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Jade With Envy - Part 1

Posted by dunkelza , 28 February 2015 · 1,611 views

Lore Stories Serials Jade With Envy Chengchao Zodiac Stations Scorpio Station Pilots
A quick note: Since I missed a post last Sunday, I'm going to post two this weekend- one on Saturday (today) and another on Sunday (tomorrow).

He does not deserve the praise they heap upon him. Smith Derek is not a better pilot- he is only better at taking credit. He talks well, making it sound like our actions are his own plan, though we do not listen to him. Most of us do not listen anyway. He is a “veep”.

He is not really an executive, but when we talk to him we call him the "Vice President of Mining". He is arrogant. He does not understand that we are insulting him. No vice president worthy of the title would work on a harvester- it is beneath them.

I hate Smith Derek.

Three times I should have been honored by the Home Office. Three times, our harvester has won important, difficult battles- important even to our parent company, the great Chengchao. Three times, I made the deciding difference in a battle and all three times Smith received the credit because of his talking skills.

This will end soon. We are docking at Scorpio.

I look down at my meager handful of gems- tiny, sparkling cubes from the hearts of asteroids. Sometimes when we win, the Home Office allows us to keep a few for ourselves. They divide them based on “merit”, but Smith always gets the lions’ share. I have only ninety-eight of them. For five years, I have done my duty, comported myself with honor for my company and family- and I have but ninety-eight crystals. I possess millions of Ƶhong, but those who deal in contraband will not likely trade in corporate money- it is too easy to trace.

If I am lucky, my little stash will be enough for what I need. I am hopeful. Scorpio Station has a reputation, even amongst the unregulated Zodiacs- if it can be bought or sold, someone on Scorpio is buying it or selling it. What I need is a piece of history, one of the Synod’s “righteousness collars”.

My grandfather told me about them. Invisible chains that could make a man do what the priests wanted. Millions were forced to wear them as punishment for nonbelief or a thousand other crimes against the Synod’s “Truth”. Millions of tools of “justice”, some small number of which may have survived on the outskirts of civilization. I need just one of them to give me justice.

The harvester is tightly surveilled at all times. If Smith decides to space himself, I mustn’t be seen with him. I had considered getting him drunk and “helping” him outside, but they would record that fact. I need to be able to guide him outside without being nearby. I need to establish his behavior as erratic and unusual, so they will believe the obvious lie instead of the more complex truth.

An alarm sounds- Freefalling. I strap myself down at my desk and quickly drain my teacup, securing it to the wall. I always hate the sensation of spinning down the crew torus for maneuvers. My insides want to come out through my nose. Luckily, it will be over soon. We will be docked and they will spin up again to make it easier for us to move around.

It takes an hour or two, but the UC bureaucrats finally let us disembark. My first moments on Scorpio do not disappoint. The customs men do not even question my sidearm- they just let me drift on past with little more than a scan of my PICSI. Perhaps the rumors are true. I narrow my eyes and try not to look out of place. I survived six months in the undercity of Shanghai as a boy, mostly by hiding. This time though, I’m a grown man floating off of a CPIA-member harvester. Any onlookers will know I have something of value to steal.

First of all, I need a fake PICSI. My implant identifies me as a mineral sports pilot, a rich outsider, a high-profile VIP. I’ve heard that they sell watches that can mask your real ID and transmit a fake one. Sadly, I am not the clandestine type. I am an upstanding pilot, a credit to his family and company. I do not know the ways of criminals and lowlifes. I do not know if these watches even exist, or if the writers at YúCrime made them up for their ensense stories- but I need one. I take the lift to the Yellow ring- I do not think that the Green ring will have what I need, and Orange is likely a den of thieves.

Three bars later, I am no closer to what I seek. Perhaps if I had Smith’s gift for lying, I would already have the collar and be ready to claim my vengeance. Instead, I am buying overpriced liquor from a man who thinks sake is the same as huangjiu.

A woman sits down next to me at the bar. She is perhaps what the Euros call “Latin”, though I am no judge.

“I think I can turn that frown upside down, sunshine.”

I do not want what she is selling. I tell her so. She pales, then turns red for a moment before continuing.

“Stop thinking with your pants, flyboy. Those aren’t the tricks I turn.”

I turn to look at her. She glares.

“Keep staring at your drink, chuckles. Pay no attention to me.”

I do as she asks.

“Good. You keep looking at your wrist like it’s going to bite you. That tells me you want to be someone else. For good, or just for the weekend?”

“For a day or two,” I mumble into my drink.

“Orange Twenty-Three. There’s an old man who sells folk remedies. I’m sure he can brew up some kind of magic for thirty or so.”

“Thirty Ƶhong?”

Her sidelong glance speaks volumes of disapproval. My insides flop about like fish on a dock. I do not think sixty-eight crystals will buy the collar.

“Fifteen gems, then.”

She gets up and leaves. I wonder if that was acceptance of my offer. I doubt it. After a few minutes, I finish my drink and head to the Orange ring. What choice do I have?

The gravity here is lighter, the people older-looking, more worn. Maintenance is even less in evidence than in the Yellow ring. It takes some time to find Section 23. There is very little room to maneuver between people, bulkheads, and detritus.

Just as I am about to give up, I find the shop in question. A single, round pressure door hung about with plastic flowers and painted with strange symbols. I can make out the word “Curandero” in Euro letters, but it means nothing to me.

I reach to knock on the door, but stop.

The cold sliver of steel pressed against the side of my neck gives me a good reason to pause.

(To Be Continued)

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Special thanks to Groundhound (Veeps)

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Look forward to the next chapter Dunk excellent work and the names are going to be hard not to think about when we start making stations :)

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Nice one dunk :)
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Mar 01 2015 03:39 PM

Very well written, I can't wait for more.



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