All Mouth, No Trousers

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God's Children

Posted by SouthPaw, Nov 17 2008, 12:24 PM in FanFic

God's Children


I knew you would ask what kind of bar it was so let’s get that out of the way up front.

The place was called Titty Baby and it was just like every other deadbeat booze-hole in the belt. The main body of the place was makeshift; a disused super cargo container bolted to a ‘roid, the caked-on filth and rust the only balwark between you and oblivion – and I’m not talking about the booster fuel they serve you behind the bar. The neon ad-sign over the docking bay was faulty and blinked spasmodically in stark warning, there were disruptor burns along the ship clamps and docking cranes.

You’re thinking it sounds romantic aren’t you? Just another little corner of freedom offering comfort for the heroes prospecting on the rim of humanity?

Bull@#(!.

I’ll tell you what kind of place it was; I had to step over the body of a guy who was slumped in the doorway, draped in a pool of blood over the bulkhead with a knife in his ribs. Half of the clientele in the place rented their company by the quarter hour and the other half were buying.

Just another Belter’s bar.

Now we are clear on the details you think are important, let’s get into what the rest of our race needs to know: What I was doing there.

It was the culmination of over two year’s work, and proper old-school investigative work at that. I had been through the official accounts, conducted dozens of interviews with faceless officials from one department or another. I even got into some of the lower level bureaucrats at Gigacorp, and believe me they earned their reputation – costing me a small fortune in bribes! All of that got me nowhere – just denials, rebuttals and thinly-veiled threats. So as you know, six months ago I headed out into the Belt to sift through the swirling mass of rumour that drifts around out here like so much space dust.

You probably don’t know this, but out in the Belt a few brave souls have established a form of communications network called the Datanet. I advise you not to try and gain access or even try any research on the subject via your personal console as you will soon get a visit from the authorities. This Datanet is basically a messaging service that allows pilots to share information, gossip, insults, business opportunities and every flavour of trouble in-between. There is no regulation and no guarantee of journalistic standards. Half of the content on Datanet is exaggerated and the other half a flat-out lie, the product of the malicious, the vengeful or the deranged.

For six months I waded through this morass of tittle-tattle, tracing down the slightest hint about the incident or the history behind it. Often I would find that the people responsible for posting intriguing messages were dead or missing. Life is hard out there and you are as likely to die in a bar brawl over the spillage of dregs of stale beer as you are in a dogfight between the stars. For six months I found that when I got in-front of posters who boasted about being in-the-know it turned out that they were all talk - either repeating what they had heard second or third-hand or engaged on flights of fancy.

That is, of course, until I came across the name RedStar. I had heard it once or twice in passing and not made any connection; people saying that they knew someone who knew someone who knew something.

Then came the post on the Datanet.

In response to a bragging claim about the incident was the 11 word response from user name RedStar:
“I was there. You have no idea. Pray you never know.”

I won’t bore you with the details but I tracked down RedStar, and after a long and involved exchange of guarantees and assurances about my credentials we arranged to meet. He informed me he was ready to tell all, get it off his chest he said.

He didn’t show and I was furious.

It later transpired that RedStar – Oleg Bachinski to give him his real name – had been testing me; staking out the meet to see if I was alone, if I was talking into my lapel or if there was a squad of IC heavies at the table behind me. I suppose that I must have passed the test because two weeks later, RedStar contacted me for another meet, this time at the Titty Baby bar out in The Belt, and this time he would actually be there.

I had gone to all this trouble, taken two years of my life and thousands of my own credits, to track down the man who turned out to be the last surviving member of the IC Intel team to breach what the files refer to as Outpost 817. Of course, the files would call it that if you could find any mention of the Outpost, the mission, the team that went in there and what it was they found. All traces have been removed or re-classified.

After talking to Oleg Bachinski (formerly PFC-I Oleg Bachinski) I now know why.

This is his story:

*

When we popped the hull and boarded the station, the first thing to hit you was the smell… It was, you know, clean. I mean, nothing in particular but the air in there just smelled pure somehow. There was no backwash from carbon scrubbers, no fuel or coolant that had leaked into the aeration ducts, no stink of boiled-out protein from the mess hall, no reek of a bunk room full of pilots’ pressure suits. Nothing. Let me tell you, after five minutes all we could smell was each other, and having been jammed in that transport for two days, we were no bed of roses.

Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound much but, you know, it really shows how they think. The smallest details, the tiniest imperfections they have ironed out. It was the first thing we mentioned in the debrief of the few we found alive. They kind of sneered at us as if we were unclean. That’s it, that is exactly how they saw us; unclean.

