The Orbiter. Part 15

 

Radim bolted himself upright, his eyes flew open and he found himself gasping for air, breathing sharply, but it only took him a few moments to realise that he was no longer in the vast darkness of space, but instead inside the confines of a small, cylindrical room.

He blinked a few times as he took in his surroundings, the shallow bed he was currently sat on was pressed right up against the wall, but then, he realised as he looked closer, it wasn’t so much a bed as it was just a thin mattress resting on a raised area of floor.  Trying to hold back his surprise, he leant forwards to look out one of the circular windows that lined the wall, and saw, much to his surprise, the exterior of one of the Stations. Except the station wasn’t where it would be expected, for it was above his head, stretching out into the distance, beneath him sat the empty confines of space.

He couldn’t contain the confusion as it spread across his face, so he continued to scan outside the window, hoping to find something to clear the matter up.

The two things he did spot however, only served to raise more questions than they actually answered. Behind his window on the exterior were what appeared to be two engines, the further of the two from him was open and exposed, revealing a large multi-bladed fan that took up the entire opening. The second engine, closer to his position, looked more familiar to him, looking like an oversized version of the ones used to power the shuttles.

The other thing he saw was in front of his position, and was something else he recognised, resembling the wings on the shuttles, however this one was much longer, and seemed to be angled backwards slightly. He could also see an array of objects both on top of and beneath the wing, but they didn’t look like the engines he was used to seeing there, and one of these objects suspended beneath extended far in front of and behind the wing.

“This might be an old shuttle.” Radim thought aloud. “But even our old shuttles looked nothing like this.”

He glanced at the door that was sealing off the small room he was currently in from whatever was in the rest of this structure, and made his decision, as surprised and confused as he was, he had to find out where he was.

He stepped down off the bed onto the lowered walkway, and, composing himself, pushed open the door.

What greeted him surprised him even more. The structure he was in did appear to be a shuttle based on the cockpit he could see at the far end of the room, although it was the fact that the cockpit seating and controls appeared to be on the ceiling that only served to aid his confusion.

However his entrance had piped the interest of three people sitting round a table in the centre of the room, two of whom he recognised.

“Radim!” Stana all but yelled out as she stumbled out of her seat, grabbing hold of him and embracing him tightly.

Radim struggled to breathe as she squeezed him, but he managed to speak nonetheless. “I’m glad to see that you are okay Stana.” He looked over at the other person he recognised. “You too Lady Mitch.”

Lady Mitch smiled back at him gently, raising her glass in the process. “We’ve been worried, when you didn’t wake up as soon as me or Stana, but you must have exerted yourself more than we did with all that quick thinking of yours.”

“You did well lad.” The third person spoke up. “Your quick thinking and telling them not to hold their breaths almost certainly saved all your lives. Though I must ask, what on earth possessed you to not keep spare breathing devices on your shuttle.”

Radim looked him up and down slowly. He sat with a facial expression that somehow managed to make him both appear friendly and intimidating at the same time.  His hair was dark and long, a trait matched by the coat he seemed to be wearing. But his most distinguishing feature was his clear lack of right foot. “I have breathing devices.” Radim spoke slowly. “But they are kept in the cockpit and I wasn’t in there at the time.”

The man shook his head slightly. “Foolhardy, but y’all alright now so that’s the main thing.”

Lady Mitch tilted her head slightly to look at him. “On that note, how did you get to us so quickly?”

The man opened his mouth to respond, but Radim cut him off. “No before we go there, who are you?”

Stana finally let go of him upon hearing the question, and hit him in the chest in response. “Radim! That’s no way to speak to the person who saved our lives.”

The man just smiled at Stana’s abrupt response. “It’s a fair question, given the circumstances you would be expected to want to know.” He paused and looked at the three of them. “My name is Tandan, Tandan Kulosio-Da, however people call me ‘Toothy’.”

“Toothy?” Lady Mitch mouthed silently, a confused expression showing clearly.

Radim stiffened slightly upon hearing the name. “Kulosio-Da, you mean to tell me that you are of…”

“The line of Da?” Tandan cut him off. “That is correct.”

Radim’s eyes narrowed. “I was actually focusing on the ‘Kulosio,’ you’re also of the line of Kulos?”

Tandan let out a single chuckle. “I’m impressed, the line of Kulos is certainly not as well known. You are correct though, I am actually of both lines.”

Stana finally let go of Radim and looked at the three in the room in confusion. “What lines are these?”

“Radim stepped forwards and leant on the back of one of the chairs in the room. “From the history books. The line of Da comes from the years of Mackiavelli, as Froyk-Da was one of the three dragons involved in assisting High Lady Andli in defeating him, and afterwards was also one of the three that brought the new moon to Earth. I remember what I read correctly he was also the first to gift powers, before living out the rest of his life as a human.”

