Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Wishing you all Happy Holidays...

Hi, thank you for reading this far...
I shall be taking a break from writing for a few weeks over the festive season. So I shall wish you all happy holidays, a wonderful winter solstice, a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. 

Back in 2018! xx

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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Zoology ~ Episode Thirty

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)


Scint quietly moves from her cabin to below decks where she finds Mentor slumped on the floor of the galley. She rushes over to him and carefully props him into a sitting position against a cabinet.
'Scint? Whad happened?' Mentor's voice is slightly blurry.
'Sit still, I think you've just passed out... probably the effects of alcohol and wormhole travel...do you feel sick?'
Mentor shakes his head, he can feel a nagging pain in his gut and it occurs to him what the problem might be. 'Hungry.'
Scint nods and gets up.'Well, this is the right place for finding some food but we left my chef and all the fresh supplies in Sayonara. There might be some dry stores somewhere in here. Don't get up. I'll see what I can find.'
Mentor gets to his feet slowly and takes a deep breath, he still feels light headed and slightly dizzy.
'Yes, looking for that too.' Scint rummages around the small galley and finds a crate of bottled water and a box of reconstitute pouches.
'Here you are.' She hands him a bottle of water, then opens one herself, tips half of it into a pouch and takes a deep swig of the water herself. As she drinks she shakes the pouch triggering an exothermic reaction, cooking the contents within a double layer of insulate. 'You're in luck, EggsalaBread in a bag.' She hands him the pouch and Mentor sniffs the lumpy mixture inside. Hunger kicks in despite the smell of eggs and he eats the contents it in a couple of mouthfuls, rounding it off with the rest of the bottled water.
That good, huh?' Scint smiles at his haste and makes a bag for herself, trying not to gag on the sulphurous lumpy gel as she eats.
The eggs start to work and Mentor can feel the fogginess in his brain begin to clear. 'So what do we do now?'
'We wait.'
'Wait? For what?'
'I have a rescue plan in place.'
'A rescue?' Mentor tries to work out what in the Five Galaxies Scint could mean. 'How are we going to be rescued out here?'
'You'll see. We ought to go and see what Kainya is up to. Let's keep that bit of information between the two of us, yes? I'm sure you know how to be discreet. Grab a few of these.' She throws a couple of the pouches to him and takes an armful of water bottles from the crate.

Grove stares at the mesmerising patterns in the dust clouds caught in the meteor field around the planets they are approaching. The dust moves in a synchronous velocity with the meteors, orbiting in a slow decay which will eventually see them shower over the surface. As the light catches them they glitter, a halo of light around the shadowy planet. As he watches, something makes him start. He could have sworn a cloud of dust changed direction.
'Cressida, can we replay the footage from this viewscreen?'
'Yes, just scroll left.' Cressida replies, without looking up from her controls. 'Why?'
'Something's not quite right with that dust....look.' Grove replays the footage but all Cressida can see is dust and rocks. 'Not really seeing what you're trying to get at.'
'There. It changes direction. Dust does not change direction in geosynchronous orbits. Can I speak to Yumi and Harp?'
'No, radio silence from now on. Going to have to figure it out for yourself.'
From her seat behind Grove and Cressida, Truro leans forward to look. 'Looks like a sea of bees.' She had seen a vid on a shuttle once, all about bees.
'Swarm.' Grove corrects her. '..and not bees. More like a cloud... can we run a bio-scan?'
'No, no surveillance, no radio, no radar, no scans...silence means silence!' Cressida is beginning to feel the effects of three very long hours in cramped conditions.
'Cressida I think we are about to fly into some kind of nest, or breeding ground for what look like space gnats.'
'Biters?' Truro's voice registers alarm. 'Out here?'
'One of the few truly universal creatures, Diptera Nematocera Ubiquitae, without scans I can't be sure. Not my field. Yumi could identify them properly. There are hundreds of space gnat subspecies, this could be a benign form but there are flesh-eaters and drilling flies...'
Truro shudders slightly. 'I seen a ship eaten by biters in at dock once. All pock marked where the biters had mined into the hull. Salvaged from space with the crew eaten raw and maggoty they said.'
Cressida snorts in annoyance. 'That is not helpful Truro. I'll adjust our path to keep us out of the meteor field for now, just to be on the safe side. The trawler doesn't vent any exhaust plumes and the heat shielding makes our heat signature the same as the space we are in. We shouldn't disturb them, whatever type of biter they are.'

