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Aug 2019 Fanfic Challenge
‘I steal things. Compulsive, I'm afraid. I've had my head adjusted by some of the best in the business. But it just won't stay adjusted.’ Vila - The Way Back.

Others weren’t so fortunate.

The word prompt this month is … ADJUSTMENT

It could be a change that is made to something in order to correct or improve it, a change in the way that someone behaves or thinks, or a small change made to a machine, system, or calculation,

For the second challenge:

There’s been a change of leadership aboard the Liberator / Scorpio. I wonder how that happened?
Scorpio spun slowly nose over tail, a glittering trail of debris in its’ wake. The command deck lights flickered, and Slave twitched in an unhelpful manner.

“Slave, status. What the hell was that?” barked Tarrant, examining the re-outs at his station for a clue.
“I am sorry, Sir. It seems that one of the fuel reserves has ruptured. We appear to have lost stabilisation control.”

“And a large amount of fuel, if these readings are correct,” said Soolin, scrolling through one of the readouts in front of her.

“I am unable to find much in the way of fuel, I am afraid.”

Villa gripped the sides of his seat, watching the stars dancing across the main screen. Even though the gravity plating in the ship prevented the crew truly feeling the spin, watching the viewer was certainly having an impact on Vila’s digestive system. “I think I need a drink. No, several. No, hold that, I don’t think I could hold anything down.”

“We need to get the ship stable… Vila, get the survival suits. I’m going to use the air reserve to impede the spin.”

“Now wait a minute, Tarrant”, Vila clambered to his feet and moved to Tarrant’s console. “We need that air. To breathe!”

“The suit supplies will last. If we can stop the spin, there should be enough in the fuel lines to get us home.”

“And if there’s not, what then?”

“Then, Vila, it doesn’t really matter either way. We will just die a little quicker than staying here and running out of air.”

Vila jabbered frantically, “But there’s got to be another option. We can’t do this…”

“This is our only shot, Vila. And I can do it,” snapped Tarrant, giving Vila a shove in the direction of the lockers. “Now get the suits!”

Vila took a step towards the lockers, but then stopped and turned. “There is another way, Tarrant, and we don’t need to use up the air. We use the star drive without stopping the spin. We just have to work out the timing, fire the engine at the right moment…”

Tarrant pushed himself to his feet, and began to move around the console. “Get the suits, Vila. Now!”

The sound of metal scraping on metal caused Tarrant to turn. Soolin regarded him calmly, gun in hand. “Oh, I don’t think so Tarrant.”

Both men paused, but a nod from Soolin in Vila’s direction sent him over to his station. With nervous hands Vila plotted in some course details.

“Are you sure you can do this, Vila?” asked Soolin, keeping her gun trained on Tarrant.

“Probably not, but Slave can. Slave, calculate the correct burn point during our spin, and fire the main drive. Target co-ordinates locked in.”

“I shall do my very upmost to perform correctly, Sir”

Tarrant glared at Soolin. “Well, you’ve done it now. Our lives in the hands of this stupid machine.”

The lights flickered once more. “Initiating burst now, Sir”

* * *
“So your plan saved the day?” asked Dayna, a note of incredulity in her voice.

“Well, that and Slave,” replied Vila, feigning modesty.

“You trusted that thing to bring you home?”

“That’s the mistake though, isn’t it? Slave just sounds stupid, it’s the way he was built. He is still a flight computer, and a sophisticated one at that. Dorian didn’t build a dummy, right Soolin?”

“Right” agreed Soolin. She glanced at Tarrant. “The hard bit was getting everyone to agree.”
Edited by JohnMax on 05 August 2019 14:13:27
"Imagine you're standing on the edge of a cliff."
"As long as you're not standing behind me."
Excellent story, JohnMax! Vila is far more clever than he pretends to be, especially when it comes to survival.
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
A statement of fact cannot be insolent
What bad luck, indeed.

She’d finally outfoxed Avon, finally got her hands on the Liberator, and it was a broken ship.

What bad luck, indeed.

