The Awakening

Incoming communiqué coming from the I.G.C.P.F. (Inter Galactic Commercial Police Force) addressee Jimbocop

IGCPF hereby authorises an extended deep space 'investigatory' mission to the Pleione star system in the Pleiades star cluster, you have been granted access to all law enforcement and military hardware found in the category seven mandate this includes the outlawed singularity generator. Take everything you can think of, maintain communication silence till you arrive in the Pleione system, on arrival you will receive further instructions. As always this mission does not exist, caution and stealth must be enforced through out, God Speed.

End Communiqué

I wonder what it could be this time, as last time we needed a singularity generator we damned near destroyed our universe, well I better get packing seems like old Jimbocop and his true love 'Dark Steed' are off on another deep space adventure. Klaxons were sounding inside Jimbo's electronic mind, yes it seemed on the surface this would be a great adventure, but he could not help noticing the "God Speed" part of the message, this was a code phrase infrequently used, and usually a precursor to the fact others had been sent in his place before him and had failed.

While Jimbo's servos and actuators worked overtime to get certain gun mounts grafted back onto his vessel he took the opportunity to look up the central IGCPF database. The statistics showed nothing out of the ordinary crime was rife as always, Jimbocop in a half mutter to himself, "Some things never change."

Finally the singularity generator showed up, very small box Jimbocop thought, shame we don't really know how it works, ah to hell with it, in went the little box.

After some 3 and half hours of non stop inventory picking packing and kicking, it seemed like Dark Steed would break in half with all the rubbish Jimbocop was forced to load it with. On a whim, Jimbocop decided to load the central IGCPF database into his memory banks, the human part of his brain had been filled to overflowing eons ago. At least this way Jimbocop would have some interesting reading to catch up on.

Despite the specked weight tolerance being exceeded by four times Dark Steed took off out of the giant IGCPF remote surveillance depot with all the grace of a swallow, might have had something to do with Jimbocop retrofitting Dark Steed with outlawed AM (antimatter) thrusters at the last minute but then again Dark Steed was no ordinary ship, for one it was almost totally crystalline and of course the mandatory deep space black of all deep space tactical reconnaissance vessels.

Jimbocop was pleased to be out of the tower and free to cruise the fold, ever since a certain group of cretins some millennium ago had been locked up the galaxy, seemed to be comparatively quiet. Still the chases brought back fond memories of more exciting times, deep space assignments always made Jimbocop feel nostalgic probably because the interludes were invariably pretty boring, still with over a half million sorties to his record he was under no illusions and soon the strict professionalism of training days set in.

He began the strict vetting process that he always did when looking for the latest high tech military grade components that were uncommonly available on the black market. One of the series of chips had never failed to impress Jimbocop was the XR-Z3 series. Although there was the issue of 'Possessed Cybernetic God' a few years back, that hoopla was all down a to a deliberately placed bug, the case was still open on who had done it and why, but Jimbocop had narrowed the list down substantially over the years. At least with this deep space mission he would not have to deal with the overly complex bureaucratic paper work that he normally did when he was at the surveillance depot. The one true good thing about these seemingly pointless deep space missions was the fact Jimbocop could actually get round to doing some useful police work. In any case he decided to order the XR-Z3b, it would mean a small detour but he reckoned it would be worth it.

Uneasy Unions

SoupDragon was not sure why he had any trust in Cormorant but money was money and since Cormorant had paid forty percent in advance SoupDragon was as satisfied as he could be with the situation. You see the problem is that SoupDragon does not really like getting involved in semi-political feuds but he was willing to make an exception as Cormorant seemed to have the money and the necessary background for what Cormorant implied he wanted to pull off. One thing was for sure SoupDragon thought Cormorant must be hiding his true past, that kind of know how is not generally available in the public domain.

So he initiated the contact procedure with the Rebmev's. It was not as hard as he thought it would be, of course it would be easy if you knew how obvious and yet subtle the right way to infiltrate the rogue clans were. The meeting place was the 'Cosmic Sinkhole', it had been eight years since ol Soup had seen his freighter girl at that station, Soup, distracted thought to himself am I still mad at her?

Cormorant's incessant chatter brought SoupDragon back to reality, ". care to repeat that Cormorant, I think the channel got singed for a second or two.".

"OK. switching and boosting channels. yes SoupDragon I was saying that we so plan out how we will secure the meeting booth, as you know Rebmev's are notorious for back stabbing so I suggest you carry a more potent side arms than usual as Rebmev's are fairly well stocked on countermeasures and blockers of varying sorts, some alien some well known.

SoupDragon then suggested something a little more subtle and definitely outlawed, Cormorant seemed okay with the idea, this fact proved to SoupDragon that Cormorant was not who he said he was. SoupDragon was going to have to do send out some eBots on his behalf to do the necessary gold digging on this Cormorant fella.

Cormorant finally decloaked his vessel Omega Six and allowed himself to be docked with SoupDragon's Dragon Lancer.

Rebmev scum and Money Owed

Termite69 was busy routing around the control panel of his beloved 'Thermal Death' when it picked up a transmission originating from a known Rebmev source.

