For the Greater Good of the Empire - a Story


#1

Well to amuse myself and maybe some of you, let me see if I can sustain a few words in a story for us all :slight_smile: No comments needed unless it either Bores you to distraction or you actually like it! | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part4


Part One
“The animus will see you now, Provost commander”

The Gamma class workers statement was delivered in the perfect cultured monotone of their settings. Against his training Provost Nicolai nodded an acknowledgement back to the functionary.

It was unlikely a mere Gamma would be able to appreciate the courtesy but somehow it felt appropriate to Nicolai

Stepping into the Spartan office of the Animus, he snapped a sharp salute the moment the door slid shut behind him.

The White blond woman behind the desk languidly rose to her feet and returned the salute casually.

“Ah Commander Nicolai, welcome, and congratulations on your new command. Zathabaria appreciates her officer heroes” she began. Not a single trace of sincerity in her perfunctory tone. Regaining her seat and pointing to the chair opposite her Animus d’Borah pulled a sheaf of papers into her hand and scanned the contents.

“You have read the briefing I take it?” She asked rhetorically. Of course he had it would have been unthinkable for a new commander to shirk his first duty, to know his new command! Insulting!

Her eyes widened as she read and her whole mannerism changed. “Ah my apologies Alpha Nicolai I have become so used to dealing with Beta level commanders I did not realise you had achieved Alpha status! Unusual for a coloniser crew to be so honoured!”

As she had acknowledged his Animus Alpha status Nicolai ventured to respond without asking permission as a lesser classification would. “The Selardi system was deemed to be of great potential Animus d’Borah. Hence much like your own appointment here as founder Animus to the Abberret system, and Alpha was deemed necessary to achieve full utilisation.”

“in time” she interjected, obviously nettled.

“…in time, madam Animus of Abberret. I have studied your direction of the founding of this system for the Empire and derived great enlightenment from it” he finished as suavely as he could manage as despite their equal social class the woman was still a system Govenor! He buried the thoughts of the pages of the journal where he had found her actions questionable if not down right inefficient! The Peoples Realm of Zathabaria despised inefficiently!

Animus d’Borah settled back in her chair and eyed the younger man keenly. “In deed, you should have Animus Nicolai. To business then, my shipyards have out fitted your squadron as per the directives of the high command. In addition to the long range Imperium coloniser you have three Multi purpose scout craft. A Doublecross System steward with compact Mining capabilities, and two Interdictor Class fast defence craft. Heavily shielded and armed as their size allows.

“You will travel out to the Selardi system via the out post on Emslyp 4 and link up with the Outrider class Scout currently warding the most suitable world for immediate colonisation. Do you have any… questions…?” Clearly she expected none. So Nicolai thought to upset the arrogant woman one last time before he sailed forth to his Glorious destiny as a planetary founder!

“As Alpha I retain the right to overrule the planetary selection by the Beta class commander of the Outrider do I not?” This was expected convention after all, hardly a question. Those rare individuals allowed to attain Alpha status in the Realm generally could countermand the Orders of any Beta or below in there area of specialisation. Still to set aside the survey crews recommendation would raise an eyebrow or two…

Animus d’Borah played it conventionally though Nicolai could sense she had questions of her own, but not ones she could ask and remain socially polite in their stratified society. “You have that right, I suggest caution how you exercise it Alpha Nicolai. But in the Selardi system you word will be as the Emperors. I wish you luck!” With that she rose and offered him a hand signalling the audience was terminated.

Shaking the proffered hand then snapping once more into a academy perfect salute Nicolai turned on his heel and left the fuming System governors office for the last time.


“Fuel reserve depleted Animus Nicolai” stated the helmsman flatly.

Nicolai steepled his fingers from his command chair. The man was Beta class as were most ships officers but his tone showed a tremor of emotion at what should have been a factual statement. Not a cause for alarm. That was the problem with Beta’s they had genuine intelligence and could be trusted with many complex tasks and were technically “Alive” as the empire defined its citizens; but they suffered from an over dependency on emotion and sentiment. If the helms man was at all nervous now, perhaps he should be replaced. Nicolai mused.