She ran to the teleport, but there was no Orac to operate the system. She ran to the life capsules. One bay had just enough power. She found herself floating in space, watching Liberator disintegrate. *

What bad luck, indeed.

Soon after, Terminal itself began to break apart. She was picked up by scavengers come to mine Terminal for its technology. Alas, the scavengers wanted no part of a trip to Federation Space, no matter the rewards she promised them.

What bad luck, indeed.

Instead of parading back to Federation Space aboard her new flag ship, Liberator, she would have to limp back to the Federation one planet hopper at a time. It would take weeks, or months. She had no doubt that in her absence she’ be declared dead by her rivals. Without her unifying presence, even her staunchest supporters, those who survived the coup, would disavow ever having known her. What bad luck, indeed.

To climb her way back to power, she needed to make adjustments. Fortunately, she had an ace up her sleeve, a top-secret project known only to the President and a certain Commissioner in Central Security. Those cretins in Central so carefully guarded their secrets that they only knew each other through code names and encrypted communications.

As she fell from power, others were sure to have fallen with her. Chaos, for once, was her ally. Just as Anna Grant had only been known by the code name Bartholomew, the Commissioner in charge of the Pacification Program was known only by the code name Sleer. No one knew the Commissioner’s true identity. No one, that is, but the President and Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation.

What bad luck for Commissioner Sleer.

What bad luck, indeed.

*I know this is at odds with canon, but I also know that Servalan lies.
There was a young man
From Cork who got Limericks
And Haikus confused.
JustBrad, Bad luck indeed for the canon. Love your version better!
"Imagine you're standing on the edge of a cliff."
"As long as you're not standing behind me."
M1795537 OC Virn

Something nudged Vila awake.
“Go away, “ he mumbled. Something cold was bumping against his face. Vila opened his eyes.
“What was I drinking?” he asked himself, seeing the empty bottle he’d left by the bed floating at eye level. It nudged him again.
“Stop it!” he grumbled. Was this a dream? He tried standing, but his unsteadiness could have had several causes. The floor seemed too far away, somehow. He lay back again.

Tarrant, getting dressed, was struggling to lift his second boot. It felt heavier than usual. A lot heavier. Puzzled, he peered inside it. Nothing. He finished putting it on, but moving his feet took more effort than usual.

Avon was lying on the floor examining Scorpio’s inner workings when the girls arrived. Soolin promptly tripped over him. Dayna, trying to help, fell on top of her.
“Thanks, Dayna, but no thanks,“ Soolin struggled from underneath.
“What happened?” asked Dayna, “I couldn’t stop myself.”
“If anyone’s listening, I could use some help,” Vila’s forlorn request sounded from the doorway. Soolin – carefully – helped him to a seat.
”The floor won’t stay put,” he complained.
“Isn’t that normal for him?” giggled Dayna. At this point Tarrant arrived. Once through the doorway he suddenly lifted, floating a few inches from the floor.
“What’s going on?” he demanded, startled. Avon extricated himself from the ship’s insides.
“We are experiencing localised gravitational anomalies,” he replied calmly, ”Orac says we need a small adjustment to the bow field generator.”
“The BFG?” Dayna giggled again. Avon favoured her with a stare and the giggling subsided.
“I’ve located it, but engineering’s not my forte. What about you?” he enquired. Dayna shook her head.
“Sorry. Not unless it fires something.”
“I took a ship maintenance course once, but they didn’t cover BFG’s,“ Soolin grinned at Dayna.
“Where’s Blake when you need him?” muttered Vila.
“Don’t look at me, I just fly the things,“ said Tarrant.
“You surprise me” Avon glared at him, advising, “Secure anything that could cause damage. I’ll try Orac again.”
“One minute I’m up, then it’s pulling me down again.“ Dayna was looking decidedly green, “I’d better – “ she hurried towards the bathroom.

