The Orbiter. Part 12

The three stepped off the shuttle in sequential order. Radim first, followed by Stana, and once they had positioned themselves on either side of the door, Lady Mitch stepped off.

Two of the other shuttles had already arrived, their pilots standing formally by the front of their crafts, while the committee members themselves were nowhere to be seen, having already travelled through to the meeting room.

Lady Mitch gave a slight nod at Stana, who responded in kind, before taking up position in Radim’s usual spot, in front of Lady Mitch’s shuttle. Radim swiftly leant into the shuttle and collected a box from the inside, before following Lady Mitch down the corridor towards the meeting room, giving a brief nod to the other pilots as he passed them. As they approached the meeting room, out of view of the pilots, Radim overtook his station leader, and passed through a door further down the same corridor. Once Radim was out of sight and the door had closed behind him, Lady Mitch composed herself and entered the meeting room.

 

The meeting room remained quiet until the remaining committee members arrived and were seated, while this wasn’t policy for them to wait before talking, most of the leaders didn’t like each other and so choose to only speak when needed.

Lord Cammeo scanned the room slowly, before rising to his feet to begin the meeting. “It has been brought to my attention.” He began. “That after our last meeting, a few members remained behind to discuss the fact that we as a committee have not reached any unanimous decisions recently.

“Now while this might be seen as a complaint, I do not feel that this was the intention, and in fact some useful information may have come of it.” He glanced around the room again, looking at each of the members individually, before stopping on Lady Mitch. “The question here really. Is do we need to make decisions more often, or should it just be the major important ones?”

Lady Mitch broke the eye contact she was exchanging with the committee leader, instead turning and exchanging glances with Madam Night, before standing. “If I may. The suggestion was also made that we meet less frequently, or even more ideally, only meet when we have something important to discuss, much in the same way we are doing now.”

Lord Cammeo’s eyes narrowed as he watched her carefully. “That is a suggestion we can also ponder, however it might invalidate the research and time spent by Sir Arjes. Now please sit down, and do not interrupt again.”

Lady Mitch scowled, but complied and gracefully seated herself again.

Lord Cammeo gestured over to Sir Arjes. “Please tell us of what your research has taught you, and what possibilities await us.” He then sat down and leant forwards onto his area of the table.

Sir Arjes rose slowly, and coughed into his hand before beginning. “Ahem. After the brief discussion following the last meeting we had, I went into the filing areas of Station Scorpion, as that is where both the Artificial Intelligences that run these stations operate from.

“These were built from the research left by team Ogni-Ratha, but using the information given by High Lady Andli, in an effort to avoid another Mackiavelli incident. As such while both WES and RUI are sophisticated, they lack the risk of causing harm to those who inhabit the station.

“The main question I was trying to find the answer to in my research however, was as to whether or not WES would allow us to change how we vote, from Unanimous, to a Majority vote. What I found while looking into the systems, is that while not originally programmed to operate in such a way, WES could change how he accepts our votes, however it would take a unanimous vote from us all to change this.” He then sat back down.

Lord Cammeo then stood to address the room again. “This seems fairly clear-cut. If this change means we can make more alterations to the running of the stations and better serve our people, then I think it is for the best that we do so.” He then sat down and addressed the screen at the front of the room. “WES.” He spoke the single word with clear authority.

The red light of WES’s eye lit up, it scanned the room for a moment before settling into a distant gaze towards the centre of the room. “All Committee members are present.” He spoke out monotonously.

Lord Cammeo leant back in his seat, arms folded neatly in his lap. “WES. The Committee would like to cast a vote on a change we would like you to implement.”

WES’s eye narrowed down to almost a single point, and focused its beam of light directly on to Lord Cammeo’s face. “Speak now. Speak clearly.” He spoke bluntly.

The corner of Lord Cammeo’s mouth raised into a faint smirk, before he spoke. “WES, we are going to vote to change your rate of acceptance. You will not only accept unanimous votes from the committee, but also majority votes.”  He then stopped and waited.

After a few moments of silence, WES understood that everything had been said and his eye widened back to its usual vacant gaze. A few more moments of silence followed as he internally processed what had been said, before he spoke again. “You are all to cast a vote. This vote will allow me to accept majority votes from the committee, as well as unanimous ones. Is this correct?”

“Yes, that is correct.” Lord Cammeo nodded.

“For the sake of removing ambiguity, I have taken the liberty of making the decision that a majority will consist of five votes or more. There are nine of you, and as such there can be no hung vote. Is this acceptable?”

Upon hearing this, Lord Cammeo didn’t even so much as look at the other members of the committee, instead immediately replying. “Yes WES, this is acceptable.”

WES’s eye slowly scanned the room,  looking at each committee member individually for only a moment before moving on to the next, until he had seen each of them. “All present and accounted for. Please cast your votes.”

Each member leant forwards to press one of the two buttons, some taking longer than others as they sat to think about it. But once all had been pressed, all eyes turned to face the eye of WES, who paused briefly, thinking, before responding. “The vote was not unanimous, as such, I will continue to only accept unanimous votes. Do you have any other requests of me?”

Lord Cammeo scowled slightly. “No WES. Return to your duties.”

WES said nothing more, but his eye closed and silence filled the room.

“So.” Lord Abultrates broke the silence. “I thought that was a good idea, but I suppose this has been a wasted trip.”

A few of the other members exchanged glances, for hearing Lord Abultrates speak was a rare occurrence.

