Jrak, Deep Space Transportation

Jrak rubs their smooth face with their hands. Once again, there was a complication. They happened, sometimes, when doing long distance transportation. They weren’t unfamiliar with how difficult things could be on this side of the galactic map. Even still, it just meant more legwork and less spacework, which was inconvenient to say the least.

They checked the almost collar-like device around their neck and the back of their head, the oxygel softly bubbling around the almost feather-like protrusions of their gills, before they touched the airlock on the side of their cargo vessel. A deep gurgling sound emitted as the water that filled most sections of the ship was drained away and replaced with air pumped in from the port’s pressurized docking bay. Jrak smacked their lips as they were introduced to the recycled air of the spaceport, and pulled up the liquid-proof tablet containing his bills of lading. A rubbery finger slipping over the touchpad and it responded.

The problem was that the distributor who had placed part of their shipment’s order didn’t exist anymore. Now they were left with a large quantity of recreational beverages and the contract had pushed the loss of the shipper onto them. So now JRAK owned a large quantity of recreational beverages. It was absolute drek, but that’s why you have insurance. So now, Jrak was left fulfilling the requirement of their insurance. The company would cover the rest of Jrak’s losses on that load, and fourty percent of their shipping fee, as long as they sold the remaining amount of their cargo to someone. It didn’t matter for how much, though the insurance company obviously preferred if Jrak got a good price on it.

Jrak shuffled away from their ship with their tail dragging behind, clipping the datapad and their ID chip onto the belt of their casual atmospheric exosuit. They exited the spacedock and went to the pilot’s lounge, moving through the other pilots who were milling about in between their jumps and approached a port access terminal. Jrak connected their ID chip, identifying their cargo logistics company, and began to sift through the metaphorical yellow pages of the port.

Jrak popped their lips, pausing a moment and then quickly swiping with several gestures through the search filters. Jrak knew what they were looking for now, recently submitted permits in public records. They were better able to sell the product they got to someone who was just recently setting up, it was only common sense. A bit of tapping, and they found a listing for a bar opened only a few days ago.

Jrak downloaded the navigational data to their datapad and then pulled their chip, logging off and heading away towards the establishment, keeping their datapad up to glance at the spaceport’s geonet location and navigation directions. Someone was going to be a lucky humanoid, and hopefully Jrak would be out of this atmosphere and back in space again soon. As they stepped out of the dock into the habitation city proper, the warm rain pattered against their rubbery skin, and they blink up at the droplets. At least it was humid, right now. They smiled a little, smacking their lips as they waddled off into the streets.

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Great story! Welcome!

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Excellent intro. Can’t wait to see you around, @Derby.

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Me, too!

This is very exciting! It sounds like Jrak is what your picture is, @Derby. That is very cute, and you write very well.

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Thank you! And yes, Jrak is an androgynous axolotl-creature. Not quite my picture, since they have soft pale-white skin not rainbow, but still similar! Somewhat short, but not as pudgy as they seem in their exosuit. In their ship it’s filled with water, so they swim about wearing just a jumpsuit and they seem a lot more slender. Wandering about air-filled areas, they seem a lot more gremlin-like.

They also, like their real-world counterparts, have some pretty hype regenerative abilities.

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Excellent concept for a species, and will go well with the other water-breathing species we have lined up.

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First
Second - Visiting the Blown Valve
After completing their business in the port, Jrak shuffled back to their ship. A few taps on the data pad sent a copy of the signed bills of lading and purchase agreement to the insurance company. They would settle things with the shipper, and Jrak could expect the 40% recompense for this part of the load to be applied to their accounts.

Jrak’s gills feather up in the oxygel respirator, as they let out a pop, waddling to the airlock. Once inside, a splayed amphibian hand slaps the command panel and the room begins to fill with water. In the midst of this, Jrak begins to undo their respirator and exosuit, the oxygel draining away as the life support oxygenated water takes its place. Unclipping the collar, their gills spread out uncontained from the respirator tanks into a crown across the back of their head. Putting up the exosuit, their true shape is revealed as they drift from the floor, finned tail whipping and propelling them almost snakelike through the ship. Though they had waddled about in the air-breathing city, seeming short and slow, in their natural environment Jrak was slender and graceful.

