Story - Docking Bay (Part iii)
A sudden flash amid the vastness of space marked dropping of a vessel from folded space, a ring of plasma marking the arrival of a Golden monstrosity into the System of Amarr. The leviathan turned slowly, ports lights blinking on as power flowed once more from the critical systems and returned the ship to normal running capacity. The HMS Cromwell wallowed in its own shockwave for a moment, ponderously turning its massive bulk in order to prepare for a warp Jump to the Emperors station in order to finish to final leg of its maiden flight.
Deep within the protective embrace of the ship’s pod Kallanagh Stirred, his lifeless body kept in stasis as his mind was freed to empower his will his craft. To him it was indeed a strange feeling, his mind connected via a neural link from his fragile mortal shell into a body of metal. He felt invincible, the exhilarating feeling of power was at first overwhelming, but after the days of testing he felt he had at last mastered his new environment. With a wave of his hand we could exact death upon the enemies of the Imperium, from a single word he could grant safety to those would seek shelter within the safe harbour of his great frame. His eyes were filled with the wonders of his new perceptions, watching the flickering lights that marked the passing of his crew within the depths of his hull, feeling the raw power as his subconscious mind processed the facts and figures that denoted the status of his systems. Despite the great gifts that his new link provided him he felt tired, and was looking forward to the prospect of returning to his former self upon docking with the sanctity of the
The warp drives kicked in as the Apocalypse battleship was propelled with force into the warp-tunnel, marking the final leg of its journey home. Within a few moments the tunnel transcended from the glowing passage to starlines, to the familiar pinpoints of light as the ship slowed to cruising speed, the chatter of station traffic coming as a welcoming call to the vessels crew. The core Empire systems were always busy these days. Swarms of transport vessels from every race were coming to and from the station, transferring everything from vegetables grown on the plantation worlds, to slaves to supply the never-ending wheels of industry. With a flash of light a squadron of Maller cruisers sped by, carrying out the constant vigil against terrorists and would-be aggressors. Kallanagh felt the hailing request from the station come in, then with a simple though accepted the invitation. From deep within the recesses of his mind a voice appeared:
“HMS Cromwell, this is Docking Control. You have been designated clearence for Docking Bay 12, please release navigational control and prepare for docking
He felt himself relax as the strain of piloting the massive ship was released, feeling the pull as the thrustors responded to the commands of the Station’s docking computer. The vessel began the trek towards the docking bay doors, slowly but surely coming to a stationary position within the docking bay itself. The massive doors shut, pressurising and creating the artificial atmosphere within the interior of the bay as the Cromwell went though its final docking shut down sequence.
Kallanagh felt the unusual intuition that was in two places at once, as the life support systems began to slowly re-animate his body the last vestiges of his presence with the ship itself ebbed away, leaving an unsettling emptiness as he found himself lying in the Pod pilot chair harness. The interior of the pod was lit with a faint green glow, the medical re-animation system registered a successful transition as he lay there pondering the previous few days. The new interface was undoubtedly a major success in regards to a increase of his pilot abilities. The battleship was far superior to anything he had ever flown before, with the humble Maller being dwarfed in its capabilities. The crew had performed admirably, far better then his previous expectations and suggested new and interesting possibilities to the commanding of an Imperial vessel.
The tap came from the other side of the pod hatch, as the hatch hissed through the pressurisation sequence that matched it with the rest of the vessel. The door opened slowly, lighting the pod with an iridescent blue glow, highlighting the familiar outline of a friendly face. “Good evening Sir, is the new rig performing well?” Terron enquired. Since his commission as the ships Engineering Officer, Terron had been working the engineers on board night and day in order to carry out the necessary repairs and modifications that were associated with the launching of a new Battleship of the fleet. Kallanagh rubbed the interface port on his neck, trying to shrug the thumping pain from his head. “I’ve had better days” Kallanagh replied, “what’s the ships status?” Terron looked suddenly upset, as if worried about a close relation. “Well… We’ve lost 3 separate power couplings on K deck, we have coolant leakage around engine 3, we have 28 men down in sickbay for radiation poisoning, 4 armour plates were ripped off due to warp sheers and our entire supply of Amarrian brandy has been lost when the cargo container came adrift in the hold.” Still” he grinned, “we’re doing quite well considering this vessels comprised mainly of new techniques”. Kallanagh grunted has he heaved himself out of the harness and into the cool atmosphere that was the Pod bay within the ship. He felt after is ordeal he would do with plenty of rest.
