By Kenneth Shumaker
Red Horse Spoon
Challenge: issue 111, Star Grean, E001, Red Horse Spoon
- Brian Hill
- High Prairie, Alberta
Our story takes place in Kenneth Shumaker’s 5th Galaxy science fiction realm of the Toran sector with the crew of the starship, Star Grean. Her captain is the enigmatic and sly thirty-six-year-old veran human male, Levan, who is default owner of Flind Exploration Corporation. Levan lives in a society that is dominated by females, ran by corporate political organisations, and obeys the female ran Venkaer religious institution. This is a society where no male is given the opportunity to command or own property. Yet, we find Levan to be Captain of the Star Grean and her crew, even with a Venkaer’s 3rd Purist on board.
In the previous episode 000 on:
The previous Owerton Challenges were written as epic fantasies, first as Dragoman Bloodgrue and then followed with Morgus.
Now the Owerton Challenge is presented in the Star Grean serial series which is a sci-fi series based on Kenneth Shumaker’s 5th Galaxy world setting. The setting of the 5th Galaxy world is in another galaxy – a galaxy set in a cluster of eight galaxies – of which these stories take place in the fifth galaxy of the cluster. There are seven sectors of civilization in the 5th Galaxy, and Kenneth has stories taking place in three of these sectors. The Star Grean serial series of the Owerton Challenge takes us into the Humar Empire in the Toran Sector. The Star Grade novel takes place in the Grevel Sector. The Eren’s Challenge sci-fi serial series takes place in the Palcard Sector.
In this issue, 111, of the Owerton Challenge, we open the Star Grean serial series with Kenneth Shumaker’s inaugural episode with pilot Levan of Star Grean. Follow the escapades of pilot Levan, who is a male Humar. Experiencing Levan’s struggles in humar society as he rebels against the governing bodies.
We now continue in Star Grean episode 001, on Galatican Date 216-03-19-19-55 with:
The weather is horrid outside as winds gust in bursts, slamming into the windows of his apartment and rattling them. Levan let the corporate legal representative in before midnight, as is required by law. But he so wants to tell her to leave.
After demanding that Levan prepares hot cocoa, the woman sits on his sofa. The water percolates on the heater as he is readying the mugs for the hot cocoa.
Levan asks the lawyer, “You say you’re here on behalf of my maternal grandma, Velma Ulmora?”
Sighing at having to repeat herself to a simple male, the female humar lawyer answers, “Yes, boy. I’m here representing Velma Ulmora, of Ulmora Corporation. Now make the cocoa and sit down.”
Stirring the milk in with the powder and boiled water, Levan then hands Lawyer Ester her hot cocoa and sits across from her in his soft blue cushioned pocket chair. Getting a whiff of the flowery scent of her perfume, Levan recalls how the women of society have the privileges of luxuries like perfumes and such, while men have no grooming luxuries. He wants to say something, but he holds his tongue. He doesn’t need to do time in the detention cells again; he has a job interview in the morning with Yunor Space Corporation to pilot one of their inner system passenger liners. He’s short on rent for next month, which is due in twenty days, and he has no income right now.
He feels like a zoo animal as the lawyer carnivorously watches him. She says, as she sets down her mug, “Your grandma has died. She was killed in an inter-corporation challenge duel for ownership of Ulmora Corporation. Both combatants died, so there was no winner. You are Velma’s closest next of kin, so her estate falls to you. But as a male, you can not run or own the Ulmora Corporation, as laws dictate that males can not head a corporation. I took the liberty to find a buyer, and they’ve made two offers; one: a twenty-two million credit straight out buyout, or two: a ship and ten million credits settlement. The Ulmora Corporation is publicly valued at forty-five million credits, but you’ll never see that much as a male, Levan.”
Debating the events in his mind, weighing twenty-two million in hand, versus a ship and ten-million. For all he knows, the ship could be a shuttle, so he asks, “What type of ship is it, and how big?’
Flipping through screens on her tablet, the lawyer finds her notes and an image. She shows Levan the data and replies, “It’s a class three interstellar class III Stardrive ship, with three Class B Ion drives and it has a superior Class II Stardrive, as well as planetary drop engines.”
Wondering how odd this seems, Levan asks, “Tell me, is there a crew?”
Shaking her head, she replies, “No. There is no crew for this ship.”
Realising that even an old Class III exploration is worth five mil, and he’s a pilot looking for work on a ship to pay his rent, Levan smiles and says, “Where do I sign for the ship and cash?”
The lawyer opens her briefcase and slides five documents over to Levan with a stylus pen, saying, “Sign these.”
Quickly reading over the documents, he finds the documents to be in order, giving him clear title to the Class III Stardrive exploration ship and the transfer of ten million credits directly into his personal account, with the taxes already paid on the whole works. He signs them briskly.
Handing him his three physical plastacine copies, the lawyer makes the online credit transfer to Levan’s personal bank account. Then, while leaving without saying goodbye, she snorts as she exits his apartment.
