers and laughter. 
Two hours later, Bil and Cass finally tore themselves free from their roomful of new friends.  At the door, they stopped and rendered salutes (as best they could in a somewhat drunken state) to the Talaveran officer.  Commander Bradford Norris smiled and returned the salute much more crisply.  Jeannie Thermopolis, the Morgenstern crewman, removed her arm from around his shoulders but simply waved good-bye.  Then she went back to smiling at Norris.

I wrote this probably ten years ago, to put some detail into my Traveller universe. It's just a snippet, but I've kept it unlike some other ideas that I've discarded over time.  Check out my Traveller map and see if you can find all the places that are referred to in the story.

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