“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
It was a long walk towards the offices of Furieux Extraction. On the way, Commander Deuil Furieux, kept his head down to avoid anyone recognising him. The general feeling around Elswick Station was a much calmer one since the brief war between the Federal owners and the upstart Justice Party had ended. Those who lived and worked on it where returning to their normal lives. While the short but vicious battle resulted in a victory for Zeta Tucane Legal, as Furieux had anticipated, he couldn’t help but feel for the independents. He knew that Legal’s victory would please his father, however. The rival station, Velidhu Dream, was now in the hands of the Federation, raising the value of Furieux stocks, as well as securing increased exports to the Federal Navy. This was good news for Furieux Extraction as cornering all trade from pilots from within and without Zeta Tucanae would mean company profits would rise exponentially. Furieux had booked in his borrowed Type-9, the Nineveh’s Kiss for some light repairs in Hangar 35 before continuing onto the main administration hub, a large rotunda on Level 64. Artificial greenery lined the walkways, a welcome relief from the grey, drab walls of the station bulkheads. Approaching the glass doors of the office lobby, he observed his sister, Anais, arriving for work. She was immaculately dressed in white business attire, her short, flame red hair contrasting wildly against it.
“Hey Red!” he called after her, picking up the pace to intercept just before she entered.
“Deu? What are you doing?” she queried, nervously turning around. “If anyone sees you here…”
“Oh, I know, and I don’t care. Is the boss in this morning?” asked Deuil, referring to their father, Ettiene, owner and CEO of Furieux Extraction.
“No, he has a trade meeting in Beta Hydri. Black Mausoleum. The Beta Hydri Partners are looking to negotiate a permanent trade agreement. He will be away for a few days. Why?”
“Good. Can we talk?”
“Of course, but not here. If Carter hasn’t seen you already, he will. Let’s get something to drink. There’s a nice cafe I frequent on 41. Best coffee on the station. Follow me.”
Furieux gaped at her. “Coffee? What do you mean coffee? Do the bars actually close during the day now or something?”
Anais laughed as Furieux studied his cup of coffee as if he had never seen one before. She knew he was just playing around, but he made such a big deal of it, she couldn’t help herself.
“Just drink it, idiot.” she giggled, “It doesn’t bite.”
“Yeah, I know, that’s the problem.” He took a quick sip, screwed up his face theatrically, set it down on the table and looked around the establishment. It was clean, minimal and typically Federal in style. The slate grey and silver plating were common themes throughout stations in Fed space. Unlike the fancy Imperial aesthetics, Federal design took a more utilitarian approach. Having lived the majority of his 29 years in Zeta Tucanae, Furieux was accustomed to the style and learned to appreciate it for what it was. The last time he was in the system he had flown the Lady Muck, an Imperial Clipper, and whilst he enjoyed piloting the vessel, he didn’t really feel at home in it. The ship had lived up to its name, and stuck out like sore thumb among the Gunships, Eagles and Vultures that filled the region.
“It’s actually not all that bad, as coffee goes. Azebanian?” asked Furieux, raising the mug to his lips.
“Sure is. I never drink anything else. It’s also one of our biggest imports now.”
“Too much of this stuff will kill you, Ana. That or overwork,” Furieux smirked. He knew that his sister was a career woman, and he often teased her about her need to remain focused on business matters, even when not on site. His father, Ettiene, had in a daughter what he wanted in a son.
“I’m not overworked. I love what I do. And as for drinking too much, don’t even go there. But you didn’t come to Elswick to talk to me about coffee, did you? What have you been doing in ZT since we got back?”
“Oh you know, this and that. I’ve been doing a few jobs for Arkan Ginova, do you remember him?”
Anais nodded gravely. “I do indeed, and you would do well to stay away from that man. You know that he and father don’t see eye to eye. I hope that you both had nothing to do with the conflict?”
“Do you think Legal would be in control of Velidhu if I had, sis?” Furieux laughed. “No, at least not directly. Ginova offered me employment and I took it. I need the credits. Mostly out of system, as it happens. He even suggested that I fly out to Raven’s Landing if I need more work. I am thinking of taking him up on it. He…”
“You are moving on already?” she interrupted.