You know I have seen some crazy @#(!. My team and I cleared out this one refinery deep in the Belt, it was full of He3 prospectors whose claim turned out to be a bust. They had saved a few credits on the installation of their hydroponics and life support rad insulation, so when the rock they were sitting on turned out to be full of fluridium those rays went straight through the hull and fried their brains. They all went bat@#(! and started killing and eating each other, they even decorated the walls with skin from the corpses. When we finally busted in there they didn’t shoot at us, but came trying to club at us with some poor guy’s legs. Yeah, that was pretty crazy, but nothing like what we found on the last gig.

The whole interior of 817 was white. Smooth, white burnished metal. And spotless, not a fleck of dust or smear of grease anywhere. It was like some super exclusive medical facility that you imagine the Gigacorp top execs have their toenails clipped at. Man, how prophetic that thought turned out to be…

Deep in the station, behind double bulkhead doors that we had to blast – our crypto kit couldn’t handle it – we found the chamber. The entry point was a gantry that led up and down, the height of the chamber was around 30 metres – Half the full height of the Outpost – and you could immediately see why. Running from the decking to the ceiling was a cluster of tanks, plexiglass canisters that must have held hundreds of thousands of cubic litres of a thick viscous fluid, each one maybe four metres across.

What we found in them. Well…

If you are going to understand what we found there, you have to know how it all started. Of course, all of this can be denied but that doesn’t make is any less true. Back in the old days of Gigacorp, Emmet Longstreet realised that his rope was rapidly running out.

You don’t get to the top of a business like that without a healthy dose of paranoia. Pretty much everyone below you is waiting for the slip-up, the chance they need to stab you in the back and take it for themselves. Oh they will play nicely at board meetings and say ‘yes sir, great idea sir’ but when your numbers come in light everyone of them would step over their own grandmother to be the first to sink the knife between your shoulder blades.

So Longstreet stayed in the job as long as he did by seeing problems coming and fixing them first. What finally did for him was when his paranoia became unhealthy. He started seeing coups and conspiracies where there were none. The bigwigs at the Corporation all accept that if they are plotting and get busted, then what happens is what they have coming. That’s the risk you take, that’s the game. But when the guy at the top starts whacking loyal execs on unfounded whims… Well, you fast run out of loyal execs. A self-fulfilling prophesy, you know?

Longstreet got so bad that he started to see spooks around every corner. Eventually he holed himself up in his personal station. Alone. He felt he couldn’t trust any of the Corporation close protection teams. They were supposed to be his Praetorian Guard, but he read his ancient history and he knew how that often turned out. There was no way of telling who had which guards in their pocket, so he chose to trust no-one in the short term whilst taking measures into his own hands.

Have you heard of the Alexander Project? No? Well not many living souls have. We found the Alexander datafiles held in hard storage in a room on the Outpost 817 when we finally cracked the console encryption. The room was, well sort of like a shrine to Longstreet with icons of him around the walls and rows of benches like pews. The files on Alexander were embedded on a central plinth like a sacred text. Just another entry in the list of creepy @#(! we walked into.

The files detailed that Alexander was Longstreet’s grand plan. His own protection, the future of Gigacorp and the salvation of a mankind without a home all rolled into one. He pumped billions of credits of his own money into Alexander without the knowledge of the wider Giga exec team, and little by little it all began to pay off.

What was Alexander? Eugenics. Go look it up.

Longstreet was a perfectionist and a great believer in the un-tapped potential of the human form. He felt that all that was needed was the power of science to give Mother Nature a little evolutionary boost. His teams of scientists created strings of altered DNA, exacerbating traits such as mental and physical performance. The DNA was tweaked them to hone the abilities of the host.

And that last part is crucial. You can’t just grow a human being from a few strands of DNA coding stored in a datafile. No. You need to graft it into a living host. Breed it into them with a scalpel rather than sperm and egg. So the Alexander team needed living human hosts if Longstreet’s dream was to become a reality.

The first few hosts were volunteers from amongst the Alexander team. They were keen to push the boundaries of science and receive the benefits of enhanced abilities. The results were beyond disappointing. All of the first ones died. But not before suffering excruciating pain and endless waking visions or nightmares that had them scream themselves mute. Madness took most, suicide the rest.