Daniel stares at his face in the small mirror above the water syphon in his cabin. His eyes are beginning to be shadowed with tiredness and his face looks drawn, older. The trawler would take three hours to reach The Scintilla and he could do with a few hours sleep. He drops onto his bunk and yawns, sleep almost upon him. As he lies there his mind returns to the message from Newtrisia Headquarters sent by Senior Consignor Pia Rabette. He had come across her before, on his last mission for the company, Alpha Q6 and he wonders whether she is aware of the tracker, The Scintilla and Scint Bourbon. Perhaps the kidnapping explains her taking over from Consignor Edwear, Scint Bourbon is big news and this mission is meant to be secret. But without the MOGZ being registered, Newtrishia has no claim to the Wentletrap Galaxy. Radio silence seems a bad call on Rabette's behalf now there is another ship in the galaxy but it is a direct order and there is nothing he can do about it.
Daniel rubs a hand over his eyes, releasing the tension. Whatever is going on, whatever game is being played out around him, he could only play with the hand he has been dealt. Right now, what he needs is sleep, maybe Rabette's reason for radio silence would become clear once they rescued Scint Bourbon. As he closes his eyes, Daniel wonders how many more missions like this he'll pilot. Maybe this will be his last one. Maybe he would retire, ask Cressie to... The thought remains unresolved as he falls deep into dreamless sleep.

Juno wakes with a jump, as though falling and landing at the same time. She rolls over from the edge of the bed to find Tourmaline, sprawled out over her silk sheets, hogging the space. For a second or two she watches him sleep, the slow rise of his chest, then the DEMI messenger pings again and she pulls on a robe and finds the remote for the screen positioned above the bed.
'Hello... Juno, is that you?' Pia Rabette stares at the image on the vidlink. As far as she can tell it looks like a naked man on Juno's bed. Juno swears under her breath as she recognises Pia's face and clicks to voice only. 'Pia, so sorry, I didn't realise it was you.'
'I'm not interrupting anything am I?'
'No, no that's just.. nothing, just a one night thing, from a hack chat! Don't judge... no one you know.'
'I wondered if we could meet up and talk.'
'What.. now? It's not very convenient now.'
'Juno, I need to ask a favour.'
'Pia... I can't keep doing this. I'm sorry that...'
'No, no this isn't about that. Look, I can't talk over the DEMI. Can I meet you tonight?'
'Just this once, the last time...'
'Good. Same place, same time.' Pia cuts the link and the call ends with an advert for Fast Fondue.
'Hack chat? Who was that?' Tourmaline's voice makes Juno jump for the second time.
'No one. Just some unfinished business. Nothing you need worry about.' Juno throws the remote on the floor and climbs over the bed to sit on Tourmaline's legs, running her hands up over his thighs, 'Now, lets see how awake you really are.'

Edwear tucks in hungrily to the reconstituted eggs in the pouch Mentor has given to him. 'So hungry! So what normally happens next, Kainya?' While Scint and Mentor had gone looking for food, he had navigated The Scintilla to a point between two neighbouring planets, hidden for now, from the Saturn Anne II.
'What do you mean, what happens next?' Kainya sips on a bottle of water watching Edwear eat.
'Well, there must be some kind of protocol after you've tracked down a ship in a new galaxy, some espionage protocol. What normally happens.' There is a sharp edge in Edwear's voice, a tone he has never used with her before and Kainya is alarmed by it.
'I would pass the information on to my contact and get paid.'
'So you have stepped well beyond the boundaries of your normal spying remit?'
'What are you getting at?'
'Who are you going to negotiate these fabulous new deals you think we are all going to get super rich with? Do you even know how it works out here?'
Kainya stares at him. Is he using his knowledge as a consignor to undermine her?
'Do you even know what a MOGZ is?' Edwear swigs back the last of the eggs and raises his eyebrows at Kainya, waiting for her to answer but she remains silent.
'If you want to take this galaxy, if you want to milk it for all the scadillions you can, you need to register a MOGZ claim before anyone else. Did you remember to bring a MOGZ claim form while you were busy kidnapping us?'
Kainya suddenly realises something, Edwear is not hers anymore. Something has changed. Perhaps it was the kidnapping, or the thing with the screaming and the tranquillator earlier or the subterfuge... whatever it was, she had lost him. 'Why did you think I bought you here Edwear. You know all this stuff. Didn't think I did it because I cared about you did you? You do know I don't care, don't you?'
Edwear tries to brace himself mentally from her words, harsh as physical blows.
'Well, whatever the reason we are here, perhaps we should just concentrate on..' But before Mentor can finish his placations, the flight deck starts to echo to the sound of drumming.
'Does anyone know what in the Five Galaxies that is?' Scint asks, running to a console and calling up an exterior camera. The viewscreen expands in front of them revealing the external hull of The Scintilla, now barely visible, lost in a swirling cloud of space gnats.