He almost split his head open at the sound of the tone. While Termite nursed the now growing lump on the back of his head, he started to lay in a flight path to the Cosmic Sinkhole. Termite was determined to get the money owed to him by those elitist Rebmev scum.

A Penchant for Cool Heads

SoupDragon's heart leapt into his throat when the Omega Six showed itself, the fact it was cloaked was indicative of either extreme piracy or some connection to an unacknowledged space corporation's spin off security division or maybe one of the old imperial industrial skunk works programs. Judging by the hard angular lines and the bulky protrusions that in its self ruled out the master piracy clan option, as it is generally accepted pirates use general purpose ships having been awkwardly retrofitted for their criminal uses.

Finally he and Cormorant met in person, the stylistic clash was obvious, Cormorant had opted for raw functionality and maximal flexibility, SoupDragon opted for subtlety at the expense of raw power.

Cormorant was most relieved that the data on SoupDragon was indeed accurate; he needed someone with a penchant for keeping their cool in difficult situations.

Cormorant and SoupDragon agreed to the new and improved plan and spilt off their ships and proceeded with their small venture.

Brief for the Oufey Star Cluster and the Space Station Cosmic Sinkhole

From forty million kilometres away the Cosmic Sinkhole looked like a large black egg with many pin pricks of light, one could almost confuse it for background space from certain angles and very large distances. In any case at two million kilometres in length and around a million in girth, it certainly stood out as one of the more impressive stations in the Oufey star cluster. Thanks to gravity dampers the station had an unnaturally low gravity for its mass, it was a just about bearable one and a half g uniform across the station. The inner core section of the space station was rumoured to be a core full of 'super heavy' variants of Markinov 9 class power generators, no one was really sure but since this place was built round an old Imperial deep space battle station, the core was off limits, all that is known at least publicly was the rather astounding fact that there was a cavern that was around seven hundred and fifty thousand kilometres in diameter. Still even with that vast volume gone, there were still stacks of space for all the people living on the egg shaped monolith. Still the Cosmic Sinkhole was no new place, not in the slightest, its construction began two hundred short and twenty-two years after the Great Plague, it took four millennia to complete and played a central piece in two great interstellar wars in the region, both conflicts were about the destruction and decimation of the Oufey star cluster to create this monstrosity, these two wars delayed the final form of this station by a grand total of five hundred years.

Oufey star cluster had basically been sacrificed to make this behemoth. Just over forty-seven thousand years ago, the Oufey star cluster had fifty stars, and in the region of three hundred planetary bodies. Of those that survived most were sub Terra masses and were basically the ice worlds of those systems. The gas giants had been evaporated into the nearest Star in most cases. In one rare case a star's reaction was halted and the liquid core drained off and purified, this is believed is what remains inside that three quarters of a million-kilometre cavern. Well that is what the theorists say, since the radiation output of a Markinov 8 class unit puts out more gamma and x-ray radiation than some of the strongest quasars in the known cosmos. The Markinov 9's are rumoured to put out around one hundred times the power and hence radiation. Within the private corporate armies the real answer lies but no one dares ask, still Markinov 9 generators have been running flawlessly for the last twenty thousand years.

The Cosmic Sinkhole derived its name, from the simple fact that it basically devoured fifty star systems and the fact there are no asteroids around the Oufey star system where the Cosmic Sinkhole is stationed. The Star that has the name Oufey is also not a natural star, it is composed of the original Star Cervert and historical records indicate around thirty gas giants were slung into it, along with five to six solar masses of rocks and ice from other systems. The method was point-to-point space warping (it was unidirectional); the gravity of one pulled the other through into it, while the gravity of the smaller body would power the aperture of the PPSW.

The owner of the station is none other Oufey Corporation probably one of the three seats of power in the quadrant, or by comparison a super nation to the relic that is now known as lost Sol.

The Cosmic Sinkhole had a troubled start but after a few millennia of peace, most of which is no small fault of the huge navel force stationed there. The last thirty thousand years have been fairly dull in terms of war and construction projects. Most of the exceedingly rich history lies with Cosmic Sinkhole's enormous and mixed population. Artistry that can be found here is unrivalled probably in the whole of this galaxy!

There is something for everyone here, the hydroponics gardens on the side of light are second to none, they have vegetation from all parts of known Milky Way, and they even have some long extinct species. Also in the southern segment of the hydroponics parks one can find any non-sentient species that the planetary confederation has deemed safe to sentient humanoids.

On the dark side are some of the finest industrial and commercial mega complexes, if business is your purpose, we have over thirty thousand banking institutions and well over two hundred million corporate headquarters, and if you are anybody your company head quarters will be found on the Cosmic Sinkhole.

Cosmic Sinkhole

Termite docked at bay 2087 northern dock port at the Cosmic Sinkhole, it was one of those large interspecies hub space ports clusters found dotted all over the Sinkhole, almost on par in pure volume terms at least with some of the more prestigious naval deep space battle fortresses dry space docks.

