The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.
The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash Down, The Lake House, Dancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment.
The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See, Maintaining Common Sense, Meeting Compagno, Unseating Dibolocos, The Journey Homeward, Ambush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda, Changing the Moon, Expanding Horizons, Running the Blockade, Dueling Politicians, Legislation, Delegation, and Deliberation, Failed Tyranny, Political Parties, Visiting the City, Passing the Constitution, Tried for Treason and Necessary Failure.
The third and final battlefield is The Battle of the Heart. Here is the previous episode : Living Under Curse.
Today we get the second episode of this final battlefield, which is episode 42 overall.
Over the next couple of weeks they did their best to blend in on the base. Jamison and Chambers made themselves useful by repairing and upgrading the stations defenses. Judasson balked at the repairs, but Jamison noticed he soon assigned crew to man the weapons and put training drills into operation so that they would be well acquainted with using the weaponry if the need ever arose. Jamison asked him about it, and he said the station had to be defended, their lives might depend on it.
His discussions with the crew seemed to carry a similar theme. They were all too busy working to survive to make any real profit off their labors. Yet in the times they were not on shift they had every distraction available to them in the form of alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex industries. These businesses operated somewhat independently inside the station. They paid no rent or tax to the station, but everyone thought of them as essential to its operation. Jamison and Chambers could tell they were guided by Dibolocos. This combined with their knowledge that bounty hunters would be hanging out there, caused them to stay clear. They also knew all the profit the people might make was swallowed up there.
The workers were always too busy to talk about aligning with the Kilkian King, but they always had time to go spend their little bit of income on these vices. In fact, when they would bring up the king, and alignment people did things like change the subject, walk away, or perhaps just stare at them like they didn’t understand.
The young steward came by every morning to check on them, and to chat about meaningless things, at least they were meaningless to him. He always knew if any bounty hunters were visiting the station and who they were looking for. He knew what traders were from which crime syndicate. It seemed as if none of the traders to the base were legitimate freighters, or perhaps legal operations were not worth gossiping over.
The only thing he didn’t mention was who else was hiding on the base. The steward had once mentioned that as long as they contributed to the welfare of the facility, everyone would ignore them, but that it was those who did nothing to aid in their survival that the crew betrayed. From this they surmised the youth was aware of other exiles on the station. Jamison figured this was a good detail for him to leave out of his reports, and he hoped he left it out of his discussions with everyone else too. He had no doubt the steward was conversing many other people, and therefore they were careful how much they told him.
Once the stations defenses were in good shape, Chambers and Jamison began making themselves useful by putting out communication satellites. These devices allowed the station to receive some news and entertainment from the main colony. But they didn’t allow direct feed, instead all news went through them so they could redact out any mention or pictures which revealed their identities. In addition to this the satellites could be used to communicate with the nearest worlds, and thereby link to all others. Finally Jamison was able to use them to detect approaching ships and if necessary to triangulate exact firing equations for the stations defenses. The guns were quite outdated, but with this secret ability to aim precisely they were more than adequate to defeat most enemies.
Within a few days of making the system operational, the automatic alarm that rang in their quarters went off in the middle of their sleep cycle. They both jumped up and sprang into action. The satellites showed three ships spread out around the dust trail of curse. They were hailing the base, demanding all the bases rare materials, under threat of destruction. Judasson had made a short attempt at negotiation, but then had promised payment in trade for everyone’s lives.
As Chambers and Jamison watched the situation unfold, they were aware of dangers Judasson was not. There was a Dibolocos on the lead ship influencing the pirate captain and he planned to have the station destroyed after even after payment was made. Jamison set the main missile launcher to fire on all three ships simultaneously. He also set one of the satellites to jam their sensors for long enough that the missiles could find their mark.
He set a timer for all these things to begin two minutes later and then took off running to the station command center. He hoped to be there before the fireworks started. But he got stopped by a crowd outside of one of the seedier bars. It seemed as if the majority of the crew were there, unknowingly reveling away their last few minutes of life.
When he did arrive at the command center, the place was in celebratory pandemonium. A very confused gunner was being hoisted up on everyone’s shoulders and hailed as a hero. The man kept saying he didn’t do it, and he was confused. But the crew would not be dissuaded, they had seen the three shots and the spectacular marksmanship. They related the fact the ships did nothing to harm the station, but instead turned their guns on a satellite destroying it seconds before being destroyed themselves.
From these bits of information Jamison pieced together that the attackers figured out they were being jammed. They shot the satellite doing it, but not quickly enough to warn them of the incoming rounds. Judasson, seeing Jamison, called everyone to hail him as a hero too. It had been his work to steady the defenses which had allowed their victory.
When the celebration began to wane, both men were invited to speak. The gunner was almost apologetic rather than celebratory. He still didn’t know what had happened, but was sure it hadn’t been him. When it was Jamison’s turn he took the opportunity to speak of the difference between Kilkians and Dibolocos and the fact Dibolocos were willing to destroy them, while Kilkians wanted them to survive and do well.
The reaction of the audience though was not what he expected at all. The people laughed like he was jesting, making some great joke. Finally Judasson said, “Jamison my friend, enough of these fairy tales. The people on this ship are too sophisticated to believe in such things.”
“Judasson, these things I tell you are not fairy tales, they are real. I have seen both Kilkians and Dibolocos with my own eyes.” He intended to go on, but the uproar of laughter from the command crew drowned out any effort.