Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chapter 03 - Room Without a View.

We stand eyeing each other suspiciously for a minute as data streams from mesh to mesh. So this is the infamous Bonetta Smith, artisan, artist, and rumoured to be one of Hassan’s greatest assassins. She holds sole command of his inner cadre, the hand picked, personally vetted inner body guard of his inner body guard. She's a young fifty if even that, but like most of the higher echelon her looks wouldn't put her past twenty, re-juve and augmented surgery. The Smiths can afford the best, and they don't scrimp on the credits. I realise I'm staring, she smiles, I blush, and suddenly feel very old.
To stem my embarrassment I scan the hull. I whistle through my teeth.
“The gods, and your uncle’s grace, have been very generous. I was just having the standard nano shielding patched. This is very high grade. E M plate, reaction seal, bio steel, the works. I must thank Hassan.” I bow towards her again, she being the nearest representative of a very generous man.
“You'll find Uncle Hassan is a particularly lavish individual. If you please him he will reward you well. If not.” she pauses.
“Well let’s say the clone banks of Antilia Five are always more than grateful for the produce to resequence for parts.”
I shuddered involuntarily. There was no coming back from being butchered by the techs for spare part surgery. Antilia Five did very well out of the war, and certain families who required a certain flexibility with bills of lading when shipping clone stock.
“Bits of people have been known to turn up all over the known galaxy after upsetting him.” She smiled, again an almost reptilian action, as though she had read a book about the action and not completely understood the purpose.
Feeling ever so slightly uncomfortable with whatever covert actions this young lady had been involved in. What ever she had seen and done, I for one did not wish to know, and whatever disaster she was being sent to pre-empt, or cause, I wanted to deliver her and be away from there as soon as possible.
I turn to hide my growing discomfort. Flicking across the stats still scrolling across my HUD about the new skin. The Lady Jane would be more than happy with this upgrade, it was almost atmospheric grade. The unseen edge of the airlock door glows in my view as I look at it. I gently stroke the door. DNA is recognised. Sparks like electricity spread out and settle, cycling round the edge of the, now, visible door. A moment passes whilst the crew areas re-pressurise, and security disabler gasses is removed from the atmosphere. A sigh as the inner and outer pressures equalise and the door slides seamlessly open.
I motion for her to enter. Huge organic LED panels flicker into life and the corridor to the crew common room becomes illuminated. She glides in, hand trailing behind her, gently brushing the wall as she goes. She gets as far as the first frame half a meter in. Her hand touches the frame and she almost recoils. Then, with her eyes closed, she gentle runs her hand up the support.
“Wood! Real wood! Oh my Señor Gaud, you are a man of particular and refined tastes! I can see now why Uncle Hassan likes you.” This time the smile she gives me is warm and genuine.
“The Martian economy was going through a boom and the hauler I bought it from was in a particular hurry to cut his losses.”
“You did extremely well out of the deal.”
“You can take any of the four crew rooms on this level, there's a galley in the common room, and each crew room has its own bathroom. You have run of the ship, the common areas, and the main decks. I have the upper state rooms and the suite there, behind the bridge. Please make yourself comfortable.”
She pirouettes as she enters the common room, the hub to the four anti chambers that are the crew quarters. The LED's here are set as beading to oak panels. The room has three large arm chairs and a sofa placed around a large table, set at knee height. Central to the room is a large antique and LED black ironwork chandelier, not only a dozen individual light sources but LED piping around and along the ironwork arms and stem, matched by similar wall lighting. A large chain anchors it to the ceiling and another to the floor.
As the light raise above ambient level she gasps. She runs over to one of the two bookcases and reverently lifts out one of the antique books.
“Paper?” She asks.
I smile and nod.
“Wait until you see the wine cellar.”
She gently opens the book and flicks through the pages.
“Uncle has a few. But not this many.”
“A long time collecting. Now where is your luggage?”
“One moment.” She raises her hand and touches the left side of her temple, closing her eyes.
“Three bring my trunk in now.”
There's noise from the end of the corridor and a large burly man in black fatigues pushes a large black box almost as large as himself into the ship. Sliding it on a zero friction plate he brings it to a halt in the middle of the room, bows and waits.
“Put it in that one please.” She waves in the direction of one of the rooms.
“You won’t mind if I use one as a dressing room will you Señor Gaud?” It is more an instruction than a question, but protocol demands, as I am the captain, so outrank her on my own ship.
“There's only the two of us this trip, so you can use as many as you feel you need.”
Again the man bows and slides the box into the indicated room. As he comes back he hands a slate to Bennetta, bows again and backs out of the room and leaves the ship.
“Here.” She hands me the slate.
I take it and it immediately starts to download to my mesh.
“Formax!” I mutter without thinking.
“Yes Formax. Is that a Problem?”
“It's out of system. That means sleeping for the majority of the trip, if you don’t mind suspended animation, and it will require the correct documentation.”
“Again I ask, that's not a problem, is it?”
“No, no it just means I have to make a personal trip to the Hub Temple of Bureaucracy. Not something I relish, but as needs must.”
“In person, can't you just net the request?”
“Not since The God Emperor incident.”
“I'm sorry I've been out of Sol politics for a while, what?”

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