Each gnat in the cloud is a perfectly formed flying machine with an exoskeleton of a pressurised carapace, covered in a fine down of hairs, trapping a layer of oxygen around it, protecting its soft body parts. Its wings, antennae, legs and mandibles are pumped full of an antifreeze mixture of alcohols and glycols and its small brain is part of the larger 'cloud brain' of the colony, searching for heat signatures indicating possible food sources. Their serrated mandibles are capable of biting through rock, metal and biological material with ease, like the hull of a space ship. Like the hull of The Scintilla. On the viewscreen the cloud is slowly landing on the hull and setting to, the sound of the gnats chewing in unison reverberating around the flight deck.

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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Zoology ~ Episode Twenty Nine

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)

Twenty Nine

The three hours on board the cramped trawler feel more like forever as far as Truro is concerned. The trawler is as blandly utilitarian as a spaceship can be. Nothing to do, nothing to do, nothing to do is the endless mantra in her brain. Cme has put itself into a catatonic state, conserving energy and brain activity for what may lie ahead. Cressida and Grove are busy flying the trawler on a smooth parabola keeping the twin planets between themselves and the Scintilla, making sure they run silent. All she can do is sit and wait with nothing to do. For three whole hours.

Senior Pia Rabette supresses a scream by tightening her knuckles into clenched fists and slamming them down on her desk. The loud thud booms across the Mission Control Centre and, for an instant, everyone pauses and then resumes work again. A sonic wave of released tension washes over the rows of consignors, all trying very hard not to catch Pia's attention as she paces angrily in front of her monitors, the vanadium steel-tipped heels of her sandalettes squealing as she turns.
The board of Directors had stitched her up. By making her use one of their in-house bounty hunters, they are effectively shutting her down. The hunt for Edwear is over as far as she is concerned, her brief now is to make sure the mission AlphaQ7 is successful. Pia can feel there is more going on than she is aware of, something more the Board knows. But for now, all Pia can focus on is the outcome of the mission which has been firmly hoisted onto her shoulders by Votive, with her silky-soft reasoning and manipulative kindness. Should she meet up with Edwear ever again, she will make him suffer for this. Now she is responsible his poor choice of Captain. She would never have chosen Daniel Delacroix for such a mission, and the ship, an ageing Ark... All of this looks bad, looks bad on her. If the mission fails, she could lose her position as Senior Consignor. She wouldn't put it past Edwear to have engineered this whole thing just so it would blow up in her face.
A thought occurs to her and she can see a way, maybe, to rid herself of the mission, she still had a card she could play. One the Board could do nothing about. The Food Ethics Tribunal. If she can get them to skew their findings on Delacroix's AlphaQ6 mission, make it look as though his judgement is diminished, she could pull the mission and make it all go away. She pauses in her pacing, she knows just who to ask to help. Juno. She'd go and see Juno tonight.

Mentor finds a galley, deep in the heart of the Scintilla, and leans against the solid worktop of the chef's prep area, his forehead resting on the cool copper of a hanging skillet. For a moment he lets his polished mask of confidence slip. Normally, in the sight of such luxury, he would be entranced by his surroundings. A scadillionaires' ship complete with a kitchen for fresh food preparation. But now fear, tiredness and panic rises up inside him, crushing all the air in his lungs, making him start to hyperventilate. He gasps for air, holding onto the worktop, trying to process the last few hours into some rational sense. Trying to work out what to do next, trying to hold onto some sense of what in the Five Galaxies he is supposed to do now but his head is starting to swim with lack of oxygen and he stops managing to breathe at all. As he faints, the skillet he is leaning against clatters loudly against the other hanging pots and pans, a jangling alarm ringing in his head as passes out on the galley floor.

Scint jumps slightly at the sound of clanging metal through the bulkhead. It is a sound she recognises but can't place and then it occurs to her, someone is in the galley. Maybe they are cooking. At the thought of food there is a rumble deep in the pit of her stomach and with her mayday message sent there is little point staying in her bathroom so, with nothing else to do, Scint heads for the galley.

