The Stars Came Back -009- Who is most important?

Cut back to a view of the table

The people at Lag’s table look between themselves, and at the departing Plataeans, then at Lag.

Senator: (eyebrows raised in surprise) What did you say to them?
Lag: (seemingly preoccupied by his eating, and looking up from his dish) Hmmm? Oh, I just wished them well, and explained the situation clearly. (He takes another bite of his food, as if he’d explained everything completely, and it was trivial)

Senator: How did you know he’d apologize?

Lag: (swallow) Wasn’t sure, but it was a likely outcome. With clear understanding a best course is usually obvious.

Penger Trask: (curiously) I’m sorry, I didn’t catch if you said what you do.

Lag: Ah. Didn’t. Dispute resolution and trouble-shooting. Mostly corporate or inter-governmental. (with a smile) Occasionally interpersonal.

Penger Trask: It seems you know your business.

Lucretia Trask: (ingratiatingly) Well, perhaps you could settle a small dispute at the table?

Lag: Perhaps. No guarantees, unless… (grin) you get a contract and a bill.

There is general laughter around the table.

Lucretia Trask: Well, before you arrived, there was a question as to which occupation was more important, a Senator, or a doctor?

Everyone at the table gets either silent and interested or slightly embarrassed at the obvious attempt to liven things up at someone else’s expense.

Lag: Ah, I see. So, if I may interpret your question more broadly, you are asking me to say who is the most important person at this table?

There is some half-hearted protesting by the doc and senator and their spouses that isn’t really what was being questioned, but also some hearty “that’s a GREAT way to put it” by the rest of the passengers at the table and a few nearby who have been listening in. Lag looks around at everyone seated.

Lag: Well. (chews thoughtfully while looking around the table) Obviously I don’t know everyone perfectly, so there is always a chance I’m wrong, but… a senator passes laws that affect everyone… but if he makes a mistake, he doesn’t know who died, there are lawsuits, money changes hands, and he passes another law while blaming the opposition.

There are general gasps of agreement at the baldness and accuracy of his words

Lag: A surgeon hold life in HIS hands. If HE makes a mistake, someone dies on HIS table… (the Senator and wife looks flustered, the doc smiles but says nothing). But it’s only that one person. (now the Doc frowns, and the Senator’s wife smiles) But… judging by the flaming cog of a drive tech, the number of stripes on his sleeve, and bags under his eyes, it’s the chief engineer down there (everyone swivels to look at the somewhat disheveled-looking older man an ill-fitting and rumpled ships uniform, with a flaming cog badge on one shoulder, and a lot of service and rank stripes on his sleeves), who has been putting in long hours keeping this old bird flying; if HE makes a mistake, we ALL die. So, I’d say he is the most important person on this ship right now.

There is a general acclamation of his answer at the table, and muted protests by both the Senator and Doc and their wives, and the chief engineer looks slightly embarrassed.

Dissolve to show time has passed, and dinner eaten, conversation moved on, seating shuffled a bit, and now Lag and the Chief sit next to each other.

Lag: (quietly, and directly towards the Chief) Seriously, how are things?

Chief: Holding together. We’re down a few guys so we do a few extra shifts. Keeps us busy. No real problems, though. (Lag nods in understanding and leans back)

Another transition dissolve, and the view is from behind and between Trask and Lag as they sit leaning slightly together and half facing the table, Bipasha and Helton can be seen chatting in the background.

Penger Trask: Well, that IS a way to end an argument, though I don’t wonder if you made an enemy or two.

Lag: (grinning) I said I settled disputes, not that I make people happy… Besides, bending a third-rate snollygoster who will get voted out next election, and a man with delusions of importance and a lot of blustery arrogance but but no power outside his hospital is a small price for correctness.

Penger Trask: Well, you certainly made everyone else at the table happy.

Lag: It is amazing how a little perspective makes things clear, isn’t it?

Penger Trask: (somewhat more seriously) Yes, indeed. You know, I was wondering…

Lag: (knowingly)-if I’m available for some intractable problem you have?

Penger Trask nods the affirmative and looks inquiringly at Lag

Lag: Things are a little busy at the moment, but I may have some openings. What and where?

Penger Trask: I was heading to Throwdart II to deal with a series of labor dispute at a mine there. It seemed to be finally settled after an explosion killed some people, but now the accounting is looking very… odd. And I’m not getting any straight answers from anyone on location.

Lag: Hmmm… I don’t usually do accounting issues, but… Throwdart II is an interesting place. Rough place a while back, with a very ugly mine strike. Quiet now, I hear.

Penger Trask: (nodding) Ah, good, you know of it. So… any chance you’ll be out that way?

Lag: Not planning on it, but it’s not too far off course. If we catch a swirl that forces us over that way, I might be able to drop in. Are you going directly there?

Penger Trask: Not quite – I’ve another stop. I should hit there in a month or so.

Lag: Well, we can talk more as we get closer to transfer, and I’ll see what looks possible.

Fade to black

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6 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -009- Who is most important?

  1. Just had to drop in and show appreciation for the story (so far). Good inclusion of the how and why of FTL travel, has a Vernor Vinge feel to it. When it’s all finished, put it up as a kindle book, I’ll make sure to buy a copy and refer it. Ace of Spades’ blog has a weekly book thread, lots of conservative sci fi readers there.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Right now I’m going through what I think is kind of the “interesting in retrospect” part of setting up the universe and introducing characters, and what-not. Not the most exciting, but necessary to make the rest of the story make sense, unless I’m going to do lots of flash-backs (I don’t think I’m good enough to do that yet) or leave a lot of stuff out (which I don’t want to do because stupid motivation, impossible physics, etc. are one of my pet peeves in watching movies, which is a prime motivation for writing this to start with). I loved the writing and characters in Firefly, and the fact that it didn’t depends on lots of techno-babble and tech-magic, but there were SO many holes in the universe (all planets in one system, multiple star systems, FTL or A-Grav, or not, or…?!?!) that it left scratching my head a little too often. (still with they’d resurrect it, though).
      Some of the stuff will be seen later (at least according to current writings) as foreshadowing, and necessary character development.
      Hadn’t thought to kindle-ize it; have to think about it. Would prefer to see it on the screen, but being unemployed, I’ll take whatever monitization I can get. Hmmm… Might have to register at Ace and be an “official” moron and drop a flog for it. Maybe after I get through the first fight scene.
      I expected more comments and questions after the first two posts, would like more feedback, because I KNOW I’ll be missing things from time to time – I know what I’m trying to say, but I’m not sure how it comes across to someone that only has the words so far on the page.

    • Tried to post a flog for it, got non-posted as spam or whatever. If you can post there, and really think it’s worthy, feel free to do so.

  2. Pingback: The Stars Came Back -010- Transfer Station | The View From North Central Idaho

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