Far below on the bay floor the present senior officer formed up the 89th Ammatar regiment into parade columns, waiting for the daily inspection. Standing at about 8 feet tall, clad in dark armour with an impressive array of ammunition belts, equipment and weaponry, the average Ammatar marine was expected to be totally sufficient in a hostile combat environment. The armoured suit essentially was a self contained hazard suit, capable of sustaining life even to the extremes of exposure so the vacuum of space for days on end. Built into each suit was a remarkable waste processing and life support system, with a variety of comms gear, target identifier systems, close range micro shielding and distress beacon. Together with the standard issue pistol sidearm, short sword and standard issue VX-29 Assault laser rifle, even a relatively small regiment like the 89th could hold out in even the most desperate of situations. Commanding the group was Major Kishon Serrik, one of the few Ammatar to be granted a high ranking Officer position within the Amarr infantry service. Boasting an impressive 25-year long career, Serrik had personally led a number of the most daring raids on Minmatar terrorist positions in recently history. Although his commanding officer, an admiral of some reputation by the name of Terranus Marl, it was a well-known fact that, when the orders were needed, it was Major Serrik that gave the commands. The major examined the rows upon rows of marines, their featureless helmets displaying no hint of the worry each man was undoubtedly feeling. The Major was renowned for his punishments of men who did not conform to his high standards on the parade field, and no men present did not want to face the harsh punishments that Serrik carried out to “persuade” his men to redouble their efforts regarding presentation. The Major grunted in satisfaction, “Regiment dismissed! All platoons return to stand down status, I expect all men to be present on the field by 22:00 hours, no exceptions!” The ranks of men visibly relaxed, then rigidly stood to attention, realising their folly that they were still on the parade field. Major Serrik ignored this obvious mistake, they had performed well today. “Ladies and gentlemen” he boomed. “You have 8 hours left of R&R, make the most of it! Your expenses have been paid on behalf of the Empire for your new attachment to the HMS Cromwell, Shore leaves on boys!”. The entire parade field turned sharply to the left in a single stroke, bringing their boots down in unison before marching off the field. By the fifth step they had left the parade ground, and with a unified cheer sprinted for the nearest crew bar that was five miles away through the snaking tunnels of the stations corridors. The clamour of armour against equipment sent station personnel running for cover, as the entire 800 men strong regiment whooped and cried out in exitement for their first access to non-synthahol ale in months. The Major looked on at the quickly disappearing crowd and cheered. He hoped there weren’t any Minmatar traders having a quiet drink tonite.
A transport barge came to rest aside the docking platform where a variety of cargo was ready for embarkation. The cargo manifest for this particular load run was light, a few hours at most as loading walkers stomped about the dock, pickuing up the cargo containers before loading them in the bowels of the ship. The barge gently landed, and with a sweeping motion the loading arm swung round, depositing cage upon cage into the middle of a ring of slavers. The slavers had come prepared, covered in aprons and brandishing snare staffs to capture any would be escapees. The cargo had to be cleaned before further processing. The doors of the cages were thrown open, as the consignments of slaves were herded into the waiting cold embrace of a slaver’s water cleaning cannon. Each slave was in turn showered then thrown into a holding pen, clad in little more then the rags of servants uniforms, showing the wide ranging origins of the slave livestock. The numbers of slaves numbered at least 200, with each face displaying a similar picture of uncertainty and fear. “Move! In line!” Shouted a burly slaver as he opened the gate to the holding pen once more, slavers pulling and dragging the weary, petrified slaves to their feet, lined up in long, huddled rows. “Quiet!” Boomed a slaver, obviously the leader due to the marks of insignia on the collar of his thick jacket. “Officer on deck”.