Sir Arjes, unfazed like some of the others, leant forwards onto his section of the desk. “I don’t think this was a waste, if nothing else it has opened up some thoughts.” He briefly looked over at the two lords. “My concern of course would be that if we are going for only majority votes, would it be worth us having smaller meetings? Wes himself set the standard of five votes, so that could give us freedom in the form of only having meetings with five of us.

“While this may sound counter-productive, all five would still have to agree, but if it were a discussion that only affected the supply stations, and had no bearings on Saunders, Colemann, Geraldine and Jackson, then the four of us in charge of those stations would not be required to attend.”

Lord Cammeo gave him an emotionless stare. “You make an interesting suggestion Sir Arjes. One that we can discuss at our next meeting.” He stood. “In the meantime however, I suggest you all consider how much easier this would make things for us all. Otherwise.” He turned and began walking towards the door. “I hope your replacements are more agreeable than you are. Meeting adjourned.” With that he stepped out the door and closed it behind him.

Lady Mitch exchanged a look with Sir Fisiio, to her right.

“What do you suppose he meant by our replacements?” Madam Night cast a worried glance at Lord Abultrates.

Lord Abultrates stood slowly and silently, before turning and walking towards the door. “I wouldn’t think about it.” He spoke softly over his shoulder before leaving the room.

Madam Night gently chewed on her lip. “Well that was sinister.”

The other committee members said nothing, but instead one-by-one began to leave the room, until only three remained, Madam Night, Lady Mitch and Sir Arjes.

“The two of you wait around often don’t you?” He looked at both of them, a puzzled expression showing.

“I don’t like it when the shuttle bay is full, it feels too cluttered, so I like to wait.” Lady Mitch turned up her nose.

I like to wait for Lord Abultrates to leave.” Madam Night looked over at Sir Arjes. “He scares me a little, especially with that last comment he made.”

These answers seemed to satisfy Sir Arjes, who stood and turned to leave. “Very well, until next time then.” and with that he was gone.

Madam Night rose slowly, her eyes fixed on Lady Mitch as she did so, while Lady Mitch watched her with narrowed eyes.

“We shouldn’t stay too long. We don’t want to arise suspicion.”

Madam Night glanced nervously towards the door. “I agree.” She responded. “We still have the secure channel to communicate.”

“We do, but I don’t want to use it too frequently.” Lady Mitch stood. “I will find a reason to visit Dunnwood, or for you to visit Nimura. But hopefully…” She managed a faint smile. “Radim will have sourced the information I sent him to locate.”

Madam Night sighed. “I need to find someone as reliable like you have.” She then gestured to the door. “You go on ahead, I’ll wait before following.”

Lady Mitch gave a faint nod in the direction of the fellow station leader, before leaving the room without another word.

 

Sorry this section is a few days late, I’ve not been feeling well the past few days and it’s put me a little behind schedule, I’m going to do my best to get back on top of it by next month.

Uninventive

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For Reynolds and Fisher

Before I start this post proper, I just want to say that the reason I haven’t posted the next part of my story as I usually would because of the sheer volume of work I have had (and still have to do) over the Christmas period, however I plan to be back on track and ready with the next post for the 1st February.

Instead of trying to catch up and post something late, I wanted to post something from the heart, a short, small and simple, tribute, if you can call it that, to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.

I’ve seen a few posts on blogs and pictures in tribute, and they pretty much all have the same thing in common, a mutual respect and adoration for these two icons.

 

Singin’ in the Rain has been one of my favourite musicals for a long time, and I don’t another one taking that spot for a long time. Reynolds brought that film to life with her grace, style and sheer joviality.

And of course Fisher brought us the character of Leia, one who will go down as one of the characters who changed the face of the way female characters are portrayed, certainly not the first to do so, but one of the most influential.

 

This influence extends to many things, people and franchises, and certainly to my own workings.

Looking through the list of characters I have created over the years, a fair proportion of my leads have been female, and will likely continue to be. They often wind up being more three-dimensional than any of my male leads (Not by design, they just tend to have more depth and character as they develop) and most of them wind up being my favourite to create.

 

Even though they may no longer be with us, their legacy will live forever, and many will remember them for the hours of joy they brought us, and the people they will continue to inspire.

 

 

I said this would be short, I have never done anything like this before and have no idea what I am doing.

 

Uninventive

(I don’t know who created the below image, but if found it too beautiful not to share)

 

 

The night sky holds many things,

The Clouds to hold the skies tears,

The Stars to give us direction,

The Moon to give us the light.

Remembered you will be,

As we gaze into that night,

The stories that you told,

That you lived,

That you dreamt,

We may not know them all,

But forgotten they will not be.

The emotions you made us feel,

The reactions from us you brought,

You made us laugh,

Cry,

Tremble,

feel warm on the inside.

Fear not in this moment,

For remembered you will be,

Not by all,

But more importantly,

By those whose hearts you touched.

We thank you,

For the light you brought to us.

The Orbiter. Part 11

“I can’t believe you have to head back already.” Stana huffed. “I mean you were told you could have that time off, and then she just doubles back on herself and takes it away from you again? What a cow.”

Both Radim and Stana were making their way back to her apartment with a rather brisk pace. After Radim had received his rather unexpected call from Lady Mitch, the two had begun heading back, with Stana not speaking for the first few minutes of the journey.

“This woman.” She continued. “Just because she is in a position of power she thinks she has the right to dictate our lives as if they were her own.”

