Intelligence Room – Freedom Party HQ – Popov Hub – Caerus System
Geryk Lepinski was alone, hunched over a terminal in the intelligence room when Furieux arrived. His slender fingers danced over the interface with practiced ease and accuracy. The old fashioned keyboard was of the mechanical type and Furieux puzzled over why such a highly trained data adept would use such a relic over the more modern and commonplace holographic input devices. Everything in the room was white, from the technology to the furniture to Lepinski’s attire, a loose fitting kimono style garment that gave him an almost feminine appearance. His bald head tilted from side to side as he worked. Furieux felt a little like he was interfering with the harmony or ‘feng shui’ of his surroundings being clad entirely in black. He cleared his throat loudly to announce his presence as Geryk seemed oblivious to everything bar what was on the screen.
“Furieux. Yeah, yeah. Take a seat. Be right there. Furieux, what kind of name is that anyway?” he said quickly, remaining focused on the computer.
“Just a name, Lepinski. I believe it has Gallic roots.” Furieux replied as he sat down on a functional stool, also white, at the rear of the room.
Geryk’s fingers momentarily stopped tapping on the keyboard and he stared up at the ceiling. “Gallic. Gaul. An historical region of France, Earth, Sol system. Interesting. You are not from Sol though. Zeta Tucanae correct?”
“Darwyn. Estranged son of Etienne Furieux, CEO of Furieux Extraction. Mother dead. Slightly older sister. Pretty.”
Furieux raised an eyebrow. He had to admit, Lepinski was good, though the mention of Furieux’s family made him feel uneasy. What else did Lepinski and the Freedom Party know about him? Considering the mystery surrounding the enchanting Bader-Ramirez and Dex Nandez’s lack of transparency, he felt that the Dragon Squadron had a lot less leverage in the information department. It was beginning to feel a little one sided.
“You wanna know which side of the bed I sleep on too?” he asked, sarcastically.
Lepinski stopped typing and swivelled around on his seat revealing a young hairless face, pale to the point of bloodlessness. “No. That’s okay. That’s okay. We already know that too.” he said, fixing Furieux with an extremely artificial smile.
“Why am I not surprised. Look, are you going to tell me why I am here or not? I could be out there wasting pirates for your boss or sinking some well earned drinks in the Star & Garter right now instead of sitting here in this…barren den of bits and bytes, talking about things I already know.”
“Of course, of course. Sometimes I like to show off. Humour me. Do you know what this is?”
Lepinski held up a small cylinder in front of him, perhaps the size of a gin glass. Some odd symbols graced its exterior. It looked slightly sinister. Furieux shook his head.
“This, my Tucan friend, is a mini Sap 8 Core container. You may have heard talk of them lately on Galnet. Some idiots believe they are of Thargoid origin. Inside this canister is a small crystal that can hold a vast amount of data. The original design is much larger but I have modified it to better fit our needs. Here.”
Lepinski tossed the object over to Furieux who wasn’t expecting it and tensed at the slight jolt in his hands as he snatched it from the air.
“You feel that?” asked Lepinski. “Fusion-core containment. Harmless, as long as you don’t drop it.” He burst into a fit a high pitched laughter at the expression on Furieux’s face.
“What? And you toss it to me like you would a beer?”
Another artificial smile. “You would never drop a beer bottle, Furieux. We know that much about you too. Now. What I need you to do is take that little piece of hardware to Eshana, the moon of Caerus 5. Once there, you will travel to a specified set of coordinates that we believe is the location of the Pirates of Caerus HQ. Once inside, you will head towards the on site computer system’s central mainframe and install this gem into it. The data contained within will allow me to hack into their system and I will shut down all power to their base for fifteen minutes before the containment field inside the container breaks down, causing the device to self destruct. Along with it, the base. Simple yes?”
“Why are you asking me to do this? I’m not a tech. I don’t have a clue about this can of crystals. How do I install it?”
“Plug and play, my roguish friend, plug and play. All you have to do is connect the unit up to the main terminal. A simple, cartridge based interface is about as complicated as it gets.”
“I don’t like this, Lepinski. That base will be crawling with personnel. How am I supposed to get inside undetected? And even if I succeed, I have fifteen minutes to get back out again before it goes boom? How am I supposed to do that in a pair of motherforsaken magboots?”
“How am I supposed to know? I am paid to give you the tools, you are paid to use them. You have bizarrely managed to get yourself out of scrapes in the past. Vondell’s little message to Alioth? Muxx’s attempt on your life over the skies of Darwyn? This one should be easy enough.”
Furieux stared at Lepinski in disbelief. How did he know so much? Had the Freedom Party been following 8th Dragon activity for months? Ramirez was the sister of JerichoX? It all felt wrong. He squinted at the small man, barely in his twenties, causing Geryk to burst into squeals of girlish laughter all over again.
“Don’t worry, Furieux, we know all there is to know about you and the other members of your crew, and we trust you. We believe you can do this. Otherwise we wouldn’t have hired you. Anyway, get on down to Caerus 5a. ‘A Fireside Chat with Serena’ is on shortly and I do not wish to miss it.”