The problem was all he had for company was Beta’s; the Delta class soldiers and Gamma Technicians were at best “Semi living” and while capably of independent thought hardly stimulating. Until he had socialisation camps up and running for the breeding and cloning of replacements he could afford no losses. After all occasionally Beta’s developed the correct characteristics to be reclassified Alpha’s. Though such “Revenants”, as any who managed to cross caste boundaries were called, were exceedingly rare.

“You seem disquieted Beta Pennington” he observed gently so as to let the man know he was not in trouble. “You perhaps have an observation?”

His eyes still attending his task the Helms man explained: “Yes Animus, would it not have been prudent to retain a few hundred tons of fuel in case we needed evasive maneuvers in the case of Pirate ambush sir?”

“Your concern is valid and so noted, Beta Pennington. I had allowed for that, but I am please at least one of this crew can think independently!” Nicolai congratulated the man, loudly so the rest of the bridge crew could hear it. No fear in him just a legitimate concern for the mission, very good. He could work with that.

“Reset course 12 degrees Gal North Navigation. Head for the Takku system” He ordered.

Beta Pennington swivelled his chair about to partially face him. “Sir that will cause a delay of some hours in our mission time table?”

“Indeed briefly it shall. However if you have access to the survey report on Takku tell me what you see.”

Pennington turned back to his console and requested the information. A flicker on his secondary screen noted the unusual request for information from a non command Officer. With a snap of his wrist he authorised the computer to display to the man what he had seen in the briefing data.

“No inhabitable systems sir… oh I see. Very good sir course being plotted now to Planet G”

Nicolai smiled. Quick of wit to grasp his intent and just a shade of initiative. Very well Beta Pennington you pass the test. “Very good Animus Pennington.” he stated softly. Despite there discipline, there was a ripple through the rest of the crew as he stated he considered Pennington fully alive. The highest respect one could bestow in Zathabaria. “What is your personal Nomen, Beta Pennington?”

The man completed his flight programming to the Olzine heavy lava world in the Takku system first, then swivelled fully around to meet his commanders eyes. “Carl, Animus Nicolai” he said carefully “Carl Pennington”

Nicolai smiled. “And I am Vanrick, Animus Pennigton. When in private at least” He settled back into his chair as the Doublecross class Steward Craft came about to the new heading.

“When this shift terminates dine with me in the ready room Animus Pennington I would have your thoughts on our destination”

Refuel at Takku and be in system days before schedule would give him time to see if the Survey crews had indeed selected the best the Selardi system had to offer the empire.

The end of Part One…
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part4


#2

Part Two, in case anybodies interested :slight_smile: Not sure if this will be three or four parts long now? Something like that anyhow
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part4

“We have arrived Animus Nicolai” Beta Juno stated from the scanner station to the bridge. “Entering Selardi’s outer gravity well in twelve seconds.”

“Very good Animus Juno, begin a sensor sweep of the system for life forms and Ionic signatures.” He paused and tapped his lips in a moments thought. “Assuming no unexpected contact begin sensor analysis of Asteroid fields. Animus Pennington plot course to the nearest planet for a flypast sensor sweep. Coms. Get me the commander of the Outrider on my private channel now!”

Nicolai studied the bright F7 class sun looming steadily larger on the view screen. Savouring his first glance at his new system. All too swiftly his console pinged an incoming call.

“Commander Chenko on your private channel Sir” Beta… whatever his name was stated from the Communication system. Try as he might Nicolai could not seem to remember that man’s name, he was so generic and devoid of nuance as to be utterly forgettable. He should have been a Gamma by his attitude. No matter he was efficient at least. Thumbing the accept button he looked down on his repeater screen.

