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The Adventures Of Crazy Liddy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-241-9
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 191 Pages
Published: April 2015

From inside the flap

This time the fair maiden must rescue prince charming -- but Liddy will sucker punch anyone who calls her either of those things.

Liddy is a convicted smuggler with one chance at a pardon. A young lieutenant, who happens to be the governor's son, is missing in action. To succeed, she must form an alliance with the cop who arrested her, and fly deep into alien territory to get the job done. Nothing about this mission is easy; at every turn Liddy must push her courage, her resourcefulness, and her trust to the limit just to survive.

In the end, there can be only one way to bring the governor’s son and his fellow survivors home, but it’s going to take a starpilot who's truly crazy to pull it off.

R. R. Washburn, author of Seraphim Ascent had this to say;

"Wild and fun as you would expect picking up The Adventures of Crazy Liddy, this story will take you on a buddy cop ride through space with a dynamic cast of characters and an equally enjoyable titular protagonist. This is one galactic adventure that'll keep you strapped in to the end!"

The Adventures Of Crazy Liddy (Excerpt)


Chapter One: Gun Running

Liddy took a sip of beer from her glass and cringed. She'd had much better beer in much better places, but this was as good as you could get in a war zone. Looking around the room didn't impress her much either. Old planks over sawhorses passed for tables in this joint, and shipping crates for seats. Sitting by the rear exit, trying to imagine the beer didn't taste like vinegar, she wished her contact would hurry up and meet her. Musing over the bottle's label she read, Isis Nectar. Isis's piss would add truth to advertising, but marketing had never been her trade. Liddy was a pilot. As she leaned back on her crate, she noted that her position gave her as good a view of the room as she could get in this dim lighting. The walls were cracked plaster, the floor was dirt and the beer didn't even give her a buzz. Where the hell was Howard?

Regarding her fellow bar patrons, she noted there weren't many locals in the crowd. The off-world soldiers must've scared them off. About thirty Russian infantry guys and gals were enjoying some off duty time, getting drunk and trying to pick up dates. She'd been hit on twice in the past half hour by a particularly brawny one, and flatly declined. Not that she would mind a bundle in the sack, some of the guys looked pretty cute, but she had business here and she liked her job. An independent starship captain, she owned her ship and could do what she pleased with it. She'd worked for others before; the military as a contractor during the Azanti War, a brief stint with Regina Liners, and a longer stint on a beat up old freighter called the Vagabond. Some of those jobs were definitely better than others.

She really liked the Vagabond, and even enjoyed a fling with its captain, Kilroy, but on that ship she wasn't the boss and nobody was making any money. Things changed when her piece-of-shit father died, and she inherited enough to get what she'd always wanted. The Merchant Jump Ship Sundancer, a state of the art Valkyrie Class star-freighter, with all the modern conveniences. It needed a crew of exactly one, her. She even loved the color; a rich cherry red. For two years Liddy plied the space-lanes, taking humdrum cargo after humdrum cargo. It was enough to live on, and even a bit more, but she got bored easily. That was always her problem, well, one of them anyway. So, she put in a few false walls and made the Sundancer a smuggling ship. Then she started to have some real fun making some real money.

She liked tariff evasion. It was the reason for most of her very high profit margins, but nothing sold like...

"Guns are getting easier to come by every day. Wouldn't you agree, Captain?"

Liddy's heart jumped into her throat, as the man in the white suit sat down beside her, placing another bottle of beer on the plank table.

"You son-of-a-bitch. Howard, I had the whole room panned. How the hell did you sneak up on me like that?"

Howard took off his flex-brimmed hat and ran his fingers through the remains of his hair. "Captain, you can never be too careful, you never know who is watching you." The arms dealer lowered his voice. "The Confederation has sent a customs team to Rama. I'm afraid word has gotten out that business is good here."

"If you call twenty thousand Confed' troops between two sides of a monumentally stupid civil war good business, I have to agree. Which side did you say you were on again anyway?"

Howard took a moment to let his gaze dance from her golden hair and down to her ample cleavage before he answered. "Why, yours my dear."

"Cute," Liddy replied. The only way this ass-hole would ever get a look into her bedchamber would be if he drilled a hole in the wall.

"What matters most, Captain, is that our side...that is you and me...stays on the outside of the Raman Correctional Facility. I have been there once and don't recommend it. At least the Confederation lock ups are clean." Howard leaned forward and poured more beer into Liddy's glass. "The starport is a no-go. If we're going to get the merchandise onto your ship, it has to be done somewhere remote."

"Can we do it in space? I'd rather be out of everyone's jurisdiction when we do this," Liddy whispered.

"That would be everyone's but the Confederation's, and right now they're the ones applying the heat. The Raman Army doesn't give a shit how many gauss rifles they report as field losses. They know the Confederation will keep supplying them, and that's the rub. The Confed's are getting weary of our little game and are trying to stop the leak."

Liddy took in a deep breath. "Okay, I get it. So where do we meet to load the cargo?"

