The San Philip (v2.0)

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Postby deathblane » Mon Sep 22, 2003 10:59 pm

Ok I've slightly reworked the original part, hence the new thread. I've done some art based on this story so far, should I scan and link the pics or not? Anyway on with the story [img]smile.gif[/img]


It was a time of chaos. The collapse of the Terren Alliance and the devastating advance of the Haradine war fleet almost 60 years before led to destruction on an unprecedented scale. The opportunistic expansion of countless minor alien races and groups of humans had filled the resultant power vacuum with a patchwork of worlds and confederacies.

The bar was typical of portside taverns all over the human inhabited worlds. Dim lights partially illuminated the crowded interior, human and non-human shapes alike sitting or standing in small groups, drinking a bizarre variety of drinks. Metal and plastic tables, muted local music and ingrained grime that no amount of automated cleaning could remove.
Canner paused at the entrance to hand his pistol to the automated security door, rare in places like this. ‘Probably why he chose this place’ he muttered to no one in particular. He scanned the room for his contact. It took a moment before he saw him, a small business type, standard human, sitting alone in a corner. Several burly types standing in a group a few paces away looked suspiciously like bodyguards.
He brought a drink from the bartender, a vaguely squid like alien, but still better than a machine.
When he sat down the contact seemed to start, though he must have seen Canner as soon as he entered the bar. He extended a hand, ‘Mr Sorovitch I presume, I was beginning to think you would not come’ He had a thin dry voice, with a hint of an oriental accent. Canner ignored the hand.
‘I had some trouble with the port authorities’
Actually he had deliberately delayed to see if the contact would wait around for him.
‘I see. Well I’m sure it’s all sorted now. My name is not important but you may call me Mr Sans. Since you have decided to meet with me, I must assume that you intend to undertake a job for my employers.’
"That, depends on the job."
The small man cleared his throat slightly and furrowed his brow.
"Unfortunately details of this mission can only be released if you decide to accept the job."
"Look Mr Sans, if you know of me then you’ll know how I work. Just in case you have forgotten, I like to know details before I accept any work. At all."
"That would be unfortunate, Mr Sorovitch. Considering the sum My employers are prepared to offer."
Canner had stood up to go by this point.
"300,000 credits Mr Sorovitch. That is I believe a lot of money."
Caner stopped, if experience had taught him anything then accepting blind jobs, even, in fact especially if they came with a huge price tag attached. Still 300,000 creds, you could do a lot with that sort of money.
"I want full expenses"
"Of course"
"And a complete overhaul of my ship, before we leave"
"I believe that that can be accommodated, I have been given some flexibility with arrangements" he reached inside his jacket and produced a contract. Canner almost left again when he saw it, if you thumb printed one of those things and didn’t fulfil the terms…
Instead he bent down and pressed his thumb firmly onto the appropriate sections. "Thank you Mr Sorovitch. Our employers will be most appreciative." He produced a small data chip and a hand viewer and handed them to Canner. "This viewer is required to decode the contents of the chip. Keep both items safe. All of the details you will require are on that disk, including the access codes to a considerable credit account. Time is of the essence here so departure within the next three days is required. That should be sufficient for you’re preparations. Goodbye." With that he left, followed shortly by one of the ‘bodyguards’.

Canner sat for a while longer, savouring his drink. He fingered the data chip. What had he let himself in for here? Finishing up he went to the entrance and collected his gun, a beautiful little plasma pistol almost eighty years old. Accurate and light, it still had the Terren Alliance symbol on the grip, worn slightly over the years. They didn’t make them like that any more. In fact they didn’t make many things as good as they used to, which was probably what this mysterious job was about. A little way along the passage way outside he noticed another of the ‘bodyguards’ following him. Sighing he paused and spoke into the communicator on one collar. "Local, three way call. Sice Consrat, and Kep Hendel." "One moment" the bland voice of the local computerised exchange spoke back to him. "Connecting in 3, 2, 1" the computer cut out. "Captain, is that you?" It was Siece, she sounded pissed off. "Look, we just got here so this better not be another fucking ‘back to the ship now or else?"
"Not quite, but we’ve got a job and you and Kep need to get back, uhhh, some time tonight."
"I knew it, I fucking knew it"
"Where is Kep anyway?"
"Sitting next to me, and kind of busy. Look we’ll be back sometime tonight. Maybe. Out"
Canner grinned to himself, that was Siece all right. He doubted that she’d be back anytime before the next day.
It took him about 20 minutes to get back to the ship. His tail kept up with him, but then he expected no less.