A small featured Beta wearing ship commander fatigues gazed respectfully back at him. Not willing to risk opening the dialogue the man mimed a salute and awaited his commander to speak.

“Commander Chenko, greetings in the name of the Emperor.”

Chenko slapped his chest ritually: “From Death to life and death once more we serve!” he declaimed.

“We serve” Nicolai affirmed. “I commend your diligence in your survey of this system commander and salute your decision to remain on station while Fleet processed your recommendation about it. It is a prize we could not lightly set aside.”

“Thank you Animus Commander Nicolai. I was aware that high command had ordered a period of consolidation for the empire and no new systems were to be settled. But this place…” The man’s voice tapered off, as is he still hardly believed the readings of his own equipment.

“Indeed, exceptional, and so an exception has been made. However I disagree with your assessment somewhat Commander.” Seeing the man stiffen, expecting a reprimand he added “No you were not in error, you were text book correct in your data. But as we just established, this is an exceptional situation and an exception I feel will be needed to the usual colonisation strategies.”

“Your will Animus Provost Nicolai” Chenko replied stiffly.

Oh dear, thought Nicolai he’s easily offended. Pity. Out loud he replied. “Indeed it is, Beta Chenko, I expect you and your survey specialist in Holo conference with my staff in 30 minutes. Nicolai out!” Closing the com screen he stood up to address the bridge crew.

“Beta Murphey you have the ships command. Animus Pennington and Juno attend me in the survey suit in twenty minutes”


“Glad you could join us Beta Chenko” Nicolai said as the Holographic image of the Scout-ship commander solidified into human form. “You recommended planet “I” for the initial colony here. State your reasons why please”

Scout Commander Chenko assumed a parade rest position and began to recite from memory. “Planet “I” had the best combination for immediate growth for our species Provost, although a shade cool it contains Rich deposits of Bearon and Farsu along with trace readings of Limbalt for our missiles. No climate modification stations would be required for acceptable growth rates. For those reasons I recommend it over the computers choice of Planet “D”. “ he stated calmly.

“Planet “D” has what to offer please: Animus Juno?”

His second officer read aloud from her note 'puter. “Planet “D” 12.5 Kkm diameter, 45% Land to Sea ratio ambient 47c: Exceedingly rich presence of Bearon with several thousand tons surface deposits”

“A good choice indeed, but you thought to make us all cold instead of Warm summer days eh Chenko!”

“That sir was not an issue. “D” and “I” are opposites in that regard it is true, one a touch warm the other a touch cool but neither would greatly impair strong population growth. The added Mineral wealth of “I” is what clinched it to me, “I” will give us much more flexibility in the longer term.”

“Indeed it would. I commend you on that observation Beta Commander Chenko” Nicolai conceded. “But as I said, though your reasoning is sound, it does not allow enough for the peculiarities of this situation.” He paused to make eye contact with each person present before continuing.

“You recall the Emperor had called for several cycles of consolidation and pacification of undesirable elements within the empire before further expansion was warranted yes?”

They nodded agreement, it was well known of the High Necromancers decree not many solar turns previously.

“This system with its six directly habitable worlds and all three of the remaining ones are well within limits of our Planetary forming Technology is the first we have encountered with the easy possibility of fully colonising in due time every world attached to this star. This has not yet been achieved by the empire nor have I heard of it happening often even in neighbouring Galaxies. For this reason I intend to tackle the colonisation of the Selardi system head on.

"It will be some time before authorisation is given for us to establish colonies on the other worlds here so we must take over one that absolutely maximises our long term usefulness to the empire. Once our exports of material and strategic strength are acknowledged we will be given licences to take more worlds under our direct control.”

With a pass of his hand Nicolai brought up a schematic of the Solar system. Stabbing a finger at the innermost world he declaimed: “This is the true jewel of Selardi commanders. Planet “B” or “Emerald” as I declare it shall be called locally.