Radim shook his head as he continued walking. “It’s not like that at all, she wouldn’t have asked me to return if it wasn’t something really important.”

Stana huffed. “And I suppose our time together isn’t important? I have these days off I was going to spend with you and now look, taken away from me.”

Radim suddenly stopped in his tracks, and turned to look at her. “Come with me.”

Stana stopped, and for the second time of the evening turned to give him a surprised look. “What?”

“You said yourself you have this time off, and if you come back with me, you will be able to see my job first-hand, as well as meet Lady Mitch.” He paused briefly. “Maybe you’ll see her in a different light once you meet her.”

Stana sighed. “I don’t know…”

Leaning in closer, Radim took hold of her hand. “Trust me.”

“But what would you even say to her? How exactly would you explain it?”

“I wouldn’t need to say anything.” Radim smiled. “Not really anyway, I could just say that you want to come to station Scorpion with us, see how things are done. You could be her assistant on the journey.”

Stana frowned. “You want me to act as an assistant to that woman.”

Radim cupped her hand between his, and softly looked her in the eye. “I want you to trust me in this.”

Stana sighed and averted her gaze, looking back at the direction they had come from. After a lengthily pause, she spoke again. “Alright. I’ll do it.”

Radim beamed. “Great, you go on ahead and pack, I’ll contact Lady Mitch.”

Stana shook her head. “Okay, let’s do this.”

 

The Journey back to Nimura Station was yet another overnight one, and Stana spent most of her time in the shuttle asleep, but not before Radim had given her a quick brief on how to address the Station leader, as well as how to respond to certain statements.

“You don’t have to worry too much.” He had told her simply. “Just let me do the talking while we are on Nimura, but if she does ask you any questions just give short answers, but, polite ones of course, especially in front of her hand servants.”

Yet now, as the two of them stood by Lady Mitch’s shuttle, Stana did feel nervous. She had opted for the dress that Radim had suggested, one that complemented his suit, but was simple enough to not run the risk of looking nicer than what Lady Mitch might wear.

Her nerves rose drastically when Lady Mitch did leave her house however, as the simple attire the station leader was wearing was not what Stana had been expecting. She found herself drawing in a deep gasp, casting a quick and worried glance at Radim before quickly reverting her eyes to Lady Mitch.

The two hand servants stopped at the door as Lady Mitch made her way to the Shuttle, her walk showing an elegance that Stana had never before seen, before she stopped directly in front of her.

“So Mr Spurling, this is the new assistant you wish for me to give a trial run?”

“Yes Ma’am.” Radim gave a faint nod.

Lady Mitch looked Stana up and down slowly. “Ms Prithrauck, am I correct?”

It took all of Stana’s composure to hold back how terrified she was. “Yes Lady Mitch.” she gave a respectful curtsy.

The corner of Lady Mitch’s mouth smiled faintly for a moment before she spoke again.  “Well let’s hope that you are as good an assistant are as you are a dresser.”  With that she promptly stepped into the shuttle. “Let’s go.”

Stana quickly cast a wide-eyed glance at Radim, before stepping onto the shuttle herself, followed promptly by Radim, who closed the door behind them.

A few moments later, the engines wound up, the shuttle undocked, and made its way to the Station airlock.

 

As soon as the shuttle was clear of Nimura, Radim’s face appeared on the screen in the passenger compartment, much to Stana’s surprise. “We’re now clear of the station Lady Mitch.”

Lady Mitch slouched back in her seat slightly. “Thank goodness, and the anomaly?”

Radim shook his head. “It’s still there as usual.”

“We must figure out what that is.” Lady Mitch clicked her teeth, before turning to face Stana. “So, Stana.” She smiled. “I’ve got to say it’s a pleasure to meet you, Radim talks about you all the time.”

Stana’s eyes widened and quickly began darting back and forth, between Lady Mitch and the screen.

“Stana its alright.” Radim spoke up. “I told you that you had nothing to worry about.”

“It’s all an act you see.” Lady Mitch leant forwards. “As a member of the committee I am expected to act and behave in a particular self-righteous way, but that just doesn’t fit who I am. I’ll chalk that down to meeting Radim all those years ago, but I have to keep up appearances else I might lose my spot as leader.”

After a few long moments, Stana responded. “Are you all like this then? Lady Mitch? Do you all put on a show for everyone?”

“Well I can only really speak for one other member, but as for the rest I don’t know.” Lady Mitch admitted. “But If I did know it would be defeating the purpose of keeping up appearances.”

Stana shook her head slowly, exhaling deeply in the process. “Forgive me Lady Mitch, this is just a lot to take in.”

Lady Mitch laughed. “The confines of this shuttle is the only place I can truly drop the formalities and just be myself, and only one other person besides the two of you knows this.” Her face suddenly went serious for a moment. “So I ask that outside of this shuttle, and especially when we are on Station Scorpion, you keep up the formalities, and act like I am a tough, vicious leader it is hard to work for.”

Stana once again cast a glance at the screen, just to see Radim smiling back at her. “Of course Lady Mitch.”

Lady Mitch once again smiled. “While we are in the confines of the shuttle, you can drop my formal title, you can use my given name; Elora. I’ve told Radim many times he can call me that too, but he refuses.”

“I just know that if I start using it I’m likely to end up saying it in the wrong place, and neither of us want that.” Radim defended himself from the cockpit.

