Agreement at Inbus
by Steve M
Yeah, I wrote this. Blame no one else.
“Eight in total” I said. He was getting the visuals from my cameras.
“Anybody?” he asked me.
“No” I replied. “Smugglers and some women” I added.
“Did he give you a reason?”
“Yeah. He said that they tried to short him on a deal” I replied.
“A deal. What deal? I don’t know anything about a deal. And if I don’t know, then it ain’t happening” he yelled back to me instead of at the kid standing in front of me, now with a worried look on his face.
“I understand, boss” I replied. Best to stay in the proper lines of the org chart when boss man is losing his temper. No thinking for myself, no opinions on nothing, just the facts and I will stay alive. Perkins wasn’t as smart and he paid for it. And I got a promotion to top dog under the boss.
“What was the product” the boss asked me. The ear tubes made it seem like he was standing next to me instead of fourteen and a half light years away, waiting to meet his rival, General Eintritt.
“Boost” I replied.
“Great. He’s trading with the enemy” he replied.
“Not quite, boss. He spiked the load. Hereafter for anyone that takes it.”
Boost does exactly as it says, it boosts the users ability to feel at peace with themselves and the universe. This is an advantage when going into battle. Boost users become killing machines. Efficient. Deadly. And its the favorite drug of the priests of Gresch.
“How many doses?” he asked me.
“Two million” I replied.
“What the hell. Why didn’t I know about this? Two million. That’s almost half of their priesthood down before the battle has even started.
“Yes sir” I replied.
“How short were they” he asked me.
I put my finger up for the young man in front of me to stand still. He was beginning to fidget like a soldier about to go into battle and suddenly they need to piss really bad. Fear piss we used to call it. Caron calmed a little but not much and only for a few seconds. Then fidgeting began again. He left to go to the bathroom.
I looked over at Five and nodded. He dropped in behind Caron and followed him.
“Please tell me that he dusted all of them” asked my boss.
“Only the six up here. There are two downstairs, high charges” I replied. High charges cause the body to explode and makes a very dramatic mess. Caron had done it to send a message to the smugglers.
“How much did they short him?” me asked me.
“Ten percent” I replied.
“A disrespect” he replied. I didn’t reply, even though I agreed.
Caron had spent the last year getting in trouble. Now he let his ego get in front of him when he was about to do something positive for a change. It could have been a game changer if he had just let the insult directed at him pass off without response. Instead, we’re still outnumbered. I might have responded similarly, I don’t really know. No one has ever tried to short me on the money. Or anything else. Fear works well for me. I’m not a small man. Or a friendly looking man.
I heard loud voices coming towards the sleek modern living room containing six piles of human dust and residue. Eight came through the door with two very young women in front of him, complaining about the ankle chains and holding this high heeled shoes in their hands.
“Yeah, let me talk to the man in charge. Now we’re getting somewhere” said the girl with the long black hair. She as pretty but too young for my tastes. I prefer them a little older than me. The other girl was blond, or was wearing a blond wig, I wasn’t going to start up visuals just to find out. Enhanced visuals gives me a headache after too long.
“Status” I demanded of Eight.
“In the tube heading for the shuttle” he replied.
“We didn’t see anything. I swear” said long black. And her statement told me that she had seen it all.
The advanced particle beam breaks carbon life forms into their basic molecules. So when I shot both of the women with my weapon they did the release and drop, first water vapors are removed from the body as steam and rise quickly up. Then a moment later remains, resembling fine dust, falls to the floor. It was all over in under a fraction of a second.
“What the hell did you do that for?” I heard from Caron who had seen the execution from down the hallway to the
“Witnesses” I replied.
“Good boy” my boss said in my ear.
“I wasn’t finished with them” Caron yelled at me.
I heard my boss immediately yelling in my ear.
“One, shut him up. I’m sick of hearing him. Send him home. Lockdown on Traso.”
“Yes sir” I replied with a smile.
You work for someone long enough and you develop a special language with them. Me and the boss had that language. Codewords for things. I had just received one.
“Caron, come here” I said. Caron moved towards me cautiously. He was scared of me. This told me he wasn’t that stupid. He moved slowly and I motioned him forward. I insisted that he come closer and closer to me until he was withing a whisper.
