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Neepbles 2 – background notes

Neepbles Rust Where they Roost


Time is in chrons and cenchrons (one hundred chrons). Oh, and minchrons? Milchrons? Even if this tramp ship crew doesn’t use them, the computers surely will – and at some point down the line someone’s system will do it when it matters.

Words have -of course- contracted, and cut loose from their original context (I do have some linguistics training…)

Commerce is hard and soft, not black market but soft side. Shabbier part of the stations, too… nice folks don’t see the older, less aesthetic parts of a station, but there’s no need for the station to lose money on them!

As in current aviation, the vast majority of any spacefarer who has a master’s or mate’s rating is a veteran. Of some war. There were a lot of squalid messy squabbles out there, and it’s not uncommon for a farer to have found herself in the service of several different governments, some of which might actually still be in business. (By far the majority of pilots who become professional civilian pilots were first military pilots. You just can’t get the hours in any other way, without someone bankrolling you. A lot.) It’s thus a farer’s most prized possession, the record of hours served where, when, doing what, with whom – and signed+countersigned each voyage, just in case. It’s superstition, and these records get copied and stored in safeboxes across space. Just in case.

Bel (?) is the captain, inherited the spacefaring bug from Bel’s gra (grandfather) and his stories of their family heritage. This is Bel’s first command, and an iffy one. Bel gives him/herself speeches to live up to it. Not sure what gender to give Bel – since the story is so very much from Bel’s viewpoint it may matter a lot somewhere in here…

Jem (f) – (this is a change, but just one female on the ship sounded weird, and an older female mopy technical wizard amused me…) engineers mate is quiet and almost dour without the sourness. Houndog, as Bel says. He is the only member of the crew from the previous history of the ship.

An (f) – navigator/pilot/bridge is a recent hire, and recently fell from grace in the “hardside” legitimate commerce side of space shipping. An seems young, rattled. An is “Book” – someone who lives by The Book, whatever the book is. Rules, regs, manuals, service intervals… makes you wonder just what choice got An bumped to the soft side…

Mik (m) – systems mate, more inclined to see the simple answer and ask the dumb question. A bit reactive, but not dumb by any means.

Fer (m) – recyclers mate is one who walks and speaks softly, gentle and slow. Sees more than you’d think, rather philosophic.

The only room big enough for all 5 is the galley.

The Grey Lady is old, built by a proud line that’s still considered excellent – but face it, that was a LONG time ago.


Neepbles: they’re a metal / alloy / composite muncher that is proof against anything but the hardest of space vacuum – or so they say. Stories about of ships inexplicably infected away from any station, but proof is still not there – or at least getting official admissions. The Neepble has a plug at its tail end that can hold out vacuum in the general running of a ship, but not the extra force of a vent or other jarring / force multiplying actions. At its front end, it’s got predictable chewing “mouth” parts and feetlike appendages – rather a bit like a gribble, as it turns out, though as a creature that can only eat the heavier stuff like metals, it is thus made of them, and its innards are well versed in not becoming its outards so lots of strong tendons connect the chitinous armor across the less-defined buglike guts of the critter itself. There are stubby wings, too heavy for grace, but consider the worlds neepbles have to adapt to, even enough to survive briefly. This causes a drone of the heavy wings beating against metallic chitin, a distinctive doomsound (because that’s usually a lot of neepbles to make the full throated version of the sound… when it’s not your fears magnifying it.)

Inspiration: Mud daubers from Florida plagued our trip NW to home with the old Airstream we bought. That, and we live near a very active seaport (two, Tacoma and Seattle are both near us), and there’s this critter called a Gribble that chews up wood. In fact, it’s undermined the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other essential parts of the Seattle Waterfront, making them less stable even without the help of an earthquake.


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