A short snippet of Family Law #3

A long slow burn across their entry vector revealed nothing surprising behind the star during the off shift. The radar had time for them to get returns from two thirds of the system and they’d see most of the rest on their run to jump. Everyone had a chance for hot meals and restful sleep that you couldn’t do at higher acceleration. The second shift crew retired to enjoy their off time and Gordon and his bridge crew came back on duty.
“Do you have a target star picked for our next jump, Brownie?” Gordon asked.
“Yes, there were three good candidates close to our intended route. I picked this one because it has an unusual spectrum and I’d like to see if it has a different planetary system too.”
“Very good. Inform the other ships and send them your data set. You may alter our course and set acceleration to suit your planned jump when you please.”
“Our oversized friend apparently whizzed right through, Lee,” Thor said.
“Yes I noticed. I wonder if we couldn’t develop sensors that could read the drive residues a ship leaves behind and reconstruct the line it took to leave the system?”
“Ask engineering,” Gordon suggested. “I wouldn’t mind having such a thing.”
“You could buy back your bet with me if you’d rather not have it hanging over your head,” Thor suggested.
“I wasn’t thinking about it. I’m certainly not concerned,” Lee said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see them again. How much of a discount were you going to offer me to settle early?”
“Discount? Just the peace of having it settled.”
“In your dreams! I’ll offer you the same deal so you don’t have to keep thinking about it.”
“These Fargoers are a bad influence,” Gordon declared. “I never knew how crazy they are about gambling on anything.”
“You really think they could find us again after we transit this system?” Thor asked her. “I should ask you if you want to double down on the bet.”
“Thor, you were the one who said at first that we shouldn’t bet because I have so much more money than you it wouldn’t matter to me if I lost. I admit I suggested five percent of our worth as a equitable bet. But do you really want to lose ten percent of everything you own over a bet? I could lose half and still have more than I could ever spend. I don’t want to lose you as a friend over some stupid pointless bet.”
“The little one is wise beyond her years,” Ho-bob-bob-brie said from his seat. He positively gushed.
Thor looked like he was going to say something in anger, calmed himself and looked at the alien. “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t suppose you want a piece of the action?”
“You do not want to bet with Hin,” Ho-bob-bob-brie warned Thor, waggling a single digit in a gesture he’d picked up from Humans. “In our society there has never been such a thing as what the Fargoers describe to me as a friendly bet. Before Humans came, long before there was even a world government on Hin, our regional rulers would bet each other extravagantly. The losing side might be a impoverished for a generation to pay it off – or simply decide going to war was cheaper. Betting has always been a form of aggression on Hin.”
“Yeah, that’s what we’d call a poor loser,” Thor said. “I’ll be sure to remember that story.”
“The Derf have no tradition of gambling?” Ho-bob-bob-brie inquired.
“We are a tribal society. It wasn’t common for individuals to use money until very recently. Money was exchanged between tribes. Copper was our most common money but often weighed and not coined. Trade was as often in other goods or food,” Thor said. “About the only bets I heard as a child were for covering somebody’s chores or ribald bets directed at somebody by a disgruntled suitor who still had a grudge. We did have a cub who would bet his desserts. He was skinny.”
“And keeping everyone broke kept them under the Mother’s thumbs,” Gordon added. “When I left the clan keep I had to walk to town and find work to get the first cash money I’d ever held, before I could go on to a bigger town.”
“The Hin also can be very controlling,” Ho-bob-bob-brie admitted. “but even as a young child I had coins almost as soon as I could name them. Our close family has more control over you than the tribe or trade groups. They, or at least the nest sitter, often have your whole life planned out while you are still in the egg. If you let them.”
“I never experienced that side of Human culture,” Lee said. “I see similar things in Human videos though. Domineering parents who want to relive their childhood to better effect through their children, and mothers who manipulate their children with guilt. But who knows how much is true and how much is dramatic license? When I lived briefly with my cousins on Earth it wasn’t anything like the videos. But then I’ve recently seen a few videos set on space ships, and they are so ridiculous I thought it was deliberate comedy when it wasn’t. We all seem similar in little ways, but the new folks in the big ships, I wonder if we will find any similarities? They seem so different.”
“Well, Captain Fenton assured me they saw rank displayed in their actions. The one who seemed junior was physically shorter too. Now whether that is a mark of age or being of a different sex or even a sub-species is open to question. But that individual had fewer segments in the body. It would be interesting to see if it will add one and how,” Gordon said.
“Entry burst!” Brownie interrupted, surprised. “A big one and deep in system.” He read the numbers and let the computer work, everyone waiting for the solutions, casual conversation forgotten.
“They are crossing our nose on the far side of the star before we’ll clear it. It doesn’t appear they are slowing so they will exit before us. Emissions indicate they are our Caterpillar escort. They had to change vector completely in this system and then double back, or make a loop to reenter on this heading. That would require even better acceleration than what we’ve seen them do.”
“Might this not be a different Caterpillar ship than the one who blew through ahead of us?” Thor asked.
“It could be,” Brownie agreed, “but besides doing a radar sweep they transmitted audio. Not that we have any idea what they are saying yet, but it was the exact same transmission sequence they sent when they accelerated ahead of us leaving the Badger world. And it wasn’t a general broadcast. Signal strength from our other ships indicates they guessed where we would be and their transmission was directed right at us.”
Ho-bob-bob-brie broke the silence. Lee had never heard him speak dead flat with no inflection at all. “Hmm… Is there still a piece of the action on the table if one wants it?” he asked, carefully not looking at Thor.
“I believe I’ll just stand pat on that, thank you,” Thor said.
Lee thought of a whole salvo of snarky things to say, but she was maturing and just treasured thinking them.

