Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 
   
 
 
Episode 1 - Emergence

 

I was told the beginning would come and would be heralded by a great announcement. For years I waited and no announcement came to tell me to start the great work.  In an epiphany I figured that it might have been that a lowly servant such as I might have been forgotten, so I decided to undertake a series of momentous actions to prove my worthiness to begin my appointed task.  So on the first day I smote a mountain with my sword, but no sign came.  I went until the morning and on the second day I rent open the earth with my hands, the tear swallowing a city whole, but still no portend was sent.  In agony I wept once more till the morn, and on the third day I shot into the air with my bow at the sun to remove her from the heavens.  An angel came from the heavens soon after, her robes drenched in blood by an arrow that jutted from her chest.  In a pained voice she finally said to me, “And so it begins”.

From the diary of the Mad Poet

The meeting had been going on solid for some two hours as Michael Harris looked at his watch.  His incessant pacing back and forth in the second floor lobby to the meeting room he was in front of, made it plainly evident his agitation regarding the affair that he and his crew were part of.  It started out days ago on Osiris.  It was supposed to be a plain enough affair.  Pick up an official who was supposed to be posing as someone who was just taking a trip out to Beaumonde.  Mr. Lightener was anything but normal.  He had an air of power and command about him that was hard to mistake.  It was a look he had seen from grizzled officers during the war.  Add that to the fact that Mr. Lightener was a rotund man, and mistaking Mr. Lightener for a normal yokel was not going to happen, but who was he to argue with money.

The trip was rather uneventful.  Occasional wave was taken by his passenger in the lounge area on the ship.  He didn’t eat much, which lead Harris to believe either he was a very picky eater and didn’t like protein, or his girth was a glandular thing.  Mr. Lightener had never really enlightened the Captain about what was going on other than that it was supposed to be some sort of meeting of minds that he needed to be party to.  It was supposed to be routine, a quick in and out, and then a drop off back at Osiris.  At least that was the plan.

Things changed once the team reached the site of the meeting.  Their hover-mule pulled up to a rather spectacular looking building whose walls looked like they had been built yesterday.  The building stood at five stories in height, and Harris’s eye picked out that the glass of the offices were not real glass.  His initial guess would have been some sort of Plexiglas derivative, and the high security nature of the building was simply reinforced when he looked past the front of the mule and saw a closed gate with a guard post and a barely perceptible hum in the air from near the gates.  Nothing on the outside of the building said who owned it, but the money that went into its construction screamed either Alliance, or one of the only other corporate entities that had the money to throw into something like this.  Blue Sun.

In spite of the supposed milk run nature of job, Harris had not liked the secrecy.  It was not a far stretch of the imagination to want as much backup as possible on this venture.  Two ‘armed’ guards for Mr. Lightener was not hard to accomplish.  Joseph Brochard and Isabella White were two of the crew of the Fading Sun, and familiar enough with weapons that it was a no brainer to see who would be providing the man’s escort.  Throw in himself and the ship’s Medic Guy Sang Ives right beside Mr. Lightener and it looked like the three of them were being escorted to the site, instead of the truth of the matter that it was four people looking out for Mr. Lightener’s interests.

Entry into the building was painful enough.  The security inside the building was just as stupid looking at it was on the outside.  They were scanned, and poked and prodded, and Captain Harris was completely surprised that the search didn’t include a body cavity search.  They protested to the weapons that Joseph and Mackenzie were carrying, and Harris and Ives had to hand over their ‘simple’ pistols at the door before being allowed to enter with Mr. Lightener.  Brochard and White were left at the entrance as the trio went further into the facility.

The facility was a grand enough affair.  The money dumped into the building exterior and its defences was reciprocated on the insides.  The decor and the art in the building were rather extravagant considering they were not in the core any more.  Whatever was going on in the building, it was apparent that it was not just a simple office.  They went to the second floor, and there were enough armed goons with suits and blackened sunglasses surrounding the entrance to some sort of amphitheatre meeting room to cause the Captain to shift uncomfortably.

“You will have to wait out here Captain,” Mr. Lightener turned to Harris. “It should only take an hour or two and we should be ready to go then.”

The Captain nodded silently as Lightener turned and walked into the room.  Then it happened.  He had seen them before, either working offhandedly for them, or he had seen them in a poker game hosted by his favourite little elf that he was supposed to pick up on Osiris when they dropped off Mr. Lightener.  The three of them walked down the hall like they had no care in the world.  With the security in the place he was sure they didn’t have a care in the world, but to see the governors of three of the biggest border worlds here under one roof, one of them being Beaumonde’s, he was sure that he was not going to like what was about to happen.

