You may be wondering how I ended up in the Star & Garter on Alvares Terminal. It wasn’t an accident.
Due to some unfortunate events that saw me leave the icy, snow capped peaks of my home planet Darwyn, Zeta Tucanae, I made my own way in the galaxy for seven months, mostly exploring nearby systems trying to make a quick credit. I’d seen the Pleiades. I’d seen the Vela Pulsar. I spent considerable time in the Darahk system, were Noblehome station quickly became a base of trade and exploration. I liked it there but the Federal presence reminded me too much of home. When news of the Kappa Fornacis debacle hit the screens, I wanted out.
I’d seen wars over drugs and people bombed in their houses over laws and rules and regulations. I was disgusted at the Federation’s treatment of the people of Kappa Fornacis under the leadership of Halsey and I wanted to get out of Federation space as soon as possible before the shit really hit the fan.
With no taste for the fawning Imperial lifestyle and their penchant for double standards, I decided to head to Alioth, the capital and hub of the Alliance of Independent Systems. A few weeks spent working for Alioth Independents saw me earn credits in abundance. The company paid me well and I spent the money as quickly as I earned it. Beer, women, narcotics – old habits don’t die, they just get better. The Star & Garter on Irkutsk is one of the finest establishments I have had the pleasure of offering my patronage to. The bar has drinks that only a true barfly can appreciate. Every single liquor under the many suns of populated space could be bought here, and a willing buyer to purchase them. I felt as if I had come home.
A nudge on my shoulder one evening while my head lolled over the bar brought me to my senses. I leaned back on my bar stool to see who was interrupting my drunken stupor only to receive a short, sharp jolt the face with a blunt instrument.
“What the..” I blurted, my head reeling from the blow.
“Deuil Furieux?” asked my new friend.
“Depends who’s asking,” I mumbled, still seeing stars and rubbing my face where the blow made contact.
There were two of them, dressed in black military attire. One large and muscular, the other thin and wiry but appeared to be no less threatening. My mind raced, trying to work out what it was that I was being accused of this time. When you live the way I do, you forget what is legal and what isn’t.
“Come with us, Furieux” said the heavier one, his tone commanding. A tone I abhor.
“How about we all just sit down and have a nice tall glass of screw you?” I said.
I felt a short jab to the back and the next thing I knew was sitting in a chair opposite a smiling man wearing a business suit that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an old 20th century film noir flick. His hands made a tower over the desk as he regarded me.
“Welcome to Alvares Terminal, Eta Draconis, Mr Furieux,” he said, smiling all the while. “Do you know why you are here?”
Eta Draconis was a small system not far from Alioth, I must have been out for quite some time.
“Not really, but I guess I have pissed you off in some way?” I was curious and figured my question was legitimate.
“You really don’t remember me, do you, Deu?”
I frowned at him through with not-yet-sober haze but I couldn’t place his face. He had the look of a suit, and I didn’t know many business types outside of my father’s clientele.
“Should I? Did I sleep with your daughter or something?”
He sighed loudly. Apparently this wasn’t the answer he was looking for.
“Why are you carrying thirty six tons of illegal Onionhead on your ship, the Hazy Jane into my station, Commander Furieux?” he asked, “and where did you get it?”
Customs. That was it. This officious asshole was a customs officer. No major problem really. I could afford to pay the fine. It really didn’t matter if my father caught wind of this. I was good. I was independent.
“Mr Algeria’s latest crop? What do you want me to say? Okay, you caught me. It’s a pretty good yield. Want some?” I sneered, lifting my flight boots and resting them onto his desk in a show of disrespect. However, his gaze didn’t stray from my face.
“How do you feel about the occupation and bombing of Kappa Fornacis, commander?” he asked.
“What does it matter, Halsey had her way, another indie planet got pushed over and no one cares. Whats new in Federation space?”
He smiled. I began to wonder what this was all about. No customs officer asks this stuff. They catch you, they fine you and all is well with the galaxy. This guy wasn’t an ordinary customs officer. Then it hit me. I remembered where I had seen him before. Previously, he had gone by the name of Varu. The one I did some illegal courier work for back in Zeta Tucanae, leading to my arrest.
I jumped up with every intention of decking the smug-looking rat, only to hear the sound of two pulse laser pistols charging up from behind me. His two lackeys had their guns trained on my back.
He began to laugh, a deep belly laugh, that only served to annoy me more.
“Sit down.” he said, calmly.
I had no choice. I parked my behind back down on the chair and awaited his explanation.
“I am sorry that you got caught with the ‘package’, Furieux. I had hoped that your status as Ettiene’s son would have negated the need for a scan at Nelson Terminal. Either you were too slow or some young security upstart was overeager to tag his first perp.” he said, stroking his goatee as he spoke.
“My name is not Varu, its simply one of many that I go by. My real name is Vidar Vondell and I am not your enemy. In fact, I need your help. Your penchant for…the finer things in life…have seen you become quite the well known smuggler. Even though you are a complete failure at it.”
I didn’t appreciate his judgement on my chosen profession but he did have a point. I wasnt exactly great at smuggling.
“So what is that you want from me?” I inquired.
“I am the President of the Gold Vision Company here in Eta Draconis. We operate fully under the backing of the Alliance of Independent Systems, and our aim is to spread our influence throughout systems near Alliance space. Our mission here is to add Eta Draconis to the Alliance charter and ensure that Federation interests in the system are kept to a minimum,” he explained.
“What does this have to do with me? Is it an illegal operation?” I asked, not sure what he had in mind for me.
“With your talents as a pilot who is used to flying under the scanner, I’d like you to fly out to Alioth with a data package for Alliance High Command. We cannot trust the normal transmission networks. Galcom Relay is easily hacked and we cannot allow this data to be intercepted.”
“Easy enough, but what’s in it for me?” I asked him. I wasn’t going to do his dirty work for free.
“You get to stay out of a cage, Deu. You forget that we just caught you with a hold full of illegal drugs. However, I don’t want to you to feel as if we are bribing you. Gold Vision will pay you for your time.” he smiled.
The idea of some credit making opportunities piqued my interest. I really needed to start making some major money to upgrade my ship and feed my increasingly regullar booze habit. I wondered why he felt he could trust me though, especially in light of the fact that I failed his last mission.
“And what if I just take the data and give it to the Feds? There might be a bigger reward in it for me.” I was genuinely curious as to what was in the package.”How can you trust me?”
“We are aware that you are not fan of Federation law and their advancing corporate operations,” he said. “Therefore, you will be taking my head of security on board the Hazy Jane to ensure that you complete the task.”
“No way. No passengers. I fly alone. No one but me gets on my ship,” I stated, adamantly.
The door behind me slid open. A slim brunette entered, wearing the typical black flight suit featuring a logo associated with System Security. It was pleasingly figure hugging.
“Commander Furieux, this is my daughter and head of security, Alessandra. She will be accompanying you on your first mission.” Vidar announced.
“Well maybe just this once I could make an exception” I said, grinning from ear to ear.