Tandan Nodded. “You do know your history.”

Radim smiled slightly. “I also know that the line of Kulosio is descended from Kulos Olagnis, one of the defenders of Gaelith and New Earth during Vermabay’s rise to power.”

Tandan once again gave an impressed nod. “I’m impressed, very few people know of the old tales.”

Radim shrugged. “I read a lot.”

Tandan’s eyes perked up. “So do I, and you wouldn’t believe how many old history books are stored on Station Scorpion.”

“Before we go any further,” Lady Mitch interjected. “I still want to know how you found us in space so quickly when our shuttle was attacked.”

Tandan’s face returned to being serious. “You were never attacked.”

“Then what happened?” The station leader questioned. “Why did our shuttle break apart?”

“You had a hull failure, but you weren’t attacked.” Tandan gestured to Stana and Radim, before gesturing towards the empty seats. “Please, sit.” Once they had all sat he continued. “You’ve no doubt all noticed that we are docked to the outside of Station Nimura, and that is because I don’t have permission to land inside any stations. I am not a legal citizen of any, but, along with my great interest in history, I take interest in how these stations run, and the changes the committee make. I have multiple bugs planted into the meeting rooms and I have a permanent linkup to WES, RUI and AIMS, so if they do anything or change anything, the printer in my cockpit alerts me.

“It was during one of my sessions scoping out the meetings that I noticed a breach in the hull of your shuttle, not huge, but big enough for me to see clearly. At first I assumed that it would be spotted and repaired, but after seeing it a few times, each time slightly bigger, I took it upon myself to help.

“Needless to say I couldn’t come forward, it would raise too many questions as to how I had seen it and I might be arrested as a non-citizen. So instead for the last three months I have been following your shuttle to and from every meeting, so that if the hull did breach, I could grab you and bring you to safety right away.”

“But how did we not pick you up on our scanners? Or even see you, if you have been following us all this time?” Lady Mitch leant forwards in her seat as she asked the question.

“My ship isn’t like any of the shuttles you are used to. “Tandan responded simply. “It has a sleek shape that makes it hard to detect.”

Radim snapped his fingers, the realisation occurring to him. “Lady Mitch! His ship must have been the anomaly that kept appearing on my radar, and that’s why the repair crews could find no problem, there wasn’t one, it was working all along.”

Tandan nodded. “That seems probable.”

“So what makes your shuttle so special?” now it was Stana’s turn to speak. “Why is yours so different?”

Tandan looked at all three solemnly for a moment before responding. “I’m afraid Raika isn’t a shuttle my dear. She stems from a time in history long before my heritage, even before the asteroid impact in fact.”

Lady Mitch gave him a confused look. “Did you name your shuttle? I mean ship?” quickly correcting her mistake.

Tandan stood slowly, before rapping his knuckles on the ceiling of the ship. “Of course.” He smiled and looked back at them all. “All the best ships have names, and my girl here.” He paused. “Is Raika.”

 

So they were saved by someone who was there from the beginning? Take that Deus ex machina’s everywhere!

Uninventive

Part 16

Part 14

Part One

 

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The Orbiter. Part 14

The layout of Lord Cammeo’s office had been designed to give total control over to him. From the more obvious features such as the door blending into the wall so guests could not see it to leave without his permission, to the more subtle factors such as the lighting, which was angled over the Lords shoulder to bear down on his guests. This latter feature made the room uncomfortably bright for his guests, but also cloaked him in darkness, as the high back of his chair cast a shadow over him. He had also designed the room to only have two guest chairs for his meetings, as he found that he could easily intimidate a single person on their own, and even two people he had no problem with. However he had found that any more than two and he began to lose control. So he made sure to never have more than two guests in his office at a time.

At this moment both of these seats were filled, one by Lord Abultrates of Station Greene, the other by Duke Ovthrow of Station Andrews.

Lord Cammeo observed the two of them silently, watching as Duke Ovthrow shifted slightly as he struggled to see him. But most of his attention went to Lord Abultrates, the resolve of whom amazed Lord Cammeo, as even the layout of his office didn’t seem to faze his fellow Lord.

Eventually he stopped observing and spoke. “Lord Abultrates, you called me to instigate this meeting almost as soon as you left Station Scorpion. Why was this?”

Lord Abultrates cast his eyes briefly at Duke Ovthrow before speaking. “Why is he here?”

Lord Cammeo leant forwards in his seat slightly. “I instructed Duke Ovthrow to come and mediate our meeting.”

Lord Abultrates narrowed his eyes sharply. “There is no need for a mediator, I only called this meeting to instruct you to stop threatening other members of the Committee.”

“You come to instruct me?” Lord Cammeo feigned amusement.

“Yes.” Lord Abultrates’ expression did not change.