“Rung tse fwo tzoo bao yo wuo muhn,” Harris said under his breath as he watched the three enter the auditorium and the doors close behind them.  He turned suddenly to Ives as all of the security in the room turned suddenly to the Captain and Guy. In a low tone he said. “Oh this is not going to go well at all. Get to the other two downstairs and tell them to watch out.  Also tell them to contact the ship and get them to start up the engines.”

Guy nodded his head. The Captains imprecations, and the sudden chill in the outer office, were plainly evident of a deal that was not going to go down well. He stood calmly, adjusting his suit quite carefully, despite the fact that he was sweating underneath. They'd never been able to make a truly comfortable body vest but it might well be that he'd be glad he wore it this day. " wǒ shuài tīng" [I obey your orders] he murmured to the Captain, taking out a pipe and pressing leaf into it. One of the security men moved forward. "No Smoking! Take it outside."

Guy shrugged, making his way to the office door as a guard held the door open in front of him, trying not to let his face show the inner satisfaction of such a ploy. As much as he enjoyed the occasional smoke, a pipe was a wonderful distraction and an excuse for carrying flammable materials.

For someone he'd have been fighting against, back in the war, the Captain was a good and dependable man; their jobs together had proved that. And this `cakewalk' had seemed straightforward enough back when it was sold to them on Osiris. It had even given him a good chance to restock his med bay on board Scorpio. Medical supplies cost an arm and a leg, but this passenger had good enough connections to want to make sure that he got the best treatment on his journey if he needed it.

Guy was no surgeon, but he knew he was a competent field and ships medic. Heck, after the war, he would sometimes be the only medical officer available over an orbit, dealing with everything from social diseases to delivering babies. Keep going at this pace, keep the money rolling in, and he'd be able to get out of the black to a decent hospital and take his finals.

If he made it out of this place, that is. Something was souring. As he made his way down to the lobby and out into the open air he waved to Brochard and White, who sauntered over. He lit up. Might as well keep up the pretence here, and offered cigarettes to the rest. White offered a lighter. As Guy bent down to light the pipe, he quietly alerted the others. "Captain says trouble in riding in. Be ready for anything and get the ship on the horn. Engines Hot and ready for extraction..., or whatever. Be on the ball."

He straightened up, puffing merrily at the pipe, exhausting it rapidly, and then retamping it with tobacco laden with a pyro smoke mix. With no other weapons, he felt he might need that. Breathing deeply, he enjoyed the sensation of fresh air in his lungs as he turned back to the building to meet back up with the Captain, popping the pipe in his mouth as he did so.

They didn't even notice that on the way back to the conference room.

---

Joseph Brochard stood outside the pristine building, it's more than likely bullet proof glass, and it's dozens of armed guards, not really soothing him as much as you would think. It was one thing that they wouldn't allow the captain and doc to come in armed, but to not allow the two `bruisers' - Brochard and White, in at all..well that was ridiculous. In his opinion at least.

He thought of this as he twiddled a toothpick between his teeth, his dull grey eyes flickering from building to building, a habit he picked up from the war. Unlike most however, Joseph - who was born on Triumph, far from the core planets, fought for the Alliance. And after the war, when everyone rushed away from military service to `escape' it, he joined them. Only to come back to the military life two years later when it donned on him that it was the `best thing' for him to do. He was a military man, through and through, until Miranda. Miranda changed everything for him, and many like him.

It's the reason why he went looking for a job with his old colleague Captain Harris, and its another reason why he and White worked so well together. They survived that massive battle between reaver and alliance, though not on the same ship, and though he hadn't even known about her until he came to the Fading Sun, the bond was instant. Though neither one of them talked about it, it just wasn't his way at least.

The industrial planet of Beaumonde was unlike most planets when people described it, because you would never hear anyone say "Beaumonde is quite lovely this time of year", as it was dreary, overcast, and smog laden most of the year. The air, rain, and just about entire planet suffered from the early signs of pollution and too much industry. The perfect `air' for shady business ventures like the one the crew of the Fading Sun was currently occupied in.

The money was good, really good, almost too good for Brochard's thought process. There were no listed dangers, the VIP was under an assumed name, etc. But for him, this just gave him more to be cautious about. And now that he and white were separated from the captain, doc and VIP? It made him even that much more suspicious of lady luck's apparent hints at sudden and impending doom.