Chenko looked aghast at the pronouncement. Juno & Pennington he had told of it earlier kept their reactions better hidden but he knew neither of them were enthusiastic. No matter, he was the provost here and the only Alpha. No one would argue. Or would they; Chenko looked fit to burst.

“Permission to speak freely Alpha Provost Commander Nicolai!” Chenko choked out the strictly formal phrase, veins bulging at the side of his head.

Nicolai sat back down and mimicked the lazy hand wave he had last seen Animus d’Borah use in her office so many Lunar cycles past. “Have at it Beta Chenko, you are a planetary specialist. I am obliged to hear your reasoning.” He declared with just an edge of a threat implied in his tone.

“Provost Commander, planet “B” is the nearest to a highly energetic sun. Its “charming” Green hue comes from the high concentrations of copper vapour lacing the atmosphere. It is dangerously hot, poisonous without re-breathers and has a low “Land” mass for all its 15KkmD size. I say land as there is little difference between the seas of diluted copper sulphate and the land mass that releases it in such abundance. It is easily the least easily habitable world in the system I marked it second to last in my survey for colonisation order for these reasons sir!”

“So noted, Beta Commander Chenko you state the case for its undesirability well and commendably. Animus Pennington please make the case for its consideration.”

Looking a little nervous Pennington stood and glanced at his note’puter from time to time as he went over the speech Nicolai had drummed into him.

“Planet “B” Emerald; is without doubt one of the richest ever discovered. Its shows High concentrations of Bearon, Farsu and Zyril as well as a low but potentially usable amount of Olzine for Warp injectors. In short it lacks only Limbalt which is the second most common deposit lieing in surface deposits in this whole system. In short I has everything to be a self sufficient world.”

“Remind me Carl, what is its default Ambient temperature” Nicolai commented.

“60 degrees C nominal sir”

“So three planet former’s would reduce it to bearable levels yes?”

“Yes sir”

“But Animus Nicolai!” Chenko broke in. “That would scarce leave generator capacity to power administration and Socialisation centres let alone Mines that will make us self sufficient. Besides that we are not as a fleet carrying sufficient material to construct that many Planet former’s. The coloniser available to us is an older model brought out of storage just for this mission. We could make perhaps two if we used the surface reserves of Bearon for nothing else. Our people would burn sir!”

“If we only made two Planet former’s you are correct Chenko” Nicolai stated calmly fixing the man with his eye. “But we still have four ships after the Imperium settles on the planet yes? Remind me again the amount of surface bearon in the system Commander I believe you said in your report it was a near record amount yes…?”

Nicolai smiled as Chenko did the numbers in his head. His horrified expression faded into one of grim resolve, as befitted one of the Elite of the Empire.

“We shall defy hell then sir, and break the back of this systems hazards at the outset. By you will Provost Nicolai!” he said a shade defiantly.

“Defy hell? No I intend to remake it into heaven for all of us. For the Good of the Empire!”

“For the good of the Empire!” they all chorused. Any lingering objections momentarily suspended.

End of part 2
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part4


#3

Sorry for the delay; sadly real life get sin the way of fun yes? Defintly looking at 4 parts now: sorry! The wife tells me I can say Anything concisely! [What do mean you’d noticed???.. :wink: ]
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part4

Part 3

Not for the first time Provost Nicolai was regretting his decision. Logically he was correct and in time all would be well. But nothing: no things, could have prepared him for the reality of colonising such an inhospitable world!

“Emerald” as he christened it looked pretty indeed from space indeed but even within the best Habitat block if he took off his filter mask the lingering smell of copper still pervaded the air.
In one corner an air-conditioning unit strove valiantly but impotently against the heat. Three climate stations had indeed brought the biosphere to a point they could work with it but the cost had been enormous in terms of his personnel. He had lost perhaps 30% of his entire workforce. Admittedly 25% of that was in easily replaceable Zeta Class “Zombies” but the remaining 5% included some of his more promising Beta & Gamma class citizens, including the late Animus Alpha Pennington, whom he had buried and posthumously promoted to Alpha status as a tribute to the man’s concern for the Greater Good of the Colony.
He sat down at his desk to read the morning reports.

