The following text is a draft from the beginning of the novel. I’ve attemped MCUs, as much as I can. How’d I do? I also tried to sneak in some environment. I have no idea how to better deliver the technical information about the ship than by slugging in a large paragraph. Maybe that’s not necessary?
The alert occurred just as Captain Luke Advance of the Ruth’s Diamond received payment for several tons of guns and ammunition. Multiple audible alarms sounded, and the personal communication devices of the locals rang stridently.
His eyes widened and he glanced from his crewmember Anastasia back to the agent. “Should I be concerned about that? Overflowing Toilet?”
The agent smiled wanly and brought out her personal communication device and checked it. Her face registered shock, then anger. “It’s war!” she said.
“Then, yes, I should be concerned?” he asked peevishly.
“I have to go.” She replied as she hurried away.
Luke leaned against the spaceport wall and considered the credit in his hand. This might not be a good place to get repairs and parts. We should leave as soon as possible.
“I’m going to a kiosk to get more information,” Anastasia said.
“I’m going back to the shuttle. It’s probably not an overflowing toilet,” Luke replied to her back. Or it could be. .9 gravity might play havoc with a gravity water system. He straightened up and walked back to the transshipment shuttle for the Ruth’s Diamond, checking the credit chip as he walked. Cold, dry winds battered him as he left the building and walked across the tarmac. The last container of ammunition had been cleared from the shuttle, and was cordoned off from other supplies and equipment and protected by a pair of soldiers huddling for warmth in the cold winds. That was no longer his concern. His concern was war.
Anastasia returned a moment later and secured the shuttle ramp while he began the preflight check. “So, war?” he asked urgently.
“Sorry, was trying to hurry. Yes. A fleet of five non-imperial warships were detected entering the system. The local government believes they’re the American Confederation of Planets troop and warships, and they’re going to invade this place.”
“that’s better than Miss I’m-Vague-About-Important-Things-Agent. `War! Gotta go!’” he mocked in a falsetto voice. “A local war, interstellar war, intergalactic war, what? Has the Empire ever been at war?! I thought their version of war was to drop rocks on naughty populations.”
“We’re not supposed to panic. They said that,” Anastasia informed him. He questioned her with a look as she strapped into the seat beside him. “What?! Oh, the government, they said not to panic. It’s just in this system, as far as we know.”
He rubbed his temples, then grimaced. Doesn’t the Empire have any warships out this way? “If the Empire tells you not to panic, you should probably panic. That’s like saying, ‘Don’t panic, it’s the plague, but only you’ve got it.’ They knew this was coming. We just delivered thousands of rifles, ammunition, and rations and there ain’t no such thing as a coincidence. The Imperial navy might be on their way, or hiding to do an ambush, or maybe the navy doesn’t exist anymore. We need much better information and then move quickly, either profit or run.”
“What does some warship want with us? We’re civilians, we’re not anyone’s enemy.”
“Stasia, we have a commercial mega container ship that can tow umpteen zillion containers or bricks of ore through any wormgate in the Empire. An upstart government would love to have us join their fleet or destroy us so we cannot help the Empire.”
“We’re not joining anyone’s fleet!” Anastasia said.
“Merchant marine, however unwilling. We might if we stick around to find out. And they tell you, they don’t ask.”
“So… what about that HCA cargo we were to pick up?” Anastasia asked.
Heavy Combat Armor. Of course. This place manufactures the stuff, we were going to pick up a cargo of it for the marines. “That’s what the Amcons want.”
What else would they want with a planet in the third year of a fifteen year winter and no gas giant in the system? “Yep, I’m pretty sure of it. This place doesn’t have anything else of value, no gas giant, no planet teeming with life, just this icy rockball. Checklist clear?” He responded.
“Yeah, we’re green on everything. Seems like a lot of effort just to get HCAs, though.” Anastasia said thoughtfully.
He keyed his radio and notified the spaceport’s traffic control of their desire to depart, which was quickly granted.
“There’ll be a queue later, I suppose,” he mused, as they accelerated out of the planets diminished gravity.
The Ruth’s Diamond rested in geosynchronous orbit over the planet’s spaceport. Luke admired her lines as the shuttle boosted into orbit and closed with the docking port. She was designed with minimal crew compartments, and had a massive long lattice work which was just barely the height and width of a wormgate and could handle everything from raw ore to large containers. Because the wormgates charged by mass, the unloaded ship travelled pretty cheap. The only constraint on cargo was to where it was delivered: if to a planet, it needed to fit in the ship’s shuttle or the planet’s transshipment shuttle, or it could not be delivered; if to an environment in micro-gravity, ore could be shipped in raw or smelted form, with the only limitation being safe maneuvering of large masses. The ship was capable of transporting other ships in tow, as well.
“As soon as we’re back on the Di, contact the HCA orbital facility and ask if they still want to do business.” Luke paused, then said, “no, find out the ETA for the warships, and see if we have a margin to do the pickup, then call the HCA-Orbfac.”
“Got it.” Anastasia took a note on her personal data device.
“Maybe we can hook ‘em as we go by.” Luke snorted.
Anastasia looked amused. “Collisions in space tend to explosively reflect the relative speeds of the objects in involved. Most cargo doesn’t like massive acceleration or deceleration.”
“Shuttles and tugs are hardly a fast way to accomplish tasks,” Luke pointed out, as they docked with the command capsule of the Diamond.
“Figure out a better way, –“
“—and you’ll be rich.” Luke finished.