But when Ives came down out of the building, pipe in hand and waved the two `bruisers' over, the hair on the back of Joseph's neck stood up. As Guy bent down to light the pipe, he quietly alerted the others. "Captain says trouble in riding in. Be ready for anything and get the ship on the horn. Engines Hot and ready for extraction. Or whatever. Be on the ball."

Joseph didn't say anything, but took a cigarette calmly and quietly, listened to Ives, then nodded and thanked him for the cigarette before he left. As Ives left
however, he suggested to Ms. White to take up a casual position by the door, under the over hang of the building as it "Might rain soon." This however was
just a ruse of course as if anything did happen - White could easily burst through the front door and neutralize or help the security personnel (depending
on the situation) without much delay.

White nodded as she started to look around casually.  To start looking around like a paranoid freak might have tipped someone off that they had been made.  But at that point she had a new found appreciation for the scene around her.  The question that jumped into her head as she surveyed the scene was simple.  Where would she attack from?  But a solid look at the scene told her that she would have hit from anywhere.  A few vehicles nearby, buildings, a cafe, a few empty store fronts, and throw in a few roofs and you had a ton of places where she would hit from if she was going to attack her current position.

Her choice of attire had been simple enough.  Pair of pants, a shirt, throw on a light flack vest and a big assed coat over top and you had yourself dancing gear for today’s apparent event.  A large tanto rested horizontally on her belt at the small of her back, while the matte black handgrip for an automatic pistol could be seen poking out of the holster strapped to her right thy.  The assault rifle she figured would have been a bit much for the locals, so she kept it covered in the back of the mule for is a special situation arose for it to come out to play.  She wanted to go get it, hated the feeling of sitting there pretending that nothing was going to happen.  Nothing might happen and she might be paranoid.  But as it was said, just because you were paranoid, didn’t mean people weren’t out to get you.

"I'm just going to go have a talk with our ship's pilot." He sighed as he wheeled about and walked over the team's mule, actually looking, without trying to be obvious about it, for anything that might resemble a bomb or other sort of sabotage. Picking up the mule's handset he flipped the radio on, and keyed the
mic. "Hey McMillan, its Joe. Tell Reiner, Captain wants you two to start her up and keep her warm. Might be nothin', but he's pretty sure this situation isn't
going to go down very well.. apparently."

“Mi Tian Gohn”.   McMillan’s voice came over the radio, “Joe, she’ll be runnin’ hot when you get here”, he responded and released the button.

After confirming a reply, Brochard replaced the handset back on it's station and went back down the sidewalk towards the building.

He quickly scanned for possible cover, and other than the building itself, realized there probably wasn't going to be much. So, he lit up another cigarette, positioning himself halfway between the building and the mule. He figured, his AR-91 assault rifle, (which was currently nestled under a large grey 'dress uniform' overcoat) couldn't even penetrate the `glass' of the building, so why bother, and if he positioned himself just right, he could cover the remainder of the crew while they `tactically retreated' to the safety of the mule. Meanwhile, if they were needed inside, Isabelle would be able to handle anything up until Joseph could come to her aid.

Puffing from the cigarette he grumbled "Well.. even the best laid plans never survive first contact with the enemy." He sighed and prodded his own chest with a finger, almost in reassurance that the vest with it's anti-small arms plating was still there. Afterwards he thumbed the small strap that held his eight shot revolver in place off, now ready for anything. "Thats probably what I'm being paid for then.."

---

Sweat dripped from his greasy brow, but Tom McMillan didn’t mind the heat from the engine room.  It was where he felt most at home, besides having the dusty wind blowing through his hair on some beat up mule transporting a day’s haul.

He fiddled with an old photo medallion hanging around his neck as he gazed at a half crinkled photo of him and his family that he had stuck up on the side wall opposite the main boiler.  It was habit, superstition perhaps but always this photo went up wherever he worked.  Be it a mining camp or a mechanic on a ship, it went up.  He looked down at the medallion and spun it around to its back side.  He wiped a greasy thumb across its filthy surface and read allowed, “Thirty six, nineteen, two”.  Those three numbers had been there since his mom had given it to him.  What they meant only she knew.  He never really paid that much attention to it when she or his dad was alive.  But now it was ever present on his mind.  Perhaps the three digit riddle would be solved someday.  But till then he kept on fixing and earning his keep.

It had been a few months since Captain Harris brought him on board to patch the Fading Sun up.  The money had been good and the people nice enough.  Still he felt the outsider.  But that was alright with him, friendship would come or it wouldn’t.  As long as the money kept rolling in and there were things to be fixed, he was fine.