Emerging from a Airlock leading onto the docking platform, flanked by two marines was an officer of the fleet, dressed in the black distinctive trenchcoat of an officer of notable rank. The gold bars upon his shoulders noted the rank of commander, and from his dark and piercing eyes came a glare that could shake the very foundations of even the most stalwart slave. Hanging from his waist was an officers pistol, the holster clasp undone sporting an apparent willingness to use the deadly weapon. “Minmatar slaves of the Amarr Empire” boomed the officer. “For you the chance to rise amongst your uncivilised kin to reach for true greatness is at hand.”. The slaves, wide eyed with fear looked on with awe and fear, giving quick glances amongst themselves in confusion. The officer observed them, noting the apparent change in mood as the unsure slaves began to understand that their immediate lives were not at stake. “Each of your lineage dates back ten generations of tireless service, service that has been recognised for this particular role which is open to you. The captain of this vessel requires the usage of those that have not yet understood or felt the blessing of the divine Lords countenance, and in recognition of the tasks achieved by those who have gone before you, you shall receive his divine blessing in this matter. Those with Amarr heritage are beyond your grasp as social equals, but… much like the lesser races before you blessed with the knowledge of the Amarr, you shall know civility. You each have a choice, you can stay and give glorious service in your mortal form through the purifying work of menial labour, or you may rise above your peers and learn more about God’s divine teaching.” The Minmatar looked about them, trembling with the fear that the personal choice had presented them with. For them choice was an Alien concept, the generations of direction had removed this strange yet exciting possibility from their lives. The very thought of choosing the path in which their life was about to take was just overwhelming. The officer pointed to a corner of the docking bay, “Those that wish to make to change to bring themselves to the glory of God’s wisdom, go there now.” The group went deathly silent, freezing to the spot as slaves fought to keep themselves from running under the strain of what was presented to them. A few minutes past… then… one, by one slaves began to creep over, looking back at each other in search for reassurance over the choice they were making. Within ten minutes only a handful stood where they were, frightened of the change they were offered.
As the weak willed slaves were herded back into the cages, the officer turned to the main group who had chosen to embrace the faith, a glint of interest in his eyes. “The first steps each of you has taken shall lead you to the path of salvation. Do not forget yourself, you are still but a slave, but in your further toil for the good of the Empire you shall be instructed in our ways. You shall be housed in a barracks with your kin, divided by sex but not by age. You shall know a simple life of comfort, no longer shall you live as animals but as something more, yet your journey is long before you are called citizen. You shall eat well, sleep well and treated well, dependent on your efforts to work hard and better yourself and your peers. All this we shall give you in exchange for loyalty and respect.” The officer leaned forward, staring at each and every one of the Minmatar placed before him. ”But know this, beyond the hull of ship your new chance at redemption of your very genes means nothing. Disobey us and you shall be expelled from this paradise, and left to rot in the failure of your ancestor’s work. Do NOT mistake generosity for weakness, or you SHALL be cast from the light.” With a final stare the officer strode back to the airlock, not even giving a final glimpse at the terrified and confused group
A slaver stepped forward, holding up his staff in order to drive the slaves into submission. “MOVE Slaves!” Screamed the Slaver, a tone of annoyance and outrage as he stared at the group with contempt. “You may have been “blessed” with this honour, but until this ship leaves dock you still belong to me! Geddin to line and stay there!” The slaver leader looked at the group being herded to the chasm like opening of the great ship’s cargo-bay, a sick feeling in his stomach. Trying to educated these cattle. Bah, whatever next.
The vidscreen in his quarter blinked off, the image of the corralled slaves disappeared as Kallanagh began to wearily remove his officer’s uniform and prepare to a well-earned rest. His suggestion regarding the Minmatar slave experiment was indeed not a popular one, if not with the Admiralty then definitely not with the officers on board ship, but in light with his years of experience within the fleet all had agreed with this test. He grinned as he settled in to rest, staring at the beautifully sculptured holographic model of the universe that lit his cabin in a serene glow. Yes, it should be an interesting test.
very well written. I am looking forward to part IV
Great work kellen , i wonder when the book comes out ....can i have signed copy...........