Stana nodded faintly. “I think he has a good point, I’ll do the same, Ma’am.”

Lady Mitch waved her off. “Please yourself then.”

“This isn’t what I expected at all.” Stana rubbed her hands down her face. “Radim didn’t warn me at all.”

Lady Mitch nodded. “And so he shouldn’t have. I’m sorry for the secrecy but I could lose my seat on the committee, and who knows what would happen to Nimura if I did.”

“Probably fall into the clutches of someone like Lord Cammeo.” Radim nodded. “And we don’t want that. Although on that topic, we aren’t far from Scorpion now.”

Lady Mitch nodded. “Right, I had better get ready.” With which she removed the box from inside the sofa, and began getting undressed, much to Stana’s shock.

“You’re…What… Radim?!” She explained.

“Don’t look so surprised.” Lady Mitch carried on undressing as she spoke. “I have to look the part for these meetings, but the clothes are so uncomfortable I only wear them when I have to.”

“This is common?” Stana felt her jaw drop slightly. “With Radim watching?”

Lady Mitch and Radim exchanged brief looks of bemusement, before she stepped forwards, gently grasping Stana by her shoulder. “I’m not doing this for Radim.” She spoke, putting on a sultry voice. “I’m doing this as a personal show for you.”

Stana flushed bright red. “I’m…”

Radim laughed quietly to himself. “I’ll disconnect if it makes you feel better Stana. I need to start focusing on docking now anyway.”

Lady Mitch nodded. “Good idea, do you remember what I need you to do while we are here?”

Radim nodded. “Of course, although you might want to brief Stana on her role before we get there.” With which he signed off and the screen went blank.

Stana looked up at Lady Mitch, showing clear signs of confusion. “My role?”

Lady Mitch nodded, her face now serious. “Yes, while we are up here, I need you to do something for me…”

 

A few minutes later, the shuttle docked next to the others on Station Scorpion.

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The Orbiter. Part 10

Radim did indeed find himself something to do during the day, firstly checking through Stana’s kitchen to see if she needed any supplies that he could pick up during the day, before heading out to wander the streets of Station Geraldine.

But once he had restocked Stana’s kitchen, he made a beeline for the rear of the station, to an area near where the shuttle-station airlock was built. Upon his arrival, he saw what he was hoping to, an area that, to accommodate shuttle entry, had no tall buildings they could collide with, and instead had a long flat surface between the shuttle loading docks. Offering a faint smile to himself that he had found what he wanted, he turned and made his way back to Stana’s house.

Radim was busy preparing food in her kitchen when Stana arrived home that evening, she looked at him with a look of mild shock to see him cooking, but the heaviness of her tired eyes quickly returned to replace it.

Radim looked up at her, just in time to see her all but collapse from exhaustion onto her sofa. “I’d ask if it was a good meeting.” He called out. “But it either took you all forever to reach a conclusion about how to proceed, or there were a shit-ton of small details to finalise.”

Stana slowly turned to look at him, first her head, then followed slowly and lazily by the rest of her body, all while not moving from the sofa. “Both.” She sighed.

Radim tilted his head. “Even worse than I thought. Anyway as you can see I made dinner.” He gestured towards the food in front of himself, even though by this point Stana had already rolled back the other way and could no longer see him. “I thought we could maybe take it out with us on a stroll.”

“I don’t want to move.” Stana mumbled. “They fed me in the meeting, now I just want to sleep for a week.”

Radim raised an eyebrow at the food he was preparing. “Well double portions for me I suppose.” He laughed to himself. “I don’t think I ever realised how tiring those meetings could be, we can go out tomorrow instead.”

He glanced back over at the sofa again, but no response came his way.

“Stana?” He called out. Again receiving no response, he made his way over to her, only to see her sprawled out, heavily breathing and asleep. He shook his head with a smile. “Tomorrow it is then.”

It was gone midday the next day when Stana woke up, where she found herself in her bed, still wearing her work clothes from the day before. Ruffling up the covers she made her way out the bed and headed towards her sitting room, where she saw Radim sitting watching the television.

“You put me to bed in my work clothes? You didn’t think to change me?”

“I did consider it.” Radim peered over his shoulder back at her. “But I figured you might have felt a bit strange had I undressed you.”

Stana shrugged. “I did it to you literally just yesterday.”

“I know, and I felt strange as a result.” He turned his attention back away from her again.

Stana frowned. “Well now my work clothes are all crumpled.”

Radim turned his attention back to her. “Well you sure are a little bundle of happiness today aren’t you?”

Stana walked quickly up behind him and gently slapped the back of his head. “Oh shush, I’ll be happier once I’ve eaten.”

As if on cue, Radim leapt to his feet, switched off the television and turned to face her. “I’m so glad you mentioned it. You probably don’t remember my mentioning it last night, but I had thought we could go out for the evening.” He paused, grinning. “But seeing as you ruined that, we can go now instead.”

Stana raised an eyebrow. “Alright? Where do you want to go?”

Radim was already heading to the kitchen by this point. “All planned out, don’t you worry.”

The spot Radim had picked out was the clear land he had seen the previous day, where, due to shuttle landings nearby, the land was flat and grass coated, and due to the large airlocks, gave a clear view of the empty space behind the stations.

With the blanket laid out on the grass, Radim and Stana sat eating the food he had prepared, watching the stars seemingly twirl in the distance.

