Posted - 2004.03.30 18:30:00 - [1
Edited by: Zaphod Robotnik on 30/03/2004 19:02:21
It was late evening aboard the HMS White Lightning, the pod-lights dimming within Zaphod Robotnik's capsule to simulate planetside dusk. The last of the NeoCom signals from the British Space Corporation's corporate systems had flashed across his retina and employees were logging off for the night.
Slowly, the babble on the corp channel died down, the afterimage of ID cards of employees fading to the soothing dark green/blue combination of his NeoCom interface, and as he willed it, his ship cut it's engines.
It was these moments he treasured, the quiet periods. No roar of afterburners, no cutting screech of the mining laser.
Turning his thoughts to the evemail interface, and flicking mentally through the accumulated mail, Zaphod blinked as he noted a message he had not previously spotted. The name, one Lector Mobias, was unremarkable - but the subject line was not as easily forgotten.
"Your spouse is dead"
Blinking the message open, Zaphod read quickly. Words like "accident" and "riot" swam in his head, unable to focus. The ship started to shut-down systems, believing it's occupant going to sleep, so unfocused were his thoughts. One thought, though, roused the systems again.
"Home", Zaphod muttered to the NeoComs Autopilot subroutine. The Punisher-class frigate aligned for warp.
The journey took five hours, passing through multiple stargates before the NeoCom notified Zaphod of the autopilot disengaging. Plotting a manual course for the fourth planet in the system, it was a few moments until the planetside landing protocols could be retrieved from deep-storage and initiated. The HMS White Lightning headed for the planet's only starport.
Zaphod paused only long enough to reorientate himself from leaving the confines of the navigation capsule before stalking towards the exit, declining the offered shower and dripping pod-fluid as he went.
One figure in the crowd, however, caught his eye. Looked somehow familiar. Stopping and turning towards the figure he twigged, Lector Mobias. Zaphod's willpower implant surged, providing extra adrenals as he moved towards to the cowled Amarr.
"Citizen Robotnik, I presume?", the Lector rasped.
Walking away from the starport terminus, he was led across the way to a private ground vehicle, which proceeded to speed towards the main city. Towards the cathedral that dominated the skyline.
The cathedral was near empty as Zaphod and the Lector arrived, some minor functionaries bowing to the Lector as they scurried to their own tasks. The casket was surrounded by silken, red ropes, their colour muted by the soft light of the local sun distorted by the stained glass windows. The multi-coloured hues played across the glass-topped casket, making it seem almost alive.
As the Lector stood respectfully to one side, Zaphod moved to the side of the casket, looking down at the body contained within. Her body, my love. The post-death reconstructions were tastefully done, but could not disguise the look of terror in the eyes, nor the sheer weight of physical trauma that she had undergone - hairline scars criss-crossed her face.
Falling to his knees, Zaphod wept - his cries echoing about the cathedral's high vaulted chambers.
Putting his affairs into order took mere minutes through the corporate and private NeoCom systems aboard the White Lightning. The shock of Zaphod Robotnik's resignation from the British Space Corporation sent small tremors through Galnet but was of little comment otherwise. No-one queried his reasons.
The liquidation of his corporate assets concluded, leaving himself with a small stipend and his frigate, Zaphod turned from the ships console to Lector Mobias, now his constant shadow. "Show me where... it... happened".
Mobias nodded, and stepped foward to the ships visual controls.
Posted - 2004.03.30 19:00:00 - [2
Edited by: Zaphod Robotnik on 30/03/2004 19:02:55
The holoreel showed the earth around the blackened husks of buildings was scorched in radial patterns - splash marks from hand-held plasma smartbombs. A small charnel pile of slavers smouldered nearby, the olfactory sensors producing the sickly-sweet smell of burnt flesh hanging in the air. Zaphod's face grimaced at the scene.
"The slaves.. they revolted?", he asked as he gagged on the tainted air.
"Supplied and cajoled by Minmatar extremists, yes", the Lector sneered.
"But she treated them, as per my guidelines? We didn't..." Zaphod's face hardened. "This shouldn't have happened. Wouldn't have happened if...", the Lectors hand on his arm quietened Zaphod as he disabled the holoreel.
Calling up the NeoCom interface, Zaphod read through the reports on the slave riot. The local enforcement had blamed the incident on a lack of control for the slaves - "no use of Slaver Hounds and Vitoc", the Holder "too lenient" and "too progressive". Reports from her personal staff, however, painted a different picture.
"Terrorists", he snarled.
"They are rife among us now, Citizen, the border controls less stringent then they ever were in the reign of Heideran VII", the Lector said. "Some of us, however, are making amends..."
"How?", Zaphod asked.
It was weeks later before news about Zaphod Robotnik's return to the spaceways was circulated, attached to a new "corporate" name though in truth seeming to be more a military organisation. The Loyal and Faithful of Amarr, or Pia Fidelis Amarria, were stirring.