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Beam Me Up, Catrina

by on February 12, 2013

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had just encountered Thrud, daughter of Thor, from whom she had hoped to learn the location of Mlrning, the Shovel of the aforementioned Thor. Unfortunately she and Thrud had a bit of a personality conflict. We rejoin their impending battle, already in progress!

Catrina didn’t have time to yell out a dramatic war cry, which was a real shame, as she had two or three lovely ones that she’d been saving for just such an occasion. Tragically, even as she opened her mouth, she felt a sudden ripping sensation, like a napkin being torn up by a small hyperactive toddler. Catrina’s stomach lurched. “Oh, no,” she thought, “not again.” She dematerialized before she had time to think anything else. Thrud would’ve been terribly surprised by this, except that she had dematerialized too. The bar was completely empty, except for one lone fly buzzing disconsolately around an overturned beer can.

Now, Catrina wasn’t terribly afraid being teleported; she just hated the process. It was so uncomfortable, and more often than not it messed up and left one rematerialized as a fetching shade of violet, or deposited randomly in a keg in a wine-cellar. She braced herself for the inevitable awkward rematerialization. Then she braced herself again. Any moment now, she thought.

But it didn’t happen. She didn’t feel a bit of the reverse-zipper feeling that usually came when her molecules were rapidly reassembled. She felt nothing. Her consciousness wafted aimlessly in darkness. If there was one thing Catrina absolutely detested, it was being reduced to a gently wafting consciousness. She couldn’t seem to do anything about it, however, except think furiously. So she did. She thought a multitude of fierce imprecations about her author, as she kept on wafting about in a trackless void…

***

Meanwhile, a tiny yellow light blinked insistently on the starship’s control panel. The captain noted the light, which indicated that the teleport was complete and the teleported Earthlings’ patterns were safely stored in the ship’s memory banks. He checked that off on his mental list, then quietly engaged the starship’s main drive and warped away from Earth. Some in his trade liked to buzz Iowa farms and flash their lights a bit, just to mess with the Earth people’s minds, but Kilkenny Speed was far more professional than that. He wasn’t your devil-may-care mercenary type who dressed like a ragamuffin and broke planetary rules left and right. He was a mercenary with standards. He kept his ship and his uniform neat and tidy, and only took jobs from reputable people, with at least two references. He was a mercenary for the elite, in other words, the high-class galactic citizens who needed a regulation or two bent discreetly and were willing to pay. Kilkenny Speed was the best white-collar mercenary you could find, and his prices were quite reasonable.

His one concession to the typical mercenary stereotype was his personal weapon, the Laser Ops Rifle, Infrared class. He called it Lori. Kilkenny Speed knew it was entirely improper to name one’s rifle. Completely inappropriate. He never used the name in the presence of clients. But when he was operating alone, somehow he couldn’t quite help it. He would even, occasionally, talk to the LORI as if it were a real person. He didn’t even do that with his ship, the very prosaically named Kilo-Sierra 2363. The captain glanced over at Lori, safely ensconced in its bulkhead holster. “Well,” he said dryly, “we’ve got our passengers. We’d better lay in a course for the Zarmina Community straightaway.”

Lori did not respond. Lori never did. If she had, she might have given voice to the same skepticism Kilkenny always felt about the government of the Zarmina Community. They’d paid him well before, they’d promised to do so again, and they were democratically elected, a rarity in galactic circles. But…but their leadership was a cybernatically enhanced cow. A cow kidnapped from Earth, no less. He had wondered about that, why the people of Zarmina had decided to elect an Earthling cy-cow as their leader. Then again, Kilkenny had also wondered what they wanted the two Earthlings he had in his ship’s memory banks for. However, he hadn’t brought it up. After all, if one couldn’t trust the voters, whom could one trust? Kilkenny wasn’t the sort to question another world’s internal affairs, anymore than he was the sort that used whom incorrectly. So he laid in the course and set the Kilo-Sierra 2363 warping efficiently towards the Zarminna Community. Little did he know just what he was warping into.

This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes in Catrina’s quest for Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!), go here. To download an e-book copy of Catrina’s first teleporting adventure, Catrina in Space, (which you can get free today and tomorrow), go here. Thanks for reading!

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