Though planetside came with a sense of gravity, space imparted a unique experience Jrak enjoyed. They did not mind interacting with air dwelling species - it was part of the job, and Jrak’s amphibious species survived fine out of the water even without the respirator and moisture suit - but there was something so relaxing about returning to the fully aquatic environment of the ship. A literal weight lifted off them, with the water buoying them.

They swept away towards the bridge, allowing themselves to drift before the panels. Their lips parted in a silent pop, a bubble escaping from it, as they began to navigate the spot load markets. Enough sorting, and they found a satisfactory one, making their gills fan out slightly as their already omnipresent docile smile widens a bit.
Here, we found a friend. That would be good to have in the future. Jrak silently mused, as they prepared a pre-launch diagnostic from the computer systems. Their next load would pick up from the orbiting body around the planet, and it was promising - if perhaps a bit under the table.

Jrak did not mind such things, calculating the risk and profit and deeming it satisfactory. It was unlikely to be too much trouble anyways, or it wouldn’t have been listed on the spot market. Likely legitimate goods siphoned from an interstellar conglomerate. As long as the registration paperwork was good enough to pass, Jrak didn’t mind. They were no friend of the megacorporations.

There was a rumble as the ships thrusters began to lift the vessel out of the spaceport, heading towards the sky. Glancing a moment at the viewscreen, Jrak hoped they would have reason to visit this planet again soon. It was warm and wet, and they had made a friend here. It wasn’t too common, in the spacelanes.

Another silent lip-smack, another released bubble, and Jrak would whip their tail, twisting out of the bridge and heading down the water-filled corridors to do a routine check on ships systems while they left that world behind for the stars.

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Welcome! Wonderful character, great species. Happy to have you here!

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Previous
The ship thundered silently through the empty eternity that was the void between the stars. Within the liquid-filled chambers of Jrak’s ship, it was a soft all-pervasive hum that set the cargo pilot at ease. Jrak’s auditory membranes picked up the soft noise of the life support slowly sucking away water, oxygenating and filtering it back through the ship’s vents. Here, in the cradle of the space between, there was no gravity - only the pressure of the liquid around them. Jrak liked the sensation, no up or down. Besides, it saved them on artificial gravity mechanisms. Or chairs.

A flick of their tail, and Jrak twisted about in the cockpit so it was angled more traditionally with terrestrial design. A small pop, and a little air bubble escaped their lips, as they reached out into the empty water with a hand.

“Console.” They said, the noise reverberating easily in the water, sounding smoother than it had back in the air atmosphere of the planet. The ship picked it up, and several displays appeared - holographically projected into the liquid. A few swipes of the amphibious hands and their soft fingerpads, and Jrak inspected the current distances between the most recent jump point and their current destination. They seemed satisfied with the soon approach, and turned about slightly with a whip of their tail just in time for a change in the sound of the engines. Jrak froze, arms out as they simply drifted from the remaining motion. They listened, and then whipped about frantically in time for a deep shudder to ripple throughout the whole ship as the jump field scattered and they were thrown into real space.

The shudder caused Jrak’s momentum to be lost, but with nowhere to fall down it was corrected quickly and he thrashed his hand through a section of the still-up aquatic hologram console. There was a crackling, almost crystalline sound, and all of the lights went dark. Jrak remained still, hand outstretched, simply drifting as the liquid resistance slowed their momentum. Another quiet pop, and a bubble escaped their lips, their eyes tracing it for a brief second in the sudden silence.

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Pirate Trap - First
The squat captain of the Bullywog, an equally squat frigate, leaned forwards in his chair and snarled. He was a rough looking character, hairy and vaguely apelike with long muscular arms and squat bowed legs. His species was one who progressed best on the things they could take from other races more than their own ingenuity. Yet, what they lacked in ingenuity they made up for easily in aggression.

