Friday Fiction. Escape pod here!
The Delivery Boy - Part 5
An alarm sounded bringing him back to the present as the massive stargate flashed, signaling an incoming ship. The alarm meant that a Caldari Militia pilot had just entered Federation space. Authorisation to engage came through immediately. He increased his speed and widened his orbit around the stargate. The target would decloak any second and the chances are it would run. The Navy was too numerous for a single capsuleer of the independent militias to hold out against for long. They could resist for a while, especially in a 0.5 system like this if they were in a battleship. However eventually they would get worn down. A red icon flashed and Moolis cursed, placing the safeties back on his weapons. The enemy capsuleer was in their pod and rules of engagement strictly forbid him from attacking a capsule. He watched the olive-green capsule slip into warp.
He reported the sighting to command but he knew they couldn't do anything about it. The Yulia convention allowed all capsuleers to dock at all station in hi-sec. Even if they were enemies of the state. On the capsuleer decks it was always neutral territory. A stupid rule when in low-sec they could lock them out if they wanted. He throttled back and resumed his patrol dreaming of piloting a Thorax class cruiser.
Ylle gripped Jullynes hand tightly, almost cutting off circulation. They had arrived at the station in Villore to be greeted by a representative of Cromeaux Inc. He had escorted them straight to the labs and the procedure was underway. The representative had explained it was very similar to the skill extractors used by capsuleers. After all, skills were just a type of memory. They would locate the memory and download it from Ylle's brain and digitise it. Then it would be given to them on a small memory core. If in the future, if she wanted it back, it could be uploaded back to her brain again. She could also chose to show the digital recording of the memory on any holoreel player. The representative also stated that the memory core also came with a small EMP charge holder. If she wanted she could connect the two and press a button on the charge device which would fry the memory core beyond repair, destroying the memory for ever. Everyone who wanted a memory removing and digitising did it for a different reason he had told them, however the choice of what to do with the physical manifestation of that memory was her choice.
"I don't remember it!" she gasped opening her eyes. "I know I saw my father get shot. I know I saw it. But I cannot remember the actual event!"
A nurse silently removed the neural-scanning headset before asking her a few simple questions to ensure there had been no side effects. Within 20 minutes the company representative came into the room with a small wooden box and presented it to Ylle before quietly leaving the room.
"So what now?" Ylle asked looking at the contents of the box.
"We need to gain control over both those bent cops and the Serps. I have an idea. Come on, we need to go clubbing!"
Lieutenant Carvaire bounded down the steps of the boarding ramp of the Federation Navy Comet two at a time. He was now out of his jurisdiction and completely alone. His Captain back on Caldari Prime knew where he was but as far as anyone else knew, he was undercover. It was clear they couldn't trust any of the others. He needed that girl dead before the Serpentis caught up with them.
He patted the polymer gun in his pocket. A very expensive piece that was invisible to any of the stations weapon scanners. He'd not be able to get into a high-value area such as the command bridge or the capsuleer decks, the scanners there were much more sophisticated. However, the basic station security in the public areas would be not detect the high-tech stealth weapon.
He'd been able to trace them to the Villore system after the facial scans back in Luminaire identified them getting on a shuttle. After the initial sweep didn't find them they had to go through the recordings and that took far too long. However in the end they'd found them. He'd followed them here now had a better idea where they were. He looked at his datapad and brought up the message again. The anonymous message had revealed things about the runaways route that only someone who knew where they were could know. This mysterious person was being a great help. However there was a nagging suspicion it could be a trap. May be Reuvo leading him into a trap?
He looked at the address one more time and walked briskly to the station transit system.
"What are you doing?" Ylle yelled to Jullynes over the loud thumping music. He didn't respond, just kept typing away on the neon green terminal. The memory core attached to the device with a wire that glowed under the black lights.
She looked around. The club was huge and dark. All around them were computer terminals which had a variety of people around them. The dancefloors were packed and the strangely dressed podium dancers moved to the sound of the music. She stood out like a sore thumb in her jeans and t-shirt. All around them were tech-heads, cyber-goths and data-punks. A nightclub for the hackers and jackers of the station. She saw one girl wander up to a terminal. She had bright blue hair, spiked in long prongs and held in place by what must have been an entire can of hairspray. Her clothing was black and mostly mesh or netting. However Ylle couldn't see any exposed skin through the numerous layers. Her skin was bright white. Ylle wondered if she'd ever felt the sun on her face. The girl pulled a wire from her bag and connected it to the terminal, she then reached around and plugged the other end into a port at the back of her neck. Ylle watched in fascination as the girls eyes rolled up into the top of her head. She was jacked in now doing god-knows-what.
