Voyages of the E.S.S. Paladin

“What -” Captain Tevler of the ESS Paladin slammed a fist down on Lieutenant Lanre’s desk - “is this?”

Lanre eased her captian’s quivering fist off of the paper he’d pinned down. “It appears to be a photograph, sir. It appears I shall have to bother the technicians about adjusting the focus again, sir.”

Tevler turned several shades of purple, his pointed ears quivering with rage. It likely was not good for her future career advancement to antagonize him so, but Lanre had difficulty helping herself. High elves were so high-strung.

Tevler took a few deep breaths and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I know what a photograph is, Lieutenant. What I am more concerned with is the goblin shown in the photograph.”

Lanre glanced at the photo once more. “Gerxa, most recently of the GSS Boogers, unless that one blew up too. Don’t worry, the boys down in security have probably already taken care of it. Goblin boarding parties aren’t worth upsetting the brass over.”

“Goblin… boarding… parties?” Tevler’s incensed face was difficult not to laugh at. Poor guy was fresh out of the academy and still didn’t know the reality of the Black. She should be nicer to him, but Lanre really didn’t want to.

“Oh yeah. They’re very common out here. The dwarves will clear them out of the asteroid fields on occasion, but they’re tenacious little buggers. It’s honestly easier to let them take a few trinkets that it is to try and hit them.”

Tevler hissed and took up pacing the length of Lanre’s small office. “Is my entire crew playing some sort of practical joke on me? I can think of no other explanation as to why the Paladin, a well-armed explorer-class vessel, cannot manage to blast a bucket of bolts held together with duct-tape and spit?”

“Some of those buckets of bolts have been flying since Stomarim the Black first started experimenting with magi-grav. Face it Captain, the goblins are better at it than us, and the celsetial dragons seem to like them. We’re just lucky that they’re too stupid to realize what they could do with those advantages.” Lanre pushed her chair out of flying spittle range, but Tevler seemed to have gotten ahold of himself.

“I see. Inform the ship that I do expect to be informed of all intruders, no matter how… harmless… they may seem. That is all.” Tevler spun on his heel, his perfect high-elf silvery hair swishing dramatically behind him. Lanre snorted. He’d learn. Sooner or later he’d learn.

Lanre slid the photograph — it was actually a fairly good likeness of Gerxa — off her desk and into a drawer, where it nestled beside a faded and grimy enlistment advertisement. Join the Goblin Space Corps. Heh. Maybe someday she would. Once she got tired of babysitting entitled high-elves who couldn’t see beyond the end of their noses to what was actually in front of them.

It was a whole new universe out there — strange and mysterious and straight-up bizarre. A universe where it seemed a lowly wood-elf like Lanre might have more in common with a goblin than another elf. Lanre poured herself a drink.

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