“The machine worked, but where is the prey?” He spat through jagged teeth to his crewmate on one of the nearby consoles, as they pulled away from the debris of a much larger cargo ship they used both as cover and as a trap. The systems on it had been jury-rigged in order to create a makeshift boson cloud exciter across this section of the jump lanes. “I do not see it. Do not tell me that you missed.”

The tactical officer, as much as the position meant anything aboard this pirate ship, looked uncertainly about as they checked instruments. “Ah, no Captain Dulgog. Readings reflected boson particles, the net was disturbed. We must have caught something?”

Captain Dulgog’s eyes narrowed as he leaned forwards to the main viewscreen of the bridge, staring out into the empty expanse of the void where the cloud passed. The crewmate he had addressed started sorting through scans quickly, trying to read any EM signatures in the area. He was starting to panic, as the Captain’s anger was well known. His most recent promotion had come at the loss of the last one of his station through an unfortunate mistake. The mistake, of course, being that he had failed to meet the Captain’s exacting standards. It wasn’t looking good, however, there were energy signatures in that field but it was scrambled and weak from the burst of a popping jump field in the cloud.

“What happened to it, then. Is it cloaked? Did it punch through?” He snarled, coming over to the tactical officer and reaching one of his long burly arms to grasp ahold of the smaller crewmember, throwing him partway across the bridge. He began to inspect the readings himself as the crewmate scrambled away, realizing a brief moment of escape during the Captain’s distraction. The question hadn’t actually been directed at him, and he knew that staying around would likely only make him the recipient of the Captain’s incoming anger.

The Captain inspected the readings. What he lacked in intelligence he made up well for in cunning and intuition. He knew something was off, the prey was still there - he could practically smell it in the sensors here as he watched the EM eddies start to flutter away.

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Pirate Trap - Second
Jrak stayed in silence, having drifted over to a wall console in the emergency power environment. It didn’t take long for them to realize that they had been caught in a boson cloud, which only meant one thing. Pirates. Jrak was not very well armed, their race had never been too big on warmongering and weapons manufacturing. Yet, while they didn’t have the predeliction for destruction, they weren’t fools. Jrak’s people were among the best - as they would claim at least - at cloaking and EM dispersal. The crackling noise from before was the activation of the Chameleon System as it began to bend signals and particles around it.

Despite the system’s activation, Jrak knew there was a flaw. They had dropped into a boson cloud, which meant that eddies of energy from the jump field would be drifting about. The Chameleon System had a tendency to work a little too well, and while it would produce a distortion of the surrounding area that would be confusing, once the jump energy decayed it would leave a clearly distorted mirage in the net. Jrak knew they had to get out of the cloud, both to avoid this and to be able to activate the emergency jump field.

Jrak set to work, an idea coming to mind. The Chameleon System worked by bending particles, light, scanners, it was almost flawless in that respect. The net had been dispersed, but it would soon reform. They had an opening in that moment. Jrak began to work feverishly, soft-padded hands pressing the panel frenetically as he began to angle the distortion. It would be more noticeable for a brief moment, but in the chaotic rainbow that most scanners would be picking up from such an energy dispersal they might get away with it.

Another, quieter crystalline crinkling noise slowly ticked through the liquid in the ship as the Chamelon System began to redirect its bending. There was a small shudder, as Jrak felt the stable boson cloud starting to reform. As it did it pushed the redirected field like a sail, slowly causing the cloaked cargo ship to drift away as it was pushed out by the same trap that had caught them.