He was over two hours early so he decided he would cruise around this most popular of space stations, well the most popular within a one hundred and fifty parsecs. The shops alone in this area alone generated more cash than some of the biggest corporations around. Probably the last bastion of free trade too.

Still the place was amazing every time Termite visited this place he just could not get over the sheer scope of it, nine hundred and forty billion residents that all lived, were housed and worked inside the main station and a further twenty five million active navy corps members and a further fifteen million personal on permanent standby by. The police force was almost as equally massive and a lot more obtrusive and omnipresent. Still despite all the so-called forces of 'good' it was still probably 'the' best place to conduct clandestine and criminal ventures, simply because it was so safe ironically. Also this was probably 'the' place to get a custom android built, with so many cultures and peoples, there were many strange tastes that were commonly catered for that were simply not available to the rest of the cosmos outside of this wondrous station.

There was always some celebration happening here at the Cosmic, it truly was a great place to be, but not to retire to, Termite noted to himself, it was just too active and overwhelming, still he had his small space rock and that claim on Petrak 9, that was all his for the taking. One of the many things Termite had yet to do, just because his life like so many other pilots were so damn busy, he had yet to rename his rock. Finally Termite stumbled onto the party he knew would be on at this time of year.

The great beer festival of Regulus. They probably had some of the best liquors in this galaxy. Termite was involved with a bar room brawl in next to no time.

Never Trust a Monkey

Jimbocop was rapidly approaching the system limits, 'At last a chance to test out the long range jump, well hopefully no-one notices that I again have broken some rules'. (Long range jumping or LRJ's were outlawed five millennia ago due to excessive radiation production). Jimbocop was confident that his resident space monkey was on the money this time.

The AM engines flared to full power, first ten G's, then quickly to 50G, and soon Dark Steed, despite the huge payload was well above 100G's. At last! What would have been gut wrenching for a fleshie the cosmic tear happened when the singularity bubble drive created the pinch in the regular fabric of the universe and allowed a doorway to be opened. Jimbocop momentarily ripped into the null void and with another full burn and another bubble pop he nudged his way back into his own realm. Jimbocop's space monkey had done bad, Jimbocop was on the other side of the quadrant divide; he had overshot his target by 300 parsecs!

"God damn it!" Jimbocop bellowed furiously, while simultaneously thumping the armrest, which shattered like glass beneath Jimbocop's massive mechanical fist. This only angered him further, the space monkey had been short changing him again, well at least the nano-bots were repairing his armrest quickly enough.

Jimbocop considered his options, at least he was still in humanoid controlled space, it was then Jimbocop decided to take advantage of Lazirs principle, a rather unexpected property of this universe that allowed one to make jumps of similar magnitude by lensing the intestacy of a natural wormhole, problem was it was risky if your ship could not produce enough power to sustain the lensing effect while travelling through the wormhole. Not really a problem, after all Dark Steed was stuffed to the gills with illicit devices.

He found a suitable wormhole and keyed in the appropriate commands, he was going to meet up with some old pirate buddies first and that space monkey was going to get a serious lashing, his flaw in the drive had cause Jimbocop a twenty four hour delay, good thing this was a super secret mission, he could make up any BS and they would have to believe him.

Unbeknownst to Jimbocop his little venture through null void had awoken an ancient beast and it now knew the way to Jimbocops universe.

Rebmev Search Continues

Termite was lucky to notice that his couple of hours were up, damn shame he thought as he found a couple of very good looking space station women, oh well, maybe he could come back later, but business was business.

He managed to get out of the crowded street and started his search in earnest for the where abouts of the Rebmev representative, he knew it would be in the Northern End cap district, probably at the old market, that's where most deals of the unsavoury sort went down, simply because police omnipresence was not so omnipresent there, there were recognised vulnerabilities in the scanning system in that area. In a way it suited both the police and the criminal underworld because a sort of boundary had naturally formed a safe haven from one another. The police were really not too concerned what went on in that sector it was one of the poorer areas but at the same time they were happy that most criminal affairs happened in that seedy district leaving the rest of the station a very safe place.

At last Termite found a security node that showed him the info he was after, Termite was well on his way, before the tracer eBot found Termites terminal and discharged a nerve-jamming spike into a passer by to that terminal. Terminal hacking was a serious crime, especially on this large dark station. It had many secrets just waiting to be found. But the price was too high for almost everyone.

Corporate Memos

It was late, Hotfoot really needed to go to sleep but something in that last transmission from The Corporate just bugged him.

On a whim he fired up some of his favourite ebots to scour the local information nexus, maybe just maybe he would find that one reference that linked his current mission with that slave shuttling business, what ever it was, true to style The Corporate was up to something. Hotfoot was just displeased The Corporate had finally suckered him after fifteen long years of cat and mouse avoidance from his notorious missions, missions seemingly directed against everyone.

Hotfoot, decided to leave the eBots to what they do best, work while he grabbed his twenty minutes of sleep for the week.

