Category Archives: Space Repairman

Follow the adventures of space-faring handyman Clarence “Chuck” Banner and his trusty but forgetful robot sidekick F.R.E.D.D. (Fast Repair and Equipment Delivery Device) as they travel the cosmos in the repair ship Ranger on assignments from the mysterious Dispatcher.

The Secret of the Prodigals – Part One

Space RepairmanSpace plays tricks on the senses. In the absence of gravity, a person can easily be fooled into believing that they are standing still while the entire cosmos spins around them. Even experienced space travelers have to remind themselves to distrust their senses when stepping outside the comfortable artificial-gravity environment of a spaceship and floating into the void. However, there are times when even the veterans willingly allow their senses to trump their rational mind in order to enjoy the sheer poetry and majesty of the experience.

For Space Repairman Chuck Banner, however, this was not one of those times. As he walked carefully along the silver outer hull of his sleek ship Ranger, it didn’t matter to him whether it was the gas giant Felora XIV that was spinning outside his clear glass bubble helmet, or whether it was he who was the one in orbit. Either way, in less than an hour he would be crossing the planet’s terminator into night. Banner needed the natural light from the Feloran sun reflecting off the planet’s yolk-colored clouds to help him spot the problem with the Ranger’s turbo-encabulator, which was only accessible by a spacewalk.

The magnetic soles on Banner’s oversized spacesuit boots held him firmly to one of the ship’s curving fins as he opened a hull access panel to expose the complex machinery of the device. The turbo-encabulator’s function was something of a mystery even to such an experienced technician, so before attaching his space spanner to the first of the visible lug nuts, Banner paused.

“Banner to F.R.E.D.D.,” he called into the microphone at the base of his space helmet. “Do you read me?”

affirmative chuck i read you,” came the reply, the metallic sound of the speaker filtering F.R.E.D.D.’s robotic voice. “what do you require?

Banner chuckled ruefully as he studied the complex piping and wiring before him. “How about a nice Class Three repair facility?”

Through the silence, Banner could imagine the tape reels on F.R.E.D.D.’s barrel chest spinning futilely in search of an answer. “unable to comply,” came the reply at last.

“Sorry, buddy. I know. I’m just making small talk.” He unclipped the flashlight from the chest pocket on his spacesuit, turned it on, and aimed it into the dark square space. “I can see the pentametric fan, and it looks like both spurving bearings are aligned properly.”

understood. the gauge still indicates excessive sinusoidal depleneration.

“I wonder if the bolling shim has managed to untanker itself,” Banner muttered as he played the flashlight beam around the device’s dark-gray innards.

that would explain the readings we are seeing,” F.R.E.D.D. responded.

Banner let out a low whistle. “The trick is going to be to alleviate the quasipiestic stresses without snapping the gremlin studs clean in half. Do we still have that old metapolar pilfrometer?”

i will consult the tool manifest.” There was a pause. “stand by chuck i have a call coming in from the dispatcher.

Banner nearly fumbled the flashlight. “Oh. Er. What? I thought we weren’t due for another service call for at least 48 hours.”

correct this is an unscheduled call. the call is coded alpha-alpha-gamma.

Banner’s eyes lit up. “Alpha-alpha-gamma? We get double overtime for those jobs. Pipe the call to me out here, will you?”

affirmative. stand by for the dispatcher.” A half-second of static followed.

“Good afternoon, Clarence,” said the velvety voice of the Dispatcher. “I’m sorry to call you ahead of schedule. I trust I’m not catching you at a bad time?”

“Not at all, Dispatcher,” Banner replied, trying to untangle his arm from within the bowels of the turbo-encabulator. “You wouldn’t happen to have a metapolar pilfrometer handy, would you?”

“Of course I do, Clarence,” she said sweetly. “Anyway, we’ve received an urgent towing call and you’re the closest company ship.”

“What needs towing?”