Grove stares at the viewscreen on board the trawler as they skim silently through the space between the Saturn Anne II and the twin planets. 'We should name them.'
'Uh?' Cressida looks across at Grove. 'Name what?' The annoyance in her voice is almost alarming over the intercom, so close to his ear inside his space suit.
'The twin planets.'
'What do you suggest?' Cressida's voice makes it clear to him that she has little time for naming random planets mid mission.
'I don't know...thought they should have a name, I guess.'
'Names are for familiar things. For making things feel comfortable. Out here, this is the unknown. You are best off not naming things. No time for complacency out here.'
Grove doesn't reply, her fierce logic is right. He stares at the two planets slowly growing on the viewscreen as they draw nearer. Their lives are not complex out here, live or die are the only options. Space is binary. Life or death. One of the planets broods dark and shadowy in a field of debris, the shattered remnants from multiple meteor strikes. Behind it, bathed in sunlight, is the silvery shoulder of its twin, swathed in sparkling dust and a diamond bright debris field.

Alpha and Omega. The names surface in his mind but he thinks better of sharing them with Cressida, instead he runs through their trajectory settings again, just to be on the safe side, after all there is no time for complacency out here. 

Next episode...

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Monday, 23 October 2017

Being Super Rich would be Super Cool...

'Hello and welcome back to Oola's Intergalactic Tuneship, Eerie.

My name is Trisha and today, I am talking about two more sections of society within my dystopian science fiction story blog, Zoology; the Super Rich and the Corporations.

Being Super Rich would be Super Cool...
In my last podcast I talked about the two largest sections of society the Space Drubs and the Journey Workers. Think of the shape of a pyramid, in four layers. This represents the population of the Five Galaxies. The base layer is at least a third of the pyramid and those are the Space Drubs. The second layer, the largest section, reaching nearly to the top are the Journey Workers. The apex of the pyramid are the Corporations and the thin slice between the Corporations and the Journey Workers are the Super Rich.
There aren't that many of these scadillionaires and their wealth cushions them from the harsh realities of life in the Five Galaxies. Many are entrepreneurs who have built technology for mass entertainment or space exploration, or maybe sold a food chain, mining claim or a small world to a Corporation. A few are heirs to family fortunes stretching back to the First Galaxy. All live lives of luxury in enclaves scattered throughout the Five Galaxies.
So, once you've made your scadillions and have become Super Rich would it be a life of super cool fun? Probably not. To keep your scadillions you are going to have to work, invest, reinvent and keep the Corporations and other Super Rich from buying you out or merging your assets... not to mention the risk of kidnap, extortion and violence from all other sectors of society, including the Corporations.
You might have a one of a kind space yacht with wormhole technology, you might have a maglev Hypersleek Saloon and a condominium in the foothills but no one, absolutely no one has your back. All you can hope is you have made enough scads to pay to keep you alive long enough to enjoy them.

The Corporations are in Control...
At the very top of society in the Five Galaxies are the Corporations. They control the food chain and as such, wield all the power. There would be no Five Galaxies without them. Their extraordinary assets and resources have made life beyond the First Galaxy a reality. They are the end product of mankind's very first foray into space from the first planet, Earth. Their structures and internal organisations are secretive and all-encompassing. Life throughout the Five Galaxies depends on the food they find, grow, process and supply. Whether it's EggsALaBread or Kraken Fire you are consuming, it's only because a Corporation has supplied it for you.
Your scad is their scad. Whether you earned it in an illegal Space Drub gambling den, or overtime Journey Working weekends, by sitting on a Board of Directors or simply inherited it, it was only ever yours because a Corporation decided this is how life in the Five Galaxies will be.
And who is in control within the Corporations? Now that would be a spoiler so I'll end this podcast here.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Zoology ~ Episode Twenty Eight

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)

Twenty Eight

The loading bay computer systems respond to the unique space suit signatures of each of Cressida's team as they arrive. A cavernous space, the bay houses a fleet of utility space vehicles, from heavy armoured all terrain rovers to swift vertical jump jets and marine bathyspheres; an army of research and retrieval vessels marching in ordered rows towards the pressure curtains. As the team move through the bay, lights and systems click into life, waking the fleet from the slumber of standby. Truro tries to name as many of the machines as she can but the scale and complexity of some leave her baffled and in awe. For a moment she tries to reckon up a cost for such equipment, catching a glimpse of the chasm of wealth separating drubs like her from the Corporations but is interrupted by Cressida's voice inside her space helmet.
'So, are we all here? Good. I'll be as brief as possible, we have no time to waste, stealth and speed are key.'
Cressida pauses and surveys her team. Truro, Cme, Grove and herself. 'We'll use a trawler, should get us as close as possible to The Scintilla without being detected. Cme, you and Truro can get one ready for launch, attach a limpet drop pod and some grapnel. Grove, with me to the armoury.'