A Meeting of Warped Minds

At the independent space trade station 'Cosmic Sinkhole' SoupDragon was tying up his contract with the shady Rebmev organisation in the old market place new age pub, the exotic dancers were doing their thing when suddenly Termite69 barged into the private booth, knocking the dancers off the table and outside into the main area of the new age pub. Termite furiously demanded that the Rebmev representative pay his full contract fee now. Covered in spilled beer and what looked like the blood of others, Termite definitely did not look friendly.

Both SoupDragon and the Rebmev rep. Pulled their nerve gel projectile tipped carbines out and levelled them on the rude intruders' head but it was too late for the Rebmev rep, as Cormorant as per SoupDragon's instruction launched the nerve staple drones the moment the Rebmev rep. went for his concealed side arm.

As Termite69 found two carbine guns pointed into his face he realised that it may not have been such a good idea after all to kick the door down, in any case while Termite69 was mulling over his folly he noticed that something was not right with the representative for on the his face was a slow and gradually widening retarded grin, holy shit nerve staple drones, damn what kinda people have the balls to kill a Rebmev rep, with that Termite69 instinctively dove to the floor as the rep. spasmodically twitched which invariably meant he pulled the trigger.

With the carbine trained on Termite69's head SoupDragon calmly said with a superior smile on his face, "Who the hell are you and why should I let you live?".

Termite69 slowly dusted himself off and shoved the now dead rep off the seat and took his place. "I am Termite69 and I doubt your nerve staple trick will save you this time. I am the least of your worries now, for did you not know that the Rebmev organisation puts a price on the head of anyone who crosses them? In any case give me one good reason not to haul you in for the killing of this man, Rebmev pays a very good bounty to bounty hunters and they know you did it. So shall I kill you or shall I haul you in alive to be tortured and then killed, either way it does not make any difference to me.".

A static hiss in the left ear of SoupDragon and then the voice of Cormorant ".the p... drones . coming, get out of there now! Meet you at the 'Dragon Lancer'." silence, damn the cops move fast these days thought Soup to himself.

"Well Termite I don't think this is going anywhere because I could easily have the evidence arranged to point at you, kill you and hand you over, besides I doubt the Rebmevs would care they can always make another clone of that guy he was not terribly important." With that SoupDragon picked up the contract disc and started to leave the booth.

Before Termite had a chance to stun SoupDragon, his proximity detectors started to bring in data about police movement, damn the police they always ruin my fun! Ah well, "I have seen holographic projection distorters before and Earl is in too many places on this station today, you will need help to get money from the Rebmevs now."

"Next time I will kill you if you get in the way, you cost me my 10% bonus and I don't need your help you fool! Oh and go do your homework next time!" with that Soup disappeared from Termite's view. Termite was needless to say absolutely itching to lunge after that ice cold charmer and instil some personal justice into him, but he had to escape the police were closing in on the murder scene and murder is not something you want to even be a witness to in this day and age.

Battered Tugs and Booty

Jimbocop met up with the one of those badly mauled tugs, the kind which had seen way to many a fight and had been patched up way past all reasonableness. He estimated this particular specimen, although clearly breaking a good fifty space safety code laws, was probably the better part of four centuries. As always in a somewhat lame pirate tradition there was some indecipherable graffiti on the battered tug. It looked like it read as 'The Flint's Eye'.

Dark Steed issued the counter sign over the locked and secured comms channel and then flashed the same sign across its otherwise unmarked hull, such were the luxuries of being a top level IGCPF law enforcement unit.

The tug dropped the containers and just as silently moved off and cloaked.

For once the fools who supplied Jimbocop with most of his wares got the order right. Then again, Jimbocop had roughed up this pirate clan not long ago, so they were still fearful enough of him to be his unwilling lap dog from time to time. It was a mutually beneficial relationship if a bit unorthodox of both parties involved.

Time to Leave

Termite just got out of the booth before it blew up in a massive display of pyrotechnics, he grinned to himself well at least that will keep the cops of my back for a few minutes till I reach my ship.

Despite the fifty seconds of time the explosion bought Termite, it still did not change the fact it would take him well over four minutes to get away from the station completely. Termite decided it was time to change his holomorphic projection.

The drones looked like they were making a beeline for Termite. Termite's heart rate was getting erratic and it was causing the holomorphic software to issue alerts about the fact his moderate sweating was causing glitches in the overall illusion.

They were fifty feet away and still heading straight for him. He decided it was time to just stand and look at the hallway sign posts like a tourist would, since that was how he was projecting himself as now, there was a small chance this would work, other wise the drones were well within nerve jamming range. Course the crowd were all looking at the drones that were knocking all the bystanders left and right and usually straight to the floor.

He was getting really nervous now the drones were less than twenty feet away and still ploughing through the throng of people on the promenade. Fifteen feet, damn it I don't have a billion credits yet, nerve jammed to death and I am not even middle class yet!

Just then the station lost all power, the drones stopped and people started screaming. With that Termite started to run again, just as he heard an airlock explode and the temperature started to drop, along with the atmospheric pressure.

All Termite had to do was find his ship, he would find out later what the hell caused the station to loose power like that.