“Caron. You’re father is upset with you” I said.
“Yeah, I know” he said.
“Do you see my right hand” I asked him.
“Yes” he replied and a look of recognition came over his face. He had seen it before but had never experienced it himself.
“It is going to hit you hard enough to knock you out and there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it” he said.
A brief smile came to Caron’s face. He had only heard the ‘to kill you’ version before. But his smile was short lived. My fist interrupted it. He hit the floor hard.
“Well done” said my boss.
“Three” I yelled and a man stopped collecting human dust and stood up.
“Yes, sir” he replied and stood straighter than an arrow. A promotion does that to some people. Not me.
“Get him home. He’s grounded. And if he leaves Traso, you better leave with him and both of you hide somewhere far away.”
“Understood sir” said the man crisply. He motioned for Fourteen and Eleven to help him with Caron.
Another damned mess downstairs.
I need a raise.
Damn that kid. He’s going to be the end of me one of these days. One should be able to handle him for the next day or two.
I climbed into the shuttle and checked the controls. Six gave me a thumbs up then I pressed the button for the hatch to close. The entry pad on the hologram came up and I put the coordinates into them then pressed the green icon.
A few seconds later the bay doors on the flight deck opened my shuttle flashed for me to accept auto pilot. I pressed green to accept. The first movement was the only noticeable motion sensation of the entire flight down to the planet.
Visuals were another matter as the bright clouds of yellow billowed above the planet and the small one person shuttle plummeted towards them at a frightening speed.
The descent slowed right before the cloud. The planet’s atmosphere caused a sizzling sound on the hull of the shuttle when it entered it. Then the clouds tried to eat the shuttle with its acidic noxious mixture. The sizzling got louder and louder until I dropped below the clouds and hovered not far above a red sea of liquid.
I spun the shuttle around in a circle to see if I was alone. Off in the distance I could see another shuttle falling towards the sea. It rounded in its path and came towards me. And as it approached me it slowed down. Finally it stopped not far from me. Close enough to hit with a stone. I opened up the comms channels on the shuttle. They couldn’t penetrate the clouds of the atmosphere of the planet, but they would work within a short range. And that was good security.
“Good afternoon, General Seko” I said. A moment later his image appeared in the window of his ship.
“Good afternoon, Admiral Nelson” he replied.
He’s not really a general. And I’m not really an Admiral. They are titles we gave ourselves. His name is really Seko though. But mine isn’t Nelson. That’s borrowed from a history book I found when I was a kid. It had been abandoned in a pile of trash.
“I trust you had a comfortable journey” I said.
“Cut the crap, Nelson. You’ve got eighty two ships. I’ve got one hundred and seventy four. Gresch has over five hundred.
“But they are terrible pilots” I replied.
“That is true” Seko replied. “But we’re outnumbered two to one.”
“And they can’t produce any significant amount of new ships” I added.
Gresch are religious slavers.
They enslave the population of conquered worlds and force then to produce for the benefit of the clergy on Himmel. They have nearly one hundred and fifty planets under their control. Between Seko and myself we have seventeen. Three of Seko’s plants are advanced industrials compared to only on of mine. Still our technology curve is upward sloping. By definition, Gesch’s slopes down.
The technology they have is the result of conquest, not their own invention. And they don’t the support basic research and development required to produce advancements. That would reduce the benefits for the clergy. No. Instead they have begun to target advanced industrial planets for conquest. Growth by acquisition, it was called a long time ago.
They want Silorian, my home planet. We manufacture the best FTL drive engines in existence. We sell the drive engines to Seko for a hefty price and always one generation behind out own. Nobody will catch us, ever.
“Still, they have us outnumbered and they can defeat us if we go head to head against them” Seko said. I looked across the orange vapor to see him lift a cup to his lips standing in front of the view deck.
“They have been gathering their forces near the nebula” I said. Toscin Nebula is less than one light year from Silorian. They can attack within days from there.
“So what do you suggest?” asked Seko and he raised his glass to me.
“I will tell you this” I said still being cautious around a former rival, “we have sent two Ark Level ships away from Silorian and will send another one today.”