"Right, we're done!" Jullynes said into her ear making her jump. He disconnected the memory core and slipped it back into its box. Then he packed away his datapad and glanced nervously around. Once he was happy they were not being watched he handed her the wooden box containing the memory cell from Cromeaux Inc.
"What did you do?" she shouted back as he led her by the hand through the crowded dancefloor.
"Got us some insurance!" was his brief reply.
They exiting the club onto a quiet promenade. It was late and most people on the station were asleep.
"What now?" Ylle asked as Jullynes looked both ways down the station street.
There was a buzz and Ylle span around just in time to see Jullynes fall to the floor.
Before she could take another step she heard another buzz and every nerve in her body felt a it was on fire. Then there was blackness.
The two big men behind them placed their stun batons away and picked them up, carrying them to a waiting vehicle.
Carvaire was sat in the bar as instructed. He looked at the image on the datapad. It was Ylle and Jullynes from a security camera. There was just enough on the picture to show they were on this station but not enough to identify the actual location. It was a teaser, to show him the person sending the messages had eyes on the kids. He'd gone through all the possibilities and finally concluded that it must be a crooked member of the Serpentis. They would offer to give him the information he needed in exchange for a large sum of cash. He'd pay, he would have to. If that girl ever got to tell her story his whole world would collapse. If Reuvo got her, he'd be nothing more than her slave.
He glanced around wondering if the contact was already here. A few couples and groups were sat in the booths either having a quiet drink or celebrating something after work. The singles were mostly men. All of them looked like they were on business he guessed, but still any one of them could be the contact. None of them seemed interested in him. He was a veteran of hundreds of stake-outs, he was sure he'd be able to spot some inexperienced Serp. He took another swig of the beer. Golden Fleet ale was not common in the Federation. Trade restrictions with the Amaar meant it was generally only found in the border regions. However this bar had managed to get some. It wasn't cheap but it made a nice change. A second bottle was placed in front of him. He looked at the barman questioningly. The barman nodded over to a booth. Carvaire turned to see a woman drinking alone. He'd seen her before but had discounted her assuming she was meeting someone special. She was Caldari, extremely attractive and wearing an expensive looking outfit. The heels she wore were bright red and designer. They probably cost more than he made a month from his official police salary. Could she be the contact? Could she be just interested in him? He told himself to be sensible. He was the wrong side of 40 and hardly described as a catch. Why would a hot 20-something woman buy him a drink? She was either working, or was the contact. He slid off his barstool and walked over.
"Take a seat lieutenant." she said as he approached. The contact then.
"You don't look like a Serp to me." he said sliding into the booth.
"May be I'm not. Don't make too many assumptions lieutenant, you might head off in the wrong direction."
"So, what do you want?" he asked.
"Nothing. Lets just say I'm keen to maintain the status quo back on C-Prime. It helps nobody if the Feds come charging in and arrest you and your precinct. The kids are holed up currently, somewhere you cannot get them but they will be moving tomorrow. I will let you know when and where. For tonight you need to go back to your hotel room and wait for my signal.
The Lieutenant eyed her suspiciously. This could be a trap. She could be working for the Serps and trying to stall him. She could even be a Fed from AI getting him to walk straight into a sting operation.
"Why should I trust you?" he asked sitting back.
"You have no reason to and any reason I give you might give could be a lie so I cannot prove anything to you. Neither would I as I'm putting myself in enough danger talking to you. Reuvo does not know you are here, yet. If I wanted you out of the way it would be a simple call. You're deep in their territory now Lieutenant, on the very edge of Empire control. There is no back up, no help here. If they wanted you out of the way they'd simply walk in here, take you and flush you out of the airlock. Nobody would say they saw anything. The cameras would be blank. You think the Serps have influence on C-Prime? Its nothing compared to here on the edge of civilisation."
Carvaire nodded and sipped his beer. She was right, if it was a Serp trap it was too elaborate. She still could be a fed.
"So you want me to go back to my room and expect me to sit there pulling my plonker until you call?"
The woman gave a seductive smile.
"Oh Lieutenant, it won't be so bad." he jumped as he felt a stocking-clad foot stroke his calf under the table. "Tomorrow is only 45 minutes away. They may move early." the foot reached his thigh and slid between his legs. "Plus I'm sure you can entertain yourself for a while." she purred as the foot reached his hardness and massaged him. He dropped a hand and stroked the expensive silk clad leg.
"OK, I'll wait for your call but if I get nothing by noon station time I'm on the hunt again."
The woman nodded and he felt disappointment as the foot retreated.
"I'll call, don't you worry." she said picking up her bag and sliding from the booth. She'd slipped her heel back on discreetly under the table. She approached his side of the table and stooped down. He couldn't help resisting a quick glance down the front of her dress.
