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Black Gazza

The banquet hall was elegantly appointed with fine white tablecloths, polished silver, plates of food, and tankards of drink. At the head table, wearing their finest court clothes and naval dress uniforms, sat Wolfheim Space Navy officers and merchants overseeing the new venture. Behind them, visible through large electronic displays, the silhouette of a starship obscured stars and the Great Nebula. The guests, mostly merchants and some commanders and captains, sat at their tables reminiscing exciting journeys or dreaming adventures ahead. Servants replenished food and drink. 

Admiral Folvik gently rang the ceremonial ship’s bell on the table before him. The guests stopped talking as Folvik stood. 

“I am delighted to see so many of our regular passengers turn out for this event. And, of course, our investors, without whom none of this would be possible. Today marks the dawn of a new era for Wolfheim Transstellar Freight. In addition to hauling freight and passengers in reasonable comfort, we will be offering luxury cruises in an environment reminiscent of the finest ocean-going vessels of the days of old. No cramped steel bunks and shared wash stations here. Our new ship will offer real beds, wood-paneled cabins, and full-sized bathrooms and dining rooms. Behold, Tarkel’s Glory.”

The admiral turned and gestured toward one of the large screens behind him. On cue, the dimly visible ship was brightly illuminated and came into sharp view. The guests gasped and oohed and aahed as they took in the spectacle. The admiral gave them time to look. This was obviously not a freighter with a cramped guest bunk or two. This was a purpose-built passenger liner, sleek and smooth. Space did not care what shape the instruments and machinery of a starship took; nevertheless even the masts of the navigation systems and the warp drive graced the ship with smooth aerodynamic shapes.

Timber tried to remain calm as Folvik read his speech. Although he hoped to be assigned to a Navy frigate or cruiser, his high marks and achievements qualified him for this command. He glanced over at Daschiel, then looked away: he should not think as though that tailhole was a boulder on his tail. 

“Our new ship will ferry passengers in utmost comfort between interstellar ports of call. It is suitable for ambassadors, heads of state, and those who desire first-class accommodations. We have chosen the fleet’s finest to be its crew, the most important position of which it is my great privilege to introduce to you a brilliant young captain, straight from a tour in our military navy, an heir to the Tarkel Throne, Daschiel Tarkel.”

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