“Night time in the middle of the day.” Stana laughed, taking another sip of her drink. “How adorably unconventional.”

Radim rolled his eyes. “It was going to be night time at night originally but your meeting overran.” He smiled and winked at her. “So it would have been boringly conventional, so this is better.”

Stana smiled and kissed him gently on the cheek. “You raise a good point there Radim.” She shifted back to resting position and gazed back at the dancing stars. “So to what do I owe this?”

Radim shifted his weight so he was looking at her, despite her not returning the gesture. “I was thinking about what you said, about because I’m from Nimura I don’t understand the situation of stations such as Geraldine.”

Now she returned his gaze. “Radim I didn’t mean anything by that and you know it, you don’t understand the troubles of Geraldine much in the same way I could never appreciate the hardships of Nimura.”

Radim nodded. “I know but it made me think.” He paused and looked at her closely. “I was thinking what if we lived together?”

Stana’s eyes widened rapidly. “What.”

“I’m not saying right now.” Radim quickly found himself adding. “Just something we could consider, I could move here or we could both move to another station, I doubt you would want to live on Nimura.”

“Radim that’s a big step.” Stana just about managed to stutter her words out.

“I know, but we’ve been together nearly three years.” He turned his gaze back to space again. “I don’t mean we should do so soon of course, just something to maybe think about.”

Stana let out a heavy sigh as she turned her attention back out the void of space. “Radim, we both have fairly busy jobs, would it even work for us practically?”

“It works for us now doesn’t it?”

Stana paused for what felt like an eternity to Radim, before slowly turning to look at him. “Okay.” She nodded. “Let’s do it, you can come over here and still commute for when Lady Mitch needs you.”

Radim looked at her closely. “Are you sure? We don’t have to decide right now.”

Stana smiled. “Yes, surprising myself here, yes I am.”

Radim couldn’t help but beam back at her as he quickly moved in for a hug. “This is fantastic.” They held onto each other for a few moments. “I suppose the big question now.” He spoke up again, without letting go of her. “Is a matter of when?”

At more or less the same moment that Stana and Radim were making future arrangements, back on Station Nimura Lady Mitch was busy resting in her house. Book in hand she rested in her reading chair, which faced her pseudo-fireplace. One of her hand-servants had just rested a tray of tea on the table next to her, when the screen above the fireplace lit up. “Incoming call from Madam Night of Dunnwood station.” An automated voice rang out.

Lady Mitch looked up from her book in mild surprise, before looking at the two servants in the room. “Close the door and stand behind my chair.” The two nodded and did as she had instructed. When they were in position behind her, Lady Mitch slowly closed her book, placed it next to the tray on her table, picked up the cup and saucer off of the tray, and sat back in her chair. “Accept the call.”

The image on the screen changed almost immediately to that of Madam Night, she was seated at the desk in her study, papers neatly composed in front of her. She was dressed informally, much in the same way Lady Mitch was, but had a look of visible disappointment on her face. “Lady Mitch.” She spoke softly.

“Madam Night.” Lady Mitch responded in a similar tone. “To what do I owe this unexpected call?”

“I have just received a call from Sir Arjes, he spoke to Lord Cammeo yesterday after looking into the protocols around Station Scorpion as he said he would. As a result of the conversation they had, Lord Abultrates has called an emergency meeting, tomorrow, at midday, and has tasked me with informing the other Committee members.”

Lady Mitch leant forwards and gently placed her cup and saucer back on the tray. “I had not been anticipating such a fast response to the discussion.”

Madam Night shook her head. “Neither had I. It would seem what we said to Sir Arjes and Sir Fisiio has caused a stir.”

Lady Mitch nodded. “We already knew that Sir Arjes cannot be trusted, but what of Sir Fisiio? He seems to think similarly to ourselves.”

Madam Night shook her head. “I do not know, he appears to be very much against the committee members meeting each other outside of the weekly meetings, but that unfortunately means he will not speak to me on my own either.” She moved one of the papers in front of herself. “In the meantime I hold doubts as to fully placing my trust in him.”

Lady Mitch nodded gently. “I have no doubt in my mind that you are correct.” She paused briefly. “We shall just have to see how this meeting plays out. I need to contact my pilot, I have given him time off after the last meeting which I will now have to revoke. Contact me again if you hear of any changes.”

Madam Night shook her head slowly. “You are not my superior, so do not give me orders. But I will do as you ask.” With which she signed off.

Lady Mitch snarled slightly at the blank screen, before turning to her two handservants. “You may leave me now.”

The two nodded and complied, leaving her alone in the room.

Lady Mitch once again composed herself and looked at the monitor, at which she spoke three clear words. “Call Radim Spurling.”

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The Orbiter. Part 9

Sleep didn’t come to him however, and within a few moments he was back with his eyes open looking at the musky confines of his house. Letting out yet another heavy breath he leaned back on his chair and flicked a switch on the wall behind him, turning on the filtration system.

Most houses on Nimura lacked any kind of filtration, but Lady Mitch had insisted that he have one to make use of, even if only for a short time. Radim had initially resisted the idea of being one of the only people on Nimura to have one, but quickly admitted that it did make it easier to breathe, though he only used it for the brief times he was actually in the house.

With the filtration now gently humming in the background, Radim pulled his miniature computer out from under his chair and started it up, it only took a few moments for it to be ready, at which point he started up the video conference system and requested a call to Stana.

After a few moments of ringing, the face he recognised answered.