Beta Commander Chenko and the four ship fleet of scout vessels were scouring the system for every bit of Bearon to assist the single mine that they had managed to erect on Emerald. He had told the spacer to keep ferrying any easily accessible material to the colony until he had it all or his ships fell apart. Kept the annoying man out of his hair at least. And the minerals were useful.

Gamma Harvey’s report from propaganda and entertainment was depressing as usual. The population had yet to recover to its initial levels and every one was on double shifts to make sure the scanty infrastructure of the planet stayed viable.

Beta Bartholomews report from Cloning and socialisation was a shade better. Now that the Climate stations were at level 2 the combined growth rates of Zeta clones and Epsilon Proles reached nearly 400 more citizens per cycle.

And Gamma Stilman report that the Zyril mine was being constructed on schedule actually raised a smile. As soon as the empire heard there was Zyril to be had in the New system any raised eyebrows at the amount of losses his small colony fleet had suffered would immediately turn into notes of congratulation and insincere though heart handshakes from Other Provosts whose systems did not yet boast a facility for producing that most precious resource!

“Coffee!” he shouted into the still malfunctioning intercom on his desk. A moment later a Zeta servitor shuffled in with a large insulated cup, its implanted headband burning a dull amber light of domestic classification. He frowned, where was Gamma Silvester his attendant?

“Alpha interrogative: Where is Gamma Silvester: Answer immediate!” he barked to to the surgically implanted control band as much as the hapless Zeta wearing it.

The mind controlled workers eye refocused as more of his cerebellum was allowed to awaken from the induced coma created by the Z-band. “Gamma Silvester reassigned to Re-socialisation camp 4”

Nicolai’s eyes narrowed. That was unusual and against protocol to remove a private secretary from an Alpha without previously informing him. There were very few reasons it would be allowed even then. “On whose orders?”

The Zeta’s eyes flickered and a red light spiked on the Z-band about his forehead. “Classifi… Alpha override acknowledged. Provost’s voice pattern match acknowledged: processing… processing… processing…” Wisps of smoke began to fume out from the Z-band, a serious malfunction was obvious. Nicolai began to back away from the swaying figure.

“Guards to my office now!” He bellowed into the com link while fumbling for his hold out blaster.

The Zeta was holding his head and emitting a low moan. For a moment the Z-bands domination slipped and his eyes clear completely. “…please make it stop I’ll submit, h-hail the emperor… don’t reassign meeee…!” The smoke was really dense now and a writhing white purple spark arced from the mans head to burn a hole in the Provost desk.

Snapping a single shot into the mans chest Provost Nicolai dove behind the duraplast desk just as the door burst in with two Delta class troopers forcing their way through. One covered the room with his pulse rifle while the other stooped over the inert Zeta drone.

“This unit is no functional Provost” the Delta “I recommend…” the troopers recommendation would never be made as the Z-band detonated like a grenade while he straddled the man.

The concussive wave deafened Nicolai and rendered the morning reports moot in a single wave of energy. Shaking he levered his way up to observe the armoured Delta trooper in the door way doing the same. Of his partner, it appeared the Delta had deliberately smothered the blast and been thrown aside like a rag doll. His battle suit in tatters. Of the weaponised Zeta there was very little left…

“Malfunction in provosts office.” the Delta began into his comlink.

“Belay that you dolt!” Nicolai thundered “this was no malfunction Z-bands do not explode like that that was a microgram of Limbalt explosion. Secure the area and send for Beta Juno and Gamma specialist Harvey at once.

The Delta class security guard took a moment to process what he said before nodding gravely. “Assassination attempt Alpha Provost, so noted protocols engaging. Do you have a safe list of personnel sir?”

