The Thargoid and Fer-de-Lance

Barnard's Star, a beacon of hope in the dark...

It hung there ahead.... like a tease.... this time no mistakes.

The Biatch was weary from a long exploration, and was ready to cash in some of that data... but Galnet was buzzing.

Litterally buzzing, no feed at all. Unusual, Kow thought to himself 'who would try to block Galnet'

This usually meant some big power was making moves on somewhere and wanted it kept on the low down...

This felt different, kind of like something massive was lurking.

His thoughts turned to his old friends, had it really been years...... he wondered if they'd even still be there...

"Docking Permission Granted, Please dock on pad 23"

He'd soon find out.
Jenner and the Professor stood looking at each other, then to Frank's empty stool. Beside the empty glasses was a napkin covered in scribbles, "G - GG, Horses? Bee Gees?"

Jenner explained, "He was just sitting there as usual when he got a call about his brother from a... ", Jenner squinted upwards for inspiration, "metallurgist? or something.

He got up out of his stool and left the bar!" She made is sound like an incredulous event.

"Might be the best thing for the old codger." Yaffle surveyed the bar. "This place doesn't look safe."


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'Most odd'

Yaffle considered a half-empty glass by Frank's usual place. It must have been something serious for Frank to leave half a drink. Carefully he put it back, partially due to its corrosive nature, and partly because if there was one thing in life he'd learned it was not to take drink off Frank.

'His brother, was it about him being made of metal? I mean, was he saying he wasn't made of metal, and he ain't heavy, just his brother?'

Jenner rubber her head where she'd bashed it on the table. 'What?'
"Made of metal?" asked Miyako, rubbing her head. "That doesn't make any sense!"

She swung her hand, still clutching the torch, towards the direction of the booth she had just been hiding under "The only thing made of metal around here was that table...."

Yaffle leaned backwards just in time to avoid getting his eyebrows singed off from the welder. With the look of an exasperated parent he gently he reached out and took hold of the Imperial's hand, removing the tool and placing it on the counter.

"My dear, we are not safe here. Let us..."

Before he could finish Jenner leaned so far over the counter as to practically fall off the other side. Her fingers grasped a bottle of Janx behind the bar. Hauling herself back over the bar she gave the professor a sheepish look.

"Medicinal.... headache and all."

"We can go into the illogic of treating a concussion with alohol another time." Yaffle said. "Let's go."
"Are you paying for that Janx?"

Jenner looked around "Sven!" She gave the barman a hug. "What happened? Was it... Thargoids?"

Sven looked solemn. "I guess so in a way. You were here when Frank left. Well his brother did him over a few years back, stole his ship. He was off chasing Thargoids. I don't think it's a coincidence that his brother shows up the same time as these aliens. God knows what the old fool's got planned, probably his own funeral."

Jenner threw her hand up and around in a gesture asking what happened to the place.

Sven explained, "After Frank left things went into a bit of a tailspin. It wasn't just the drinks he bought himself that kept us going, it was the drinks people bought him to hear his tales. Garythe cut my hours to save costs. I don't have as much time to clean as I did." Sven frowned, "When was it Frank left again?"

Jenner replied "Thursday".


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Yaffle turned the note over, just in case it was more obvious than a note. Seeing what was on the reverse he quickly turned it back.

'It's boggling me' he said 'Sven, did he say much before he left?'
'Uhh, you want a drink?'
'Sure. And, er, one in Frank's honour too.'
Sven cheered up and poured some drinks. He said 'He was giggling, a bit manically, and then other than haggling over his bill, as ever, nothing much.'
'What does it mean?' Jenner was looking at Frank's unsteady handwriting. 'It's jiggling all over the place''
'Yes, it's a ni ggling problem.' said the Prof 'gg-g. Could be a crossword clue. Not many words have two g's and then another, surely?'
The professor could see Jenner hanging on to his every word. He couldn't help but become a little pompous. It's a mystery why Frank left. This note he left on this napkin is obviously the key to the puzzle. If we can figure out its meaning, we can figure out Frank and what motivates him.

Behind the bar there was a hand written notice ' A free cocktail to anyone who can solve this riddle and name the song "By no measure is this group Imperial as they sing of three Gs" . If you can also name the animated film that uses this song over it's end credits you win free cocktails all night."
A loud clang from above the ceiling caused all three of the bars current inhabitants to freeze in place, Jenner and Yaffle hunched over Franks cryptic scribbling's in the dim light of the ascetaline torch and Sven mid pouring of a drink all slowly turned there gazes upwards. The sound of something hurriedly moving across the steel piping above the bar sent a cold shiver down Jenner's spine as she reached for her welder, possibly as a means of defence or to light her way in an escape attempt. Yaffle adjusted his spectacles seemingly making himself ready for whatever was to come when another clang come from one of the vents across the bar rang out to fill the silence that had fallen, things we're looking grim.