The crew watched Avon’s struggle. It had been going on for some time.
“You’re still not moving it,” said Tarrant helpfully, “Try harder.”
In reply, Avon angry, oily and sweating, rose from his uncomfortable position saying menacingly,
“Your turn, Tarrant.”
“No, let me,“ Vila pushed between them, forestalling an argument. Surprised, they stood back as the thief threaded himself into Avon’s vacated space. Tarrant noticed what Vila was holding.
“No, Vila –“ the warning came too late. Vila’s hammer hit the offending mechanism a resounding blow.
“Try it now, Orac,” Vila suggested. Tarrant grabbed him and hauled him upright.
“This had better work. If you’ve broken it…”
“What? A little tap like that?” Vila argued, “You have to be firm with these things.”
At the control desk, Avon smiled.
“It’s working,“ he announced, “Thank you, Vila, for that small adjustment.”

(Inspired by a diagram in one of my husband’s manuals, showing a complex device, a hammer, a directional arrow and the simple instruction ‘adjust’.)
"Never assume anything, Section Leader."
M1795537 OC Virn

Reminds me of the old Carpenter's Axiom: Measure twice, cut one, pound into place.

Or the old mechanical engineer's saw: Any tool can be the right tool if you have a big enough hammer.
There was a young man
From Cork who got Limericks
And Haikus confused.
JustBrad wrote:

M1795537 OC Virn

Reminds me of the old Carpenter's Axiom: Measure twice, cut one, pound into place.

Or the old mechanical engineer's saw: Any tool can be the right tool if you have a big enough hammer.

Or hubby's fave version:
Always use the right tool for the job
The right tool is always a hammer
Any tool can be used as a hammer

M179...etc...Virn - I really enjoyed your story!
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
A statement of fact cannot be insolent
“Well, can you be any more specific, Cally?” asked Blake, a note of concern in his voice.

“No, I… I just don’t know what it is. Something just... doesn’t feel right.”

“Nothing on the sensors,” reported Jenna.

“Zen, confirm all systems are functioning within tolerance,” snapped Avon.

“Confirmed,” came the leisurely reply. “All systems optimal.”

“Oh great,” wittered Vila, “Not only are we going to die, but we’re going to die at the hands of something we can’t see, find, smell… and it might not even be hands…”

“Calm down Vila!” snapped Avon. “Orac, are you still not sensing any system abnormalities?”

“…it could be space tentacles. They have them you know.. I’ve heard the tales…whole crews…”

“Oh Vila,” admonished Cally, in a soothing manner. She still had a frown on her face however, something was still not right.

“No! There are STILL no anomalies detected either on-board, or near to, this space vessel,” came Orac’s exasperated response. It was the second time Avon had asked, and Orac was getting a bit hissy.

“How did you hear about it Vila?” asked Jenna.


“If whole crews were wiped out…”

“The logs. Ships logs… found in deeps space…”

“Will everyone CALM down,” shouted Blake, his temper getting the better of him.

Gan stood near the entrance, arms folded. He knew he couldn’t do much to help the others, but he also knew Cally’s feelings were often correct, and he didn’t want to touch anything in case he made things worse. Still, there was something he’d thought of. “Blake…”

“One moment Gan! Avon – could there be a cloaked vessel out there, something we are unable to detect?”

“It’s always a possibility,” consented Avon, “But we’re nowhere, hiding. The odds…”

“Are close to impossible!” snapped Orac. “But almost does not make it so.”

Gan shrugged, and tried again. “..Blake?”

Blake held up a silencing hand. “So, Orac, there IS a chance there is something there. So, how do we…”

“Go about detecting the undetectable?” finished Orac. “Is that a real question?”

Avon managed a harsh laugh, and advanced towards the deflector control. “We could always throw up the screens, just in case..”

Blake nodded.

Gan moved forwards, deciding action might be needed after all. He headed towards Cally’s station. Villa, on the other hand, was (in a panicked kind of way) coming around to Gan’s original way of thinking.

“Now, wait Avon. What if turning that on causes something bad to happen. What if that’s the problem? What if…”

“Space monsters attack?” smirked Jenna. Vila looked a little hurt.

Gan, meanwhile, completed his task. There was an audible sigh from Cally. “Oh, that’s better. It’s all okay now.”