“Limited to Beta Juno and Beta Commander Chenko, trooper. All others will be treated as suspect and must only attend me if Delta shock troops are present”

“Acknowledged Alpha Provost. Informing Delta command”

“Akknowle…deged” cam a croaking voice from the floor. Evidently the Delta trooper had not quite died in the blast.

“And get him a medic and debriefing as soon as your back up unit arrives”

“Yes Alpha Provost, Nicolai” The uninjured trooper stated coldly turning back to guarding the remains of the doorway.

Retrieving a chair from the ruin Nicolai sat down drumming his fingers. It was true that conditions were harsh on Emerald currently, but things would get better. The ingrates in the labour force and the unclassified Epsilon tier would see soon enough.

Well most of them, whomever was behind this was about to learn Zyril mining; without a rad suit, he vowed silently…

End of part 3
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part4


#4

Been rather preoccupied of late but writing (however poorly) is one form of stress relief for me. So here we go again. I suspect there may now be yet another part hereafter but we’ll see.
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3|

Part 4

The intercom on his temporary desk buzzed imperiously. Irritated Nicolai thumbed the accept button savagely:

“I have the information you ordered Provost” Specialist Gamma Harvey announced through the tiny speaker without inflection.

“Enter”

The door to the reinforced office slid open and the two Delta Shock-troopers stationed like decorative statues either side of the door shifted position to cover the entrance. Ignoring them Specialist Harvey entered and stood at attention in front of his desk awaiting to be acknowledged.

“Report, Specialist!”

Harvey unfolded the note 'puter from the crook of his arm. “The analysis shows that the recent attempt upon your person originated in the North Brook habitat among the Epsilon class citizens, Alpha Provost Nicolai” he began. “Security specialists have determined the conspirators have come from warren 21 on Level B of the habitat complex. With your authorisation we will fumigate the warren and reclassify the occupants to Zeta drones at once.” he concluded as emotionlessly, as if he was talking about painting a house, rather than gassing four thousand people and then effectively mind wiping them.

He held out the note 'puter for Nicolai’s signature.

“Not yet Specialist” Nicolai demurred, “I need to know why the proletariat acted they way they did first. We are not suffering that badly compared to some, a little unrest is to be expected when founding a colony such as this but for it have escalated like that so swiftly… No I require more information before I down class such a swath of the workforce. Besides is not clone centre two on that level? Such an act would set back population growth disproportionately."

Reluctantly Harvey withdrew the device. The beginnings of a puzzled expression on his features. “How would you like to proceed then Provost?” he managed eventually.

Nicolai tapped his temple a moment. “Round up a group of say fifty Epsilons from the area, all those that have logged at least two civic violations. As they know full well that a third would result in their downgrading we might find one that knows something and is prepared to share it rather than be reclassified. Bring them in for holding for a day then split them into groups of five at random then I will interview them personally. "


“Group four, as ordered Provost” The Delta trooper announced as his squad-mates shepherded the five Episilons in to the windowless room deep in the Administrative centre.

Nicolai surveyed the quintet from behind the one way plexiglass screen for a moment. Three females and two males this time. All fit as expected and looking nervous. All apart from one of the women who showed signs of… boredom? Seriously? The wench was unimpressed with the situation? How interesting.

As soon as they had been seated each facing the spot lamps and with an alert Trooper at their ear as mute intimidation, Nicolai stepped forward. Silently Juno dialled down the lights so they could see his features.

“Good evening citizens” he began in a carefully neutral tone. “Have you been made aware of why I have summoned you here?” he asked rhetorically. Glance at each in turn. They shook there heads except for the insouciant woman, who merely smiled.

“I can guess…” she drawled.

Immediately her guard went to slap her “Speaking out of turn is not permitted!” the Trooper barked mechanically. Drawing back his hand to strike: with a raised palm Nicolai stopped him.

“Technically Trooper, I did ask a question, Epsilon…” he squinted at her name flash “…Natalia was not out of protocol answering aloud.”