Truro follows Cme down the line of vehicles to where three trawlers are suspended from their hydraulic loading mounts. Cme nudges Truro and points to the nearest trawler, 'This one.'
Truro stares up at the soft, matt black exoskeleton of the trawler, trying to work out its full shape and dimension. Light is absorbed by the surface armour of the craft and even her eyes slip off the sides. The ship, a domed wedge shape, seems barely big enough for the four of them. Truro reaches out a hand to touch the strange armour but somehow misses and she stumbles forward in her suit awkwardly. She pulls her self upright and asks Cme, 'Why's it called a Trawler?'.
'Trawls for signals, any noise indicating intelligent life. Camouflaged, like me, so no one sees it. Quiet, runs on moonbeams.'
Cme turns and grins at Truro. ' It absorbs light and converts it to energy, like a leaf, even reflected light of a moon. Stand back, I program in drop pod.'
Truro moves out of the way as Cme quickly types in the codes for a limpet drop pod into a nearby terminal for the loading bay's computerised system. Off in the deep recesses of the bay, a picking crane drone finds a drop pod and moves it across the floor network to the trawler and attaches it to the underside of the craft. Then Cme indicates to the side of bay. 'Grapnels kept over here.'

Grove and Cressida reach the double doors leading to the armoury where her security clearance is picked up by the loading bay computer system. The doors slide open to reveal the brightly lit interior. Along one wall are rows of tranquilators, ranging from hand held stun guns to mobile vanguard canons. Large entity trank-canons, flares, electronic nets, snares and mist traps, a glittering display of knives, machetes, electrostatic charge pikes and a selection of mining blasters and laser cutters cover the remaining walls. Grove stares at the display. The nitty gritty of dealing with dangerous creatures in unknown environments is spelt out loud and clear in this pristine room, bristling with weapons. Cressida finds the cabinet she's looking for and opens a wide drawer. Inside are a set of precision hull cutters with their remote controls. She grabs a couple and then points to the mid-range tranquilators, 'Grab four, just to be on the safe side.'
By the time they reach the trawler, the drop pod is in place and Cme and Truro are attaching the grapnels, long cables with grappling magnets, to the underwing of the craft.

Daniel sits at flight control and presses the intercom for Cressida's space suit. 'Can you hear me?'
'Affirmative, Pilot.' Cressida's voice is calm. 'We are about to board the trawler.'
'Good. We'll monitor from here but maintain communication silence during the reccy.'
'Will let you know when we are ready to launch.'
Daniel pulls up the live feed from the loading bay and projects it onto the viewscreen and watches as the team climb into the cramped cockpit of the trawler, wondering just what is happening on The Scintilla.
'We've located the ship, it's hiding in the shadow between the twin planets, Harp has sent the co-ordinates to the trawler's computer. It will take you about three hours to reach it.'

Senior Pia Rabette pauses momentarily to square her shoulders and straighten her jacket before she knocks lightly on the opaque glass doors of the Newtrishia Directorate Boardroom Suite. It is only a few hours since she raised the Bounty Notice but somehow, she is here, outside this door, summoned long before she'd had a chance to write up her report.
The glass clears to reveal the interior, a small reception space. The door slides open and Pia steps over the threshold. Under her feet, the thick wool carpet gives slightly and sound is muffled in its dense fibres. The lighting is warm, soft and inviting and from somewhere unspecified a voice greets her. 'Pia, welcome. Please take a seat and wait, we know you are here.'
The Newtrishia Corporation's Head Office consists of three interconnected buildings. Mission Control, Sales and Finance and the Directorate. The buildings are old, in one of the first quadrants of the city to be built. The Directorate building itself is one of the oldest on YumYum City, an understated high rise of flat, grey, pioneer blocks.
Pia sits on the edge of the couch. The real leather squeaks slightly as she moves, and she runs a hand across it, to remind herself of the old, cracked surface. The reception space is small, square, plain. Just two sets of opaque glass doors, the couch and a large company logo on the opposite wall.
Pia waits, wondering what is going on behind the other set of glass doors.

