WorldAlpha Story - 2. Choices

October 20, 2012

“I don’t care if you’ve inventoried them a thousand times last week. I want a new number today. And every day. And if a single weapon is missing when we reach WorldAlpha, you’ll be working a digger six miles deep with a headlamp wired to your brain.”

Two Mercs continued down the passageway, one cowed and quietly nodding, the other chopping his arms through the air.

She hated the way they threw their weight around. It reminded her of the folly that took a wounded planet and brought it to near annihilation. Good thing Mercs like those weren’t in charge of the ship, but after AlphaOne landed, they would flex their muscles every way they knew how. Once in the Military, always in command, they say.

As AlphaOne’s First Officer, a Merc in the technical sense, Kirsten Simmer wasn’t so sure. She continued in the opposite direction, watching the corridor visuals that would guide her to her destination: The Saturn. Unbelievable how unoriginal AlphaOne’s engineers could be, naming the ship’s fashionable restaurants after all the Solar System’s planets. At least they were smart enough to call the one designated “Earth” something different: The New Moon. Even so, hardly anyone ever ate there; the association with negative memories was too strong.Choices

Average good-looking combined with high rank had its privileges, she mused. Tonight’s meeting for dinner with Delph Silva was a case in point: Without her having both, she reasoned, he never would have accepted the invitation. Delph was all about the money. Before Earth became a junkyard, Silva’s only connection to the Mercs was to buy protection for one of his shipments, or to quell a riot near one of his spear-the-clouds business complexes. The occasional arms deal would get his Fu Manchu twitching as well. Tycoons liked their facial hair loud and long, and Delph Silva was a Tyc among Tycs.

A final visual pointed her left, then disappeared. The glass doors to The Saturn opened without a noise. Silva was already seated in the far corner, surveying the room. Uncharacteristic, she thought. Tycs had a way of showing up fashionably late, highly conscious of their role in making everyone’s world revolve on an even axis. He must think I’m attracted: If he shaved that moustache, he’d have a one percent chance. Kirsten stifled a grin and reached out her hand.

“Welcome, First Officer,” Delph Silva intoned, taking the hand and pulling out her chair with practiced elegance. “Or may I call you Kirsten?” He tipped at the waist, fingers twirling like a question mark.

“Kirsten is fine until I finish dessert,” she responded, taking her seat. “Gotta keep up the protocols.” As he turned to seat himself, Kirsten frowned, wondering how to get this masquerade on the right bandwidth.

Delph Silva made it easy.

“Allow me to barge right in. A woman of your capacity and stature has many choices. We are all contemplating our roles as we approach WorldAlpha. You are here to consider my role, or something similar. Is your becoming a Tycoon a viable option?” His eyes had the deadpan of one who had long since ceased to surprise himself.

First Officer Kirsten Simmer rubbed circles in her temple, hoping the words would come. “My father was an admiral, my mother, an ambassador to what we once called Japan,” she finally managed. “A Merc, and a Polick – how they ever got involved is beyond me. I guess you could say that mine was a privileged but rather neglected childhood.” Kirsten fought off the temptation to fiddle with her napkin.

“Allow me to finish your thought,” Delph offered, his eyes smiling. “Your mother’s father, Miles Chappel, was a mere Tyc, like myself, but he had more influence than a ballroom full of Mercs and Policks.”

“By my way of thinking,” Kirsten admitted, amazed at this man’s mind. “Since Grandfather usually owned the ballroom.”

“Quite so,” Delph Silva agreed. Then, with a quick glance around the restaurant, he bent over the table, his words a whisper. “Money. Politics. Might. The three are mere means, not the end. Your grandfather chose the means most suited to his being. His influence was not the money, but his ability to master it.” He gazed around the room, his face a sudden scowl. Then, tapping the table with a long-nailed finger, he continued, his voice a rasp of intensity: “Your choice does not solely lie in picking one of the three.”

Kirsten said it for him: “It lies in mastery.”

“Quite so,” the Tyc among Tycs repeated, his moustache twitching, his voice returning to normal. He sat back and hung his napkin over his tie. “Let’s just hope the Passage allows us to explore our choice. Now shall we?” Delph Silva deftly whistled a waiter to their side.

 --Manfred Koehler



Comments

That was great! I want the game to start :D
October 21, 2012 | Christoffer Nilsson


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