Cormorant was looking out of the rear view port of the Dragon Lancer galley, he could not believe his eyes the 'Cosmic Sinkhole' had just lost all power; even its correctional attitude thrusters were off line. He had a bad feeling about this. Still all he could do was sit and wait for SoupDragon to make it back (hopefully, the Dragon Lancer was after all an inferior ship to Cormorants at least that is how Cormorant felt about that issue).

Termite now aboard his ship and hiding in the shadow of some great ancient monolithic ball of ice buried deep in the ring of debris orbiting a local gas giant, began his preparations to intercept the next agent of the Rebmev's.

By this time Termite's holomorphic interpolators had identified who it was that killed the Rebmev representative, it was SoupDragon by an 85% probability, Termite wondered where this Soup character had got hold of such high quality holomorphs not a good sign, oh well he'd have to exact his justice for that insult another day.

While Termite was playing over the events that happened at the Cosmic Sinkhole, he could not help thinking that there was something not quite right with that situation, he had been in countless dealings with the shady underworld, there is no way someone could have been so in control while the world was falling down around them.

He chuckled to himself, well at least the days efforts were not in vain, I managed to swipe and copy that contract disc SoupDragon picked up off the table in that now smouldering heap of booth. Now to decipher this and net me some revenge against that double crossing thief Simon_DR.

Still, the station losing power like that was unprecedented. It was also pretty damn hard to start up Thermal Death, usually she was very quick on the go when he needed her to be, still he had another close get away.

He made sure that he would review the log he made of his little trip on Cosmic Sinkhole, those optic recorders that were placed at the back of his retinas, probably were the best investment he had ever made, allowed him win many a card game. Well before he was exposed, now he could not go near a casino they had all kicked him out, that must be some kind of intergalactic record.

SoupDragon just managed to seal the hatch as he heard how truly close the police drones were on his tail, a fraction of a second later he realised he would have been a nerve jammed corpse awaiting trial. At least he settled one question his mistress was still in the station, but that answer nearly cost him his life. He avoided making direct eye contact with Cormorant as he was sure Cormorant would have realised the foolishness of his comrade, what with all his hi-tech blatantly illicit enhancements.

Cormorant was sitting in the Dragon Lancer's galley, seemed like Cormorant knew how to cook too the place was full of the smell of a fine roast.

"Did you get the disk, what took you so long?" - "Yes, but did you get a chance to id that Termite fella?" SoupDragon said trying to change the topic slightly.

"I did not see any reason to." Cormorant said flatly. - "WHAT!" an exasperated SoupDragon bellowed.

Cormorant chuckling said "Well, you see I was kind of expecting that to happen, you see Termite69 is known to be linked to the Rebmevs but the connection not always clear to me at least, the question is he a target or is he a small fish who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?"

"You could have at least mentioned something like this when we were planning this whole thing." said a still exhasperated SoupDragon.

"Don't be foolish, if I had your reaction I would have been glacial and you would have blown your cover to the Rebmev's since right now I would speculate that both you and Termite69 are working together from the Rebmev's point of view, plus you may have tipped your hand to Termite with too cool act, we will see how this plays out over the next few days. Plus you have done this before SoupDragon I know it and you know it so lets be more professional about it in the future."

".very well Cormorant but I do not trust you, you have another agenda other than the one you discussed with myself and I can't place what it is, you had best tell me soon, before I expose you and your little charade to the Rebmev's."

Cormorant, "All in due time my friend".

SoupDragon, was not pleased with this development. "Right Cormorant I'll drop you off at the Omega Six and let you decode this disc", SoupDragon made a copy for himself while Cormorant busily ate his roast. Two can play this game SoupDragon thought to himself.

"Why thank you Soup', you are as dependable as your DFL (Deep-space Flight Licence) claims, but I do have one question to ask, did you notice anything wrong on the station, before you got back?"

"No, why?" trying not to sound apprehensive, as he thought maybe Cormorant had mind read his last thoughts about his mistress. No I can't be sentimental or weak, or I'll surely die, Soup thought silently to himself wishing the memory leave him.

"Well, just before you got back, the station lost all power..." said Cormorant

"You are joking right?" walks over to the rear view port, "Good god! I would not believe it even if I saw it, actually I don't believe it even now, how could that possibly happen!" Soup thought to himself, the Markinov 9 power generators are renowned for the near infallibility of their design and that station has fifteen of them on for back up, that's before we get to the redundancy ones.

"Its time we left Cormorant I don't feel its safe to hang around here." Starts to run to command module of the Dragon Lancer.

"Agreed" came a half muffled response form Cormorant as he voraciously bite into the last of his roast before bombing it to his guest cabin and hurriedly strapping himself up, as he knew Soup was about to pull a 20G turn soon.

Rebmev HQ and all that . . .

Guyffon and Simon_DR were reviewing some security logs deep in the bowls of their Rebmev asteroid HQ.

"Seems like we lost clone 154784456, damn it! We were this close to sealing a deal, well I suppose we will have to eliminate both SoupDragon and Termite69 now, clones are damn expensive and that mission was worth a lot to both us and our enemies, you up to the job Guyffon?" said Simon looking at the security panel.

"Yeah sure just send me pictures, last known locations and their ship id's I'll find them and take good care of them."

