“ALL PASSENGERS, WE HAVE ARRIVED ON NEW TRITON AT APPROXIMATELY 0800 HOURS, COALITION TIME . PLEASE REMAIN SEATED AS THE CARRIER LOWERS ITSELF ONTO THE DOCKING BAY AS TO BETTER PREVENT ANY UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCES. AN AUTO-MATED ATTENDANT SHALL ARRIVE SHORTLY AFTER DOCKING TO ASSIST YOU WITH LUGGAGE AND DEPARTING THE CARRIER.
ANY CONFISCATED PARAPHERNALIA OR EQUIPMENT CAN BE REDEEMED WITH THE LOCAL SECURITY DEPOT LOCATED WITHIN THE CENTER OF THE DOCKING PORT. PLEASE HAVE IDENTIFICATION AND/OR GENE CARDS ON HAND WHEN EXITING THE CARRIER AND ENTERING THE DOCKING BAY.
THOSE WHO DO NOT COMPLY WILL BE DETAINED AGAINST THEIR WILL.
THIS HAS BEEN FLIGHT A.I. RAVEN AND I THANK YOU FOR FLYING FASTER-THAN-LIGHT RAYLEIGH, HOSTED BY THE TALOS CORPORATION! HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!”
The A.I. snapped off the intercom with a click as I stretched in my seat, my metallic harness straining as I popped my back a few times. I was careful not to kick or jostle the heavy-set man next to me, who was sleeping rather soundly despite the mild turbulence. He had actually fallen asleep not five minutes into buckling up and more than a few times I had wondered if he was actually breathing or if the harness had choked him in his sleep. Luckily a few passing attendants before hand had confirmed that yes, he was alive and no, he had not been murdered by his harness.
They also asked me to refrain from pressing the panic button repeatedly on my seat, but hey, I thought I was sitting next to a dead guy.
All around me I could see others stretching and yawning like I had been doing before, chatting to their neighbors in a low murmur. Almost all of them were dressed in orange and white jump-suits, some browsing their Communicators or listening to music from their ear-pieces. More than a few had noticeable scars. Immigrants, probably from Telmun Prime the poor bastards.
I rubbed my eyes tiredly. It had been a long flight, much longer than I had thought it would be, and I was already beginning to feel the effects of light-speed lag. I’d probably have to walk around with a headache for the rest of the day and I doubt sleep would come easily for me.
Maybe a view would help stave off the headache.
Pressing down on the window icon on the armrest, a chime went through my Communicator before a holographic square appeared in front of me, and for just a moment I allowed myself to wallow in nostalgia.
It wasn’t much a view considering we weren’t descending anymore, but it didn’t need to be. The Port was large, practically a city in itself, and still had the same red and silver theme. Age apparently not even scratching the paint. It was octagonal in shape, dotted with tall spires piercing the clouds as several Sky-Cars ferrying high-profile passengers back and forth to parts unknown.
Nothing had changed, yet it felt everything had.
“Ugly things aren’t they?”
I blinked and turned to the voice. The heavy-set man was staring at the Holo-Window, a small frown on his face. His oily curled hair, coupled with the orange and white jumpsuit strangely made me think of the Mud-Rats I had to kill on Lorinthia.
Man, the lag must have been hitting harder than I thought.
He continued on, uncaring of my lack of response, “Never liked those damn towers. Eye sores, all of them. I remember when I was a small child back before I left for Novaria, used to think that they were claws rising up from the ground, ready to pull us all down.”
Well, that was needlessly dramatic.
“You’re a native huh?” Dramatics aside, I didn’t expect to meet a fellow Tritonian. Most people wanted to leave the damn place, never mind visit.
The man nodded, his jowls flapping rather unappealing, “Oh yes. Spent most of my life on this damned puddle. Left in, oh, 2545 if I do recall. Best decision of my life I say.” He smiled then and I have to say, it wasn’t a bad one at all, “How about you son? You don’t seem the kind to find colonies like these all that interesting.”
I shrugged, closing the Holo-Window with a few taps and adjusted my harness, “Yeah, same as yourself really. I… left a lot younger than most did, but coming back was always in the back of my mind. An itch I couldn’t help but scratch you know?”
He laughed, “Why do you think I’m here in the first place?
He looked thoughtful for a moment, “Well, besides the fact that I’m more broke than one of those talking turkeys.”
Oh. Here we go then.
Something must have shown on my face, because he was quick to reassure me, “Now, hang on. I know that kind of thought it seen as ‘outdated’,” Wow he even was even doing the finger quotes, “and even ‘speciesist’ but come on, when was the last time you saw one of those birds hold down a decent job? It’s been proven time and time again that they just aren’t the trustworthy types. Same could be said about those Psycho’s or whatever they call the Mutants these day. Ask anyone and you’ll get the same answer.”
I leaned back into my seat, giving him a thoughtful look, “Anyone you say? Huh.” I looked back at my shoulder and at the passenger behind us, “Hey, can you verify what this gentleman is selling?”
A shadow loomed over us and I couldn’t help but grin. A hooked beak hung over both of our heads, vaguely yellow with a tinges of green at the edges. Red paint stripes circled around the beak and serrated teeth were visible at the edges. Beady black eyes looked us over, contemplating, thinking.