The Directorate sit around a virtual table, each a holographic projection from wherever they happened to be in the Five Galaxies. Seven people in charge of Newtrishia Corporation.
Seven, so there is never a deadlock on a vote. Each in charge of a division; Sales, Finance, Mission Control, Marketing, Corporate, Resource and Logistics. Erica, Dovald, Votive, Luc, Asim, Collier and Rain respectively.

'The easiest way to clean up this mess is to dispatch a restoration unit. They can't have got too far. We can write off the ship, it's an old Ark class, it owes us nothing.' Dovald is rarely interested in inter-corporation intrigue. 'Cut our losses. We still have a slew of other galaxies of interest in that sector.. Do we know which one they are in?'
'I will not let you destroy the Saturn Anne II. Newtrishia cannot simply keep 'losing ships' because it's a conveniently quick solution to a problem. The ship is old but the crew are some of our finest. We need to protect them.' Collier indignantly interrupts.
Votive sighs and expressively opens her hands wide, including all of them in her gesture. 'Arguing is not constructive in this situation. The facts are obvious. Pia has lost control of this mission. We either replace her or get her back on track. The Bounty Notice will have already been picked up. Sooner or later a hunter will work out Edwear is no longer in the Five Galaxies along with Mentor, Kainya and Scint Bourbon.'
'Scint Bourbon is involved? Scintillator Entertainment?' Asim groans and shakes his head. 'In that case, we definitely can't use a restoration unit. She is too high profile, not to mention the cost of the settlement on her life insurance. How did she get caught up in this?'
'No one is killing anyone. My source at Alimentorum made it clear that this is still very much a kidnap situation. Their operative, Kainya has, for some reason, gone rogue and they think Edwear is the reason. Scint and her ship were to hand and her ship is capable of intergalactic travel.' Votive shrugs her shoulder. 'My source thinks they have followed the Saturn Anne II across the universe for some reason. Maybe for a huge ransom, play Alimentorum and Newtrishia off against each other.'
'And your source is?' Dovald asks. Unhappy at being denied his opinion. Votive deflects Dovald's question, she is not about to reveal the Controller contacted her directly.
'My source is from Alimentorum. They have lost contact with their operative and contacted us when they saw the Bounty Notice. This is footage of the kidnap.' Votive leans forward and activates the video message from Alimentorum. Over the virtual table the footage of Kainya grabbing Edwear, Mentor and Scint Bourbon from the Rink plays out.
'So Alimentorum know where we have sent the Saturn Anne?' Erica asks.
'No, we don't even know where the Saturn Anne is. Only Pia has that information at the moment.' Votive pauses.
'Pia and, presumably, this Kainya person.' Erica adds.
'Yes, Kainya might well have tracked our ship, or she could just be out there, somewhere beyond the Five Galaxies.' Votive tries to get back on track. 'I want to get Pia to grasp this situation and get it back under control. We'll tender the bounty notice to one of our hunters, keep it in house. I'll liaise with Alimentorum. It is in both our corporate interests to keep this whole thing quiet until we can ascertain just exactly what is going on.'
'So we can leave it with you to clean this up?' Dovald can see a way to wash his hands of the whole thing.
Votive nods, 'Yes, Dovald. I shall take responsibility.'
'Good. It is, after all, one of your missions. I vote in favour.' Dovald raises his hand and the other six all follow his lead.
One by one, the holographic projections switch off until only Votive remains. She selects a different roomscape and presses the intercom to the Boardroom Suite. 'Pia, please enter the Boardroom now. Thank you for waiting so patiently.'

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

I'd probably be a Space Drub...

(All rights reserved.)

'Hello and welcome to Oola's Intergalactic Tuneship, Eerie.

My name is Trisha and today, I am going to talk about my dystopian science fiction story blog, Zoology.
I thought it would be interesting to look at the social structure of the Five Galaxies where the story is set with, hopefully, no spoilers!

So, Zoology is based in the distant future, long after we ran out of food on Earth and moved off-world into other galaxies in search of new resources. By the time we we meet up with the crew of the Saturn Anne II, there are Five Galaxies overrun by us humans. These are overseen by the all-powerful Corporations who control the food supply and are in constant competition with each other. As the byline says, in the future, food is the new gold...
I am going to look two sections of this society; the Space Drubs and the Journey Workers.