"I guess you'll need a few minutes to calm down before you can stand. Until tomorrow then. Enjoy pulling your plonker." she whispered and taking his chin in her hand kissed him. A hot, wet tongue slid into his mouth tasting him before she withdrew.
"Night." she said with a wink and was gone.
Carvaire leaned back in the booth and smiled. His lips tingling.
Reuvo sat behind a wooden desk, a luxury item on station in space. A huge window looked out onto the Gallente nebula.
Ylle and Jullynes were bundled into the office by the two henchmen. She appraised them both, not much more than college kids. This should be easy.
"Welcome to my club." she stated raising from her chair and walking over. She took the wooden box from one of her men and opened it.
"I assume this is what I wanted. Interesting plan to remove the memory." she said inspecting the contents. "Be a lot easier to keep track of this than you two. Vreau, take the girl to the pleasure hub outpost. I think we can start at 200 an hour for her. Fit the boy with a Glave Collar and see if the tech-section can use him. If he gives any trouble flush him out of an airlock!" she said casually turning and walking back to her desk.
"Yeah... that's not going to work out well for you." Jullynes replied. Reuvo stopped and turned.
"Oh and why not?" she asked with a smirk.
"I placed a copy of the recording on the GalNet. I wrote a program to encrypt it so nobody can see it, but it cycles. Unless I stop it once every 72 hours it'll decode and broadcast. Anyone in the cluster will be able to see it! If you let us go I'll give you access when we're clear of Serpentis areas."
The woman in red turned smiled at Jullynes. "Ah, the hero continues to geek it up! I thought something like this would happen. I could threaten you but I think you'd take it for your new girlfriend here?"
Jullynes didn't reply. He simply stood silently. Defiant.
Reuvo turned and nodded to one of her men. He quickly left the room through a side door returning a moment later dragging Awel. Her hands were bandaged heavily and her clothing ripped and torn.
"Mom!" Jullynes cried out.
"We grabbed her from the Police. You can see they hadn't been kind to her. We'll be a lot, lot worse unless...." she was interrupted as another of her men entered the room almost jogging. She scowled at the interruption. He went over and whispered something in her ear. She span around and slapped him across the face. The big man looked stunned.
"Idiot! Does it look like I'm interested that some random wants to see me?" she shrieked.
"But, boss. She knew your name, that we have those three here and just waltzed up to the club through all the security. She said she wanted to see you all together or else."
Reuvo's rage subsided against the man and worry crept in. If a stranger knew they were all together there was a problem.
"Show her in." she said calmly.
The man disappeared and a minute later a woman walked in. Reuvo appraised her. She was beautiful. Probably early 20's. Expensive clothing. Certainly not a cop. Caldari looking with long black hair.
"And you are?" Reuvo asked with a raised eyebrow.
"That's really not important. I am here to tell you in person that you are going to release all three of your prisoners to me. Otherwise I will kill you all." she stated casually.
Reuvo burst into laughter.
"Oh right. Actually I have a better idea. Vreau waste this bitch."
The man pulled out his gun and aimed at the new arrival. The man paused, amazed that the woman in his sights didn't appear in the least bit concerned.
"That would be a massive mistake." she said amazingly calmly. "If he pulls that trigger you are all fracked."
"Oh, so you say. Vreau do it!"
The report of the gun was deafening in the enclosed room. The woman was blown off her feet, a gaping hole in her chest. Her body slammed into the wall and left a red streak as it slid down. Ylle shrieked.
"Check if she was wearing a wire. She must have been a cop!" Reuvo ordered as she turned her attention back to Jullynes. "As you can see we deal with...."
She was interrupted as Vreau screamed like a hurt cat and jumped back from the body.
"What?" Reuvo snapped now really annoyed. He was pointing at the body, his finger trembling.
"She's.... she's.... she's..."
"WHAT? Wearing a wire? A cop?"
"A capsuleer! I just killed a capsuleer." he stammered.
"You cannot kill capsuleers, eggers are immortal." another of the men said.
"Not outside their pod they are not idiot! The capsule makes them immortal, outside it they can be killed."
The mood in the room was suddenly oppressive.
"Don't be ridiculous. She cannot be a capsuleer!" Reuvo said as she walked over.
She saw where Vreau had pulled open the back of her dress. The sockets up her spine were clear.
"Frack!" she shouted. "Why would a capsuleer walk in here?" She paused to think. Killing a capsuleer was a massive problem. Even with semi-control of this station they'd still be in a world of trouble.
"Why was an egger interested in you?" she barked at Ylle. She only shrugged, still in shock. Reuvo turned to Jullynes who shook his head. They both looked confused and had shown no recollection of the woman when she entered. They appeared as much in the dark as she did.
"Right, prep the ship. We'll fall back to the deadspace outpost. And someone find out who that was! Hide the body and wipe the drives here. Lets go people!"
To be concluded....