Howard reached into his pocket and handed Liddy a scrap of sim-paper. "That could be a call number, but it isn't. Put a 'one' to the start of that string of numbers, and put a 'five' at the end, and you'll have the ten digit coordinates for the landing site. Be there at 23:30 tomorrow night, and don't be tracked."

She studied the paper. "Too easy. So what happens now?"

Howard smiled. "You tell me to fuck off. Make like I just made an indecent proposal, and send me away. That will satisfy anybody who asks what we were doing talking to each other in the first place."

"Sounds good," Liddy whispered, and then with a yell of, "Not with you, baldie!" She threw her drink in his face for good measure. The beer sucked anyway.

With some well-played indignation, Howard got up to leave; unfortunately he didn't exactly get the chance to make a clean getaway. A brawny Russian soldier blocked his exit. "Hey, small guy, what you say to pretty woman, huh?"

Liddy recognized her failed suitor from the half hour she spent waiting for her contact. Now the big galoot was trying to impress her by 'defending her honor,' great, just great. Howard didn't hesitate. He faded back and spun around, kicking the Russian in the balls.

The soldier wailed out as he doubled over and went to his knees. The room got quiet as the crowd of off duty troops turned to see what's up.

Howard shouted, "He tried to molest her!" pointing at Liddy.

A sergeant stepped up. "Gregor would never do that!"

It was bad timing for the sergeant, however, as 'Gregor' got up off the floor and took a swing at the man in the white suit. Howard ducked back and the haymaker sailed past his nose. Liddy heard the crunch as it connected with the sergeant's face. The sergeant flew back into a plank board, and a hail of beer glasses catapulted into the air as the makeshift table collapsed. At that moment the fecal-matter hit the rotating airflow generator. It was a fight and in a fight, you do one of two things; you swing or you run. These Ruskies' were infantry grunts; they preferred to swing.

Liddy made a dash for the rear exit. She almost made a clean escape except for the female trooper who blocked her way. "Going somewhere, darling?"

"Ya' damn right I am!" Liddy answered as she drove her fist into the woman's gut. The soldier let out a soft moan as she went to her knees, and Liddy ran around her collapsing frame.

She ran out the door and shut it firmly behind her. Her eyes darted quickly about until she spied something that would do. Grabbing an old piece of pipe off the alley floor, she propped it against the door. She looked around one more time, caught her breath and then walked away smiling as if nothing happened. As she strolled through the old startown neighborhood in the warm night air, she saw police grav-cars rushing past her and smiled. Someone was going to jail but it wouldn't be Liddy, not tonight.

A few blocks later she showed her ID to a Raman security officer who was just now old enough to shave. The uniform didn't quite fit him, but he had the regulation crew-cut that said 'cop' to the whole galaxy. The war was going badly for the government, but at least they weren't sending kids like this to the front lines...yet. Once past Private 'Skippy,' she entered the starport proper.

It was a modern facility, all plas-steel and perma-crete, and it contrasted sharply with the rest of this backwater planet. Of course the locals hadn't built it. The Great Confederation of Mankind footed the bill just after Rama became a member state. Liddy traveled to free states like Tortuga from time to time, but the more civilized planets were all under the blue and silver "star and stripes' of the Confederation. Once past the passenger terminals she crossed the customs barrier and made her way to Docking Pad Eight.

As the twin suns of Sirius rose over the starport, she stopped to admire the spectacular view. The sky was pink and orange against the ragged cliffs of the Bengal Range. Air smelling of spices, she took a moment to close her eyes and breathe it in. After all, it would be a while before she'd enjoy natural air again. She let her breath out slowly and opened her eyes and let them drift over her home, the Sundancer, its smooth lines and polished exterior shown red-gold in the heavenly glow-beautiful.

Of course, the ship's computer recognized her as she approached, and lowered the gangway automatically. She let her hand caress the outer hull as she stepped through the hatch and into the small ship's only corridor. The air conditioning chilled her slightly as she walked out of the humid air and down the smooth, rounded passageway that led to her cabin. Liddy let out a heavy sigh as her cabin door slid open. The room was cramped, cluttered and in complete disarray, but comfortable. All her things were there, just where she wanted them.

Throwing her short-waisted, brown leather jacket over her chair, she went to the gun locker and tapped the combination. It was pretty full, lasers mostly, but also a shotgun, some grenades and an old slug throwing pistol. A girl could never be too careful. She took off her shoulder holster and drew out the Ruger Mark II laser pistol. Almost reverently, she put the weapon in its place and closed the locker.

Back at her chair, she sat in front of the terminal and called up the nav program. Punching in the ten digits gave her the location of tomorrow's pick up. "Damn, they really do want it out of the way."

As she studied the map, it occurred to her that Rama was a very habitable world in some places, but not so much in others. Its deep canyons are bordered by cliffs six to eight kilometers high. The air was nice and thick down where the rivers flow but at the tops of the mesas it was quite thin. To make the rendezvous, she would have to land Sundancer on a flat stretch of rock that might as well be at the top of Earth's Mt. Everest.

Accessing the starport's launch schedule for the next day, she put Sundancer in for an early morning lift off. Thankfully, Rama control didn't demand all the paperwork that other starports did. Liddy hated paperwork. Checking the system charts, she planned a route to fool the customs boys and get her where she needed to be on time. It took a while; navigation wasn't really her strong suit, but with a little computer help she managed.