Levan looks at the three documents on his table. As of midnight 216:03:20:00:00, the Stardrive ship, Star Grean, is his, along with the Flind Exploration business. But for the business to function and be legal he needs a woman to head the Corporate Business departments. Star Grean is in orbit at the Gresslar docking station, waiting for him and a crew. The documents also state that he has an office at the Ferris Towers docking port, here in Degressen City, where there is a shuttle in the berth at the port.
Looking at the clock on his wall, Levan sees it is now twenty minutes after midnight, the lawyer woke him from his sleep at five minutes to midnight, keeping the matter just legal, typical for a female.
Levan returns to bed, but he tosses and turns, not able to sleep. Imagine, he owns his own ship with a business and enough cash to run it all. But sadly, his grandma passed. He was planning on going to visit her next week. Mom refused to visit grandma, as mom felt that the two of them were competing with each other. Levan first met Velma when the woman summoned him to her corporate office after his mom’s funeral, nine Terms ago, after mom died from cancer. Velma refused him work in her corporation, but she offered him this apartment, his to keep, as long as he maintained paying the low rent. She also agreed to fund him through corporate university on a trade of his choice. The three-bedroom apartment is worth five-hundred credits a month. Though, he’s only paying two-hundred a month for life, set out in his contract with Ulmora Corporation. But even with the lower cost, it’s been a struggle to keep up payments recently and still eat. Graduating at the top of his class as a Stardrive pilot, Levan made Velma proud. But Stardrive captains don’t want to hire new pilots or untested system pilots, and system ships only hire experienced pilots these days.
Graduating from university three Terms ago, with grandma’s support, Levan was at the top of his class and graduated with honors. He was awarded a prestigious System Star medal for his skills during practical training. But without tried and true ship work experience, it’s been tough getting work. But, now this. What are the odds? A huge hit of fate that is both good, but tragic.
Nausea has set in as Levan tosses about in bed. So, he finally gets up out of bed and uses the washroom. Then, he showers and dresses in a sports casual clothing set, with a tight-fitting racing short sleeve shirt and ankle length skin tight pants, adding to this his formal spacer boots.
Looking at the bright LCD computer screen, Levan sees the timer showing: 216:03:21:02:34 ‘Damn the gods, I’m going to the port taverns and then maybe see my new office.’
Dialing for a local cab on his smartphone, Levan summons a Quickie Cab. He walks down the three flights of stairs to the street. Drinking his morning Blue energy drink that he purchased from the lobby vendor, he waits for the four-seater electric cab. Smiling, Levan looks up into the night sky and views the three moons. Soon he’ll be where he belongs – out there with them.
Arriving at the Dentin Bar & Grill, Levan laughs, as he knows it is one of the three, twenty-hour bar and grills on the strip near the port. It is his favorite dive, as only spacers partake in the wares here, being as the patrons are too rough for civies. Once inside the dimly lit bar, Levan finds that the long narrow bar which seats nine is occupied by four spacers. Stepping between two of the stalwart patrons, Levan orders all four occupants a round of drinks, along with his own from the humar male bartender.
Turning to the man next to Levan, as the bartender pours the drinks, Levan asks, “Good morning partner. I’m Levan. How are you doing this morning?”
Peering at Levan, the man’s answer is to growl and to walk away.
The man on the other side of Levan, says, “Don’t mind him, his wife just kicked him out of his home.”
Turning around to look at the speaker, Levan asks, “And you, friend, what brings you here at three-thirty in the morning?”
Laughing, the man accepts his new drink. Saluting Levan with the drink, obviously having had a couple of drinks already, he answers, “I got let go from my duties on my last freighter when the corporation scuttled it for salvage. They replaced the tub with a newer freighter and a whole new crew, letting all hands go that were on the old tub the ‘Teradeal’.” Belching a minor note of rebellion, the stranger then continues, “Good morning friend. I’m unemployed navigator Yar. I’ve been between systems for going on six Terms now. I’m looking for work before I spend all of my termination payout.”
Chuckling, Levan chugs half of his drink. Setting down his tumbler, he faces Yar, and says, “How far have you gone out?”
Blinking a few times as he considers the question, Yar answers. “Well, on one trip we went to the edge of the territory. But usually, only two, maybe three jumps. Why?”
Levan considers his new ship, and then he asks, “What’s the biggest tub you’ve moved?”
Smiling, Yar says, “This is sounding a whole lot like a job interview … friend. I’ve flown class four, but typically it’s been class three freighters.”
Laughing, Levan chugs the last of his drink and motions to the barkeep, and then to both men’s drinks. He turns back to Yar, “My friend, it is a job interview. Do you think you can jump out of territory? Can you jump a Class Three Exploration Corvette?”
Stepping back, Yar looks at Levan. Suddenly a sober humar, Yar salutes with his left arm across his abdomen, in a spacer salute. He asks, “Are you serious, man? Class three Corvette? What is her nav system?”
Levan chuckles, saying, “I was about to go find out, once I had a couple crew members. I need someone to go with me to fly up in a shuttle, navigating in-system. I’d like to take a look at her, to find out what I need for a crew before I prepare the tub for flight … before I decide on the tub’s maiden flight. The beast hasn’t been off drydock yet.”