“I am attempting to get a consensus from the greater population. Each of you has logged in the few months since we settled here on Emerald a number of violations collectively seriously enough to have you reclassified as dissidents and reassigned to the ranks of the Zombies…” He concluded deliberately using the lower class’s word for the ubiquitous Zeta servitors at the bottom of their society.

“This is a once only opportunity; you tell me of your dissatisfaction’s and any others you may have heard of and I will not hold them against you, in fact answer honestly and verifiably and they will be deleted from your permanent records. Who would like to begin?”

Almost at once the Epsilons began to babble out tales of inequality and woe, he let them talk hardly interested in the words as he was in the manner of delivery. His training allowed him to spot manufactured grievances from the real thing. He was out to see who was lieing, then he could find out why and about what. Besides Harvey was recording the whole thing should any matter of actual significance be raised the analyst would flag it for his review later.

Interestingly Natalia was hardly joining in. Oh she said enough so that her silence was not in itself noteworthy given his offer. Confirming her tales to seemingly factual accounts of her own infractions and her reasons for them. But she definitely was trying to get his attention. Unlike the others she did not look away when he met her gaze. It was almost as if she was trying to will something into his mind. Very well that will do.

He let the group ramble on for perhaps another half hour before standing up, terminating the group interview.

“Thank you for that feed back Citizens, I shall analyse your comments in detail later. For now you are free to go and you official records will be amended to show but a single Civic demerit. Gamma Harvey have them sent back to their habitats immediately. Beta Juno a moment if you please.”

As Harvey directed the troopers to escort the Epsilon workers out Beta Juno approached from the monitors at the far end of the room. “How may I serve Alpha Provost?”

“Before they leave the compound have Epsilon Natalia brought back I suspect she knows something but would not speak of it in front of the others. Put her in a room under guard then take me to her, you, I and Specialist Harvey will interrogate her in greater detail.

End Part 4
Jump to | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3|


#5

Well this is not going to wrap itself up is it? The wife says I can never come to a point and tend to ramble, but what the heck. Its therapy I tell her! Enjoy!

Part 5

Specialist Harvey held the door of the interrogation cell open for him.

The small circular cell’s lighting was set to spotlight the uncomfortable looking Epsilon woman sitting awkwardly in the rooms exact centre. Her companion Delta Troopers visual implants hazed over compensating for the intense lights shown no discomfort at all.

“Bring the environmental back to standard Harvey” Nicolai sighed with irritation. You had to be so literal with Gamma classification workers they tended to be extremely literal and apparently when he had said “Interrogation”… No matter, as long as they hadn’t pumped her full of drugs yet it would do.

He took a seat in next to the woman, noting at last she had lost that air of seeming indifference she had shown earlier. So perhaps Harveys overreaction was not a total waste of time.

“Epsilon Natalia, I believe you have something you wished to say to me privately am I correct?” he began in a neutral tone, while studying her body language as the lights shifted back to a normal hue and intensity.

“Yes Alpha Provost” she began a little horsely. She shot a glance at Harvey and Juno. “But privately if you please sir…”

“Ah no, Natalia. Last time I was left alone with a lower classification they decided to blow up on me.” He demurred.

“Just the slab trooper then please Alpha Provost” she countered.

Nicolai was amazed, to ask him to exclude two citizens each higher classified than herself? It was borderline treason to suggest it in the Stratified society of the Realm! Glancing at Juno and Harvey they were shocked as well.

Well Juno looked shocked. Harvey looked fit to about burst with repressed anger at the woman’s temerity. Actually he looked rather comical in his rage, which swept away the mild irritation the man had caused him with his full pre narco interrogation set up here.

“You are a Merchant yes Natalia?” he queried but before she could respond he added “Well after this you shall be so classified, such bargaining under duress is a talent not to be wasted on Emerald. Harvey you are dismissed Juno if you would please stand by the door and see we are not disturbed?” As impressed as he was with the woman’s bravado that was all he would concede.