Without sensors active, Jrak couldn’t see the pirate vessel, but the jump logs would record the location. A set-up like this was likely one not easily moved, and Jrak would gain much satisfaction reporting this net to the authorities at the jump gate they were aiming for. This small revenge was enough to satisfy the normally amenable pilot as they prepared to execute an emergency jump as soon as they were free. Just before they made their move, the portholes flashed with light as a plasma burst flared by! Jrak knew something was noticed, and they would just have to hope no boson particles remained in the immediate area. They slapped their hand on the execute command of the console, the entire ship flaring to brilliant life as the Chameleon System quit running and the engines hummed up. Another couple bursts, far closer with a clear target now available, could be seen and the computer threw up warnings as scanners told Jrak things they already knew. The field formed about the ship just as another plasma blast slapped against it, dispersing on the exotic energy in a shimmering aurora of light, and Jrak was gone.

As time passed, Jrak drifted, calming down from the frenetic escape. After a few moments, the jump ended and they re-entered realspace. A brief inspection of navigation terminals, and Jrak let a bubble escape their lips, feathered gills fanning with frustration as they realized that despite the good luck of such a dangerous jump not ending in the corona of a star, it would take two extra weeks of sublight travel to reach the nearby Jump Gate they had aimed for. Jrak spent a bit of time compiling the report and sending out an open channel to the system authorities, with information on the recent encounter and settled back for the nearly doubled travel time.

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Pirate Trap - Third
Aboard the Bullywog, Captain Dulgog continued to growl at the scanner readings, hands gripping the edge of the console as his eyes darted about the swirls of energy. Something wasn’t right. He knew the prey remained still, but it wouldn’t for long. The cloud was beginning to reform. He cast about, trying to find anything - any sign at all - of a hidden ship. If this vessel remained, its cloaking was excellent quality.

Dulgog fantasized for a few moments about whether they could torture the occupant of this infuriating ship and have this device adapted to his own frigate. He enjoyed a brief lapse of concentration imagining how he would make that pilot suffer for inconveniencing him, before something caught his eye. A distortion in the reforming field! Most of the jump energy had faded, and with a mind tooled by eons of evolution to identify patterns of hidden prey, it was almost perfectly clear. Captain Dulgog roared with predatory delight as he ran back to the command chair, and began to input weapons commands. The frigate’s computer system complained at the idea of shooting at seemingly nothing, losing him precious seconds as he snarled and forced it to go to manual. Inputting coordinates, he fired several shots into the dark. Not the best spatial calculator, they seemingly missed as he charged up another barrage of excited particles just in time for a ship to appear.

“There you are, scampering away! Frightened out of your hiding by my roar!” He said, slamming the fire command a few more times. Once again, the manual calculations were poor and though he was much closer they still sung into the dark. All ideas of letting this prey survive to adapt the technology were lost as Dulgog’s bloodlust rose in his mind, and driven by it he desperately reactivated the computer’s targeting system. It identified the cargo ship neatly, now that it wasn’t requested to fire into nothingness, and locked on.

The emitters began to charge once again, just as Dulgog saw the shimmering distortion of exotic energy surround the ship. It must have escaped the cloud! He thought, feeling a sinking in his heart. He screamed in fury, smashing the firing command on his chair so hard the console cracked. A burst of plasma energy slapped against the forming jump field, but dispersed from the bubble in ribbons of light. Another blink, and it was gone.

There was a moment of supreme silence on the bridge, and elsewhere deeper in the ship the tactical officer felt blessed by his excellently-timed retreat.

The Captain flew into a furious rage, screaming impotently as he ripped the weapons systems armrest of his command chair off and threw it into the viewscreen which cracked. He stood up, promptly demolishing several other pieces of the bridge in similar fashion, a torrent of barely-coherent vulgarities spilling from his mouth. Breathing heavily a few minutes later, he looked at the destroyed bridge and with a note of almost exhaustion he came over to a nearby console that survived most of his wrath and smashed a finger to it.

“I want an engineering crew to the bridge, NOW. I’ll be in my quarters.” He spat venomously at the intercom, turning and leaving out one of the doors.

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Fantastic writing! I love the stratagems employed here. Very well thought out!

:clap:

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damn good stuff

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