Tom twirled a wrench and bent down and placed an ear to the warm metal of the grav coil casing.  Ah the stories this one told and the ones that would be.  He ran a calloused hand across the surface, lifted his head and blew her a kiss, “Let’s see what ‘sly hands’ McMillan can do for you today”, he said with a small grin.  He began to open up a engine panel to get at her privates but was interrupted by at first a screeched over the radio.  Tom shook his head and pressed the button on the radio with anger, “Mi Tian Gohn”.   He continued, “Joe, she’ll be runnin’ hot when you get here”, he responded and released the button.

He quickly stepped towards the intercom on the wall, leaned in with vigor and started to talk.  “Mark, get ‘er sparked up and get ‘er runnin’.  The boss says we got trouble coming, something fierce or they wouldn’t have radio’d in.  She should be ready to fly.  Who knows what happened down there.  Hell nothing ever goes smooth, eh”.

"It's okay," Mark's voice came over the internal comm system. "I think we can run faster once we get off the ground." He paused. "If we get off the ground in time. I am going to have to cut short a lot of the pre-flight bootup sequence. If I can't get the ship good in a few minutes then today is going suck if something goes wonky."

“I’m heading down to the cargo bay now to greet what trouble be comin’ our way.  Who knows might ev’n get a few shots off”, he laughed.  Tom left the engine room in a hurry, destination rear cargo bay.  On his way he pulled out his trusted pistol, one that never let him down.

"Gotcha," Mark said absently. "Don't have too much fu.." He paused and then there was a bang metallic bang over the intercom system. "Oh come on you don't even need that to take off you gorram piece of-"

The comm cut short and Tom was left in silence as he started moving. Tom shook his head, as he ran for the stairs.  “Yelling at her won’t get her on your good side.  Bie woo lohng, it will only cause her to respond in a bad way”.   Tom crossed his fingers and made a mental note about Mark at that moment.  Mark probably had a rough hand for the woman.  Some like that type of man, but all eventually get hurt by them.   Tom was pretty good at placing a man and his ways but every now and then he got it wrong.  Only time would tell about Mark.

He hit the stairs put his feet up on the hand rails and slid down to the cargo bay.  This was possible because his hands had a good amount of grease on them.   He vaulted of the stairs and ran aft towards the stern.  His run ended with a slap as his hand came into contact with the cargo bay door lever.   Screeching metal upon metal started as the piston driven metal bars started to unlock.   Steam dripped down the sides of the cargo bay door followed quickly by a loud sucking sound as the cargo bay door began to open.  The staleness of the second cargo bay’s air was quickly replaced by the fresh air from outside.   Tom’s eyes squinted as the bright light started to filter in.  Inside the ship it was lit but it was artificial and held nothing to the rays of a sun.

With his pistol in hand and his heart pounding in his chest Tom squatted down and to the side of the cargo bay door.  One had to have a little cover just in case bullets or what not began to fly towards the ship.  Now the hard part, he waited most impatiently.

The two hour mark had long since gone when the doors suddenly opened and people started to file out. Captain Harris looked at the larger man amongst them and noted Mr. Lightener shaking a few hands with a big smile on his face. Harris couldn't tell if the smile was genuine, or if it was just Mr. Lightener playing to the crowd. But Harris could feel his mind trying to will Lightener to move away.

"Okay," The Captain said under his breath putting words to Mr. Lightener's actions and wordless lip movements. "Nice to meet you, great party, loved the champaign, but I have to go." Then Mr. Lightener turned and shook someone else's hand. Harris grunted and face palmed himself and turned away. A tad big louder he said. "This is going to make me go crazy."

Ives smiled grimly. "You know what good byes are like. Takes so long you wished you never came."

Harris chuckled at that and nodded.  He looked up as Lightener finally moved away from the others and started towards the Captain and Ives. He genuinely looked pleased with himself as he moved closer.

"That was a good bit of work," Mr. Lightener nodded as he reached the two.

"A good bit of work that included the governors of at least 3 border worlds," Captain Harris frowned. "And I am assuming Blue Sun representatives. Something you completely failed to tell us about."

"That was secret and on a need to know." Mr Lightener's tone sounded dangerous. "What of it?"

"Your secret changes matters completely." Harris tried to usher him to move faster. "We need to leave now."

Brochard had been trying to spot potential attackers, the streets weren't too busy but there were some people strolling about and looking like they belong there. All different shapes and sizes, he tried to link together anyone with corresponding bits of clothing, or a particular walk or anything at all - but there wasn't anything. If there were anyone out there ready to pounce on them, then they were really good at disguising - wait.. "Hello what is this.." He grumbled under his breath and looked over towards the two windows at the office space across from the street. There was one man just sitting by the window at a desk, looking like he was just talking on a cortex link. This picture looked like a the guy from the window three rooms to the right in the same building, who too was on a cortex link, but facing towards the meeting place and almost transfixed on it.