“A freighter on the Alpha Centauri run reported a derelict craft of some sort drifting into the spacelane. It’s large enough to pose a serious navigational hazard unless it’s towed out of there immediately.”

Banner whistled. “That’s the busiest spacelane in the Inner Sector.”

“Precisely,” the Dispatcher said, her voice warming up. “We’re fortunate that you’re in the area. Of all our repairmen, you have the most skill with lasso beams.”

Banner’s eyebrows wiggled suggestively. “There’s no object too large that I can’t get my lasso around and pull in close. Or too small, for that matter. Like say, a certain dainty Dispatcher.”

“Yes, Clarence. I know you have plenty of experience handling small things,” the Dispatcher responded levelly, not missing a beat. “But the derelict is probably the largest object you’ve ever towed. The freighter estimated that it’s at least two miles long.”

Clarence’s cheeks burned red. “Where did something that big come from?”

“That’s something you can investigate once you clear the spacelane. I’ll transmit the coordinates to F.R.E.D.D. Can you leave immediately?”

“I’m on it, Dispatcher.”

“Good boy.”

* * *

The Ranger arrived at the coordinates less than two hours later. In the cockpit, Banner saw the derelict while the were still several minutes away. He pointed it out to F.R.E.D.D.

“Look at that. It’s huge!” The derelict looked like a gigantic gray oil drum, two miles long and at least a mile in diameter. As they approached, Banner could see from the faded markings on its hull that the object was rotating slowly along its cylindrical axis. Banner did a quick mental estimate and concluded that the rotation was nearly one revolution per minute, which was slow enough to allow the Ranger to approach and clamp on if necessary.

i am unable to analyze the interior of the vessel but based on its apparent motion i estimate that it is not solid, said F.R.E.D.D., seated in the co-pilot chair next to Banner.

“Good, that will make this easier.” Banner steered the Ranger into position. “Okay, buddy, let’s do this.” Banner pushed the lever to activate the lasso beam.

From an emitter on the top of the Ranger’s hull, a thin beam of glowing blue light extended into space until it reached just ahead of the derelict. At the end of the beam, a circle appeared and steadily grew until it was wider than the circumference of the derelict.

“Steady, steady . . . ” Banner called as he played the controls delicately, keeping a watchful eye on the beam’s progress and the motion of the object. “Just a little bit more . . . ” Banner guided the circular lasso beam over the derelict until it was centered perfectly halfway down the length of the cylinder. “Got it!” The blue light of the lasso beam pulsated brightly as its magnetic field intensified, ensnaring the object safely.

Banner breathed a sigh of relief. “That was the easy part. Now let’s fire up engines three and five. Forty percent power.”

forty percent acknowledged.” F.R.E.D.D.’s spindly metal arms reached out to the engine controls and pushed several buttons with his claw hands. The Ranger began to move slowly. The thin blue beam that connected the ship to the energy circle surrounding the derelict began to stretch, then moments later began to contract like a rubber band, pulling the object off its course and in the direction of the Ranger.

“There we go,” Banner said with a smile of triumph. He patted the side of the control console. “Way to go, girl.”

Tied by the lasso beam, the Ranger and the gigantic object slowly departed the Alpha Centauri spacelane. When they were well clear of the traffic corridor, Banner powered down the lasso beam and F.R.E.D.D. brought the ship alongside the slowly spinning object. They glided up and down the length of the object in search of anything that would identify it.

“Wherever it came from, it’s been out here a long time,” said Banner. Close up, they could see that the hull was deeply scarred and pitted from space debris of all sizes. The metallic surface looked burned and fried, as if it had been exposed to the light of thousands of suns — or of a few suns for thousands of years.

Banner pointed to a circular dimple in the object’s hull. “There. Does that look like an access hatch?”

F.R.E.D.D.’s tape reels spun as he analyzed the shape. “agreed it appears to be a portal of some kind.”

“Bring her in close right above there. I’m going to go take a look.”

perhaps we should await the arrival of the salvage authorities,” F.R.E.D.D. said, his monotone metallic voice nonetheless conveying a sense of unease.