Understandably, the list of willing volunteers dried up quickly. Longstreet also could not afford have any more of the finest minds on Alexander lost to its early failures. The solution was simple. They just took people and performed the tests on them. The majority were promising kids out of the Giga Academy, grafted and enhanced against their will for the good of the Corporation.

It’s sickening.

The families were told of accidents, or unexpected combat losses.

After many unsuccessful attempts, the Alexander team finally got it right. A batch of subjects lived through the pain and displayed incredible results. The improved strength and reflexes shown by the subjects were expected, but what was not was the degree of mental improvement. Kids who had been unqualified before the graft actually outperformed the Alexander scientists - after only a few weeks grounding in genetics and physiology!

They called these first surviving subjects Generation 1, or GEN1, and together with the Alexander team they helped to create more generations, each one improved on the last.

Well, who knows how or why, but the Alexander Project ran out of control. The subjects broke out into space and hid themselves and their work. They began to prey on passers by for anything they could not scavenge and were desperate to continue their work to perfect human genetic code. Of course, this included taking subjects for more of their work. Alexander became an almost religious crusade on the part of the Generations, and each successive GEN seems to have warped the ideals further into the realm of evangelical science and reverence for Longstreet.

So you see, when we made it into that tank room we didn’t understand what we had found. We assumed that the things floating in those tanks must have been victims of some form of accident and that this was a kind of medical facility.

The poor souls - what was left of them - suspended four levels high in those tanks were the product of twisted science and ideals that strive to take man where it should not go. I still see them when I close my eyes, and they won’t let me sleep.

Why am I hiding?

Well, you should know. How many members of the original Intel team that breached 817 have you found?

None.

I am the last one. When they find me, the truth of what they have done will be swallowed up forever.

*

And there you have it. Of course the Corporation knows all of this and is desperate to avoid the embarrassment. But worse than that, the Iron Coalition knows too.

After their team cracked Outpost 817 they took a high-level decision to locate pockets of the Alexander subjects and keep them under surveillance. If the BIOS - as the IC refers to them - are able to create super-human warriors then that is technology that IC needs and wants to control. So the BIOS are tolerated by the great protectors of humanity providing they don’t grow too strong, or take too many vital transports!

All the while Gigacorp is trying to clean its tracks by silencing anyone who knows about Alexander.

If I had know this before I walked into that bar, believe me I never would have gone to that meeting but what is done is done. We all have to answer for our crimes sooner or later.

It happened when we were about to say our farewells in the docking bay. A tall lean guy in flight-tech overalls sauntered out from behind a Mk I Scout carrying a rusty toolbox. I didn’t even notice him and continued to shake RedStar’s hand goodbye, but RedStar noticed the tech and he knew. I saw it in his eyes, for a split second he knew alright.

He tried to drop my hand and run – I don’t know where to but I guess it was instinct. The flight tech was just two meters away when the pistol appeared in his hand. He shot RedStar once in the chest and he slumped to the deck. The tech stood over him and calmly shot him twice in the head.

I won’t lie. I thought it was all over for me too. I just closed my eyes and waited for the tech to finish the job.

When I opened them he stood smiling at me.
“My name is Riverkin and you have nothing to fear from me today. You are not on the list… yet.. And I don’t get paid for someone not on the list.

If what he told you brings you to the attention of certain people then your name might find its way onto the list. If that happens then you and I will meet again. Briefly.”

Then he was gone. Of course I made inquiries, but the implication was pretty clear. If I went public with what I knew about Alexander or what was found on Outpost 817 then I would meet the same fate as poor Oleg Bachinski. So here it is, the moral dilemma that every crusading journalist and investigator prays they never run in to. Is the story bigger than me? Is knowing that mankind has perpetrated such crimes worth more to the people than my life is to me?

I decided to transcribe all of this and send it to you in case anything should happen to me. For forcing this upon you I am truly sorry. If you feel that you can not take the risks that I have then destroy this message, forget you ever read it and for the love of God don’t breathe a word of it to anyone.

I appreciate that I have left you with a heavy burden but I know that in the end you will do the right thing.

Yours,

David.



Comments

  SouthPaw, Nov 17 2008, 12:20 PM

This is an off-the-wall take on the early days of BIOS. I even dropped in a cameo apprearance from my favourite Giga fixer.

For the record, I really hate the way the blogs display now. If anyone knows a way that I get it to look somewhat like the old style I would appreciate a pm etc.

Enjoy.

~SP

  ImmortalZ, Nov 18 2008, 02:07 PM

Same here. The new look is really bad.

Nice writing BTW. Reads very well. smile.gif

 
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