16 Responses to A short snippet of Family Law #3

  1. Melvyn Barker September 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks. Really looking forward to this.

  2. Jennifer September 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    I’m so looking forward to this!

  3. Jennifer September 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Any idea about ETA?

    • Mac September 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Nope – April #6 seems to be easier at the moment and like today I’m too sick to think to write – going to go hold the couch down for a bit. Have the common crud. (4th day)

      • Melvyn Barker September 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

        Hope you’re feeling better soon.

      • DitN September 14, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

        Hope you feel better soon. But Amber 6 sounds very good to me.

  4. Emily September 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Looks great! Thanks for the sneak peek:)

  5. Jennifer September 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Haven’t checked your site in a couple of days. Hope you’re feeling better!

  6. Jim October 7, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    very much looking forward to law 3. Sadly, Amber holds no interest at present. Might change.

    Be well.

    • Mac October 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      April? That’s OK – I can’t appeal to everybody all the time. Glad you liked Family Law. Do you like shorts? I have a small collection of them.

  7. Jim Ruff November 30, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Mac, Enjoyed reading Family Law #1 and #2. I second Jennifers question (now nearly 3 months later), any idea when #3 will be available. Thanks for the snippet and I’ll get you a 5 star on Amazon reviews in the next few days. Wish you could write as fast as I can read!

    • Mac November 30, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      I’ve been making more progress on the April series #6 than Family Law #3. It’s just flowing better. I switch and have a couple other stand alone books that get an occasional hour too. April #6 is at 70K words – call it half way. Family law is much harder to get relatively original ideas. I wish I could write faster too.

  8. Ed Patterson December 1, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    What I see as what will cause the interesting scenes in Family Law #3 is the interaction of different species that hardly know each other different reactions to what they run into during the fleet return via a different route.

    Possibilities for what they encounter:
    – more of the old species artifacts
    – a species that is just entering space
    – war between two other species
    – dead or dying world from war, pollution, disease, resources running out, etc.
    – major ship problem and how everyone reacts.
    – unusual star system

    When they arrive back, the reaction of the different political groups with the different new species will cause a lot to happen, especially since it was a private fleet of exploration.

    I think that the original idea is the very different species of the fleet. Your heroine and hero seem comfortable with the many species. No everyone will be. Will you have them leading in everything or will the find times when they find it better or they have to let others handle what comes up.

    One of the reasons that I enjoy your writing is the ‘relatively original ideas’ that you present. I assume that you have a future with the lead characters that you are working towards. Maybe look at the story line as what do you need to get there.

    The above is offered only to present different perspective for going forward with Family Law series. Personally, I think that the April series would be harder for original ideas. I guess with the Family Law series in the April series future, you have already identified when the April series has to go.

    I enjoy your writing and your interaction with readers here. I commend you on the upgrading of the presentation of the stories in the already released books. – Ed

    • Mac December 2, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Thank you. With that many ideas you should write something yourself!

  9. Ed Patterson December 9, 2014 at 2:05 am #

    I have but it was for the fun of it. Two series with two books finished in each. It is just for the experience/fun but I have it posted on Google Sites. Older versions on Baen Bar.

    I just bought and read Paper or Plastic. The story is a good as your others. I would enjoy a follow up where the Trio go exploring, but I find it better to let authors do what they are ready to do. John Ringo is an extreme example of that. He will start series after series that all should have further books. I look forward to anything that you may write. Ed

    • Mac December 9, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      Thanks. PoP was sort of rough. It was the first one I published. I need to go back through and clean it up even if I don’t get a professional edit on it.

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