Banner reached out and slapped F.R.E.D.D.’s metal back. “Come on. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

i am not programmed to detect adventure.

“Well, I am,” Banner said eagerly as he got up from his chair and reached for his silver spacesuit and bubble helmet on the wall behind him.

* * *

The hatch proved to be easy to open, and Banner cautiously stepped down through the circular hatchway. Before he did, he gave a confident wave to F.R.E.D.D., who was observing Banner’s progress from the Ranger as it orbited the derelict at the same rate of rotation. That way, the ship would appear to remain stationary above the hatch, in case Banner needed to leave in a hurry.

As Banner descended into the dark, a light suddenly flickered on and Banner found himself in a small five-walled chamber, about large enough for three people to stand comfortably. A hatch, similar to the one through which he had just descended, was on one of the walls. “I’m in an airlock,” Banner called to F.R.E.D.D.

From the indicators and controls in the room, Banner surmised he was upside down, standing on the ceiling of the airlock. Lifting his electromagnetic boots one sticky foot at a time, he made his way down one of the walls to the floor. “The rotation provides the cylinder with artificial gravity,” he reported to F.R.E.D.D. When he reached the floor, he switched off his boots. “The gravity is close to Earth normal.”

Banner reached out a gloved hand to operate the largest control on the wall by the inner door. The outer hatch, now above him, closed. He heard the hiss of pressurization and felt his spacesuit tighten around him from external pressure. A gauge on the wall moved steadily upward. A light on his wrist control panel flashed green. “The atmosphere has oxygen,” he reported. “Sufficient to sustain human life.” He cautiously unlatched his glass bubble helmet and slowly lifted it. He took a breath and nodded. “Breathable. I’m going to open the airlock.”

be careful chuck,” called F.R.E.D.D.

“Don’t worry, buddy. I will.” He operated a control that looked like the most logical choice, and sure enough the inner door began to swing open.

Banner stepped out of the airlock into a narrow corridor that extended as far as he could see in either direction. He could see other corridors branching off in either direction at regular intervals. Everything was lighted, if dimly, by overhead lighting panels. There wasn’t a sound, not even the hum of ventilation.

“Hello?” Banner called out, his voice echoing and disappearing down the empty corridors. He shrugged and picked a direction at random to begin exploring. As he walked down the corridor, his footsteps the only sounds to be heard, Banner carefully noted details in an effort to identify the object. It was clearly a spaceship of some sort. He noted that the control banks along the walls had writing above them, but the symbols were completely unfamiliar.

Banner stopped to study one of the control panels in an effort to identify their purpose and decipher their markings. He was so intent on his task that he didn’t notice the shadow on the wall behind him, slowly moving toward him. As the shadow got closer, it resolved into the shape of a humanoid — and in one raised arm was the unmistakable silhouette of a ray gun.

* * *

Want to read the rest of this serial?

Then buy the Season One anthology paperback! You’ll get four complete feature-length serials and the complete seasons of The Event Horizon and Space Repairman, and much more, for just $14.95!

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Audiobook: “Space Repairman: The Vermilion Gambit” by Paul Lagasse

This free audiobook is provided with the compliments of Channel 37. Enjoy!

# # #

Space RepairmanSpace Repairman: The Vermilion Gambit
by Paul Lagasse
Read by the author, with Veronica Giguere as “The Dispatcher”

In this inaugural Space Repairman adventure, Clarence “Chuck” Banner of the Galactic Repair Services ship “Ranger” and his trusty but forgetful robot sidekick F.R.E.D.D. (Fast Repair and Equipment Delivery Device) must stop a disgruntled bureaucrat from stealing a powerful spaceship to seek vengeance against his employers.

Read the story here!