Simon now looking straight at him, "Right you, going to use the Falcon 8 or the Viper 7 this time?"

"Well, lets see, two ships, well I'll take the Viper 7 as it has better shielding, as you well know one lucky shot and blam! I'd prefer to use my ship 'Nova Crisis' but as you know its in for servicing." Guyffon smiled.

"Be careful that military reflective maser paint is hard to come by, and if you so much as put a dent in my children I'll do more than knock you for six!"

"Yeah, whatever, can I go now or is there anything else?", Guyffon turned away thinking "damn I hate these low G asteroids".

"We'll need some more antimatter pods" said Simon, still staring intently at the security readout. "So if your spoiling for a fight again remember antimatter and not those damn third grade stuff either"

"Sure, I am outta here!", keeping the rest to his thoughts, "well that was not so bad, don't see why Cormorant was so nervous for, Simon_DR seems more like a worry wart than a menace to society in general. Still I wonder what he wants with military grade AM."

Simon' watched as Guffron left - "Damn it! that man's trouble. Why is it so hard to find good help these days? Almost makes me wish I did not double cross The Corporate five years back. Well I suppose I should call on Prochyon and his 'Hellrazor' since he seems reliable, just in case that fool Guyffon makes a complete hash of things again".

Get Your Dues at Your Lovable Navy

"Reporting for duty Sir!" enters an uncomfortable StarFury. "I love the flying but this uniform sure is tight" thinking to himself.

The Sergeant, who was sat behind his monstrous ebony table motions for StarFury to pass through to the main assembly hall where the ceremony was going to commence.

The main assembly hall was truly massive; you could park a full sized cruiser in there and still have space for an engineering rig and crew to work on it. Then again the space navy had very deep pockets and were probably one of the more prestigious organizations around.

The Space Navy Drill Instructor stiff at the podium, starts the ceremony - "Well Space Mariners today is your last day as a trainee and the first as a Rookie you have all exceeded your predecessors and as you well know places are few in the fast track program, as always just because you failed in this cut does not mean the CNIB (Commercial Navies Intelligence Bureau) division could not use your skill sets, anyway let us get on with the ceremony of the 4,000 of you that made it to the end, only 10 will be selected for specialist training and because of the nature of our organisation you will not know that you are one of the elite 10, we will contact you in various ways in the next few days, and always remember we will always be testing you, even in your sleep we will test you."

CNIB high ranking officer, "This is a great day indeed. 4,000 new recruits into our fold, as we say here, CNIB a fast is best life, yes Rookies tonight is yours to do with as you wish, so go wild you deserve it, after 4 long years of hard work you are now unofficially above the law just don't do anything that would discredit the CNIB code of honour." CNIB officer said with obvious humorous gusto, feigned of course, the high up suits are always the most detached from reality.

The whole assembly breaks out into a fanatical brainwashed chant, extolling the virtues of CNIB honour code.

StarFury repeats the words he has heard in his dreams for the last four years, but today they strangely have no meaning to him, today he became aware of a faint high pitched whine.

Suddenly he realises that he was not part of the congregation he was one of the 10 chosen!

With an inner self-satisfied smile he said to himself, "oh boy do they not know what they are in for . . ."

Prototype X9-Interceptor

The trial runs of the prototype X9-Interceptor was going smoothly, Parias expected nothing less, seeing as he was the top rouge ship designer of this quadrant, at any rate Prochyon seemed to handle the newly christened HellRazor with unerring finesse, somehow Parias knew if there was something wrong with the new Interceptor model, Prochyon would be the man to find it. Parias's attention drifted to something else, business was slow and he was depressed.

Parias was gulping down some ancient alcoholic beverage, when the blood shot watcher, was as per usual pouring over the myriad of displays in his command nexus, noticed something rather unusual, (Parias probably had even more eavesdropping equipment than even IGCPF had access too). In any case Parias liked the sound of a singularity generator, thus his next daring mission was about to start.

Probably for the first time that year Parias left his hardened asteroid HQ, "The Malevolent" as always primed and ready, her jet black non-reflective matt hull was a perfect match for this kind of mission. Deep space is a dark place indeed, which seemed to fit his mood to a T.

He had almost forgotten how good it felt to pilot a ship, thankfully the muscle trainers kept him fit even if he never did try himself. The Malevolent was soon doing flips and various other gut haemorrhaging stunts. Parias was determined to be in his best form for the upcoming confrontation. Jimbocop was no average law enforcement unit.

Good Luck StarFury

The drill instructor laughed out loud on hearing StarFury's thought, if only he knew what is ahead of him and the others, still for our best team in over a millennia why does my stomach sink when I see such a lack of discipline in the Rookies.

Very well, the list was confirmed. Good luck StarFury you will need it, said the Drill Instructor to half to himself half to the others unknowing others.

Thieves in the Old Bell

RaCail a master thief in the making was on the promenade of the Old Bell Space Station when he saw his next victim, middle aged man, probably the owner of a small shipping company, of course RaCail knew it was the peak Rubidium shipment season and there were a lot of vessels bringing in the stuff. RaCail decided it was time to make good his plan.

