Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!
The idea for this sprung up at the Fanfest charity dinner where the New Eden ales were for sale.
Brew Eden - Amarr vs Matari
As he approached his bosses desk he saw the elderly Matari man look up and regard him warmly. Babanulf sat down in the leather chair opposite.
"You wanted to see me?"
"Yes Babanulf. I know this breaks protocol, but we need you to create a completely new beer for a special occasion'"
Babanulf's expression soured instantly.
"You know I can't do that." he growled.
Enaef stopped himself rolling his eyes. He knew exactly where this was going. His Master Brewer was a bit of a diva.
"The spirit guides come to ME." Babanulf continued "They guide me in making any new ale. I cannot go to them."
Enaef sighed. He'd expected this.
"Well thats a shame as Folvik will be asked if you turn it down."
Babanulf roared with laughter at the name of his so-called competition. The Master Brewer in a rival company was well known as a poor second place within the Republic.
"Folvik? I can piss in a pint pot and make a better drink than he can brew" Babanulf laughed.
"Yes. We all agree." Enaef said solemnly "Which is why its going to be tragic when we lose to Adaz Afon"
There was a loud crash as Babanulf leaped up from his chair sending it crashing to the floor. He leaned over his bosses desk with his trembling arms bracing his torso.
"Its for an ale brewing competition. You know the annual capsuleer conference in Yulia system? Well CONCORD have asked each government to send a new beer for the conference delegates. The Republic wanted you to create our entry as they cannot let the Amarr beat us in this. But if Folvik is creating the Matari entry, then I fear all is lost."
Babanulf spun around and stomped towards the exit.
"Where are you going?" Enaef asked.
"To kick the spirit guides up the fracking arse and make a new brew to drown that Amarr scum in." he huffed slamming the door behind him.
Enaef leaned back in his chair.
"Op success" he smiled to himself.
Adaz Afon was stood by a long table, resplendent in his golden robes. At his feet a young Matari man lay still, his face a bloodied pulp.
“Glory to the Empress and the Empire Master Adaz.” The Acolyte said. There was no reply.
Adaz took a sip from a pewter tankard. He spit the liquid onto the body by his feet in disgust. He flung the tankard with all his might against the prone mans head. The beaten slave hardly moved. Adaz then kicked him hard in the ribs.
“Fools! I am working with fools!” Adaz cried. They cannot do the most simplest of tasks. I need better sub-humans than what the Empire is providing. I cannot work like this.”
“Of course Master. I will request new slaves with brewing experience at once from High Command.”
“No! You will do no such thing. I need slaves who haven’t been tainted by their heathen brewing practices. That is why we are getting this hybrid-Matari slop!” he emphasized his point by kicking the prone Matari twice more.
“If the Empyrean's prefer the sub-human's brew we are all doomed. I doubt the Empress will even bother sending soldiers. A Revelation class dreadnought will probably be enough to purge our sins with cleansing light.”
Malaka swallowed hard. He knew his Master was right. To lose a CONCORD organized competition to the Matari Republic would be devastating to the Empire. Losing against the Caldari or Gallente would be shameful but unlikely to get their monastery nuked by orbital laser fire. They had three months to produce a brand new ale in quantity and ship it to the CONCORD HQ station. So far all the initial new beers had not been up to standard.
“We cannot take any chances. Send word to the Cleansing Department. I need to talk to their Master.”
Malaka nodded and left to relay the message. He didn't dare question why the Master Brewer would need to talk to the head of the Cleansing Department. The name was some what misleading. They didn't clean the monastery. They trained people to clean things up. Things such as enemies of the state. What did a brewer want with an assassin?
Babanulf walked around the grand hall with a massive smile on his face. He'd done it. With a whole month to spare he'd created a spectacular new ale. The Matari Rust Rinse, and it was good. The party that was being thrown in his honor but it didn't have any of the special ale. It was too guarded a secret to let anyone have access to it. It was to be the ale that beat the Amarr and nothing could stop that. The tables were full of his past successful brews.
"Master Brewer Babanulf?" the feminine voice behind him asked. He turned around to be confronted by one of the most beautiful Matari women he'd ever seen. She was a Sebiestor, somewhere in her mid-20's. He tried to look her in the eye, but the revealing outfit and shapely body meant he couldn't help looking her up and down.
"Guvera." she replied holding out her hand. He took it and shook it gently marveling at how soft her skin was.
"I know everyone on the guest list, I don't know you." he said.
"I have a confession" she replied biting her bottom lip "I gatecrashed. I'm from a major Matari beverage distributor and was hoping to talk to you about an exclusivity contract for Matari Rust Rinse after the Yulia convention."
Babanulf silently cursed his colleagues. Could they keep nothing confidential? He was the Master Brewer and didn't deal with sales. However he had to keep this beautiful creature talking.
"Is there somewhere we can talk privately?" she purred as if reading his mind.
Babanulf smiled, slipped a hand around her waist and led her to a side door.