Lord Cammeo’s expression however, did change. “You expect to instruct me and get away with it?” He frowned sharply. “You forget your place on this Committee Lord Abultrates.”

“And you forget yours.” Lord Abultrates leant forwards slightly. “This is a position of service, not of power. We are here to serve the people of our stations, and yet you threated other members just because the last vote didn’t go the way you wanted it to.”

Lord Cammeo scowled further. “You may do well to remember that my family were amongst the first to set foot on these stations, we held power on the ground, and I hold power up here too, more so than the others. So you do not chastise me.”

“It is true that your family held power on earth. However you will do well yourself to remember that it was my family that gave yours the power it held. The only reason that we both hold the title of ‘Lord’ is because I do not want the attention that the title ‘King’ would bring.

“We have a duty to not only ourselves, but to our fellow Committee members, and those on our stations. Let me ask you, when was the last time you even so much as looked at a VanOrre worker with some decency, and without turning up your nose at them. Do not forget, without our workers, the stations would not function, we owe them that respect.”

Lord Cammeo scowled. “You ask me when I spoke to the workers of VanOrre, but need I remind you in return that you hail from Station Greene, when exactly do you heed your own words and speak to the crop farmers there?”

Lord Abultrates shook his head slowly. “You disappoint me Lord Cammeo. That is a question to which you should know the answer. But I’ll let Duke Ovthrow answer for me.” He gestured over to the Duke.

Duke Ovthrow’s eyes widened in surprise and for a few moments he did nothing but quickly glance back and forth between the two Lords, before stammering to start speaking. “Well, you see Lord Cammeo, it is kept no secret that once a month Lord Abultrates opens up his home to the residents of Station Greene, and always makes an effort to stay acquainted with the families of the workers as they grow.”

Lord Abultrates smiled at the response, an act which sent a chill down Duke Ovthrow’s spine and he silenced himself. “You are correct Duke, thank you.” He turned his attention back to the other Lord in the room. “The people in the stations are what make them work, and the people on our Committee are what allow the stations to function. You need to learn and remember that.”

Lord Cammeo’s scowl grew heavier. “I see, you instigated this meeting to insult and threaten me.”

Lord Abultrates shook his head. “Not at all, I instigated  this meeting to point out your character flaws.” He smiled a sinister smile at his fellow Lord before standing. “I feel that there is nothing more to be said now, however, I am now glad that you invited Duke Ovthrow after all, it has been good to have a witness here.” He stood and took a step towards where the door was. “Come Duke Ovthrow, it is time we returned to our stations. Lord Cammeo has a lot to take in and work on.”

Duke Ovthrow recoiled slightly, his eyes once again darting between the two Lords, but he quickly chose the slightly friendlier look on Lord Abultrates’ face and also stood up.

Lord Cammeo glared at the two men as they left the room, but said nothing further, instead simply pushing a button on his desk to close the door once they had left.

On the other side of the door, Lord Abultrates couldn’t help but let a slight smile break through his usually blank face.

Duke Ovthrow noticed the change in expression and gave the Lord a quizzical look. “Not to question you Lord Abultrates, but was aggravating him really the best idea?”

The smile faded from the Lords face. “Cammeo is not as threatening as he appears to be, he won’t harm anyone on the Committee, he knows the backlash that would come back at him. He could easily be evicted and replaced on our Committee if WES and RUI think that he is manipulating or harming the other Committee members. That is the only authority they have that doesn’t require unanimous input from us.”

Duke Ovthrow shook his head in confusion. “But I don’t understand, how do you know this? And what gives them that authority?”

Lord Abultrates gestured towards the shuttle bay and the two men began walking. “My family were involved in the designing and construction of these stations. My ancestors were involved in the downfall of both Vermabay and Excaburil who threatened the New Earth and Gaelith, the peace treaty may not have lasted long after the fall, but my ancestors had the research of team Ogni-ratha, and details from High Lady Andli.

“WES and RUI were built to be the peacekeepers on the stations, it’s a mutual power we hold over one another. They hold the power to remove and replace members who are threatening the sanctity of the stations, but they cannot make any other decisions without our unanimous input. The system is designed to keep both sides in line, a lesson learned the hard way by High Lady Andli after the rise of Mackiavelli.”

By this time both men had reached their shuttles. Lord Abultrates turned to face the Duke, his face stern and serious. “Head back to your station, as will I do. But what happened here today doesn’t get out to the other members, and nor does what I just told you about WES and RUI.”

Duke Ovthrow bowed and nodded in quick succession. “Yes my Lord, it will stay with me.” With which he turned on his heel and entered his shuttle, which after a few short moments, took off.

Lord Abultrates nodded to the shuttle as it launched, an action he knew no-one could see, before slowly boarding his own shuttle. “Home.” Was the only word he spoke to his pilot, before settling down in his seat to await transport.

 

Uninventive

Part 15

Part 13

Part One