“How are you darling?” Stana smiled at him.

“Is this a good time?” Radim quickly replied.

Stana rolled her eyes at him. “Really? Straight to the formalities? That Lady has you wrapped around her finger doesn’t she? When you can’t even talk to me like a I’m the normal person I am.”

Raadim felt himself raising an eyebrow at her in response. “I only asked the question to make sure I wasn’t disturbing anything, and if so I could call back later.”

“Oh.” Stana paused. “Sorry.”

Radim watched her silence for a few moments, waiting for an answer, before trying again. “So? Is this a good time?”

Stana looked up from her screen briefly before responding. “Honestly, not really, I have a meeting in a few minutes.”

“That’s okay, I really just wanted to say that Lady Mitch has let me have the next few days off, so I was thinking of taking the shuttle over to Geraldine to see you?”

Radim could honestly say he had never seen Stana light up quite so quickly before, and took it as a sure sign she was happy with that arrangement. “Really?”

Radim nodded. “Absolutely.”

“Great. I have a meeting tomorrow but after that I can spare time for a couple of days, are you getting the next shuttle over?”

“Yes I will, I’ll leave shortly.” Radim Smiled.

“I’m surprised Mitch even let you have the time off. The way she orders you around, it just isn’t right.”  Stana shook her head slightly with a faint huff of annoyance.

Radim shrugged. “She’s not all bad, there are worse people to work for, besides she’s done this before so it’s not unusual as you are fully aware.” The last part he put so much emphasis on he almost startled himself.

Luckily for him, Stana either didn’t notice the emphasis or chose to ignore it. “I have to go, the second half of my meeting starts soon. You still have the spare key so you can let yourself in?”

Radim nodded. “Keep it with me at all times. I’ll let myself in when I arrive.”

Stana smiled faintly. “Good.” She looked up briefly again. “I have to go. Love you.”

“L…” Radim was only able to form the single letter before she had shut down the call from her end. “That ended abruptly.” He said to the blank screen. He sat for a moment in silence, before composing himself. Standing, patting his pocket just to double check the key was still there, he shut down the computer and switched off the filter.

The shuttle station wasn’t far from where he lived, which was part of the reason he choose the house he had, and as such it only took a few minutes for him to walk there. Due to the time of day the shuttle stop wasn’t too busy, though the amount of time it would take to get to station Geraldine meant by the time it reached there it would be the early hours of the morning, as the public shuttles ran a complete circle around all nine stations.

The ticket guard nodded as Radim showed him his identification. One of the perks of being a pilot, Radim thought to himself, free journeys.

He settled down on the cramped seating, and found himself surrounded by passengers who clearly were disgusted by the stop off on Nimura, but based on their attire Radim placed them as coming from Saunders, as they were dressed slightly worse than those who typically hailed from Andrews.

Radim settled back in the seat and tried to get himself comfortable, it would take many hours to get to Geraldine, with there being three stops between there and Nimura. Strapping himself in, he was asleep before the shuttle even lifted off.

 

Radim felt himself being gently rocked awake, and slowly and grouchily opened his eyes, slightly, the room was bright with the morning sunrise, and it took him a few seconds to properly focus on Stana’s face leaning over him.

She was smiling at him, but this wasn’t so much a happy smile as it was an amused one, the sun glistening off her golden hair as he moved it out her face and stood up taller. “You slept on my sofa?”

Radim rubbed his eyes as he sat up. “I didn’t want to wake you. The shuttle didn’t arrive here until late and by the time I had walked to your house it was early hours of the morning, I thought it best not to wake you when you have that big meeting you were telling me about.”

Stana shook her head slightly. “Well I appreciate the sentiment but you know I wouldn’t have minded.” She winked before turning in the direction of the kitchen. “I have to leave soon, but do you want me to make you something in particular?”

“Umm, I’m not…”Radim twisted to place his feet on the floor, but it was only as he moved the blanket he had been under that he realised his clothes were missing, stopping his train of thought. “Stana…” he called out.

“I put them in to be washed.” Her voice carried out from the kitchen area. “Goodness knows when you washed them last. There are a few spare bits in my room, after the last time you came I thought best to pick up a few things for you.”

Radim nodded as he stood and wrapped the blanket around himself. “I am capable of undressing myself, or was I getting your furniture too dirty?”

“Piss off.” She chuckled. “I’m not that uptight.”

Radim poked his head into the kitchen area. “You’d be pretty uptight if I dropped this blanket right now.”

Stana looked up from where she was preparing the food. “You bring that thing anywhere near my breakfast and I’ll personally kick you out the window. Go get a shower, it’ll be a good few minutes before this is ready.”

Radim winked at her and backed out the door again.

Stana shook her head as she continued to prepare the breakfast, a small smile of bemusement on her face.

 

It was only around ten minutes later that Radim stepped back into the kitchen, this time fully dressed, but with his hair still dripping water all down his shirt. Stana had finished with the preparations and was setting the plates on the counter.

“Good to see you dressed now.” She said with a half smile.

Radim raised an eyebrow. “You were the one who undressed me, so you haven’t a leg to stand on.”

“It was different in the sitting room.” She stuck her tongue at him. “My kitchen will remain a clean area however.” She pulled a seat out from under the counter and quickly sat down. “Come on, eat, I haven’t got long before I need to leave.”

Radim smiled and sat down opposite her, and quickly began eating. “So what is today’s big meeting about?”