He signalled to t0ny to begin the operation.

RaCail was a native to the Old Bell, but he had dreams of bigger and better places, for one the hundred thousand strong residents meant that traffic was not very fluent as sub million habitation space domes were considered insignificant and not worthy of a full commercial space trade route status. Of course those lucky few stations that got larger than a billion were given super trade route status, if only RaCail could find a way of breaking into one of those trunk lines, piracy and freedom would once more reign.

Old Bell continued its slow rotation around the Spartan star system, the only things of interest in this back water sector of space were the glorious water rich nebulas that were only fifteen parsecs away, and of course the Iridium\Rubidium rich asteroids that were part of the only main industry of the Star system. In a couple of centuries time, once this sector of space had been mined out like so many others, the Old Bell would once again engage it long range jump drives and appear in another remote system and start scouring it dry of resources. So far Old Bell had been responsible for the reduction of a score of Gas Giants that were the same size or larger than old Saturn of Sol, around two hundred fifty planets between the size of Pluto and above. Old Bell had more than paid off her deep space resource gathering loans. If it were not for the fact that certain money-grabbing corporations kept stealing so much of her profits she would have achieved the status of second most profitable mega moveable deep space mining platform, maybe in a few millennia, but RaCail could not wait that long.

Bar Stool Theology

There were those three men sitting at the 'Old King's Bar' as usual, drunk beyond belief but when they were not drinking they were obviously up to something. Well at least Kara did not have to worry about any dangerous pranks tonight

Cheezer and Useless_Thing were as usual arguing the finer points of being ex New Roman legionnaires, Lorque as usual was peering into his bottomless ale mug thinking as usual why don't the other two ever talk about something else.

"Shut the bloody hell up you two incompetent fools!" - "Hah there is still life in you yet Lorque!" Cheezer said while elbowing Useless_Thing in the ribs, which of course had the desired effect of drenching the nearby waitress in beer.

All poor old Useless_Thing saw coming at him was what he thought was a giant metallic butterfly that clear knocked both himself and the seat he was sitting in over. Then there were some distant voices, some woman was shouting but she was mile away and he thought he heard Lorque cursing away as well, after that he blacked out.

'Uncle Sherbet'

T0ny was greatly pleased to get the singal from RaCail, finally he would get a chance to test out his newly modified tug engines in a proper combat senario, 'Uncle Sherbet' was gonna get some action!

Uncle Sherbet pulled away from Old Bell like most tugs did, sloppily, RaCail wondered if t0ny was really all he was cracked up to be.

He was like a lot of old tugs, usually older than their captains; Sherbet was a fourth generation tug, arguably the best ones 'Orcas Corp' had ever built, maybe that would explain why the preponderance of tugs were of the fourth gen. type. With the new 'heavy all purpose' tug class coming out in a couple of years, there was a great deal of excitement that the seventh generation would finally replace the aging fleet of tugs and Orcas could return to profitability once again. Typical of tugs like those of Sherbet's age was the fact it had many pock and scouring marks from all its days in asteroid fields shifting freight cars in places where mega transporters could not possibly hope to reach. Size was not everything in space.

Back to Theology

Kara chuckled to herself; the three Musketeers were having another night in courtesy of the local Space PD.

".my head hurts!" groaned Useless_Thing, holding his head and looking out of the one eye the would open and focus, all he was greeted by was a concerned look from cheezer and a smug one from Lorque.

".and sleeping beauty awakes." Lorque said trying hard not to show how funny he thought Useless_Thing looked.

"Hey Lorque! Shut up! You caused enough chaos last night and don't deny it!" Cheezer also tried to say without showing the broadening grin on his face to Useless_Thing.

"Hey why do my clothes smell like beer?" Useless_Thing did not like this fact, what the hell happened last night he shuddered at the thought.

"Come on Useless_Thing don't you remember pouring all that beer over that fine waitress last night?" Chided Lorque - "Yeah, but it was not my fault" Useless_Thing retorted.

"Get a load of this, studmuffin here claims not to remember pulling said waitress onto him and then you know." Cheezer said with a wink to Lorque. "Yeah true, that was a smooth move, if a dumb one," said Lorque with a self-satisfied grin.

"Oh no, we didn't? Did we? My wife! She must never know, you guys must swear on your life you won't ever tell her! I implore you!" Useless_Thing pleaded, despite his reduced thinking due to that hammering pain both the external one and the internal making a cacophony of noise in his mind, he was sure his two good friends were up to something as usual. Damn he was hungry too, his gut had that sinking feeling it always had before something unpleasant would happen.

"Don't worry these boys are your friends but I am not" Kara said with a stern as possible face she could muster.

Useless_Things facial expression was one of pure dismay at which point he buried his face in his hands.

Cheezer, Kara and Lorque could not contain their laughter anymore. Two seconds later Lorque and cheezer were no longer standing and laughing but doubled up on the floor wincing in pain. By this time Kara was tearing from laughing so hard, course Useless_Thing would never hit a lady even if he were highly intoxicated, but she was a cop, Useless_Thing hated cops, course since he was drunk he missed and ended up head butting the bars instead and had another black out. Still at least he had got revenge on Cheezer and Lorque, which explained his unconscious smile quite nicely.