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The Slaves of Ancius – Part One

Space RepairmanThe space repair ship Ranger was always sluggish on auto pilot, exhibiting a puzzling tendency to drift back and forth across its course in a gradually-increasing arc as if sniffing a fading scent trail. And try as he might, Chuck Banner — reputed by many (not least of all by himself) to be the best fix-it guy in the sector — could not solve it, even with the help of his trusted companion, the cylindrical steel-cased robot Fast Repair and Equipment Delivery Device, or F.R.E.D.D.

As the Ranger waddled its way through the wispy train of a comet, Banner was too busy frowning at the central display monitor to notice the silvery wisps streaming by the cockpit window, fluorescing in colorful cascades as the electrically charged matter in the comet’s tail interacted with the passing ship’s electromagnetic field. Instead, he punched several buttons, grunted in displeasure, and picked up a multi-headed wrench from the console.

“I think the problem might be in the BF-46 junction,” he said, tapping the wrench meditatively against his chin.

The tape reels embedded in F.R.E.D.D.’s chest whirred and clicked for several seconds. “negative chuck,” he said, his eye lights flashing in sync with his words. “we dismantled and cleaned the entire bravo foxtrot series last week do you not recall?”

Banner waved the wrench at the screen in disgust. “Yeah, I know, but look at that spike. That’s where the autopilot servo signal dissipates, between 45 and 46.”

that is not the behavior we observed last time,” F.R.E.D.D. commented in his metallic monotone.

“Well, that’s where it’s coming from now.”

that would suggest the presence of multiple system malfunctions.

Banner let his head drop into the palm of his free hand. “But I’ve already gone over the entire autopilot system from top to bottom.”

perhaps we should put into a space dock and request the services of a space repairman.

Banner looked up and waved the wrench at F.R.E.D.D. “Why you little pile of rusted . . . ”

ha ha ha ha ha” F.R.E.D.D. intoned. “i have been recompiling my humor tapes. i have one million of them.

Banner rolled his eyes.

take my assembly line companion please.”

Banner was about to fire back a zinger of his own when the main speaker emitted a two-tone beep.

incoming signal from the dispatcher.”

“Saved by the bell,” Banner said, swiveling his command chair to face the speaker on the console. He cleared his throat before flicking the microphone switch.

“Good morning, this is the Ranger, you nix ’em, we fix ’em,” Banner said in a cheery sing-song.

“Good morning, Clarence,” the Dispatcher’s sultry voice floated through the cabin like a puff of wood smoke. “I hope you slept well.”

“Like a baby, Dispatcher. I just want to thank you again for sending me to fix the gamble-bots on New Vegas. That was the best repair job I’ve had in a long time.”

“Did you win anything, Clarence?”

“Just the heart of a beautiful showgirl,” Banner said, fluttering his eyebrows suggestively. “But I told her that I had to get back to you, Dispatcher, so I left her behind.”

“That’s a sweet story, Clarence.” The Dispatcher lingered over his given name — which Chuck hated, and which only the Dispatcher used. “And as much as I would like to hear all about your escapades on New Vegas, I have a job for you.”

“Sure, but maybe next time you’ll meet me there? Let me swing you around the dance floor a few times.”

“I’m sure that would be lovely,” the Dispatcher replied in a voice that managed to sound both coy and cooled. “But first, your new job. I picked you especially for this one.”

“A tough one, huh?”

“Let’s just say it requires your particular talents.” Banner leaned back in his chair, propped his feet up on the console, and laced his fingers behind his head as the Dispatcher continued. “You’re going to the Ancius Colony, at the outer edge of the sector. The capital city’s power station is starting to break down.”

“Ancius, huh? I’ve never been out that far. I thought they were mostly a farming colony.”

“The central continent is mostly agricultural, yes. But the colony has several small industrialized cities. The capital city is quite technologically advanced. That’s where they process their harvests for shipment to other colonies. Did you know that the nickname for Ancius is ‘The Breadbasket of the Sector?'”

“I’ve heard that.” Banner nodded appreciatively. “Sounds like they have quite the successful little operation over there.”

