"Jibber-jab": Okie I am going to go ahead and post this so those who want to go ahead and read it can do so. This is part two (as far as writing) of The Fan. When the fanfic podcast gets off the ground, as far as I am aware this will be done together with the written part one to make a "directors cut" (i also made a few corrections and clarifications to the part one text.). So enjoy and the next episode should come along sometime relatively soon... well relative to the time between one and two so... 2 weeks mabye? Feel free to leave comments here or in the "The Fan (comments)" post. Enjoy
The week had dragged by, but at last the day had come. Gerald stood in line at the spaceport, ready to present his forged traveling papers to the clerk. When he got up to the desk she gave him a big fake smile and took the identi-card without a word. She swiped it through a reader and the computer dinged. Her fingers flew across the small keypad, little electronic chirps sounding as she worked through the registration. After an inordinate amount of time the clerk handed back the card along with a confirmation slip.
“Punch space flight 4107 to Allah, no transfers. Gate 14.” The clerk said snappishly and pointed to the nearest lift.
After two more hours of highly invasive security checks, involving several probes of varying size and shape, Gerald took his seat in the rather cramped coach section. There wasn’t any space for carry-on, but Gerald only had one small bag anyway. Almost as soon as he had settled down into the form-fit chair several holos of a thin woman with a broad smile and dressed in a Purist Spacelines uniform shimmered into being, evenly spaced down the aisle. A tinny female voice came on and went through the launch preparation instructions as the holo pantomimed them. Gerald followed the instructions, latching and tightening the nearly endless straps that lined the seat. The holos waved cheerily and flickered out.
After a few minutes a tinny robotic voice sounded over the loud-speaker to announce the start of the launch sequence. The lights in the cabin cut off. Gerald could feel the ship begin to shake. With a muted sound of screeching metal coming from outside the ship, the cabin began to tilt upwards. It took a full fifteen minutes for the massive vessel to be rotated ninety degrees into the launch position. Gerald was now laying on his back, his breathing faster now. Where the holo stewardess had been large numbers now floated over the floor. 10… 9…. 8… Oh High One… 7…6…5… The safety straps tightened and the headrest folded up to press against the sides of Gerald's head, bracing it from turning. He gripped his small side-pack tight to his stomach. 4…3…2…1.
With a whump sound, that was loud even through the soundproofing of the hull, Gerald along with everyone else in the cabin was pushed deep into the gel like cushions. The ship was propelled skyward, the massive launch engines spewing fire and smoke. It took only a brief few minutes for the ship to reach orbit. The engines shut down and the pressure was lifted from Gerald’s chest. The headrest popped back to its original position and the straps loosened. Gerald could feel himself float away from his seat a few inches. It was an odd feeling, hovering there. Before he could really get a handle on the strange sensation of weightlessness the silence of the cabin was broken by the robotic voice.
“Orbit achieved. Engaging artificial gravity.” With a collective thud everyone flopped back down into their seats. “PSF 4107 to Allah will begin shortly, estimated travel time seventeen hours fifteen minutes.”
Gerald shifted in the seat, his face white, his stomach just now settling from the launch. He looked around at the other passengers there were a few others with similar expressions, mopping their faces with handkerchiefs, or sucking down medicine from inhalers. The man next to him simply tilted his head releasing several sharp cracks then did the same, tilting the other way. He noticed Gerald looking at him and took in his palid complextion.
“First flight?” He asked Gerald as the doors at then end of the aisle slid open and a stewardess came out of each, both pushing small metal carts.
“Yeah…” Gerald said taking a gulping breath and wiping his own sweat away with a sleeve.
“The first time is always the worst…” He seemed about to say more but a thin chime rang. His eyes seemed to go briefly out of focus behind the glasses he wore. The lenses had a blue sheen and Gerald could just make out lines of text scrolling around the edges. The man tapped a small device looped over his ear. A thin wire slid out of the device down to his mouth. “Pardon me my son.”
Gerald turned away and began digging through his pack finally pulling out a thin personal computer pad. The device was nothing special. Nowhere near as nice as the computer he had once owned, but it did well enough. He tapped on the display to bring up a home screen. He selected a program that brought up a page full of little icons, each representing a book. Gerald flipped through several pages, thumbing a tab at the top right of the screen. He finally settled on a novel from the “classic crime” section, Jack Wakes Up. Gerald had just settled in to read when a stewardess stopped beside him and offered a blue bag with the Purist Spacelines’ logo printed on one side. Gerald looked at the bag and started to shake his head when his neighbor tapped him on the shoulder.
“Trust me my son. If you reacted to take off like you did, you’re going to need it when we punch in.” He smiled pleasantly the overhead lighting gleaming off of his rather new infinity tattoo.
“Uh… ok…thanks.” Gerald said as he took the bag and looked around ominously at the other white faced passengers who were also graciously accepting. The man nodded and went back to his conversation. After a minute longer the electronic voice returned.