Jenner, Yaffle and Sven all exchange glances in an instance coming to some sort of understanding when from both the vent and the ceiling erupted a huge cloud and dust, dirt and smoke.

"see told you I could get us to the bar"

"Yeah but look what we had to go through to get here, I swear some times I think you must be some kind of an idiot!"

"Yeah but you love me like this"

As the dust began to clear to distance silhouettes could be seen becoming more visible with time

"Dammit GIR!!!! You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Jenner screeched across the bar. Gir simply stood there a somewhat dumb founded expression on her scratching her head as Lacus made her way over from the vent

"Huh? Wasn't expecting anyone to be here with all the chaos going on about, sorry" Gir let out a goofy grin as Lacus simply sat at her sided glaring at her.

"See this is why I told you we should try to find as more orthodox way to get in, you never think of the consequences" Lacus fumed pinching Gir's upper arm quite savagely



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Sven rolled his eyes. 'You do know there's a door?'

He looked at the drinks he'd poured, saw some were mostly full of dust and unspeakable things from the ceiling, and passed those to Gir and Lacus. 'On the house' he added.

'Looks more like the house is in them.' Jenner said, and giggled.

Yaffle was still motionless, staring at the napkin and the cocktail quiz. He'd thought about Yardbirds or Nine Inch Nails or even Megadeath, but none seemed to work.Of course, it could be one of those newfangled bands from Wyrd or something.

Finally he spoke 'are you sure he said 'metallurgist'? Not meta something?'
Sven answered the professor for Jenner. "Frank was always banging on about what a hero he was going in amongst the Thargoids to rescue Joe. It's like he was trying to convince himself of that fact. There's a good chance he's off looking for meta alloys. It's the galaxy's biggest open secret that it's what's behind all these new defences. I just hope he makes it back here in one piece." Sven looked around at the surroundings that were even more dank than usual; at the broken conduit, and the cobwebs spun by Boris. "The place isn't the same without him"
The cockpit of Frank's Anaconda looked quite dilapidated. There was a strange squealing noise emanating from the bottom of the holo-scanner. The first slap the old codger gave it made the squealing louder. The second slap silenced it. Frank looked around the cockpit with its threadbare seats and the cables duct-taped into position to stop their loose loops floating about.

He felt at home.

His brother was using an assumed name, the one he used when he'd raced Kraits. I guess he was more memorable than he thought. Frank had received a message from a Commander Metatheurgist that "Average Joe Shmoe" had been spotted at Malayamatha.

With a practised hand, he slowly swung the large barge of a spaceship to point to the next in the sequence of stars before pressing the frameshift button. Frank thought about how easy it was to manoeuvre his other ship, which was a Dolphin.

He wished Annie's could fly, like Dolphins.. like Dolphins can fly.
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Jenner gave a curt bow to Gir and Lacus in the manner required when re-uniting with fellow Imperials of equal station, to which they reciprocated in kind. Yaffle smiled. Sven grunted.

"I suppose we'd try to figure out this little riddle" Jenner suggested, pointing at the napkin. "Thoughts?" she asked, looking around at her companions.

"Never was much one for music *or* animation I'm afraid." Gir said, looking at Yaffle. "It could be anything."

Yaffle furrowed his brows. "Hmm. Metal-music... meta-alloy... animation credits....?" he rambled, glancing around at the group until his eyes settled on Jenner.

"My dear, don't you have experience with animation? Your tattoo on your..."

"Well, this is getting us nowhere!" Jenner snapped, her cheeks suddenly flushed. "I listened to electro synth from Exioce as a kid, nothing Frank also listened to. I have no idea what he's on about on that ..." she jabbed a finger at the napkin.

"Had Frank been seen with anyone recently?" asked Lacus. "Maybe drinking with them here at the bar?"

Sven shook his head. "Naw, Frank drinks alone." He raised a hand... "Was one one fella.... here Tuesday last. Sat next to Frank and had a beer. Most people take one look at Frank and find another barstool. Not this 'un."

"What did this gentleman do after consuming his beverage?" asked Yaffle, putting on his Investegator's glasses.

"Nothin'. "Paid. Left."

"That *has* to be a lead!" Jenner said excitedly. "Can you tell us anything at all about him?"

Sven snorted. "You should know him. He was Sirius. I can smell 'em a mile away." he said, glancing at the Sirius corporate emblem emblazoned on Miyako's uniform.
Sven had the large hand-written notice in his hand 'A free cocktail to anyone who can solve this riddle and name the song "By no measure is this group Imperial as they sing of three Gs" . If you can also name the animated film that uses this song over it's end credits you win free cocktails all night."

He said "If the group is not Imperial then they must be metric. The only pop group I can think of that's named after SI units is '10CC', but I can't think of any of their songs that match that 'three G' bit of the riddle."

Jenner's cute face crumpled into a frown. "How come you don't know the answer anyway? You are the barman."

Sven said "This whole cocktail bar thing was Garthyre's idea. The notice was there when my shift started, and Garthyre refused to tell me the answer in case I blabbed to the regulars."
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Frank stared slack-jawed at the almighty Thargoid in front of him out of his cockpit.


