Friday, July 3, 2015

Insidious - Part 1

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here.

I have an idea! I don't know if it'll work but between man-flu and being the filling between in a two large SUV's sandwich (when the one behind me didn't want to stop at the red light) I've got nothing else. This is likely to be a multi-parter into August.

Insidious - Part 1

Marerlur huddled in the dark, dank cargo hold holding his wife and daughter close. Others were near. Fellow refugees from the war on Hrondmund III. The two major tribes had been fighting for years and hostilities had intensified recently. A game of almost one-up-manship of atrocities had started a few months ago. An Inferno surface to surface missile had been mis-targeted and struck a school. The images of burning children had enraged the other side who started to target civilian areas in retaliation. The other side then did the same. The Republic Government and Sisters of Eve had tried to broker peace but the planet had slid further and further into the dark. The leadership of both sides were wanted for war crimes but they didn't care. Their only priority was to destroy the other.

Where there is desperation, there are men looking to profit. Although far from their normal operating area, the Serpentis Syndicate had dispatched several convoys to the system. As well as transporting a large shipment of the narcotic known as 'Crash' they were offering passage to the Federation for a small fortune. With the levels of atrocities committed by both sides in the war, there were no shortage of people willing to hand over their life savings to save their families and escape the horror.

Marerlur was thankful he was prepared. A respected lawyer with an interest in geopolitical science he saw the war coming long before the first skirmishes started. In a small safe at home he had kept a portion of their savings in gold and valuable gemstones. His wife was a cloning doctor so they were very comfortable and were able to keep tidy sum for emergencies. A few days ago their daughter Deiked was sick. During that day an off-course attack drone had crashed into her school and spilled its payload of razor beetles. These lab-grown weaponised beetles were half a meter long and very aggressive, attacking without provocation. Their pincers could snap through 5cm tritanium bars. Human limbs were twigs in comparison. 30 children died that day and many times that number were crippled or mutilated. When Marerlur got word there were some pirates with shuttles on the outskirts of town offering passage to Federation space they had fled.

The shuttles had landed in a sports field on the outskirts of the town. A ring of armed pirates kept people away from the ships. Large Ishukone assault rifles pointed at the crowd. The bodies of several who had ignored warnings lay on the ground between the guards and the desperate populace. Most now kept a respectable distance waving hands full of cash from afar. As Marerlur expected the pirates didn't care for local credits from a war torn backwater planet. An older smartly dressed man walked past inspecting what people were offering. When he glanced inside the bag Marerlur opened for him he smiled and told his two guards to allow the family to board one of the shuttles. That was three days ago. They'd been huddled in this corner of a cargo bay of a Iterion class industrial since then. It was cold, it stank, it was dark. However they were on their way to a new life.

The ship rocked. There were murmurs of concern from the families in the hold. This was followed by a violent shudder and the dim lights of the cargo hold flickered. Raised voices could be heard. Marerlur looked up and saw some of the guards in the catwalks above running for the exits. He heard raised voices but could only make out a few words above the screams and shouts of panic around him.


People were stood now. The guards who were keeping them in the corner of the cargo hold away from the freight containers were gone. Marerlur rushed to the door. It was sealed. The ship rocked again and the main lights went out. Screams of panic echoed around the cargo hold in the pitch darkness. The red glow of the emergency lighting activating did little to calm people. He grabbed his wife and daughter and ran to the stacked containers. They had been told anyone approach those containers would be shot with no warning. With no guards left and a ship clearly under attack Marerlur didn't care. He opened the first container. They were each about 2m long and 1m square. Typical small goods containers designed to be handled by two people. The container was filled with potatoes. As a lawyer Marerlur knew full well the Serpentis Syndicate had not gone into fruit and vegetable sales. He pulled some out and found bags of white power beneath. Crash! He tipped the container so it spilled its cargo and righted it. He picked up his young daughter who started to protest.

"What are you doing?" his wife Toldori cried.

"There containers are tough. Designed to survive. We cannot get to the escape pods with the doors sealed. These are our only hope." he said closing the lid on his protesting daughter.

He emptied another. "Get in!" he said to his wife.

"I'm not leaving you!" she protested.

"I'll be in the next one. Now get in!" he said forcefully as the ship shook.

She begrudgingly lay down in the cargo container. Her husbands face appeared above her.

"I love you!" he said. Before she could say it back there was a huge explosion and a roar of rushing air. Marerlur struggled to stay on his feet, gripping the lid of the container his wife was laying in.

"No!" Toldori screamed as Marerlur pressed down to close the lid. He smiled at her as the container lid mechanics took over slowly closing the lid. She saw him take to the air, blown away by the escaping atmosphere just before the lid closed.

It was pitch black in the cargo crate. There was then a deafening rumble and she felt the container accelerate.


Agent Yverens reviewed the Raven class battleship's logs. The original intelligence was right. A Serpentis convoy carrying a large shipment of Crash was exactly where it was supposed to be. Dozens of pirate ships had been destroyed including the four transport ships carrying the contraband. Unfortunately things hadn't gone exactly according to plan.

"A smartbomb? You equipped a smartbomb and activated it on a mission that required you to retrieve the contraband intact!"

The small hologram of the capsuleers isomorph stood in the projector field. He said nothing. His arms crossed defiantly.

"The contract was specific. The shipment of Crash needed to be recovered. You got barely a tenth of what we were expecting. Now we have no idea if it was on those ships and destroyed or if it wasn't and its still out there!"

A smartbomb was a capsuleer weapon that radiated a damaging pulse from their ship. Short-range and indiscriminate. Anyone or anything near took damage no matter whose side you were on.

"Sorry but as per the contract we cannot offer you a reward. We needed to know how much Crash was on those ships. I would suggest you remove that smartbomb and use more precision weaponry next time."

The hologram vanished without a word. Yverens wasn't too worried about upsetting a Capsuleer. They needed him as much as he needed them.

"Idiot newbie" Yverens muttered and looked at the report again. Apparently two of the smuggled containers that were recovered by the egger shockingly contained people. The first one had the body of a teenage girl. She was around the same age as his own daughter. The shock-wave of the smartbomb had caused a small fracture in the container. The atmosphere had leaked out and killed her. The other was that of a middle-aged woman. The report assumed it was the girl's mother. Her container had been struck too but had remained intact. The plasma blast had heated the container had given her serious burns to fifty percent of her body but she had survived. The Sisters of Eve were looking after her now. The report detailed that as well as the drugs, the pirates apparently were smuggling Matari refugees. As they were locked in the cargo hold during the attack they couldn't get to the escape pods. They all perished in the attack. The bodies of over 300 Matari had been recovered by the Sisters rescue ships.

"So much for the fucking intelligence." Yverens growled angered by the needless loss of life. There was no way he'd have ordered the ambush if he'd known that they were trafficking people as well as the drugs.

He shook his head. So much death. So much destruction. He fired a quick message off to the security section who had tipped them off, blasting them for not knowing there would be refugees on-board. 

Four more years and he'd be out. He would have his 20 years service and given that capsuleer agents were paid so well he could almost retire before his 45th birthday. 

To be continued, four years later....

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