“Yes. That’s what I wanted to tell you. I’m leaving. There is nothing for me here. It doesn’t feel like home anymore, perhaps I have been away too long.”
Her expression sank and she stared into her cup in silence. The two had been close since they were both young and Furieux knew she that missed him. After his father had all but exiled him from Darwyn after a being caught in a smuggling incident, he rarely visited his old home system. During his work with the 8th Dragon Squadron, Furieux had spent the majority of his time in various sectors where the mercenary group were employed. He liked the nomadic lifestyle, the different cultures, the people and places that awaited him with each new contract.
“What, you didn’t think I’d stick around forever did you? It was made perfectly clear to me that I am not wanted on Darwyn, Elswick or anywhere else in Zeta Tuc for that matter. I dont belong here.”
“Do we mean that little to you, Deu?” hissed Anais. “I brought you back because I didn’t know what else to do at the time, but I had hoped that you two would at least try to set aside your differences. Clearly, you haven’t changed at all. How can you be so selfish?”
Furieux looked genuinely surprised. He was used to Ana’s temper but her reaction was a little over the top. He held his hands up in mock submission as she glared at him.
“Whoa! Look, you have your life here, I understand that, but I have no desire to play happy families and I’d bet that dear old Dad doesn’t either.”
“You are as bad as each other. Both arrogant, stubborn, miserable fools. No – you are worse.”
Furieux sank in his seat a little as she began to get more vocal. Other coffee lovers had begun to look over at their table, curious as to what all the commotion was about.
Anais continued, “What gives you the right to walk away from us Deu? At least father has always been there for me. But oh no, not you. You just refuse to let anyone in. I mean, we simply can’t have the galaxy knowing that you have heart, can we? When are you going to grow up? You just walk into the lives of others, demand their love, suck it up like a sponge, then walk out as if they never existed. Well that might be okay for your floozies and your mercenary friends but not for your family! Why do you choose to live like this, Deu? What are you afraid of?”
“What are you talking about Ana?”
“Nothing. Forget it. Go and drink yourself into a stupor. It’s what you are good at.” She took a deep breath, realising that she was on the brink of losing her cool, and forcibly calmed herself down. “You know Deu, maybe one of these days, you will drop your walls and realise that what you have inside is a strength, not a weakness. Maybe you will even forgive yourself instead of trying to justify the things you do. Wherever you are going, I hope you find peace. Keep in touch with us at the very least. Oh, and don’t even think about taking the Orca. The Delicate Heart is mine now. It’s far too beautiful a ship just for you to tear it all up in some drunken race or something. I’ll put her to good use as a courier or diplomatic transport.”
Furieux stared at her in disbelief. The Delicate Heart was by far his most prized vessel. The scarlet Saud Kruger performed brilliantly as a smuggler. It’s speed, capacity and its innocuous appearance rarely made it a target for authority scans. To leave it behind would be unthinkable.
“No way! She is my ship! She would be wasted here transporting self important business types!”
Anais grinned at his protest. “Dont panic! She will be here any time you wish to fly her again. Only you will have to come to me first for the unlock protocols. I had the codes changed shortly after I docked her at Elswick. The DH only responds to me now.”
Furieux scowled. The Orca would be in safe hands, he knew. Anais was a careful pilot and it was clear that she had a deep liking for the ship. The Type-9 given to him by Ginova would most likely be of more use for the future work that Arkan had planned for him. The least he could do was give his sister this little victory.
“Okay, Ana, but you had better take good care of her. That ship is the closest thing to perfection I have ever witnessed. Hey, I might even buy another one with all the credits I am about to make working for Ginova. I’m thinking midnight black,” Furieux said excitedly.
Anais nodded her approval and finished the last of her coffee. “Well, I need to get going, I am late for a meeting already. Please, Deu, don’t get too friendly with Ginova. There is more to that man and his associates than meets the eye. The dealings that our family have had with the Ravens are ancient history, but they were dealings that didn’t end particularly well.”
“I can look after myself Ana. There is no need for concern. I have dealt with worse men than Ginova.”
“It’s not you I am concerned about, Deu.” Anais replied, before she swiftly hugged her brother and exited the cafe, leaving Furieux to wonder what exactly that meant.