Stana sighed a little. “Due to the growing population of the stations, there is a project to build additional housing, Sir Arjes has already given the green light, we just need to work out the specifics.”

“I can’t say Geraldine ever struck me as being overpopulated.”

Stana rolled her eyes slightly. “You’re a Nimura kid, no other station has those population problems, but we are running out of ways of keeping everyone employed.” She sighed gently. “If you lived on this station you might understand a little better, I know Nimura is the most populated of all, but Geraldine and her brother stations are not in a great position currently either.”

Radim tilted his head in understanding. “I know nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and it probably doesn’t help that the committee haven’t come to a decision that benefits anybody in a long time, including these housing stations.” He paused briefly, before quickly adding, “Or so Lady Mitch tells me, what do I know?”

Stana raised an eyebrow at him. “You do seem to talk to Lady Mitch a lot.”

Radim smiled and waved it off. “I’m her pilot, she complains to me when things don’t happen.”

Stana responded with a faint smile. “I suppose so, and I suppose you’ve known her since you were both young.”

Radim stopped smiling for a moment, trying to examine the look on Stana’s face. “Does it bother you?”

Stana gazed out the window. “Probably not as much as I expected it would.” She then turned to look at Radim again. “You sill come to visit when you can, and while I haven’t visited Nimura in a while, because, well your house there is a dump, and I think that’s enough for now.” Her eyes then widened as she glanced over at the clock. “Shoot, I gotta go.” She stood quickly and made her way around the counter. “I’ll be back later this evening, but I’m sure you can find some way to entertain yourself for the day.” She planted a quick kiss on his forehead and rushed over to the door. “Love you.” and shut the door behind herself. leaving Radim sitting in the kitchen, her having, again, gone before he could respond.

 

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The Orbiter. Part 8

A week had passed before Radim had spoken to Lady Mitch again, and much to his surprise, it had been her that had approached him.

He had been sat, once again engrossed in a book about the past history of the stations, when the young Lady Mitch had come and sat down next to him, closed book in hand.

For a few moments neither of them had said anything, Radim had tried his hardest to keep engrossed in the book he had, while Lady Mitch had watched him curiously. Eventually she had broken the silence. “I wanted to say I’m sorry for what I said to you last week.”

Radim had frozen. For a long few moments he couldn’t believe it, most of him wanted to think that she was using her authority to play him. He eventually turned and looked her in the eye. “I accept. Thank you.”

Lady Mitch had beamed slightly. “When I got home I realised I had been horrible for no reason. I want to say that I mean what I told you last week.”

Radim felt his eyes narrow slightly as he cocked his head. “What part?”

“That I’ll hire you.” She had replied. “Look.” She handed him the book she had been holding. “This is one of my history books from my house. Because my family is on the committee we get special books that others don’t. You like reading about it all so I’m giving you a little bit more.”

Radim had slowly and cautiously taken the book from her. “Won’t you get in trouble?”

Lady Mitch shook her head. “Never have. I’m too special apparently”

Radim had clutched the book closely. “Thank you. Lady Mitch.”

She beamed back at him. “Don’t let me down, I want to see you as my pilot when the time comes.”

“I won’t let you down. From now on, everything I want to do I will make sure helps you, and everything you think is right, I will support.”

 

Radim felt himself smile as he remembered the events that had led him to his current slot. The initial calling of Lady Mitch’s bluff had just happened because he had been upset, but he would never expected the private friendship that was to stem from it. The privacy had remained on Lady Mitch’s request, she didn’t want to risk her chance of losing her future spot on the committee over one person, and while Radim had originally been rather offended by her wishes, she had been quick to point out that if she lost her spot, his chances of ending up shuttling a committee member dropped to near enough zero.

He recalled their lunches spent in the library, originally swapping discussions about the logistics of shuttle flying, the station layout and practicalities of being a future member of the Committee. At first Lady Mitch had known little of what responsibilities and burdens she would have to bear in the future. But as the months and years went by her family began teaching her the ways of leadership, teaching her to understand that as leader of the station she was the most important person on board Nimura, the other inhabitants were beneath her and there to serve.

And slowly, those of Nimura, the teachers, students and even inhabitants walking the streets, began to see the leadership side to her grow. No longer asking people for attention, a click of the fingers would come their way, greeted by complete disregard if it was someone she didn’t want to speak to. People grew afraid of her, shying away from speaking to her with anything less than complete respect, nervous of accidentally saying the wrong thing and provoking a reaction. Her bodyguards always two steps behind, ready to respond to any command at a moment’s notice.

Her family became visibly more and more proud with each passing day, proud of the leader they were raising to follow their footprints. One who would lead Nimura with an iron fist.

Radim was the only person who was able to see through her change in personality, and only because she was able to leave her bodyguards outside when in the library.

For her, the hour in there was the only time she was able to drop the façade and just relax a little. Radim was always in first, ready and waiting, and for that short time each day they were able to swap stories and theories about the inner workings of the stations, how the committee worked, and what could be done in the future.

Most of what they had discussed were still theories, and they both knew this, but the information they had found out and told one another had been invaluable in getting them both were they currently were.

As Radim rounded the corner at the end of the row of factories, he spied his own house down by the end of the street. While most shuttle pilots had a tendency to take up residence in a building close to their respective committee member, Radim had chosen a smaller inconspicuous building further away in an attempt to keep a low profile. Something Lady Mitch had agreed with.

