Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 2

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 2

Revelation

What could possibly go worse today? Bush asked himself silently as he sprinted down the halls of Denver Station. First he got the Minos shot up, then he learns that Jaquai Killian, an old friend and wingman, was killed after assassinating a Mafia Don, and now, to top it off, he woke up two hours late for the pickup of the Minos in a sickening puddle of vomit and liquor. The only way my day could be any worse was if my ex mother-in-law showed up in a bikini.

Grimacing at the thought, Bush redoubled his pace; even if he was already late for pickup and the late fee was fixed, he didn't want the word to get around that the fabled Wolfsheart was late for his appointments. He must been appeared a funny site for the various homeless people and prostitues lining the dark doorways of this dismal city, an old, graying man with the beginnings of a pot belly and a limp racing down the shadowy hallways in one of the toughest space station in the known universe.

Bush allowed himself a brief smile at the thought as he swung into the Denver Station Starship Construction and Repair Center, a large building made of rusting iron. He may look like an easy target, but any thief who tried to pick his pocket would be in for a nasty surprise, as two had already discovered in the month that he had been on the trade route from Andceeth to Exqugre, which was possibly the most dangerous route on the frontier other than the one from Riedquat to Lave. If by some unforseen miracle someone did actually manage to lift my credcard, they would be sorely disappointed, Bush thought with a glance at the refurbished hull of the Minos at the far end of the docking bay. I'll be lucky to have a red cent to my name if the day continues like it has.

He was greeted by a repair bot after being forced to sit and watch Ricardo Lake on an old earth style television in a waiting room for half an hour, who cheerily informed him that the Cobra Mk. III registration number WH-426 was ready for removal from the bay. "I'm sorry to say that you were two hours forty seven minutes and five seconds late for pickup. Two thousand credits have been removed from your credcard account as the standard fee for parking space. All of your requested..." Grumbling, Bush tuned out the bot and followed it towards the Minos.

Ah, the Minos. No had better served Bush and stood faithfully by his side then the modified Cobra Mk. III. The large warship had been a present from the Empire when he was forced to retire from the service fifteen years ago; one of a kind, the Minos used secret naval technology to have the appearance of the smaller Cobra Mk. III class starfighter, a favorite of many elite pilots, but using experimental "fold space" technology manufactured by the Sharoma Corporation the ship had in reality over a thousand tons of cargo hold space, all "folded" into a door in the back of a utility closet. The set-up had allowed Bush, who had already been one of the most feared "cleaners" in the universe, to fill the Cobra with all sorts of high tech goodies, also generously supplied by the Empire, and in the process join the elite order of, well, the elite. Grinning to himself, the Baron remembered the face of the officer who presented him with the ship, who was amazed at the uncommon generousity of the Emperor, although Bush was of the thought that he was given it to be the guinea pig for the new technology. Looking back, that was fine by him, as he still had this beast of a ship and he hadn't been vaporized mysteriously yet. And, he had to admit to himself, a Cobra with a Class Eight hyperdrive and fifty shields with no loss in manuverability was pretty nice to have on your side.

The Baron let out a sigh as he climbed up the familiar hatch on the underside of the Minos's control room. Everything was exactly as it was supposed to be, down to the deep auburn gloss of the leather pilot's and navigator's seats. The fold space had allowed him to fill the ship with trivial things like that, and let him convert the control room into a haven fit for a king with any extra money that was left over after purchasing merchandise. Along with the leather chairs, he had a classical king sized water bed (he couldn't stand the antigravity cushions of air that the populace called "beds" these days), a brand new fifteen foot viewscreen from Ironfrost Technologies that doubled as his interface to the Intergalactic News Network and the Elite Federation, and to top it off, replicas of famous pieces of art from the early eighteenth to mid twentyith centuries adorned his walls. Most considered these works, who weren't even three dimensional, crude at best, but as he got older, Bush had devoloped a love for many things from the pre-witchspace years, even though the era was generally considered by scholars only a step above barbaric.

He settled himself into the comfortable pilot's seat, and again was astounded at the rapid rate at which technology was advancing. Not even seven hours ago, the seat more closely resembled a hamburger than the leather it was, and now it was shining as if it was fresh out of the factory. Ten years ago, replacing a genuine leather chair would have taken more than a week.

"Truly amazing," he murmered as he flicked a switch, and was rewarded with a gentle purr that was the trademark of Class Eight hyperdrive system. They were virtually silent next to the military drives, which made no attempts to soften the noise a hyperdrive makes. Waiting a moment to make sure that no grinding sounds or smoke came from any part of the ship, he pressed the button that called Denver Station Flight Control. "WH-426 requesting permission to launch," he said, hoping that the speakers located at various places in the frame of the ship were working.

"Flight WH-426, request denied. All exits in use at the moment. We are sorry for any inconvinience," a bored flight controller's voice responded a moment later, managing to sound fully unapologetic as he said it.

"Great," Bush said to the empty room. Full docks, that means at least thirty more minutes in this god-forsaken system. What were the docks doing full in a backwater place like this in the first place? "Oh, well, might as well do something productive." Reaching into his jacket pocket, he withdrew the datacard from Jaquai's daughter, and slid it into the viewscreen's harddrive.

The screen stayed black for a moment, making Bush worried about a possibly faulty viewscreen, then the harddrive emitted three strange beeps in a short burst and Bush was heard his friend's voice.

"Old friend, I am telling this to you because I know of no one else I can trust. If you are reading this, it means that I am dead, probably by "unknown causes" or some such. The next part of this message will continue in five seconds if you don't order it to stop; however, I must warn you, the information in this is extremely sensitive and your life will be in danger if you hear it. It has obviously already claimed mine. The screen went black.

Bush stared , dumbfounded, wanting to tell Minos to stop downloading the datacard; but he could not make his mouth move, not when his friend had died because of what secrets lay encrypted inside the small microchip now in his possession. A wrinkle appeared in the middle of his forehead as he frowned and leaned back in the chair. The screen flicked back to life a moment later.

"Well, if you are still hearing this, that means you're curious. Not always a good thing, and it may well kill the cat this time, but someone has to act on this, and I couldn't give this to just anyone.

"Jon... the Thargoids are back."

Continue the story with Chapter 3