My neighbor looked like he had just shat himself and I was enjoying every minute of it.
“Hm, what this Man of Fat speaks is the truth. Us Kranari are stupid, violent creatures, unable to handle the day-to-day tasks that you humans of civilization have perfected.” He turned completely in the man’s direction, eyes intense, “It was only four revolutions ago that I lost my service of mining of Clarenium. Man of Fat, do you wish to know why?”
He most certainly did not look like he wanted to know why. So I spoke up instead, “Why, I’m sure it was a valid reason. It’s scientific fact after all according to, uh. Huh, never got your name.”
The Kranari spoke before he had the chance to retort, “Fact of Science, hmm? Forgive me, Kranari have no understanding of what you refer to as ‘science’. Tell me, Man of Fat, when I tore out Employer of Mine tongue from anger, was that too a Fact of Science?”
The man just whimpered and tried to sink deeper into his seat, which while hilarious, was also just kind of sad. Looking at the Kranari, I could tell he was just getting started at needling the guy. Normally I wouldn’t mind the mind games, but I really did not want to sit next to a guy who soiled himself.
I coughed, getting the alien’s attention,”Thank you, uh”
“Gravanii of Scalon.”
“Scalon. Let’s save this discussion for a later time? I’m sure Mr… uh, whatever, would love to continue this talk and how you could bend steel, but we have about,” I checked my Communicator, “four minutes till the attendants arrive and I’ll rather not have to deal with the stench of quivering man if you catch my drift.”
Scalon leaned back into his seat, the harness clanging in disapproval, and laughed in that strange clicking manner that Kranari do. His neighbor, a bald woman in a jump-suit, was doing her best to not pay attention to the terrifying alien chuckling at scaring a grown man and blend in with the scenery.
I leaned back in my seat just as the Dock clamps attached themselves to the carrier, shaking the ship slightly, content to wait out the last few moments with only my thoughts.
With any luck the Security won’t be as bad as this guy.
“Alex White,” The feminine voice droned, “Age 19, Race: Sub-Human, Born-“
“I prefer the term ‘Gifted’ if you don’t mind.”
The Port Captain looked up from her Data Pad, her mechanical eye whirring as the servo within focused on me. I could see the two guards behind her tense, shifting their arm cannons ever so slightly in my direction. I made sure to keep my eyes locked with hers, both mechanical and natural.
Even separated by a desk bolted to the floor, I wasn’t entirely sure she wouldn’t just leap across to tear out my throat.
The Captain was short but stocky, her muscles obvious even through the Security Armor. Her blonde hair was buzzed, gleaming beneath the office lights. She was actually pretty, if one could get past the lifeless expression on her face.
“Interrupt me again Psyker,” her voice was completely flat which made it somehow more threatening, “and I will have you buried in the deepest, darkest, most disease ridden hole that I can find on this colony. Do I make myself clear?”
Not trusting myself to speak, I just nodded. As threats to my life went it wasn’t the worst I’ve heard. Best not to push my luck though. I could see the guards relax as it became apparent I wasn’t a threat, but I swore I could see the dirty looks even through the reflective full-face visor.
Those too, were far from the worse I’ve seen.
She turned back down to her Data Pad, her voice continuing to be inhumanly flat, “Race: Sub-Human.” Bitch, “Planet of Birth: New Triton Colony. Your list of Felonies include, but are not limited to, assaulting Coalition Enforcement Officers twice, minor Breaking and Entering, and Petty Theft.”
The Captain gave me a glance, almost like she expected me to say something, anything to give her an excuse. I kept my damn mouth shut. It was hard.
“And it says here,” she continued on like normal, “that you now work as hired muscle for companies that wouldn’t think twice before stabbing you in the back and stealing all your credits.” She shook her and made tut-tut sounds, which came off as more surreal than anything, “Not a nice life to live White. Even for a Psyker.”
She was trying to goad me, trying make me screw up first. The interrogation room was sealed tight, doors locked, and I couldn’t sense anything behind the one way mirror. I felt my power thrum through my body, like a second pair of lungs breathing. Involuntary. It would be easy.
I clenched my fists and grit my teeth. Too easy.
“It’s a life at least,” I gave her smile that felt strained rather than confident, “it could be worse after all? Gotta live with the good and bad.”
That was my only warning. An armored fist slammed into my temple and I could feel the pent-up energy disperse through my body upon contact. The force of the blow was still hard enough to send me to the ground and I barely had time to bring up my hands before I hit cold metal. My power thrummed and thrived, waiting for release.
I held it in.
A metal boot slammed into my rib-cage, once again dispersing throughout my body, but doing nothing to keep me from rolling across the floor. They must have been augmented majorly to knock me around like this. Then again, the Cyborg captain should have been a hint.
I managed to stop my roll to my stomache while fighting off another pulse. Too much. Anymore than this and I couldn’t guarantee there survival.
I saw Boris come in for another kick and braced myself for impact, readying myself to resist another pulse.
The kick never came. The Captain circled around her desk, walking at a leisurely pace. She was enjoying this. Why did everyone have to enjoy this?