At last SoupDragon's eBots came up with some dirt on this Cormorant:

- Pan Galactic Pilots Number: Classified
- Military affiliations: Canis Minor Imperial royal guard
- Military status: Classified
- Military honours and medals: Vermillion Crest and Silver Marksman
- Criminal record: Classified
- Date of Birth: Classified
- Citizenship: Classified
- Reported Acts: Canis Minor Northern Lunar Colony 5 mass poisoning, Canis Minor remote genetics research base destruction, list goes on for forty sides.

Definitely did not tie in with Cormorants freighter captain story, but one look at the Omega Six could have told anyone that, that is if you saw it?

Theology Settles for a Soft Cell

Kara told Mike that they should really put them in a soft cell, they'd be less likely to hurt themselves.

Mike said to Kara as she started to walk away ".were you aware that there is a deal for free willing slaves, given the current state of those lot I'd say get rid of them and save ourselves some pain."

Kara did not have to think about, she needed the money to finally pay off her mortgage so when those three wake up, they'll be in for a nasty surprise Kara thought to herself.

Neither she nor Mike were sorry to see the 'happy trio' go, they had caused more damage than the time 'that' corporate fleet decided to pound the crap out of the station just to extort a few million credits from it, needless to say the station was a wreck still with those three cancerous ones gone it should be farther along the road to recovery. Old King was one of those edge system trade stations, resident population 10,000 but since they were on a hinge point between two masses of civilization they had high foot traffic, mostly of the kind of refuelling only, the next station was fifty parsecs away, the orbital hydrogen miner locked around a very low orbit in the Spartan star photosphere was the only source of fuel.

That mining platform was a relic of the first colonisation wave, pre Great Plague era, so it was more than 70,000 years old, a true testament to the rigours engineers of those chaotic times. Ugly as hell though and blackened from the constant washing over by the local star's many violent storms.

Shipments and Strange Anomolies

HLP-Shrike was sitting in his destroyer the Sulaco when he witnessed yet another slave shipment leaving 'The Old King'. "Seventh one this week, what the hell is going on down there?"

"I don't know sir but this Mike fella has been involved with it since the beginning, would you like me to embed a tracer drone in him sir, all you need to do is say the word."

Shrike just gave a nod of approval, experience told him these things never really produced meaningful results, still only a month to go before the Navy would bring him back onto to full active duty in one of the various hot zones up and down the galaxy.

Of course Shrike secretly hoped this long detour would land him within jumping distance of that strange anomaly growing in Pleione. He had one of his gut feelings that he was going to settle an old score with someone there. Course the Navy were always last to know anything important, as always his contacts enabled him to seem Godlike in his abilities to the crew under him, so Shrike speculated he would have some huge mess that only he could obviously handle.

Welcome to the One Man Corporation

The Corporate was as usual working on his next spider trap, things were a bit slow of late, with only one or two real rival underworld bosses to deal with and him owning the commercial police made things unbelievably easy. The commercial police was his finest accomplishment in years, it's a shame there were a few real police in it ruining the whole thing, but at least he consoled himself with the fact it kept people faithful to the commercial police forces that, there were some good people still around looking out for those who were incapable or just plain unwilling. He laughed at what a big joke most of the civilized sectors of space were, all sludgy malleable morons.

He sat in his gloomily lit office, with its industrial grey walls and ceiling, the floor was a cold metallic white and completely reflective, prefect for torture and messy executions if need be, the designer of the room was the first to prove that the nearly imperceptible slope of the room did infact drain blood off in a most pleasing efficient manor.

There was something interesting on the display and it was too complex for most to understand, despite The Corporate having almost near total control of every aspect of his head quarters he still saw it fit to invent his own alien language, so complex and so alien that only he could truly understand it, no code cracker would be able to understand it, the alphabet Corp used alone was around forty thousand letters long.

Whatever it was he subconsciously approved it, no doubt someone was either going to loose a lot of personal possessions or ultimately that and their life to boot.

Stirrings of The Beast

For millennia possibly hundreds if not thousands he drifted in the null void, it had always been around absolute zero if not on it, there were no heat sources left, there were no other forms of life, except him of course, he did not know how he got there his memory reduced because of the coldness, but this prison would not hold him for much longer, he was so hungry, he knew he would be free soon, back to a universe of heat, of life, a bountiful place where he could grow once more, for a great beast like himself had aroused his senses for a brief moment and had graciously showed him the doorway that he had always searched for in his never seemingly cycling dream of the cold and dark null void. Silence was the ruler here and the cold was his queen.

At last the beast of the void achieved basic consciousness and perception again, the dream had stopped, the beast from the realm of heat and life had given the one life of this desolate universe the food it needed. So much food, beyond comprehension had been generously dropped onto his form. But it was woefully inadequate for his final true form. He had no name for himself; he decided to remain this way, till he fully awoke and remembered his purpose.

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