Archive for July, 2011

Chapter 4 – A place called Home

Returning to his own sector, Veo headed for the main control station. Glancing out of the window he saw a large gas planet drift by, the swirling reds and oranges colliding with each other creating dramatic swirls as a graceful but deadly storm ravaged the surface. He was using the planets as a chain of slingshots, accelerating him out of the system. FTL travel was available, but much less scenic. Exodus, like all Opus class vessels were equipped with extremely efficient and agile sub-light engines, enabling high acceleration but unequalled ability to evade projectiles, ships, drones and generally act as a hit and run vessel.

The size of ship allowed for this manoeuvrability, but had other reasoning. The larger carriers that roamed deep space battles could carry several Opus ships, ready for strategic deployment for large scale planet attacks while the carrier absorbed damage and attention. However, the cost of Opus ships mean that seeing them in one place in groups larger than 2 or 3 is extremely rare. That’s not taking into account the effect that much ego has in such a confined space such as a solar system.

It was as the beauty of the serene, untouched planets that sat gracefully within this system passed him by that the question of why appeared. Usually he was willing of any and every contract, uncaring of the victims or damage. A job was a job. But that was because usually missions and contracts made sense. They were high priority targets. Frankly, he was almost offended that he had been requested to deal with what was, albeit satisfying, a low level and simple mission. It could just have easily been dealt with a new recruit on training. There were no threats, hell, Veo hadn’t even heard of the place up until now. Cardum wasn’t even a patrolled system, it didn’t need stealth. Or did it? Stealth not from the prying eyes of traders, travellers and the Cooperative, but from the Shareholders themselves.

Realising something was missing from his thoughts, he activated the autopilot and located the Kettle. Tucked away, the Kitchen was the opposite of the luxurious feel of the rest of the wood and leather ship. Everything glowed with a satisfying white glow of new technology. There was very little room to move about, but, much like the weapons system, hundreds of modules were hidden and stored away in vastly complex compartments, meaning everything and anything could be summoned for the purpose. All accessed from thought, the only two items that weren’t summoned by command were the kettle and the kitchen sink. From deep within the sideboard, a gentle hum could be heard as a teapot appeared, rising proudly. Water was stored within a few pressurised collection tanks. When in asteroid belts or the atmosphere of planets, trace molecules of water vapour pass though an extensive filtration system before being deposited there for use. Not much water was needed, just enough for drinking and showers. Any long trips would mean Veo entered the sleeping chamber to go into stasis.

Tea leaves were an expensive commodity in this part of space. Earth had been blessed with two things: life and hot beverages. As colonies expanded and explored, tea plantations were seen to grow once more to satisfy the needs of billions. There was only so much that could be produced despite advancements in hydroponics and aeroponic. As such, it came at a high price – one Veo was willing to pay.

Becoming lost in his thoughts, a tall, sleek black tower glinted faintly in the distance. Home. Suspended in orbit around a moon, Company HQ was an elegant and cannily evil looking structures. Many of the new stations had expanded grotesquely horizontally, modules being clamped on as necessary. However, this had been planned to expand vertically, with pre-designed parameters architects had to work within to keep the stiletto form true.

Once docked, he exited into a large, torus shaped room. The main floor that greeted everyone, it was a decadent expanse, constructed for no other reason than to prove wealth. Blissfully ignorant to the attention seeking construction, Veo stormed through to the nearest transport to several floors down, where he could get lost in the bustle of people and never ending corridors. His memory served him better than he expected, and within the modest but dull depths of offices, he found his Boss.

Stuark sat commandingly in a fabric swivel chair. Unfortunately, there were some phases that space travel hadn’t eradicated. For his power, Stuark was seemingly friendly, casual and easy going, yet with an overpowering character that reminded you of who he was. Veo knocked, entered and placed a sheet of e-paper on the desk, a large “COMPLETE” watermarked across the paper. Silently, he sat.

“Good, how was it?”

As Stuark looked expectantly at Veo, the true power dawned upon him. His entire demeanour was relaxed, calm. Yet, his eyes told a different story. A dark past, untold power and destruction. Each blink saw thousands die, a look not to kill, but to wipe out a solar system.

Stuark was the head of ‘Operational Management’. He dealt with any problems that arose. His CV was full of euphemisms, but quite simply he stopped anyone from getting in the way of progress for the Company, no matter the cost.

“Veo, are you okay?”

Snapping back to the room, Veo continued.

“Sorry sir, yes. No issues encountered. Weapons fully operational and effective. Complete success, sir.”

“Good good, I do prefer it when these little matters are taken care of so well. Thank you Veo, it’s always nice to see you do a good job. You have my word that you’ll be rewarded for this mission.” Stuark winked, putting Veo on edge.

“Why me, sir?”

Taken aback, Stuark looked puzzled and bemused.

“Forget my curtness, it’s just been bugging me. I mean, uh, it’s not my standard mission? It was rather, well, easy if I do say so.” Veo’s eyes darted around the room, focusing on anything but the man that sat opposite him. His subconscious had acted rather bravely, but left the conscious mind reeling with consequences.

“I see. I wish I could answer you, frankly. I’m not privy to such information. Well, I am, I just can’t disclose it to you.” A wry smile crept upon his face. “But you fully well know that, which means you have also probably worked out why not, and where the order came from. But I aided in your judgement of this not one bit.”

“I see.”

“Good. You’re a very able person, Veo. I wouldn’t want that to go to waste now. Which is why this mission, however menial to you, was in fact very specifically chosen for you, if you catch my drift.”

With another wink, Veo was dismissed.


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