The Captain stopped a step before me, her expression now as flat as her voice had been. Boris was standing at attention while the other guard circled around so that he stood on my right, opposite his superior. I mentally named him Kenneth, because- fuck he was aiming his arm cannon at me.
“Do I have your attention Psyker?”
I had no idea if I was supposed to answer or not, so I went with a compromise and nodded. I really didn’t want to be blasted by an arm cannon. That seemed to do the trick as she continued on, “Good. Let me be absolutely clear: I despise your kind. Your people are time-bombs waiting to happen and most of you don’t have the decency to isolate yourselves to spare the rest of us. It’s disgusting – no – selfish. If I had my way… well, I’m sure you understand by now.
However, the law requires that I treat you Sub-Humans with a trace respect, thus not allowing me to dump you in the middle of the Triton Sea. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to work around such a loose law, you just have to think outside the box a bit. So here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to check in at the nearest Security Station once a week, no matter where on Triton you are, and report your activities to the Station Chief. If you so much as miss the scheduled meeting by an hour I will have a serial manhunt on you just as quick.
We will find you and then you will disappear. Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe even a month. Then when you reappear, I can guarantee that you will wish you were dead.”
She gestured to Boris and Kennith and the two quickly scooped me under my arms and brought me to my feet. I met the Captain stare for stare as she leaned in close, our noses almost touching. She wasn’t breathing.
“Do I make myself clear Alex?”
I could kill all of you without so much as breaking a sweat.
“Yeah.” It was all I could say, but it said more than enough.
The cyborg nodded, “Excellent.” She brought her wrist up and a much more advanced and sleeker Communicator sprung from her gauntlet. Or was it part of her body? I wasn’t exactly sure on the whole cyborg anatomy.
Tapping a few icons, the Communicator made a single chirp before sliding back under her gauntlet. My Gene Card suddenly appeared in the palm of her hand like magic, the green chip glowing slightly in the dim office lights. Handing it off to Boris who stuck it in my pant pocket, she turned back to me, “Your permits and licenses have been verified and accepted. You are now free to roam New Triton so long as you follow the laws and requirements as I have explained them. Your packages and equipment shall be handed to you within due time. Welcome back home Mr. White.”
She nodded at her two henchmen and they began dragging me to the exit. I took deep breaths, keeping myself calm like I had been taught. Having an outburst now wouldn’t fix anything, even if it would have felt really good. As far as humiliation went, it wasn’t that bad, but I’d have rather not go through it aga-
“Oh, and Mr. White? You might want to replace that broken Communicator. It’s nothing but scrap really.”
I didn’t even have time to process what she said before I felt an inhumanly strong hand grip my communicator clad wrist. Then it squeezed. I winced as I felt the metal and electronics grind into my skin, the hand like a vice as it twisted this way and that. My communicator chirped and beeped in a distorted fashion as it was crushed and torn.
Apparently finished, the pressure on my wrist suddenly abated and I found myself being shoved out of the office and onto the streets of New Triton. I stumbled but was able to regain my balance before I could fall again. The door had already closed before I finished turning around.
The bastards hadn’t even told me when I could reclaim my stuff! I somehow doubted that I’d get them if I headed back in there. A fight wasn’t what I needed now, no matter how badly I wanted it.
I walked in a random direction for a good ten minutes before stopping at a building with a window large enough to get a good look at myself. The night sky made it impossible to see my reflection normally, but I was anything but normal. I felt the pulse within me once again, but this time I didn’t hold back.
It’s been so long.
Arcs of blue-white lightning unfolded themselves from my body, coating it in a thin sheen of electricity. The entire street was being lit up from the display, so I toned it down just enough for me to see. The pulse responded to my will and obeyed, dying down in just the right amounts.
Looking at my reflection, I wasn’t surprised to find myself lacking any injuries from the beatings. The green-eyed guy that stared back at me was of average height, 5’5 maybe 5’6 if he didn’t slouch, with pale skin and the build of someone who was used to physical labor. His wavy hair was cut short, contrasting with the growing beard.
Heh. Kaelene always said I looked older than I was with a beard, but she never said anything about looking homeless. Which, technically speaking, I now was.
Shaking my head to clear them of those thoughts I glanced down at my wrist communicator. Yep, completely wrecked. There were actually finger indents in the metal. Had I been a normal human I might have lost a hand there. I sent a pulse down my arm, releasing a small pop of electricity that blew off the now constricting device. Shaking my hand a bit to clear it of the smoke, I brought my wrist up and gave it a quick glance.
Not even a bruise.
I sighed and rubbed my hand through my hair. Without my communicator I was hopelessly lost and had no way of accessing the Data-Lines. Couldn’t even check the time now. My memory of this place was hazy at best, so that was reliable at all.
“Fuck me, I shouldn’t be surprised by all this.” I murmured to myself. I wasn’t surprised, not really. After all, this was hardly the first place to treat me like I was less than human. Maybe I was just expecting something… new?
I didn’t know.
With that comforting thought in mind, I randomly chose a direction and started walking. I had no idea where it went and honestly didn’t really care.
I could handle any trouble that headed my way.