The old miner didn't respond to the request. This wasn't the same Thargoid that ambushed him and his family all those years ago.

"God damn you Cmdr Frank! You have the controls for the scanners! Use them now!"

Those words and a few others I can't mention on this family-friendly forum snapped the codger back into the here and now. "Scanners activated. This time we'll be able ta see the damage we're doing to it. Which... ain't much.

We can only get their hull down ta 80% cuz they repair themselves!" Frank didn't bother suggesting the obvious tactic of throwing everything at them as quickly as possible. They were doing that already.

Even although there were in the middle of a spectacular firefight, with the scream of rocket motors, the pop of explosives, and the whooshing of the alien swarm, the commander of the Imperial Cutter took a moment to glance suspiciously at Frank.

Before the fight, when Frank first beamed onto the ship, the commander had said "My God! You're old and ugly!" Frank had taken the remark in his stride. He knew the commander was nervous. After all, he was the one taking all the risks. He was there flesh and bone, while Frank was just there for the ride. The worst thing that could happen to him was seeing the message "connection failure".

And now they wanted the fight to end. The commander had told the wing they were pulling out. They managed to escape by the skin of their teeth.

The Imperial Commander was upbeat. "We didn't manage to down a cabbage but we learned some lessons. We'll regroup and load up with the weapons we need to get the job done."

Frank's lesson had been a little more personal. He wanted to meet his brother to talk about what they faced all those years ago. He now knew that his objective wasn't so much about meeting up with Joe to fight Thargoids. It was just about meeting up with Joe.
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Jenner felt her headache getting worse, and it wasn't because of the concussion with the table.

"I have no idea." she said, looking at the napkin. "I really don't."

She shrugged, looked around her friends, and said "Well what next? I'd recommend we track that gentleman from Sirius who Frank was seen with. I know a lot of the Sirius contingent on the station, but most don't come up the the bar. Rollo might know..."

At the name of her old nemisis (now defacto supervisor) she winced.



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'That sounds wise. Are you quite alright my dear, you look, er, pale?'
'Nothing more jinx won't fix'
'Did Frank have a ship? I must admit I only ever saw him here at the bar. It's as if the station was his ship. Like that robot bar-tender out in colonia'
The mechanic didn't think much of the old codger in front of him. "That's them there Thargoid blatters fitted to your ship, and a scanner and all. This is costing you tons of dosh. You don't look like the sort of feller what can afford it?"

"I worked as a dustbin man", Frank replied, "My boss retired an' left me my redundancy in a bag stuffed full of banknotes. Thought I'd better buy a ship before I spent it all on booze. She's a fine ship fer mining."

"Well them fancy missile racks ain't cheap. You got money for that, then you got money to do yer ship up a bit. She's in one hell of a state. You know the cost of a fancy new paintjob's nothin' compared to what else ya bought. Don't ya fancy a new look?"

Frank patted a landing strut. "She's beautiful just the way she is."
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The group fell quite once more still huddled round Franks cryptic clue, Sven had taken to clearing the bar of dust and debris whilst Yaffle sat starring at the napkin intently with his pondering glasses on with Jenner by his side looking somewhat pale rubbing her head until she piped up

"I have no idea." she said, looking at the napkin. "I really don't."

She shrugged, looked around her friends, and said "Well what next? I'd recommend we track that gentleman from Sirius who Frank was seen with. I know a lot of the Sirius contingent on the station, but most don't come up the the bar. Rollo might know..."

She seemed to winch from the mention of Rollo's name not that anyone could blame her with the history the pair shared and not in a good sense


"YES! I GOT IT!" Gir excitedly Exclaimed "Huh?"

Everyone's attention spun to Gir looking on in anticipation

"So what is does this mean then Gir?" Jenner questioned gesturing to the note

"OH that? Not a clue sorry gave up on that ages ago, I was talking about getting my boot back from up there" Gir pointed towards a small piece of pipe that was protruding from the hole she had caused by falling through the ceiling earlier, She slipped it back on then downed the dust riddled drink Sven has passed her and Lacus earlier erupting into a violent coughing fit much to Sven's pleasure. Jenner simple plant her face into her hand

"What was I expecting from that dumb cat like assassin....."
"What? Are you serious?"
"I am! You're my supervisor for crying...I have the badge and all..."
"Calm down sweetheart! Read my lips - Are you s-e-r-i-o-u-s ? Not Sirius, there's a clear difference!"
"We're on comms, I don't see your bloody lips!"

Rollo sighed. Jenner was clearly overworked. He, was busy checking out the new bar in the HIP 10028 system... Solely for scientific reasons of course!

"Well, I can't imagine Frank away from that filthy bar, let alone travelling with anyone of us..."
"So you have nothing to share?"
"You should join me. Have a look around, see the Galaxy. Barnard's so...dusty, so yesterday, so 3301.
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