I'd probably be a Space Drub...
In the Five Galaxies, a lot of everyday tasks are either automated or done by robots and computers so low skilled Corporation jobs are hard to come by. Plus, you need to have an inter-galaxy permit and a clean space-rad level to work for one of the big Corporations and those things are not cheap to buy. So there is a vast population, an underclass, of Space Drubs. People who drift in and out of temporary low paying and often illegal work, scratching a living from the underbelly of the Five Galaxies. Caught up in gambling, fighting, often sleeping rough or working on the gruelling freight shuttles, life doesn't seem so great but there is an upside to being a space drub. Freedom! Free from the control of the Corporations. If you are a Space Drub you are free to live your life on your own terms, across the Five Galaxies. Like the old proverb says, 'You can't sue a Space Drub.' which basically means, if you have nothing, no one can take it away from you.

So how do you get to be a Space Drub? 
There are three main ways.

First, you are born into a space drub family. Second you are left on the streets as an orphan and third, you lose your nice Corporation journey worker job and your inter galaxy permit with it... It won't be long before you can't pay for your apartment or your food and you are pulling three month freight runs with your space-rad level through the roof, you'll soon be gambling your last scad to get by.

But I wouldn't want to be a Journey Worker...
The next largest population sector across the Five Galaxies are the journey workers. This covers anyone working for one of the large Corporations. They are skilled and semi skilled workers who keep the corporate wheels turning and live lives of relative security as long as they work without complaint and toe the line. All journey workers are either directly or indirectly employed by the Corporations, whether a scientist on an exploration mission, a DJ on a DEMI sounder station playing old drub sounder songs or a tech hiker ripping the latest software for Dine-a-Luck customers. All are in the grip of the Corporations.
A journey worker will be educated, housed, have access to health care and receive a small pension once no longer fit to work and, in return, they will dedicate their lives to the Corporations. Life is a journey, work is the destination.

So how do you escape being a journey worker or a space drub? Money. Lots of it and because the Corporations control the flow of money through out the Five Galaxies, chances are, if you are a Space Drub or Journey Worker, that is what you will always be...

Next time I'll be looking at two other sections of Zoology society, the Super Rich and the Corporations.'

Friday, 29 September 2017

Zoology ~ Episode Twenty Seven

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)

Twenty Seven

Her name, almost a whisper over the fine hairs on the nape of her neck, brings memories flooding back. The warm weight of his body, folded around hers, the sound of his slow laughter, the urgency of his tongue against her...'
'Cressie, wake UP!'
Cressida sits bolt upright in her bunk as the intercom voice rises to a shout, sleep torn from her brain like a medipatch. 'Yes, Pilot!'
'We have a security issue.'
'No, this needs you. ASAP.' The curt reply snaps Cressida into action, her instincts and training making her nimble on her feet despite being asleep only a moment ago. She checks the time, almost shift change.

'Mayday. Mayday. This is Scint Bourbon of the ship The Scintilla. I have been kidnapped and request immediate help. Mayday, Mayday.'
Cressida stares for a moment or two at the message and then raises her eyebrows and sighs. She nods briefly at Daniel and hands him back the possum. 'We'll have to respond. Universal Space Treaty Directives mean nearest ship gets the short straw. At least we know what ship we are dealing with. Any idea why Scint Bourbon and her ship would have been kidnapped and then used to follow us out here?'
Daniel smiles and shakes his head. 'Not a clue, I'm guessing maybe a kidnap gone wrong. I don't know and with the MOGZ issue as well... who knows what is going on. Do you know the ship?'
' The Scintilla? We out-gun it but we can't outrun it.'
'Until the MOGZ is sent, I don't want to lose it. And I don't want to lose this galaxy to Alimentorum.'
'You think this is Alimentorum? Kidnapping?' Cressida sits down on the edge of the desk in the Pilot's cabin, running possible scenarios through her head. 'We don't know how many are on board?'
'That's all the message there. Presumably the ship has a crew... I don't want to get caught up in lengthy negotiations.'
'If we can pinpoint its location from the message, let me take a team and we can reccy the ship. Once we have an idea of how many people on board we can attempt a rescue.' Cressida watches Daniel, knowing he'll have no appetite to open this particular can of worms. 'We have to do something Daniel.'
'We have no capture orders on this mission.'
'That's not the same as no rescue.'
For a moment or two there is a silence hanging in the air, the unspoken baldness of honesty between the two of them. Cressida knowing Daniel wants the simplest solution, shoot first, ask questions later. Both knowing they have a legal duty to respond to Scint's message.
Daniel leans forward over his desk, his arm gently brushing her thigh by accident as he reaches for the ship's intercom button, a memory of her body surfacing in his mind. He pushes the thought away and curtly announces, 'All hands to the galley. All hands to the galley!'