Yar’s face lights up with sparkling moisture in his eyes and a broad grin as he asks, “Will you take me? I can get you anywhere you want to go. Let me prove it?”
Looking at the eager crewman, Levan asks, “So, you want to sign on for danger, as my navigator, as Master Ensign 1st Class Navigator Yar, at pay grade Rank 9?”
Whooping and leaping straight up, reaching for the ceiling, Yar then settles down saying, “Are you kidding me? That’s higher rank than I’ve been given on any tub. My previous post was Petty Officer 3rd Class with paygrade 5. Gods, yes man! I’ll take your job! You kidding me?”
A woman just down the bar walks over and asks, “Do you need a Purist or a medic?”
Thinking about this, Levan asks, “I could use both. What are you asking for pay grade for the work?”
Saluting Levan, Purist style with three fingers of her left hand across her right breast, which to Levan is the first salute he has received from a woman, the woman replies. “I am 3rd Purist Frena, a spacer medic 1st Class. I ask for pay grade Rank 4.”
Thinking about the offer, Levan offers, “3rd Purist Frena, I offer you Master Ensign 1st Class Medic, 3rd Purist 1st Class paygrade Rank 8 – just to keep things right. I would by lynched by the government if I offered you less then paygrade Rank 8 on my crew.”
Frena smiles, saying, “I agree, I would think so too. I accept, spacer. Did you say your name is Levan?”
When it comes to females of the Humar Empire, Levan is accustom to not being addressed by title and to having his name forgotten. Levan answers her, “Yes, I’m Pilot Levan of Flind Corporation and Captain pilot of the Stardrive Class III Exploration ship, Star Grean.”
Settling together as a trio, they finish a third round of drinks. With his ID card, Levan taps the ID reader to pay, marking the reader for a fifteen percent tip.
Leaving the Dentin with Yar and Frena, Levan summons a Quickie Cab. The three ride to Ferris Towers office building to see their new business offices on the fourteenth floor of Ferris Towers in Degressen City.
Using the passcode – red spoon horse – which he set when signing the contract, Levan enters the four-room office suite, and he breathes a sigh of wonder. Flicking his hand past the sensor for the light switch, Levan walks into the bright room, leading the other two in. Together they examine their new workspace.
The offices are small rooms no bigger than twenty-five feet square for the biggest room and twelve feet square for the two smaller rooms. Levan surmises that he has an auto-receptionist and auto-assistant at his front desk, and also in his personal office. Activating the front desk, he checks the computer, confirming this. He sets the desk to do research on border systems with those past the territory, gaining logistics on accessing navigation to them from this, the Mort system. Then he commands the personal assistant to enquire within the government records for any archives with contracts sub-requesting exploration in outer systems. He requires the information to be ready for him in his personal office at 216:03:21:10:00.
Satisfied that his desk assistant is set to work, Levan asks, “3rd Purist Frena, can you bless our office suite for its official opening?”
Frena hesitates, slightly bowing to Levan, saying, “Of course, yes.”
Kneeling in the center of the front office, Frena begins chanting her prayers, using her red silver spoon with the horse holy symbol of the space god, Rendfendal. She musically utters the correct phrases in songs to appease the space god with hopes of gaining a blessing for Flind Exploration and their ship. These prayers take 3rd Purist Frena twenty minutes to perform before she stands again, smiling, she utters, “There, the business is blessed with Rendfendal’s holy blessing. I will take personal responsibility for the congregation of Flind Exploration and her ships, Levan.”
Levan bows to her, saying, “Thank you 3rd Purist Frena. You may both go home now. Return promptly at 21:10:00 and we’ll start working to gather the rest of the crew. When we have a good size crew, I will fly us up to the Star Grean to inspect her.”
3rd Purist Frena scoffs at this, saying, “Remember, as part of the Flind Exploration Corporation, you are part of my congregation, and as such you are my responsibility. You, as a male in the corporation where I am employed, are legally my responsibility. Do you lightly give me orders, boy?”
Thinking quickly, Levan bows his head and answers, “As a member of your congregation, 3rd Purist Frena, I bow to your guidance through wisdom, as a male in society and our corporation, I bow to your authority. But as leader of Flind Exploration and Captain of the Star Grean, I am your commanding officer, I ask that you follow my guidance.”
While observing the two, Yar, standing silently, has gone sand pale.
Laughing at Levan, Frena answers. “Remember this conversation, Captain Levan. I will. I also look forward to our meeting again at 21:10:00. Don’t be late, I don’t tolerate tardiness.”
To be continued in Episode 002 on 216:03:21:10:00 …
Levan and his duo of new crewmembers work to acquire more crewmembers for the Stardrive ship, Star Grean. Unfortunately, the Black Cat Circle has other ideas for Levan and crew. Levan and friends must defend themselves from the Black Cat Circle.
© 2017 by Kenneth Shumaker with Inevitable Unicorn Press
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