“Smart move” replied Seko. “Get your designers and engineers to safety.”
“Worst case they get a planet full of marketers, sales people, and administrators. All the brains are already gone” I replied.
“Then you won’t fight?” asked Seko carefully.
“We will fight. But its got to be a fight that costs them more than they bargained for” I replied.
“How so?” asked Seko.
“What is the one things that unites all Gesch?” I asked.
“Devotion to the One” Seko replied without hesitation.
“And if we can prove that the One does not exist?” I asked.
“They will fold like a gambler with a bad hand” replied Seko. “What do you have that can do what you promise?”
“Let me show you” I replied. “Give me a moment. I’ll holocast it to you.”
I manipulated the icons projected in front of me. A moment later an image of an old man appeared in front of me and in front of Seko.
“Is that the prophet?” Seko asked.
“None other” I replied.
The prophet is what they called the founder of the Gesch. He was considered the one man without sin, the holiest of men, and the man upon which eternal life begins. But at the moment of being recorded he was seated beside the first elder and in front of them were a line of young pretty women all dressed in white cotton gowns.
“I did it to win a bet with Elder Timlon, bless his soul.”
“You invented the entire religion from scratch?” asked the slightly younger man seated beside him.
“Yes. It was the only way that I could ensure that I got the best of everything, from wine, to clothing, to food, and of course, the best women” he said. None of the women in the line could hear them because of the small devices protruding from their ears that broadcast soothing tones and affirmations into their ears.
“I admire the effort” said the other man.
“Made it all up out of thin air. The One, The Rules, The Prophecies, all of it. I stole a lot of it from the Forbus Manuscripts, but the big elements were mine.”
The Forbus Manuscripts are a widely discredited set of stories used to enslave worlds several thousand years ago, soon after FLT drives were perfected. Forbus, like The Prophet, considered himself the ultimate trickster.
“Now that you have become first elder, I thought it was important for you to know the truth” The Prophet said.
“It’s all lies?” asked the man.
“Every word of it” came the reply.
The Prophet pointed at two young girls. They immediately got out of line and left.
“They will serve us well tonight” he said.
The image ended.
Seko stood at the observation portal with a stunned look on his face. It slowly transitioned into a smile.
“So how do we do use this?” Seko asked.
“Your people on Thetis need to use it in the comms of the Gesch” I replied.
Remember how the Gesch don’t spend money on research and development? This makes their universal comms system open to invasion. Usually its young kids that are sick of their religion and send a broadcast message out to the entire population of the Gresch. Every planet, every device. It happens once or twice a year. The culprits simply disappear. The parents are offered the usual compesation for a battle death. We know this because sometimes the kids manage to escape to one of our planets. So spiking the entire system with this video shouldn’t be that hard.
“Where did you get this?” Seko asked me.
“Can’t say” I replied, “but you saw the authenticity certificate in the corner. Its not a fake.”
“I saw it” Seko replied. “It stands a much better chance than what your boy came up with.”
“You knew about that?” I said annoyed.
“Where do you think he got the boost and the micro-poison?” Seko replied.
“It’s starting to make sense now.”
“He may not be the smartest kid in the galaxy, but he tries. Better than my son. Himron is fat with privilege. Won’t even cut his food anymore, has one of the servants do it for him. Bloody disgrace. Consider yourself lucky. He hasn’t contributed a single idea or action to his own survival.”
“He should have told me about it” I replied.
“We suggested that to him. But don’t worry about your boy. Worry about bigger things right now. Ask yourself, do we have a deal?”
“No more raids on border planets?” I asked.
“If you don’t, I won’t” Seko replied.
“No work visa barriers?” I asked.
“Full exchange of good and services?” I asked.
“If you’re agreeing to sell us latest model FLT drives, then you have a deal. Otherwise, I regret that you will only be able to buy Grade 2 Irlon crystals (used in FLT drives).”
I paused for a long time before the words finally came out of my mouth.
“Then we have an alliance, my friend” said Seko.
This was the day that the Gresch were defeated. The Gresch didn’t know it. They were still assembling their fleet at the nebula. But it was so. The Gresch were doomed.