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The first part of a long story I've been working on. I'm not sure if posting your fiction in the blog is still the done thing, but if not Jos can take it down.
The following takes place around 1020 PG on Kraznius but hopefully no great knowledge of galactic history is required.
The Hall of the King was an imposing building. It grew from the twisted and ruined metal around it like a great grey tree, with only the ruins of a few of its upper towers ruining its profile. Arik had heard from the first mate of the Hawk’s Tongue that when it was first built it stood over a mile high. The officer had also, with flailing arms, indicated that the Fillak had tried with all their might to destroy it, but succeeded only in knocking over some of the towers. Then she had passed out drunk.
As his shuttle came into dock with the smallest tower, Arik wondered if today was the day the Steward would grant his request for a berth on a vessel. The Macello and the Red Word were on world right now, as were a fourteen lesser ships. Arik would take a post on any of them, even the slowest captured tug, just to get off the Rock. He was thirty-one years old, for the grace of the King. Half of his old class mates were already veterans of combat with the Mella. It was embarrassing.
With a loud creak and a shudder, the shuttle came to a stop. Grasping a data rod in his hand, Arik swivelled his chair to face the hatch and tapped his foot impatiently as it opened slowly. He was already late. Before the hatch even touched the hanger deck he was out, jumping the last foot.
There was a single guard with an ID machine, a formality really. “ID, sir,” he said, half asking, half commanding.
“Certainly, soldier.” He passed his card to the tall man, who swiped it on his machine.
The soldier barely glanced at the result before handing Arik his card back. “Very good, sir.” He gestured towards the lift. “Go on through, sir.”
An idiot. Arik brusquely nodded his head, and strode off. He couldn’t wait to be rid of these bureaucratic fools.
As he progressed through the neon white corridors of the Hall, Arik was stopped three more times, with the security increasing for every one of them. Increasingly frustrated and increasing late, he was eventually ushered into the council room.
They were all there, sitting around the white table, below the great holographic 3D map of the galaxy. All but Lyan, the hero of Octars. Nine councillors, the Steward herself, and… By the King was that Kala na Aalzan? Arik had heard that the White Heart had been lost, and probably burnt, near Peace.
“You’re late Arik,” said the Steward, not looking up from her data pad.
Arik bowed. “My apologies, Highness. A cyclone kept me grounded for forty minutes at Reylan.”
The Steward grunted, and curtly gestured him to sit down. Arik hurried to one of the empty chairs, sitting beside Kala. He smiled at her, but she seemed not to notice.
She was a true physical specimen, tall and lithe, with jade skin made pale from years in space. Her hair was short and black, and an eye patch covered her left eye. An eye patch? It certainly hadn’t been there last time Arik had seen her. Doubtless she had lost it in a heroic battle.
The business of the day was unremarkable. A few successful attacks, a few unsuccessful, a few hostiles captured, and a few friendlies burnt. The Stellar Cavalry taskforce was celebrating a glorious victory over a Mella Baron’s fleet, and reported eighty-four hulls taken, and over seven-hundred burnt or damaged. Things were going well at the yards. Supplies were discussed. Lank ro Zarrow was congratulated on the birth of his first daughter.
After about two hours, the Steward turned to Kala, who had sat sternly quiet throughout the meeting. “Captain, seven years ago you were dispatched with some forty-eight vessels to find and kill the Mella pirate and slaver Laaros Reeowin.” Kala nodded. “Now you return to us missing thirty-nine hulls, eight thousand men and woman, and an eye.” Kala nodded again, slower this time. “Tell me what happened, Captain. Tell me what happened to the man who killed my brother.”
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