A long day of crime will tucker anybody out. Liddy stripped to her skivvies, turned out the light and went to bed. In her dream, she flew amongst the stars with her arms stretched wide, without a space ship; just flying free all by herself, but also, somehow sadly, just for herself.


***

"Control to MJS Sundancer, you are 'go' for departure. Have a safe trip."

Liddy smiled, "Thank you, Control, it's been a slice."

Easing back on the stick, she took her ship in a graceful arch over the starport and into the great black of space. Damn, but she loved flying. It was the one thing she was naturally good at. She took the aptitude test in senior school and scored higher than anybody the instructor had ever seen. That earned her a ticket to flight school and a way to escape her father's house for good. Flying was just pure instinct for Liddy and a lot of fun. She had over twenty years' experience at it by now, but it never got old. Her smile widened as the stars replaced the clouds and the Sundancer shook free of Rama's gravity well.

Just past Rama's L-5 point, she ejected a drone and sent it toward the jump point. When it flashed into hyperspace, she shut down Sundancer's engines and life support systems and ran cold. To the goobers at Rama Control, Sundancer just left the system. She was sure they wouldn't be tracking her from here on out. As Sundancer coasted past the moon of Mumbai, she put on her sweater and grabbed an oxygen mask. For the next several hours, she read a cheap romance novel, and sucked air from a bottle, while her ship got colder and colder. It was just one of the many smuggling tricks she'd learned over the years. Not until she cleared Rama Control's sensors did she even consider powering up. But just before she did, she caught a strange glint in her view-screen.

"Well, son-of-a-bitch, The Confed' customs boys really are getting serious, ain't they?" It was a spy drone, and a well-placed one at that. Liddy decided to let her ship coast a few hundred thousand kilometers farther and glide right past it.

When she cleared the law drone, she checked, and re-checked, for another one before powering up. Pointing Sundancer's nosecone in just the right direction, she accelerated with minimal thrust for exactly eighty-five seconds before shutting everything down again. Sundancer now vectored to come over Rama near its south pole, and Liddy smiled, as silently, she snuck back onto a world of war.

This was way too easy.


***

To all indications, Sundancer re-entered Rama's atmosphere undetected. Liddy re-engaged her engines and began a hard deceleration. Flying low over the frigid southern hemisphere, she banked northeast and made for the pickup point. Soon, the high plateau came into view through her canopy. Howard figured right that nobody was going to be watching this place. It was dead center in the middle of nowhere. Circling over it, she saw three grav-trucks and a cluster of maybe six people. Liddy set Sundancer down gently on the barren rock, a nice easy landing. Rising from the pilot's seat she put on her shoulder holster and leather jacket over the sweater. She replaced her oxygen bottle with a fresh one and kept the mask on her face. She had no intension of losing her judgment from oxygen deprivation in the thin atmosphere. Besides the Mark II in her holster, she put a few grenades in her pockets. In Liddy's experience, paranoid people simply lived longer. Then she felt her ears pop in the low pressure as Sundancer's gangway went down. Her greeting party included Howard and a half dozen Rama Army types all wearing the standard issue army gray parkas and oxygen masks.

The wind whipped her hair about and the cold seeped past her thin jacket and sweater in moments. Howard's greeting didn't warm her, "Captain, you're late. My colleagues and I were growing concerned."

"New eye in the sky just past the L-5. Had to keep powered down longer than I expected."

"No other surprises?" asked a tall army officer to Howard's right. He was a thin man with a thin mustache on an impatient face. In about .005 seconds Liddy decided she didn't like him.

"Nope," she answered. "Now, are we gonna' do business or what?"

"We do business," the officer replied. "You brought the credits?"

Liddy reached into her pocket and handed the soldier a data card. "The money's in that account. You can verify it right now if you like. But it's under a time and date stamp. You can't access it for a week. If I deliver the guns on time, the money is yours. If I don't, it disappears before you can withdraw it."

Howard smiled approvingly. "An interesting way to do business, Captain. I wonder who thought of it?"

Liddy shrugged. "The guy I'm delivering the guns to."

"And who's that, Madam?" the officer asked.

"None of your damn business." Liddy answered with a sweet as sugar smile. "Now are we loading cargo sometime today? I'm freezing my ass off out here."

Her hidden compartments couldn't hide three hundred rifles. So the soldiers loaded the crates into her starboard cargo bay and strapped them down securely in the middle of the room. Her rebel contact would pay cash on delivery at a space station officially named C-57D, but called the 'Tin Can' by every spacer flying. She'd be home free once she transferred the cargo to her client's ship there; easy money.

The loading done, she shook Howard's hand. "Thanks, it's been a pleasure."

Howard winced, "Be careful, Captain. This is a dangerous business. You never know who you can trust."

"Good advice," she said, and then boarded Sundancer. For the next week she'd be sailing through interstellar space; just enough time to finish her romance novel and start another one. Star-Pilot's Lament turned out to be a real page-turner.