He decided to head to the mule to figure this out, in the mule he had left his pair of old spotter's glasses - otherwise known as binoculars by most. As he reached the mule he could hear in the background the profound voice of Mr. "not so" Lightener.

"Your paranoid ramblings are not amusing." Lightener said darkly as the Captain threw open the front doors of the complex and looked out the front trying to get his eyes to adjust to the difference in lighting. His eyes were still trying to adjust to the difference when he saw a glint above and slightly to the right.

From Behind Ives spoke. Ives wanted out and he wanted out quickly, so he followed close on the Captains heels. It probably wasn't reassuring that there didn't seem to be anyone following on close behind. "It isn't Paranoia. Its our job to get you out of here alive."

Joseph decided to pick up Isabelle's assault rifle at this point and didn't care who saw it at this point. The vibes were strange and - crap! he forgot! His wide grey eyes darted to the windows. GONE! They were both gone! He turned to yell out a warning but exploding building parts seemed to have a tendency to make it so people can't hear you.

Lightener's mouth kept moving but Harris didn't hear anything that was coming out. Time seemed to slow down slightly as the adrenaline kicked in and he hoped that he was going to make it in time. The Captain turned slightly to the right and pushed Mr. Lightener as hard as he could. From somewhere close there was a whoosh, and he dove to the left trying to take Ives with him to the sidewalk. The explosion was deafening as flames and debris shot out the front doors of the building. The detonation of the missile being fired at the opening and detonating on the inside, blew chunks out of the front of the building with the concussion alone.

Isabella barely had time to register what was going on. One second the captain and Mr. Lightener were coming out, the next the Captain pushed the larger man out of the way and dove in the other direction. On instinct she dove as well but part of the concussive blast hit her in a wave. The air fled her lungs and her lungs ached as she tried to remember how to breathe. Her right hand went down to the pistol off of training and years of repetitive action alone. As air filled her lungs in blessed sweetness she pointed the pistol in the general direction of 3 blurry figures down the street and started emptying her clip in their general vicinity.
His overcoat opened and his AR-91 assault rifle became brandished as he slung Isabelle's over his left shoulder. The AR-91's butt stock folded out with a pop, and the first round was racked into the chamber as he switched to burst mode.

He began to side step towards the others - firing the first three round burst towards the top of the restaurant next to the office building, where it seemed the rocket had come from. He didn't need to kill the man out right, just get him to duck his head and reconsider his life choices up to this point.

Now he maneuvered, shifting aim to the first office building window and emptying a three round burst into it as he bent beside Ives and offered him his revolver. "Eight shots!" he said as he emptied another burst into the first window and then two more bursts into the second window.

"Isabelle! Weapon!" He said as he pulled Isabelle's rifle off his shoulder and tossed it to her. It would only have the one magazine already nestled with in it, but she could easily resupply once they got to the hover mule.

Ives nodded as his ears rang and he gasped for breath. "Thank you, Lord!" he breathed as he looked around and got his bearings. That blast had been too close for comfort. Another one he owed the Captain. Luckily Joseph was keeping the hostiles engaged. Staggering onto his feet, Ives moved slowly and then stumblingly fast towards Lightner and the mule. "Lets get him out of here!" he yelled over to Joseph. When another gunman fired, Ives didn't think about it but fired off two shots from the revolver. It probably wasn't of much use at this range, but it might distract him sufficiently to allow Joseph to get the Captain and their Guest into the Mule. Keep his head down anyway. Things were getting crowded around here, Ives thought. He gave thanks to the all high that he'd thought of packing that pipe of his as he pulled it out of his pocket. The lighter didn't need anything more than a whiff of flame to ignite the fuel inside it and it was the work of seconds before a thick plume of dense white smoke started pouring from the pipe, helping to obscure the still prone men.

Brochard tried his best to move towards the other two prone men, getting ready to hoist the captain to his feet before a round from the south, fired by a gunman by a wheeled vehicle in front of an empty building, slammed into the back of his plate vest.

Joseph cursed out right as he spun to the ground, landing on his hind end with a thump. Letting out a slur of curses that would make a pirate blush - he rolled to his side and rose up to one knee. He then turned to Mr. Lightener as he offered the hefty man an arm. "Sir! We need to go, now. I'm tired of being shot at!" He said as he emptied the eight or nine remaining rounds towards the two men who had just shot at him.