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Jim Able: Offworld

Episode Seven


Ed Charlton



Jim Able: Offworld, Jorr

© 2021 Ed Charlton

All rights reserved.

ISBN 978-1-935751-56-4





Jim and Tella have been commissioned by the galaxy’s gourmet spaceship manufacturers, the Praestans Rapax, to investigate a potential interplanetary war.

Tella, alone, has gone to the planet Tanna Jorr, the potential victim of an attack by the forces of its neighbor, Tanna Gul.

Jim and a Rapaxan monk, Tamric, have traveled to Tanna Gul. After their flier crashes in a storm, they have been captured and taken by road to a nearby base. Jim has learned how to insult a Gul from guards who have been smoking Lak-weed. Using this knowledge, he uses an obscene gesture to provoke another driver into ramming their vehicle.


The noise of the collision had all four canids shaking their heads to flap their ears. The shock sent Jim sliding across the bench, and Tamric slid hard into the bony elbow and shoulder next to him.

The crash sheets crumpled and twisted round each other, locking the speeding vehicles together. After a few seconds, the noises of grinding metal and squealing tires rose to a deafening height. Then silence reigned, and the world spun around them.

Chapter One

Jim was basking in the warm glow that infuses all things. The metal of the vehicle glowed only fractionally less than the bodies that hung from their belts around him. He was unhurt—of course he was unhurt—how could he be otherwise? He danced under the bodies and brushed the door aside. The mud was deep and brown, aglow with the same warmth, and as welcome as all things. Tamric was there beside him. Good old Tamric! He will be a fine partner. He is passing the test.

A flare lit up the sky. It was beautiful. Tamric seemed not to realize how beautiful it was. He appeared to be interested only in being welcomed by more mud, more and more mud. Then there was water, thick black glowing water. Again, Tamric did not want to wait and enjoy it. He kept pulling Jim along by his muddy sleeves.

Then there was the boat. It was beautiful. Jim could not see it all, now that the flares had dimmed. It lay half turned as if waking and stretching to rise out of the mud. It had green flakes of paint that shimmered as Jim held his face up to the boat. But, again, Tamric did not want to see. He wanted only to be inside the boat.

Jim agreed. Tamric was all right, so Jim agreed.


He lay in the dark of the boat, content that all things glowed, content that he was unhurt, content that he and Tamric would be a good team.

After a few hours of drifting in and out of sleep, Jim began to reevaluate. Of course all things did not glow. Of course he was hurt. He could hear Tamric praying quietly. One out of three was as much as he could hope for.

His legs ached like he had been running for hours. His back hurt when he tried to sit up. He could feel bruises and strains all over. His head was brewing the worst hangover since the day after Liz Curacao fired him.

He remembered how desperate he had felt then. His career was over—years of training, years of experience in space, all thrown away. And now, here he was on his first mission for the EIA, lying injured, a hunted fugitive, making a complete mess of it. This desperation seemed more intense than any.



“How do you feel?”

“Don’t ask.”

“Can you move?”

“My back seems not to think so.”

“Take this.”

Tamric’s hand appeared over Jim’s head and placed a small capsule against his lips. Jim swallowed it.

“What is it?” he asked.

“A muscle calmer. It should help.”


“Let the medicament take effect. Then see if you can get up.”

Jim waited. “What time is it?” he asked.


“Same day or different?”

“The same. This morning we sheltered under a rock. Tonight we shelter in a ruined boat.”

“Life is full of surprises.” Jim winced as he pushed his unusually heavy body into a sitting position. “So far, so good.”

“Take this now.” Tamric offered him another capsule.

“What’s this one?”

“A stimulant, diuretic, and antinarcotic.”

“You sure?”

“Take it. It will cleanse your system of the drug.”

“You weren’t affected at all?”

Tamric shrugged.

Jim felt there was some disapproval not being stated. “There’s no way I could have known the effect secondary inhalation would have on me.”

“I know. You don’t have the benefit of the mental disciplines I have learned. We are lucky to have survived. The others, I believe, are all dead.”

Jim wondered briefly why he seemed to care less than Tamric did. He rubbed at the burning between his collarbone and shoulder, where the Gul had scratched him, and remembered why. He wiped his throat several times with the back of his hand.

“Do we have our backpacks?”

“Yes. They were against the back door. It was not easy maneuvering you and them through the mud.”

“Why did no one come after us?”

“I’m not sure. I think their first concern was to rescue their colleagues. The vehicles were sinking fast. They were already nearly under by the time the others arrived. They may decide that we sank into the mud ourselves. I think we would have if we had been strapped in.”

Jim’s eyes widened. “This is the first break we’ve had.”

“Then we must make the most of it and be sure to attract no attention tonight.”

“Agreed,” said Jim. “But I’m worried about how clean this mud is. Do you have a bio-scan?”

“I have sampled the water and the mud. There are a variety of spores that all seem dormant. There are three active species of bacteria; none looks harmful.”

“Three? I’d have thought this mud would be swarming with them.”


“This world is in real trouble, isn’t it?”

“Their quest to borrow Tanna Jorr is timely. Life here is compromised.”

Jim stripped off his flight suit to examine the wound by his shoulder. Tamric gave him a small cleansing cloth to remove the dried blood.

“Hmm,” said Jim. “It’s been open to the local bugs. I could be in trouble

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