“Indeed, they are one of the most economically successful of Earth’s colonies. Their feat is even more impressive when you consider they were established only three generations ago and that their human population is among the smallest of any colony. Their remote location allows them to continue living the way they like with few administrative restrictions and even fewer visitors.”

Banner arched an eyebrow. “I know that tone in your voice, Dispatcher. You sure you just want me to stick with the repair job? Or would you like me to do a little . . . ” he narrowed his eyes, ” . . . looking around too?”

“Clarence,” scolded the Dispatcher. “You’re to land at the central space port in Ancius City. There, you will meet with George Cannie, the director of the central power plant. He’ll show you around.”

“That sounds fine, Dispatcher. I’ll change course right away.” Banner sat up and happily disengaged the balky autopilot. “I can’t wait to find out all about this economic miracle planet.”

* * *

The Ranger set down on an empty landing pad in the busy central space port near the heart of Ancius City. Banner left F.R.E.D.D. to supervise the refueling while he went to meet George Cannie, who was waiting for him near the edge of the platform.

“Chuck Banner,” he said, extending his hand as he walked toward Cannie, slinging his tool bag over his other shoulder. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise,” said Cannie, who was a full head taller than Banner with a wrestler’s physique. He wore plain dark coveralls. The man clearly spent his days moving machinery. “Welcome to Ancius. I’d like you to meet my daughter, Liz.” Cannie gestured to his left, to a young college-age woman in coveralls similar to her father’s, her brown hair tied back in a severe knot. “She’s studying engineering in school and apprenticing at the power station.” Liz appraised Banner neutrally with her cool grey eyes.

“How do you do,” she said, shaking Banner’s hand. Banner was surprised how rough her hand felt; she, too, worked for a living.

“Right this way,” Cannie gestured to the flight of stairs that descended along the side of the landing ramp. “We’re glad you could make it on such short notice.”

“I’m always happy to help. It’s certainly a beautiful colony you have here. I was admiring it as I was landing. This city is certainly impressive too.” Banner looked out to the skyline of gleaming skyscrapers, spread out uncluttered for miles. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but when people think of Ancius, they think of rolling farms and horse plows, not this.” He gestured to the skyline.

Cannie laughed. “Most of the human settlers on Ancius Colony are farmers, it’s true. But we have ample mineral and material resources on the other continents to build whatever we need. We believe that we can cluster the technology into one or two large cities and leave the rest of this temperate continent unspoiled for farming. And so far it seems to be working. Plus, the younger generation like my daughter here, they want a more exciting lifestyle. Farming isn’t for everyone, you know.” Cannie reached out to pat the shoulder of his daughter, who was descending the stairs ahead of him. She didn’t react to the touch or respond to the comment.

At the base of the stairs, Cannie turned and pointed to a circular, open-topped hovercar parked on the curb of a busy thoroughfare. Pedestrians bustled purposefully by in every direction.

“Our ride.” The driver hopped out to open the trunk, and Banner thought at first the driver was a teenager. But then under the chauffeur’s uniform he saw the driver had pale grey skin and eyes much larger than a human’s. The driver walked up to Banner and without a word took his bag and put it in the trunk, then gracefully returned to the driver’s seat.

“I see from your reaction that you’ve never seen a tharnallu,” Cannie said with a chuckle. “They’re native to Ancius. Remarkably intelligent but lacking any technology. They’re pastoral herders. Gentle but strong, they learn fast, and they’re tireless workers.”

“Interesting,” said Banner as he hopped into the car, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Liz Cannie was scrutinizing his reaction to the tharnallu driver.

“Coming, Liz?”

“No, dad. I have to pick up those replacement points for the condenser unit first. I’ll be back in an hour or so.”

“Fine, see you there,” Cannie said with a breezy wave. “To the power station, driver.” The hovercar accelerated smoothly with an electric hum and merged smoothly into the busy traffic.

When the car was safely out of sight, Liz stepped back into the shadow of the landing pad and looked at the watch on her right wrist. She extracted a small ear plug attached to the watch by a thin cord, placed the bud in her ear, and tapped a button on the side of the watch.