The Starseeker was an old ship. Originally a scout for the Terren Navy she’d been shot up during a minor skirmish. When Canner had found her, crashed on an uninhabited world the crew were long dead. Desiccated corpses on an arid planet. Most of the ships systems were operational, the majority of the damage being confined to the main ion thruster array.
The ship had been chased by two of its contempory’s in the Haradine navy. The shields were down and no amount of manoeuvring could keep the probing beams of the pursuing craft away for long. Being more aerodynamic than the enemy craft the crew had hoped to be able to draw them down into the maze of sheer mountains that covered part of the nearby planet. Just as they were entering the atmosphere, one of the enemy scouts scored a direct hit. For a brief few seconds the AM beam annihilated the thinner nutronium plated armour of the aft section and crippled the ship, which promptly crashed with enough force to smash the crew at their stations. Under orders not to reveal their presence the Haradine ships elected against complete annihilation of the wreck, contenting themselves with a low level flyby before accelerating away from the planet to their similarisation distance.
When Canner had entered the system, his shuttle had detected a weak distress call. The old ship’s computer had waited until the Haradine vessels had similarised out before activating the beacon. Landing next to the wreck he had cannibalised his own craft, jury-rigging its engines to the back of the Terren ship. Charging up the main power and generally making the vessel at least partially space worthy. It was pure luck that his repairs held enough to take the ship into space, and it took a month of preying and minor emergencies to take the ship to space smooth enough for the similariser jump to work. The engines finally failed as he attempted to take the ship into space dock, but as he was towed in he felt an awesome relief. The ship was his now, and it would serve him well.

The watcher wasn’t human. Without any equipment it was able too keep watch on the bar from a hallway half a kilometre down the corridor. It observed Canner exiting the bar, followed shortly by another human. Silently it followed on behind a dark cloak covering the motion of it’s many legs.

