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[M - G03] Old TImes

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Location: G03 - New California.

Tags: Civil, Building.

Previous chapters can be accessed through the AG player index here.

Chapter 21: Old Times.

Yseult looked strangely at home reclined in her seat surveying the unsightly inhabitants of the bar. The establishment wasn’t just ‘not corporate’, it was the kind of place corporates didn’t go. A few patrons had given Ellie a look up and down as they walked past, some smelling the corporate branding, others for other reasons no doubt. One look at Yseult and they had quickly and silently moved on. Her face was stern and not in the mood to tolerate anyone pushing their luck. It was the third night Yseult had come here but the first time Ellie had been allowed to come with her. The first two nights, Yseult had returned to the their room with bruises; Ellie had figured the previous nights had both ended in fighting of some kind and from the looks and whispers between the regulars, she was building the picture that Yseult had actually come out of them the better. She had asked what had happened but Yseult had just told her she was ‘making contacts’. She wanted to believe that it hadn’t just been because she liked it.


They were sat in a booth and past the wall against which Yseult leaned was a holoscreen showing some broadcast or other. “In planetary news.” The presenter said. “Faulty gravimetric compensators have been blamed for the recent loss of two Octan Corporation vessels which burned up in the atmosphere recently killing two pilots. The findings are unlikely to quash rife speculation that it was caused by a firefight as tension between Octan and the increasing fleet of MANTIS ships in orbit grows. Both corporations deny that any fighting has occurred...”


Yseult noticed that the news had caught Ellie’s attention and leaned round to view it herself, turning back a moment later, less interested than her colleague. She saw the look on Ellie’s face, a look of concern, guilt even. Two pilots had died and Ellie had found it very easy to wonder if they were to blame. Maybe she wouldn’t have worried so if they were on some official MANTIS mission but for some reason, this was different. They had been offered the consignment by The Forwarder: Just like old times - Yseult had thought as she checked the job sheet. To a casual viewer it looked like any other but The Forwarder had his ways of hiding the real details if you knew what to look for. She had wanted to say no at first... A new ship, a clean break. They had collected the container from an orbital holding station around Terrial Major, the problem was going to be the delivery. The growing MANTIS presence on New California had put everyone there on edge, especially the corps so she’d had to rely on her old tricks to get through. I’m not supposed to be that person anymore... It cost me everything, the small mirror in the Speedy Owl’s cabin had tried to tell her... She hadn’t listened; The job paid enough for her to not listen. And so, deactivating her transponder, she descended the Speedy Owl down the tightly monitored corridor between the Octan and MANTIS fleets. When one responded, so did the other. It had been a risk but she new what corporate types were like. Once they were close enough to each other, she became a forgotten blip on the scanners and once she passed through the ionosphere, they were too far behind to track her.


Ellie noticed Yseult looking at her and stopped watching the news. She thought for a moment, pensive. “One of them had a family.” She said.

    “So do many others.” Yseult replied. “Do you think the things you design, you build, have never killed someone with a family?”

    “That’s different.” Ellie responded. “That’s for the corporation... What was this for?”

Yseult sat on the question for a moment... It was clear Ellie had a belief in the corporation that she didn’t, never had and never would. She spent a moment thinking how to phrase her response... When you try to explain it to someone like Ellie, someone who believes, you have to phrase it right.

    “You believe in your corporation. What does your corporation believe in?... You?... Humanity?... Or the number at the bottom of the quarterly result. These corporations are trying to tear each other apart... What happens when the Galaxy is not profitable enough... eh? When you are not profitable enough. Corporations come and go; water, food, electricity... You will always need these things. You think your corporation will provide them when you are not... profitable?


Silence hung in the air between them, the clinks and chatter of the busy bar a muffled dull sound that couldn’t penetrate the bubble of tension around them. Ellie’s breath wavered, her eyes fixed. She wished she had an answer, she wished she could say with confidence that Yseult was wrong. Her eyes turned stern, sharp. The bright innocence she normally showed was gone. “And what do you believe in?’ She asked, her voice short and harsh. “What will bar brawls and risking getting shot down to smuggle someone else’s contraband earn you?... Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité?”

    “L’eau, La nourriture, l’electricité.” Yseult replied without hesitation, her voice full of a determined realism. “In the corporations, the plates are full and the beds are comfortable; anything to make you forget that tomorrow, maybe they change their mind.”


    “And if Big Sal is right” Ellie proposed. “And this Upsilon is something we need to find... For all our sakes...” She looked around at the dank, grim collection of strays that had dragged themselves in from wherever they came to spend what little they had earned on forgetting how they earned it. Her gaze returned to Yseult, her eyes - daggers. “Will they help? When the time comes... Where will they be?” They both knew the answer to that...



Here's an unedited shot of the whole thing.

It's taken me a while to get this one sorted but it concludes the mini-arc from Chapter 19 and explains what (if you hadn't guessed) the unexplained blip was that caused the incident portrayed in the previous two chapters.


Thanks for reading. All comments welcome as usual.



Edited by LucByard
Better French.

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Very, Very, nice build. It has a bit of a Mos Eisley Cantina feel to it. Keep up the good work, Mantis really needs you

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Yeah, a less dark and dirty Mos Easley though. Great story as usual. Some really nice detailing like the floor pattern and the rock'em sock'em robots. The holoscreen was very nicely edited in, subtle and not distracting.

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