As he entered his home, he was greeted with the lingering smell of smoke, smoke that drifted in from the factories but then became trapped. Letting out a heavy breath to blow the smog away from his face, he settled down on his chair and closed his eyes.

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The Orbiter. Part 7

Nimura station was built with mass production in mind, things break, Nimura station makes them. Things need to be mass produced due to high consumption on other stations? Nimura makes them.

With this design in mind, Nimura station was built with both larger, and more, solar panels on its exterior than the other stations, but eventually the demand drew so much that even that amount of power was insufficient, and the factories entered a brief stage of fuel burning to meet the demands, but the heavy smoke that filled the station quickly deterred them from pursuing this option. Instead the shifts were changed to 24hour production, the workforce was increased, and the houses were built smaller to accommodate the extra people.

By the time Lady Mitch came into power, the damage had already been done, the workers were all cramped into small, barely-liveable accommodation, forced to work excessive hours for gradually lowering wages. The time spent burning fuel had also taken its toll on the station, a consistent smog filled the air, breathed in by everyone who walked the surface of the station. Any attempts to rid the air of the fumes has proved futile, filtering the air achieved nothing, and attempts at exchanging the air had had minimal effect.

The furnaces that had been built during the brief time of burning fuels had been converted into small kiosks for the workers of the station. The large metal grates serving as nearly perfect closing-time gates.

Radim Spurling had never been impressed with the nature of Nimura station. When he was younger it was all he had ever known, but he had heard stories of the other stations, ones with lush greenery, or ample supplies of water. Of course in his younger years that’s all they had been, stories, but he had found that if he looked out the station windows at night, when the sun was no longer being reflected in, Nimura’s rotation allowed him to see the other stations. Even though his glimpses of the other stations were only brief, he was able to see all of them, and made his decision at that age. He was going to visit the other stations.

Seeing them also inspired him to do something else, he found himself unable to lose interest in the differences between the stations, and in whatever time he could muster free was spent searching through the history of the stations. However he hit his first two obstacles very early on. He realised that they only people who ever properly got the chance to visit the other stations were the nine members of the committee, and the pilots who flew the shuttles. The other obstacle was in his searching the history, as he discovered Nimura was not equipped with a suitable archive of information, as in fact neither were the other occupied stations, all the history books were located on Scorpion.

He put himself to the task, the only pilots were those chosen by the academy on station Saunders, and to even be with a chance of being selected the students had to have had a near perfect education record, alongside high levels of etiquette and have good marks in the simulator training.

The other children of Nimura wanted nothing to do with him. To them, his dream of wanting to visit elsewhere clashed with their knowledge of how Nimura worked. It was a station built to equip the others, and apart from the single high-power house, the house of Mitch, no-one ever made it off the station.

His being an outcast suited Radim fine however, and just gave him more time to his studies. And this in turn led to him being befriended by the one person who also had plans to take trips of the station. Young Lady Mitch herself.

Nimura had many struggles, and an undereducated population was one of those problems. As such the likelihood that one outcast would be approached by the one other person that children were afraid to associate with became incredibly high.

During her school years, Lady Mitch had been under almost constant supervision, her family had had no choice but to send her to the only school available, but when she was in the library there, the supervision relaxed slightly for it was always staffed, and no children on the station used it anyway.

No children bar one.

At first the two just ignored each other, sitting at opposite ends of the room and reading the things they wanted to. But it only took a couple of weeks of silence for Radim to grow tired and attempt to break it. He approached Lady Mitch one afternoon, at first confident that he was going to be clever and say something important to impress the next leader of Nimura station. But once up close, his confidence bottled and he stood in front of her with a rather meek expression on his face.

She looked up at him from her book. “What??” the bitterness of being approached by a mere commoner had been clear.

“You… You’re going to be the next leader of Nimura aren’t you?” Radim had sheepishly responded.

“Of course.” She had snapped back. “And when a dirty commoner such as you speaks to me and my family, You call me by my title. I’m a Lady you know.”

“I’m sorry Lady.” Radim’s half-step back showcased his fear fully.

Lady Mitch had snorted heavily. “Good. Now what do you want?”

“I’m going to be a shuttle pilot and see the stations.” Radim’s face had lit up as he spoke the words.

“You’re stupid, pilots don’t come from Nimura, you will work in the factories like everyone else.”

Radim had found himself severely regretting his decision, and had wanted to just back off. But for some reason he found himself angered by her comments and pushed forwards. “I will be a pilot one day, maybe I’ll be the first from Nimura, but at least I’ll be remembered for it.”

Lady Mitch had pretty much laughed in his face at that comment. “You don’t even have a title, and if you don’t have a title, you won’t ever be remembered.”

Radim had truly felt the tears welling up at the comments she had been making, and turned to walk away from her smirking smug face, but stopped himself, with just one last ace up his sleeve, one last burst of confidence. “Okay.” He had moved in closer to face her. “You don’t think I will, but how about this, if I do become a shuttle pilot, you have to hire me as your personal one when you join the committee.”

Radim had felt a small sense of satisfaction welling up as her smile disappeared, and for a few long moments, she said nothing. Until. “It won’t happen.”

“Well, doesn’t that mean you have nothing to lose?”

Again, Lady Mitch had paused, until another smug look appeared. “Okay, if, and only if, you make it, you can be my pilot when I take my spot on the committee.”

 

I was trying to write this part as a flashback but I’m not sure I got the tenses quite right.

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