The ship was parked in a general hanger, stretching away for almost a mile and high enough for two levels of airborne traffic, the main entrance led out onto a major passageway, big enough for freighters and liners kilometres long. Smaller openings, airways, doors and windows pierced the remaining three rock walls and the roof. The Starseeker sat in it’s own pit, one among almost a thousand. It took up less than a quarter of the space available, but was now surrounded by multitudinous machines and pipes. It hadn’t been like this when he’d left, but then he hadn’t asked for a full refit then either. He chuckled, whoever he was working for must be important to obtain such prompt service.
Walking over to the small open lift he rode down to the floor of the pit, now littered with tools and parts. Robotic machinery walked or rolled all around him. Bulky construction bots were removing sheets of hull material while showers of sparks came from the interior, where their smaller cousins were working on the newly exposed internals. Discarded parts were piling up in the corners while mobile trolleys rushed new replacements to waiting metal hands. Looking round at the apparent chaos Canner wondered who was in charge. Above the din he could just hear the sound of someone cursing.
“Stupi *clang* damn mach *hiss* Can’t reboot can’t” The rest was drowned out by a nearby power cutter. Canner moved round the ship to find the source of the voice. Standing back first to Canner was someone who couldn’t be anything other than a mechanic. Dressed in a jump suit from head to toe with electronics hanging from belts and pockets, he had their head and upper body inside one of the larger bots. Walking over Canner, tried to get the engineers attention by shouting but the noise drowned out his voice. Giving up he tapped the engineer on the shoulder. Starting, the engineer attempted to straighten up inside the bot, the resulting crack of head impacting on machinery could almost be heard above the din.
“Ow ow oww” That got above the drone of power machinery.
As the engineer turned Canner was mildly surprised at the curve of ‘his’ upper chest. She had goggles partially obscuring her face but what was revealed looked pretty angry. Beckoning Canner over with her finger she waited until he was within a few centimetres, shouting distance really, before beginning a tirade. “Look don’t you know how dangerous it is to a working engineer? Well? Hell didn’t you notice this whole area is dangerous? Have you got any idea what a heavy-duty bot could do if you’re in the wrong place? And anyway just who are you? You’re not company and I didn’t see any signs saying come on down into this private berth?” She paused there somewhat breathless.
“Actually this is my ship.”
“Oh” she seemed taken aback. Canner was just glad to have gotten a word in. “Well even if you are the owner you should know better than to creep up on someone like that.”
“Look my names Canner, I need to speak to you a minute. Lets go inside where we won’t need to shout at each other.”
“Uhh, yeah, ‘course. Oh and my names Rasha.”
Inside the Starseeker’s docking bay the thick walls kept out most of the noise. The bulky shape of an armoured ground vehicle took up one corner of the hanger while crates and assorted smaller pieces of equipment lined the walls.
“Hey I’m sorry for shouting at you back there, I didn’t realise you were the owner and my head does kind of hurt.”
“You realise we were both shouting at each other out there?” Canner had a grin on his face.
“What?, Hey you know what I meant.” Rasha had sat down on a convenient packing case and removed her goggles. She had a slight figure and a pretty, grimy face. She couldn’t have been more than eighteen. “Anyway I know what you’re gonna ask and no we can’t replace the secondary converter, but we can do pretty much anything else. This is one amazing ship but it’s a good thing you decided to get an overhaul when you did, I mean those temporary power lines were going to go any time now, and that crack in the main thrusters….” She was shaking her head by this point and didn’t seem to be registering Canner at all. Her eyes were wondering around the bay taking in every detail.
Canner cleared his throat to get her attention. “What I actually wanted to know is if you’ve compromised the main computer system yet?”
“What?” Her eyes snapped back to him. “Uhh no. I’m not starting that till tomorrow. Is that a Jitterbug light tank?” Her attention had focused on the brooding shape of the vehicle. “That things got to be older than this ship!”
“Well it was already here when I got the Starseeker. It was probably standard equipment.”
“Does it still work?” Before Canner could answer Rasha was up and across the room to the Jitterbug. Running her hands over the surface she bent closer to look at some detail.
“Actually it does still run, sort of. Including the original security systems” He added the last bit quickly as Rasha was tugging at one of the doors, she didn’t appear to hear him. Suddenly there was a sharp crack and Rasha jumped back sucking burnt fingers. Her gloves had protected most of her hand but her fingertips were exposed for detail work.
“Hey you could have warned me!”
“Actually I did.” Canner had a wry grin on his face but Rasha had gone back to ignoring him and was eyeing the Jitterbug again. “This girl has the attention span of a gnat” murmured Canner. He tried a different tactic. “Rasha. Hey Rasha! Shouldn’t you be fixing things? Like my ship?”
“What? Oh, yeah. Um don’t worry about your ship, or computers, I’ll get right on it. Everything ‘ll be fine. Promise.” Then with a final lingering glance at the tank she turned around and ran to the door. Pressing the release control she waited visibly impatient until the door had cycled half open before vaulting through the gap. Canner stood where he was for a minute, then shaking his head he walked over to the lift. “Damn strange kids they’ve got fixing things up these days”. Getting off on the top deck he walked the short distance to the bridge. Flopping down in the command chair he got out the data chip and inserted it into the proper slot. “Time to see what kind of job I’ve taken on here”.

The watcher stood on the floor of the main bay. Checking for any observers it reached inside its cloak it took out a small repair bot, a perfect replica of the hundreds that swarmed over the Starseeker several berths ahead. Pressing the correct sequence of controls the bot activated and scuttled in the direction of the ship, it’s program’s already preset. Satisfied the watcher retired from the bay, merging into the general crowds.

[size="1"][ 22. September 2003, 11:04 PM: Message edited by: deathblane ][/size]
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"there's nutrients in that beer"
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Postby deathblane » Fri Sep 26, 2003 11:34 am

Well since no-one seems to have objected to my illustration plan...

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Postby InocPrime » Sat Sep 27, 2003 12:37 pm

Exceptional. I don't know what's better, the pic or the story [img]smile.gif[/img]
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