“It’s me,” she said in a low voice as she looked around cautiously, even though none of the people hurrying by spared her even a passing glance. “The repairman has arrived.” She listened for a moment before nodding. “Yes, I’m sure he’s the one we want. He will be suitable for our purpose.”

Liz listened again for a moment. “Tomorrow morning, before the car picks him up to take him to the power station. He’ll be alone. No one will see a thing.” Liz paused, then nodded. Then she removed the earpiece and retracted the cable into her watch, and after another quick look around disappeared into the crowd.

* * *

Want to read the rest of this serial?

Then buy the Season One anthology paperback! You’ll get four complete feature-length serials and the complete seasons of The Event Horizon and Space Repairman, and much more, for just $14.95!

Channel 37 Season One! Cover

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The Vermilion Gambit – Part One

Space RepairmanDawn on the ecliptic. In terms of the physics, it’s not the same as a terrestrial dawn, but the effect on the mind is the same. Planets large and small — pale and cratered, large and colorful, elegantly ringed, or simply unadorned — swing by. Countless stars shine, as featureless as if poked through a black curtain. Just another stately cosmic morning, until off in the distance to the left a tiny moving speck appears. Gaining speed, it grows as it approaches, resolves into a finned silver rocketship leaving a teardrop of exhaust in its wake. As it approaches, the lettering on the side becomes clearer: Galactic Repair Services. And on the nose, below the curved window: Ranger.

On the other side of the window, Chuck Banner sat in his padded command chair, his feet up on the console, contemplating the dawn. He yawned and stretched, clearly uncomfortable in his silver space suit. Idly, he reached overhead and flicked several switches.

Behind him, a spacetight door slid open. A clunky service robot waddled in carrying a large thermos in its right claw. It stopped next to Banner and turned its cylindrical head toward him.

would you like your coffee chuck,” the robot spoke in a metallic monotone, his light-bulb eyes flashing with each syllable.

Banner casually reached over to take the flask. “Thanks, F.R.E.D.D. How long until we reach our next delivery?”

we are scheduled to arrive at space station x-9a in two hours forty-seven minutes at present speed.”

Banner took a sip of the coffee. “Still no word from the Dispatcher on what our cargo is?”

The tape reels on F.R.E.D.D.’s barrel chest whirred and clicked for a moment. “negative.”

“Ever since we picked up that container on planet Chartia Three I’ve been a little spooked. I like knowing what I’m delivering. But the Dispatcher was pretty good at avoiding the details. Except for the part about ‘Don’t open the container under any circumstances.’ She was explicit about that.”


On the console in front of Banner, a yellow light blinked, accompanied by an insistent beeping. The small monitor speaker next to the light began to glow.

incoming message from the dispatcher,” F.R.E.D.D. said.

“Maybe now we’ll find out what our little secret mission is all about.”

Banner swept his feet off the console, ran his hands through his close-cropped black hair, and ran his hand over the stubble on his sharp chin. “Do I look okay?”

the dispatcher cannot see you chuck i do not understand the relevance of your inquiry.”

Banner waved dismissively. “It’s all about making a good impression, kid.” He pushed the button next to the winking light. “Good morning, Dispatcher.”

“Good morning, Clarence,” replied a sultry woman’s voice, its liqueur-smooth tone unbroken by the millions of light years of space static through which it had traveled. “I hope you slept well?”

Banner cleared his throat in embarrassment. He hated being called by his first name. “Yes, thank you, Dispatcher. How are you today?”

“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” the voice purred. “I don’t mean to disturb your morning coffee and paper, but since I see that you are getting close to your destination, I thought I’d give you some more details about your cargo.”

“I appreciate it, Dispatcher. You know how I don’t like to fly blind.”

“Hmm,” the voice cooed. “Indeed I do. You prefer keeping your eyes open. Well, I can tell you this. You’re delivering a brand-new Mark Six ether converter.”