Truro sits scrunched up on a table in the galley as she listens to the pilot brief them on the mayday message and the reconnoitre mission. If it were up to her, she'd be tempted to scupper the ship, serve them right, but a mayday's mayday. At the mention of the ship's name Truro sits upright and interrupts, 'I know that ship. She was at Sayonara for a refit.' She almost added she had thought about stowing away on it too but thought better of it.
' A refit?' Cressida questions her. 'You're sure?'
'Yeah, a glug tug like that gets spruced up regular. Quite a sight at the spaceport.'
'It means we may not have a full crew, Pilot.' Cressida explains. 'And probably explains the kidnapping. Just a bit of random luck for whoever tracked us, saw the intergalactic ship in port and took it. Spur of the moment decision, it would explain it.'
Daniel nods in agreement. 'How well do you know the ship?' Daniel asks Truro. 'Did you get on board?'
'No, know how to though.'
'Same way as I got on here. Let me be part of the reccy team and I'll get 'em on.'
Daniel glances at Cressida who nods her head imperceptibly.
'OK, you can be part of the team, I'll leave Cressida to pick the rest. No tranquilator for her though.' The last comment is for Cressida but Truro hears it.
'Don't need one.' she replies and then under her breath. 'I shape the fight.'
'I shape the fight.' The whisper at her shoulder makes Truro jump. Cme laughs softly. 'Maybe I shape the chair.' she says as her camouflage changes to reveal her sitting nearby. 'You teach me to shape the fight?'
'Not now, I gotta go on a reccy.'
'I go to.'
'..and CMe.' Cressida reels off the last name for her team. 'We leave in ten minutes from the loading bay, team. Be ready!'

The Corporate Bounty Notice is electronically pinned to every message, call, mail and nanopacket leaving Newtrishia Corporation from the moment Senior Consignor Pia Rabette presses activate on her screen. She rereads it to make sure she has covered all the salient points and then attaches Edwear's most recent employee ID to it. It contains his image, his DNA profile, retinal scans and a brief resume of his life. Satisfied, she activates the notice and the computers take over, within minutes distributing the notice far and wide across the galaxy. By the time it has piggy-backed onto the DEMISE, it will take a few hours at the most to find its way across the Five Galaxies and into the hands of a bounty hunter. With any luck, wherever he is hiding, it will all be over for Edwear by the end of the day.

Tourmaline and Juno hug each other tightly, the fabric of their suits squeaking uneasily as they embrace. 'Do you think he can find her?' Juno asks, clasping Tourmaline by the arms and searching his face for an answer. 'I hope so, I do hope so.'
Tourmaline smiles, noting the fear haunting Juno's eyes. 'We are always at risk of these type of unfortunate events. Kidnapping is nothing new for us. The Controller will find her, I'm sure.'
'But Tourmaline, what if Scint's already been murdered!'
Tourmaline stops for a moment to think it through. Scint's shares would automatically revert to his ownership as she has no heir. The thought cheers him and he extricates himself from Juno's grip. 'These people, all they ever want is our money. Now, I do believe there is still some of that Kraken Fire left over from our last board meeting. Did you know they distil it using desalinated water from Undine. Have you ever been there?'
'Undine? No, why?' Juno takes the large glass Tourmaline proffers to her, watching the pale sea-green liquid swirl with sparks of orange fire.
'To Scint Bourbon, may she be returned to us safely, all in one piece.' Tourmaline raises his glass and clinks Juno's. She blinks and tries to ignore the slightly ingenuous sound to his voice. It is probably just the stress of the situation and murmurs 'To Scint' in reply. The Kraken Fire burns with salty fire in his gullet as Tourmaline downs the whole shot in one, then he kisses Juno without hesitation, tasting the alcohol still across her lips. For a moment he thinks she might push him away but then she responds, the combined heat from their bodies starting to fuse their gel suits together while the Kraken Fire burns away their inhibitions.

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