“Pre-Punch in checks have been completed. Please turn off all Gal-net enabled devices.” The man said a hasty goodbye and double tapped the earpiece. Gerald noticed several other people switching off computers and phones and quickly powered down his book. A long moment passed. “Thank you. Punch In will commence in 5…4…3…2…1…”
Gerald braced himself for another burst like the one that had rocketed him from the surface of MCOVI, but it didn’t come. He looked around, wondering if something had gone wrong when a sort of haze began to speed through the cabin. As it moved along the rows of passengers they became distorted. They stretched, as if they were being pulled towards some far distant point. Then it was on him. The reality wave hit Gerald and his world melted. Everything blurred, bright colors swirled around him. He held up a hand, only to see an amorphous flesh colored mass. His fingers, or at least what he assumed were his fingers, trailed away from Gerald with everything else toward a point of light that seemed to remain in the center of his vision no matter where he looked. Just as suddenly the wave had passed. Gerald was now looking at his hand, complete and normally proportioned again. The cabin was exactly as it had been, and nothing remained to hint at the chaos of less than a minute earlier. Gerald grabbed for the bag, flapped it open and promptly vomited.
With a howl of rage Stedmar Osbourne flung a heavy paperweight at the fat man that sat before him. Donald Ferguson quickly maneuvered the hover chair a few inches to the left, but the glass ornament still struck him in the shoulder, and he hissed with pain.
“YOU USELESS MOUNTAIN OF KI SHIT!!” Stedmar bellowed as he reached for a stapler, intent on chucking it at Ferguson, but that damned wall of a man stepped between them. Kevin Pareshi made no outward signs of aggression, but it wasn’t because he couldn’t have delivered on them. Hell the man could probably kill at least two of the four guards that stood around the room before the rest brought him down. No, Keven held it in because he wasn’t that stupid. Even so Stedmar sighed and tossed the stapler back onto the desk. He took several deep breaths, mentally counting to ten, a number for each breath.
“Ok… Tell me again… how even someone as incompetent as you could lose those papers... And more importantly where it is that you think they are now.” Stedmar said, taking a seat at the large darkly stained wood desk.
“Well I noticed them gone three days ago.” Ferguson stopped at a tight glare from Stedmar. “I thought I had just filed them away, sir. With all of the problems we inherited along with the territory on Allah it took me that long to look through everything. Actually it was digging through those that made me think of where it might be…”
Stedmar raised a questioning eyebrow, “And why would that nest of roundbugs bring about this epiphany?
“Well, sir… There’s an honor worker in the mines, Gerald Everet. He’s quick, and good with numbers and computers. That’s sort of why he’s here, apparently he tried to hack into one of the Bats government systems. Made it in too from the reports, but apparently tripped something on the way out.” Stedmar twirled his hand in mid air, signaling Donald to get on with it. “Well I… I was thinking about bringing him into the organization… With your consent of course, sir. So I gave him a little test…”
“So you told this Gerald to hack into our system…? He found something out about the shipment, which I believe I specifically told you not keep any electronic record of. Then what? Did he break into your office and steal the papers?”
“Uh… no, sir… nothing like that… I asked him to get some gin. Quith gin. And in return I would do him a little favor, sort of grease the gears. Let him see some of what he would be able to get if he joined the organization. He’s a big fan of Quinten you see, so I offered him a little trip to the championship game in exchange. I wanted to see if he still had the knack. I believe he got it from one of your… friends.” Donald pulled a disgusted face. “I got him forged papers, not a big deal. He came to see me while I was looking for a reliable courier for the pickup. I think that when I put everything back in the envelope I just might have… possibly… scooped in the papers with the coordinates…” Donald finished in a rush, preparing himself for Stedmar’s wrath, which would probably come in the form of a bullet to this forhead.
Instead Stedmar Osbourne just shook his head. “And why haven’t you already fixed this little problem? Surely Kevin here doesn’t have cold feet about some piss-ant honor worker.”
“Mr Osbourne. I just figured I would get them from him when he gets back from Allah. Then he’d definitely be open to join…”
“NO!” Stedmar shouted and slammed a fist onto the desk. “I don’t want anyone outside of this room to know about that shipment. I’ve got too much at stake.”
“But Mr. Osbourne it’s not likely he knows anything at all. Even decoded the message is vauge at best. With all the other random documents for his false identity I doubt he has done more than scanned the page… Gerald would be a valuable addition, with him I could delegate more of the MCOVI work and focus on securing our position on Allah.”
Stedmar’s didn’t shout this time, but his voice was iron coated with ice. “I said no Donald. And if you want to leave this room alive then you’ll do as I say.”
Donald swallowed dryly. “Y… yes, sir. I’ll send Kevin on the next flight.” Kevin’s craggy face split in a wide smile. “By this time tomorrow your secret will be safe, and Gerald Everet will be dead.”