Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 1

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 1

Old Friends, Old Enemies

Cursing, the man slid his credcard into the appropriate slot on the repair bot. A hundred thousand credits, he couldn't believe it. One moment of going to the bathroom and even an elite pilot could end up in a blackened tin can that used to be a fully customized Cobra Mk III, one moment of human weakness and the shiny orange flame decals on the side of the Minos were nothing more than chips of paint floating through space.

You're letting yourself slide, Jonny, Baron Jonathan Bush thought to himself. Ten years ago an Asp wouldn't come within two hundred kilos of you without your knowing it.

Looking again at the burned piece of metal before him, Bush sighed, accepting the truth in the statement. Ten years ago there wasn't a name more feared to pirates than Jonathan Bush, the infamous "Wolfsheart" of the the Imperial Navy, and the name was whispered in connection with more than one (successful) hit job in the Federal core galaxies. Of course, any involvement in those were officially denied, but Bush's knee still got sore on cold nights from the injury he sustained in chasing an Admiral through the Delta Pavonis system. Bush shuddered. Just thinking about that one got his head hurting...

A small, titanium arm was thrust into his face, holding his credcard. "Your ship will be ready in four hours, sir. Please do not be late for pickup, there is a two thousand credit late fee." Its message delivered, the repair bot wheeled off, leaving Bush to decide how to spend the next four hours in this utterly boring backroad system.

He still couldn't believe the Emperor had pulled him out of retirement for this mission. Surely, the Andceeth system was important and the Empire and the Federation had had a lot of fights over it, but did it really need a Baron to keep an eye on it (a retired Baron?) "For the good of the Empire," the Emperor himself had told Bush on his visit to Achenar. As if the system wasn't light years from any other galaxy of any importance, and Andceeth was definately not a military objective, cut off from any possible supply routes. "Just keep your ear to the ground. We have heard some disturbing reports concerning...ahhh...certain hostile elements operating in systems such as this one far from the Core systems." Bush remembered gritting his teeth when the Prince of Intelligence had told him this. Not noticing the old man clench his jaw, the Prince had gone on in the slurring accent of one from the Exioce system. "We have more than one agent already in the system, Baron, one will contact you if needed. No false identities for this one, I'm afraid; your cover is that you're just an old vet trying to make enough credits to afford a nice little home in the Achenar system. Those Imperial wages are so low, its a crime, you know...." And so on and so on.

Snapping out of his reverie, Bush was not very surprised to find that he had made his way to a "drinking establishment;" Home of the Only Real Liquor In A Hundred Light Years! the sign outside proclaimed, though looking through the smoky black permaglass windows at the relatively small amount of people inside, you could deduce that there wasn't much competition in those hundred light years. Shrugging, Bush made his way in. This place was as good as any to get drunk in.

Inside, the bar looked like any number of countless bars Bush had been in (If you were around in the days when Thargoids pulled people out of witch space for no reason other than random fun, you got to know the bottom of a tankard pretty well Bush thought with a grim smile), smoky and dank, the faint smell of lyrae weed seemingly clinging to everything. A few of the regulars had already passed out and had their heads in their arms, snoring peacefully, he noted with yet another smile. Seeing an empty seat in the far corner, Bush made his way to it, stopping only to ask a tired-looking barkeep to send some of that "famous liquor" his way.

Little did he know that entering that dark bar was the first step towards a major change in his life, and change that would shake the universe to its very core.

An hour or so later -time is always distorted while drinking- he noticed a shadow fall over his shoulder. "Well? What do you want, speak up or go away," Bush slurred.

"Baron Jonathan Bush? The infamous Commander Wolfsheart?" a musical voice replied, to Bush's irritation.

"Yeah, it's not a state secret, is it? Spit out want you want, girl, or let me be!" Bush demanded, slamming his glass down on the table. Bush frowned as it broke into many little shards of glass; there went another 10 credits from his account, and there was still perfectly good ale in there as well.

"Sir, you many not recognize me-" The lady stepped into his line of site; she was twentyish, not too tall, and had light red hair that came down to just below her slight shoulders. Startingly blue eyes stared out at him from the petite face. All in all, someone that Bush might have asked to dance if he was twenty again, except that the fact that her dress blues were of the Federal type. "-But I've been looking for you for a while now. I'd heard rumors of the legendary Wolfsheart in the Andceeth system-" She gave him a beaming smile. "-And I knew for the bottle, so I figured that if I looked here-"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm great, get on with it," Bush growled.

The girl appeared flustered. "Yes, well... My father asked for me to look for you if he died... He said you would recognize his name. Lord Jaquai Killian?"

Bush gasped, and felt a large, invicible weight come crashing ont his shoulders. Jaquai was dead? "The Iceman" had served with Bush during the Imperial campaign against the rebel slaves on Biggs colony in '89. After the Emperor had listened to some idiot advice from his Council of Princes and got the lone infantry division sent to quash the rebels decimated, the Emperor then decided to go the intelligent route and bombard the slaves from space using a Plasma Accelerator. Jaquai was Bush's co-pilot on the Titan, a Boa class freighter on loan from Interpol that carried the super weapon. That wasn't a fun day at all, for anyone involved. No one likes massacres. But that was all behind him now. The fact that Jaquai was dead was the only worry floating around in his mind.

"How.... How did he die?" It was the only thing Bush could think of to say. His mind was going faster than an Eagle through witchspace. He didn't even know Jaquai had a daughter!

With a start Bush realized that she was talking. He caught the last few words: " after taking out Tony, he wasn't a big hit with the Mafia, and they finally caught up with him in the Riedquat system." Her dainty mouth twitched slightly downward. "They didn't even find the ship, so Dad got his wish, to be buried in space.... Anyways, that's why I'm here instead of him. He asked me to deliver this to you if he never got the chance to." She slid a datacard over the table towards Bush. "Before you ask, I'm not sure what's in it. All he told me to do is give this to you no matter what. It was truly nice meeting you, Baron. But I had better leave before anyone sees me in here." Suddenly that beaming smile was flashing at me again. "A Fed private meeting with one of the most feared Imperial headhunters in a hundred a fifty years in a bar? Can you picture the headlines on the IGNN broadcasts?" If possible, the smile got even wider. "It was a pleasure, sir. Now I can tell my grandkids I met the one and only "Wolfsheart" Bush."

Bush didn't even notice her push out her chair and move as if to leave. He just sat there, dumbfounded; Jaquai was dead? What was so important he had his daughter send him a message from beyond the grave?

"Mr. Bush? One last thing." Bush turned to stare at her. "Sir, father gave me a message as well. He says that in that datacard, 'You'll learn how to do the Groigan Two-Step," whatever that means." With that, she turned and left the bar, her heels clicking softly on the synthesized tile of the floor.

Bush could only stare, and the only thought in his shell shocked mind was that he never asked the young lady her name.

Continue the story with Chapter 2