Banner raised an eyebrow. “That’s a pretty expensive piece of equipment.”

“Don’t worry. Space station X-9A has already paid for it. Your job is to install the ether converter in the engine room of a new space cruiser that the station’s owner is building. It’s quite a special ship, I understand.”

Banner rubbed his chin. “Ether converters are standard equipment in vermilion drives. You know how dangerous those things are.”

“That’s why I’m sending him our best repairman.” The smile came through the speaker quite clearly, and it nearly melted Banner’s resistance. “You won’t disappoint me, will you, Clarence? The Company has a big stake in the success of this new ship.”

Banner hesitated, then nodded. “Sure, I can install it.”

“Good. Thank you, Clarence. I promise to make it up to you. Someday.” The speaker went dark.

“I hate it when she calls me that,” Banner muttered. He turned to F.R.E.D.D. “How good are you at installing ether converters?”

Whirr. Click. “i have a type alpha certification.”

Banner nodded, then turned back to the command console and began operating the controls. “Good. We’ll need them. I’m a little rusty.”

that is not possible you are a human you do not have metal parts.”

Banner laughed heartily and slapped F.R.E.D.D.’s back.

* * *

As the Ranger approached the doughnut-shaped space station X-9A, three spindly landing legs deployed from beneath the curving, steel-colored hull. The ship made a smooth approach to the landing pad on the station’s spherical central module, positioned in the center of the doughnut and connected by four large spokes. A moment later, the landing pad began to descend into the module and a covering panel slid into place.

Once the pressurization had been equalized, Banner opened the main passenger door right behind the cockpit window. Below the door, a ladder slid down from a narrow opening, settling on the floor of the hangar. Banner stood in the door and looked around the hangar; it was a typical space habitation, with pipes and conduits running along the bare-metal ceiling and walls, smooth tiled floor beneath. Banner’s eyes were drawn to a contingent of four men walking briskly toward the Ranger. Banner climbed down the ladder to meet them.

The short, stocky, bald man in the lead extended his hand as Banner reached the bottom of the ladder. “Welcome to space station X-9A. I am Jules Ferguson, the station master.” Banner shook his hand, noticing his bland gray business suit — unusual attire for a space station.

“Chuck Banner. I’ve never been out this far before. It’s a pleasure.” He kept his voice light, despite noticing that the other three men behind Ferguson were well-armed guards — with their firearms already out.

“You are alone on your ship, yes?” Ferguson asked.

Banner was about to mention F.R.E.D.D., but something about the way Ferguson asked the question made him reconsider. “That’s correct.”

“Good.” Ferguson raised a hand and flicked a finger in Banner’s direction, and the three guards swiftly moved to either side of Banner and behind him. “I’m afraid there’s been a change of leadership on the space station since you were instructed to come here,” Ferguson said, his voice level, almost bored. “I am now in charge, and the cruiser with the vermilion drive now belongs to me. Once you install the ether converter, I will be able to carry out my plans. Take him.” Ferguson turned and began to walk back the way he had just come.

The guards on either side of Banner grabbed one of his arms and began to pull. “Where are you taking me?” Banner struggled but the guards’ grips were too tight. The guard behind him shoved him in the back with his rifle to get him moving.

Ferguson didn’t stop or turn around. “Not to worry. You’ll be well taken care of.” He chuckled. “For as long as you’re useful.”

Back on the Ranger, F.R.E.D.D. slowly and carefully raised his head until it was just above the bottom of the window, enough to observe the guards shoving Banner through the door out of the hangar. Then just as carefully he lowered his head again.

The tape reels spun furiously as he calculated what he had just seen.

this does not look good.”

* * *

Want to read the rest of this serial?

Then buy the Season One anthology paperback! You’ll get four complete feature-length serials and the complete seasons of The Event Horizon and Space Repairman, and much more, for just $14.95!

Channel 37 Season One! Cover

Posted in Space Repairman, The Vermilion Gambit | 4 Comments