Adaz approached the long wooden table. Half a dozen Matari slaves were busy preparing ingredients with old style scales and silver measuring spoons. At the head of the table were three tankards full of ale. None of the slaves dare look up as the Amarrian approached. He picked up the first tankard and took a sip. He swilled the amber liquid around in his mouth before spitting it out into a bucket. He did the same with the second and third tankard. Even if any of the slaves had dared to look at him, his expression would have told them nothing.
Slowly Adaz circled the table slowly. He sensed each slave tense as he passed them. He could feel their fear in the air. He finally stopped behind a young Matari woman who was carefully measuring out portions of yeast. He watched her trembling hand. Yeast fell from the spoon as she shook.
"I fear our brews are too yeasty. Would that be your doing?" Adaz said in an even tone. The young woman shook even more, the spoon emptying of yeast before it got near the scales.
He stroked the back of her head with his hand like a father would. She froze.
"My dear. You need to be more careful with the yeast. It is critical that the portions are right."
With that he grabbed a fistful of hair and slammed her head down onto the table. There was a pained yelp and a sickening crunch. He pulled her head back up. Several slaves gasped as they saw her broken face, blood streamed from her exploded nose.
Adaz smiled and slammed her head into the table again.
"THERE WAS TOO MUCH YEAST!" he screamed. He was now repeatably slamming the poor slaves face into the heavy wooden table. "HOW AM I EXPECTED TO WIN WITH YOU SUB-HUMANS MESSING UP CONSTANTLY."
He continued for a full minute. Finally he held the young woman up by the hair. She was barely alive and her face was now a bloody pulp.
"Let this be a lesson to all of you. I will not accepted mistakes!"
A scrape of a chair being pushed back sounded... followed by another, and another and another.
The gorgeous distributor pulled back from the kiss into a sitting position on top of the Master Brewer. Babanulf smiled as she pulled her blouse over her head. So what if he had no say on sales. She wouldn't know that until weeks down the line. Yet he still would have had a stunningly beautiful woman half his age. So what if he led her on? He hadn't technically lied to her. If she made assumptions that he influenced commercial decisions at the brewery that was her fault not his.
She leaned back, still on top of him and unzipped the side of one of her black knee high boots.
"You can leave those on" he chuckled.
"I just need to unzip them" she purred.
"So I can reach my knife." she replied with a smile before suddenly driving a dagger at his chest.
Babanuif only just managed to get a hand up in time. He deflected the blow but only slightly. The dagger sunk into his chest alongside his nipple. He'd done enough and the knife had missed his heart. He instinctively punched forward, his immense fist connecting with her jaw. There was a snap and she flew backwards onto the floor.
Malaka entered the room. The imposing figure stood there with his back to him. He cleared his throat to let the man know he was there.
"Acolyte Malaka?" his voice boomed.
"Yes Inquisitor. I am here to serve in the Glory of her Empress and the Amarrian Empire."
"Was it usual for Adaz Afonto be alone with groups of slaves?" the Inquisitor asked, still facing away from him towards the brewing tanks.
"Yes it was. It was unthinkable that a slave would do anything against the Master. The thought one might raise a finger against him was... unthinkable."
"All the culprits and witnesses escaped?"
"Yes Inquisitor. Only the two bodies were found here. The others had fled."
"This was where the dead slave was found?" the inquisitor pointed to a spot on the large wooden table. A large black stain remained where Adaz had pummeled the woman's head into the wooden surface.
The Inquisitor finally moved, walking forward to one of the huge brass brewing tanks.
"And the Master was found... in here?"
"Yes. Our medical staff believe the other slaves over-powered him and drowned him slowly in his own beer."
"And yet I hear someone tried the beer before he was found?"
"Yes Inquisitor. Our lord truly works in mysterious ways. We believe the Masters thrashing oxygenated the excess yeast and balanced it out creating a rather spectacular brew."
The Inquisitor just nodded.
"If the ale wins the prize, then you will be very right. Our lord does work in mysterious ways."
The brewery owner stood over the hospital bed. Babanuif lay unconscious, a deathly shade of grey. Most of his hair had fallen out and his whole body shook. A sheen of perspiration covered his body.
"There is nothing you can do?" he asked the doctor standing beside him.
"No sir. The blade was made of a plutonium isotope alloy. The weapon was covered in break-away micro teeth that were designed to break off during a stab and infect the victim. This was no ordinary knife. This was an assassins weapons designed to kill with even a minor wound. It won't be long now."
Enaef muttered a silent Matari prayer for the dying.
"And the woman?"
"We'll probably never know sir. She was a clone and had a prototype Templar implant. She was never intending to get out alive. We suspect she wasn't even Matari. Could be any race, a conscious implanted into a body designed to seduce our Master Brewer. We believe she attacked first and Babanuif got a lucky punch off. He snapped her neck in one blow. However, she had still stabbed him first. Her mission was complete."
Enaef pondered who would do such a thing. He didn't need to ponder long. It would be a few days before he got word that his prime suspect had also died the same day, slowly drowned in vat of Golden Fleet Lager.