Everyone stopped and turned to Cally, who was no longer frowning. Then questioning eyes darted to Gan who was stood to her side, arms once again folded.

“Oh,” smiled Gan, nodding at Cally, “Her seat was adjusted too high, from when I was on duty last night. I’ve made the correction. Should feel fine now.”
Edited by JohnMax on 20 August 2019 14:51:11
"Imagine you're standing on the edge of a cliff."
"As long as you're not standing behind me."
M1795537 OC Virn
Really like that one, JohnMax. Thank you!.
See what you make of this:

Change of leadership on board

Tarrant executed a neat landing among trees. Scorpio would be well hidden there.
“Nice one,” he congratulated himself, since nobody else would. The others had already left, heading for the town. He closed his eyes.
And woke with a sore head, to discover that he was lying on the floor, bound hand and foot.
“Hey, Deek – he’s back with us,” a man said, coming closer. Tarrant could only see his legs, “You forgot to lock the door, pretty boy.”
“Nice ride, this,” Deek patted Scorpio’s console, “Can you fly it, Harry?”
“If Pongo didn’t break it on landing,” Harry grinned, flicking his long hair back, “Some weird stuff’s added on, but it looks OK. Just need the access codes.”
Deek kicked Tarrant’s feet,
“Start talking Pongo.”

In the cantina, she watched them. Avon and Vila, with a couple of girls. Ignoring these, she concentrated on the men. They looked exactly as she remembered. She ducked her head as Avon scanned the room, checking security risks. Vila headed for the bar. She grinned: no changes there, either.
She followed Vila. Standing behind him among the crowd at the bar, her laser pistol touched Vila’s neck.
“Hello,” she greeted him, ”Long time no see.” Vila stiffened: whoever this was, he was in no position to argue.
“Turn round,” she ordered, and when he did, she hugged him.
“Worth it to see the look on your face,” she laughed.
“Jenna!” was all Vila could manage.

As reunions go, it lacked a little something. Not only were Dayna and Soolin suspicious of the newcomer: the way Avon and Vila followed her lead worried them. Back at the ship, Tarrant wasn’t best pleased either. He was particularly irritated about his new nickname, which everyone had adopted.
“Stop moaning, Pongo,” Deek told him, “Didn’t damage you much.”
“Should I thank you ?” Tarrant held an ice-pack to the lump on his head.
Jenna poured drinks for them all.
“To Blake,” she announced, raising her glass, “And revenge.”
They drank that toast, and several more, by which time, relations had thawed considerably.
“Thought we’d never see you again,” admitted Vila, refilling his glass, ”Where did you go?”
“After the battle I was in regen for a while. Eventually met up with these two –“ she waved at Deek and Harry, why by this time were calculating their chances with Soolin and Dayna, “And went back to what I knew best.”
“Smuggling,” Avon nodded.
“Stealing from the rich and keeping it,” volunteered Deek,” Till she got this bee in her bonnet about you lot.”
“I heard an interesting rumour when we were trading in the Warren,” Jenna explained,” After that, I followed every lead. To here.”
“I’ve missed you,“ Vila smiled, ”Avon’s no fun.”
“So what are you planning next?” asked Dayna, still suspicious.
Avon’s face eased into a real smile. At last, there was someone else to take the lead. He’d never wanted it. He wasn’t even a team player. With Jenna in charge, they might just succeed.
“Let’s get Servalan,” Jenna looked round the group, ”Any objections?”
"Never assume anything, Section Leader."
What interesting paths could come from having Jenna in charge. Interesting thought. Gauda Prime might have ended very differently. Nice one!

(Not to mention the addition of two "red shirts" :-) )
"Imagine you're standing on the edge of a cliff."
"As long as you're not standing behind me."
M1795537 OC Virn
Glad to be of service, Citizen. And remember, all that garbage they tried to make us believe about what happened on Gauda Prime was Federation propaganda. None of it was real. It just doesn't compute. Feds NEVER fire straight. So what would your version look like with Jenna in charge??
"Never assume anything, Section Leader."
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