Harvey was a pain in the behind but he needed Juno and to offend her would be destabilising and no amount of information would be worth that.

“As you direct Provost” Juno replied a little stiffly. Deliberately dropping his Status no doubt to emphasise he had privately breveted her to Alpha. No matter she would learn – probably.

As the still spluttering Harvey was led outside, Nicolai fixed the Epsilon class worker with his eye. “That’s enough Natalia, Juno stays as does the Trooper. Best offer, do you accept?”

Natalia nodded still risking a glance to where Beta Juno stood lounging against the door.

“You see sir its like this: I caught a couple of citizens talking outside the bakery where I work joking about the attack on you. Which was hardly what I’d like to hear you understand, but I had put it down to course humour until a third man approached and shut them up quickly. I didn’t recognise him but I did see his classification band sir. It was a Gamma…”

“I see, and would you recognise his Epsilon companions?”

“Yes sir they are regulars, I don’t know the names but could find out for you. If your offer still stands…?”

Amazing! Nicolia thought she is still trying to bargain with him. Such force of will in a lower designation was most unusual. It was what his instructors had referred to as “Cheek” he recalled vaguely.

“Oh I keep my promised Epsilon Natalia, all of them, I assure you. Now, here in private, tell me what do you think of progress here on Emerald. You may speak freely.”

“I can’t say there is anything out of order sir, “ she began. “I was on Abberett 3 “O” before the Provost declared it “un viable” and ordered us all reassigned. Lot of us resented loosing what we had built to Alpha deBorah’s lack of foresight. But I hadn’t really put down roots if you know my meaning so it wasn’t an issue.”

“So, are there many Epsilon’s from Abberret 3 here?” A thought began to germinate at the back of Nicolai’s mind.

“Several thousand that I know of sir.”

Nicolai got to his feet. “Most instructive Epsilon Natalia, consider your records cleared provided you help identify the jokers in your shop of course”

“Its not my shop Alpha Provost I am just assistant Baker there sir.”

Nicolai smiled: “No, its your shop I assure you Epsilon Natalia. Unless you’d prefer a different assignment?”

“I can still speak freely sir?”

“You may”

“Then if your offering me rank three status then of course I’d accept sir: but my current supervisors not a bad sort I don’t want to have them disadvantaged by my promotion. They don’t deserve that, besides, it’ll make the places moral fall to the floor sir.”

“An excellent point: Beta Natalia.” He said firmly watching the woman’s expression carefully.

Shock spread over her face at the Alpha’s pronouncement. “Sir… I I…”

“Beta Natalia we need people that can think over and above their small corners here on Emerald, you are clearly wasted among the unclassified Epsilon proletariat. If it makes you feel uncomfortable consider it a brevet promotion till you prove yourself worthy, or me wrong in my judgement. Alpha Juno…” he called his aid over while reinforcing his trust in her and superiority over the newly brevetted beta.

“Yes Alpha Nicolai” she replied smiling.

“Please escort Brevet Beta Natalia to an outfitter and have her formal attire remade. Then see where we might need another good bakery: One where we can monitor moral of the citizenry efficiently.”

“Certainly Provost. May I ask what your next move is?”

“Yes, I have an idea where my quaint office assistant of the other day, may have come from. Tell me Juno did you ever meet Alpha deBorah?”

“Once briefly sir.”

“Your opinion of her?”

“Efficient, ruthless, decisive sir. A very hard woman.”

“Not one that likes to fail, or be upstaged, I fancy?”

“I should say not sir”

“I think so too, well no matter, the challenge will make the victory sweeter. I suspect she may have left a few of her own operatives among the colonisation personnel to keep tabs on my success here. To ensure I do not eclipse her own record.”

“What will you do sir!” Juno looked rather sick at the thought another Provost might actually be willing to sabotage their own colony for vanity’s sake.

“The cruellest thing I can Juno: Succeed beyond her wildest dreams!”

End Part 5