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Chavenlink, Quorta III
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"Crash Course"

By Lyla Toomney

The port town of Chavenlink, Quorta III was pretty standard of most port towns on backwater worlds. Quorta III was about as backwater as you could get, so its single port town saw very little legitmate traffic.

And the presence of a PeaceKeeper garrrison cut down on the illegitmate traffic.

The PeaceKeeper garrison was positioned within sprinting distance of the main docking terminal and, beyond it, the tarmac runway. A full file of PeaceKeepers was on alert at all times in case of trouble.

The Quorta III assignment was pure hell for the standard PeaceKeeper.

"I'm bored!" Perri LacForen wailed miserablly. She collapsed dramatically into a chair in the lounge of the base. "Someone save me! Please, get me off this useless hunk of rock!"

Lyla Toomney, PeaceKeeper Sergeant and leader of one of the two files stationed in Chavenlink, eyed the melodramatic private sprawled over the arms of the chair and rolled her eyes. Lyla crossed on leg over the other and felt her unearthly eyes contract in annoyance over Perri's posing, but she said nothing. Again.

"Perri, shut your trap!" A tall, lanky PeaceKeeper Corporal trotted into the lounge from the door just behind Perri's chair and smacked the private upside the head. "You're tickin' off the sergeant."

Lyla smirked slightly when Perri sat up quickly to look at her. She contracted her eyes again and her smile broaded when she saw the younger PeaceKeeper pale nervously. Rramackrof were hardly know for their patience. *~Thanks, Tonny,~* she sent a buzz of thought at the lanky corporal.

*~No problem, boss,~* he sent back and grinned at her.

Lyla knew she really should lay off Perri. After all, she was the youngest, freshest private in the file. Lyla's eyes darkened a little as she thought, But that's no excuse for whining. She'll have to learn to watch her mouth...if only all my troops would learn that lesson. And soon... Someone groaned in muted pain from across the room and Lyla flinched, remembering Ri^a had been in the room when she and Tonny had thought-sent. Ri^a (or Ri, for short, since the humans and near-humans had yet to find a verbal equivalent to the Kickran /^/ sound) was doubled over himself in one of the other chairs, snuffling miserablly. The shaggy wolf-like Kickrans were nortoriously allergic to high-pitched sounds, like the Rramackrof thought-sends.

"Two 'ckrofs in the same unit," someone muttered hotly in a tone he thought Lyla wouldn't be able to hear. "K'vorne's got to be out of his mind."

"General K'vorne is fully in possession of his senses," Lyla announced coolly. "He had his reasons for assigning two members of the same species to command a single unit." She smiled thinly and added, "And you'd be wise to keep further such comments to yourself, Gerome."

Jose Gerome turned an angry shade of pink, then turned on his heel and stomped out of the lounge. "Fo-kine," Lyla stated simply as the door shut after him and one of the other PeaceKeepers started to laugh. Fo-kine was a particularly vicious cuss word that translated strangely into several different langauges and had no literal translation in Spacer. Its origin was Rramackrof, Lyla's birth tongue, but translated into Lousin rather nicely as "poo-head".

Naturally, the only Lousin member of her file was the one in stitches. "Settle down, D'ese," Ri^a snarled at the reptilian. "It wasn't that funny."

D'ese fluttered his feathered wings, trying to calm himself. "You Kickrans have no idea..."

Ri^a just glared and ruffled his pelt in irritation. Lyla could almost feel the hostility flowing from the wolfish humanoid. "The comment was not personal, Ri," she announced coolly and Ri^a looked up, his ears flicking in embarrassment. "You do understand that, correct?"

"Yes, sir," Ri^a replied quickly, flicking his ears back.

About that time, Tonny returned with a pair of small pills and a glass of water. He wordlessly handed the painkillers to Ri^a, who made a face and swallowed them. "We will try to remember next time," the Rramackrof corporal said gently, squeezing his claws into the Kickran's shoulder in a reassuring guesture. Ri^a simply grunted his thanks.

Just as the off-duty PeaceKeepers were starting to relax, the door opened and the second corporal, a well-ordered, no-nonsense human named Mika Fel trotted in quickly. She halted neatly beside Lyla's chair and saluted with military crispness. "Sir!" she announced. "Trouble on the runway, sir. Sergeant Priore requests the assistance of our unit, sir."

"All of us?" Perri chirped hopefully as D'ese's head popped up from where he had settled for a nap. Neither of them looked sleepy now.

"Of course, all of us, you--"

Lyla interupted Ri^a acidic comment by standing quickly and returning Mika's saulte, right hand across her chest. "PeaceKeeper," she snapped. "Form up. Check weapons, set for stun until the situation has been evaluated." Her troops scrambled into formation: a single file with Ri^a, the file first, at the head. Her corporals took flanking positions and she stood a few steps ahead and to Ri^a's left. Lyla skimmed them visually and cursed under her breath. Gerome was still missing. "Perri, move up," she ordered. "We move short-handed. I'm not waiting for Gerome and his sorry ego. Let's move."


The scene they arrived on made them all break marching file to scatter for cover at an unspoken cue. Sergeant Priore's file was already hiding behind whatever available cover they could find as it was. "Set kill!" Lyla bellowed over the clamor of blaster fire.

The noise increased as Lyla's file began firing on the ship sitting on the runway. It was an illicit cargo ship, a small, highly-modified cargo-runner from one of the inner systems. Its crew was huddled under the belly, shooting recklessly at the two units of PeaceKeepers. "Got a number on them?" Lyla shouted at Priore, a Kickran Sergeant who was crouched behind a blaster-scored crate.

"Five," Priore bellowed back. "No, six. Four outside, one manning the belly gun and one who's been in and out a few different times. I think it's the captain, a human male. I thought he was 'ckrof at first, but he bleeds like everyone else."

Lyla glared at the Kickran sergeant, who grinned teasingly, then they both squeezed off a few shots at the enemy.

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