Cast of Shadows

God, blinded by the greatness of his creation, really fucked up the details.


“Bishop this is Ice Venture, come in, over.” Crackled the voice from the Hulk-class exhumer that had just jumped in low and away to their starboard.

“We see you Ice Venture, you are cleared for linked protocol, sending access codes now,” answered the young  communication officer on duty.

“We?  Fucking, “we”?  When the hell you get all corporate-mouthed Bish?”

The comms officer swallowed and cleared his throat before selecting to transmit, “Captain Bishop is currently attending to the composition calibrations, sir, and has delegated wing adherence policy to crew.  If you wish to send a message, I can surely insert it into his queue…”

“Naw, naw boy, that’s alright, as long as he gets me my 15% bonus to yield, he can be knee deep in pussy for all I care.  Here’s my ID codes, link me up bitch.”

The comms officer cut the feed and furrowed his brow.  Ship to ship comms in the academy fleets he’d been in had always been much more…succinct.  He supposed it was yet another adjustment to be made when working with Capsuleers.

But this wasn’t just anybody; this was John Klark, THE John Klark.   And if he was in system, they were all about to be either very rich or very dead.  It was said he was wrapped in liquid luck, it just happened to be both kinds.

Hurriedly, the comm officer stabbed his fingers at his console, no need to drag this out any longer than it had to.  He validated the transmission gate and launched the sync process.  Above him, on the main holo, the four minuscule mining ships hovered at their current relative coordinates around the massive central Orca-class industrial ship.  A blue aura overlay enveloped the Orca and the four other, already linked, ships.

Subsystem readouts on the newly arrived ship flickered from dull red to cool blue as the Orca’s link module software agents took up advisory positions in the Hulk.  As they locked into place, each of the subsystem technical commanders, began running their teams through the synch diagnostics routines.  Calls when down through the chain of command and readiness signals were sent back up.  As each completed their checks, flags were set to passed and the light blue glow enveloping the five other ships slowly extended towards the Ice Venture.  When the sensor suite finally sync’d and the Hulk was completely surrounded by the blue aura, the senior gang link command engineer began receiving verbal confirmations from each of the technical commanders.  When done, he stood and walked into the middle of the holo, thus accessing the command queue.

“Captain, this is gang link control, Ice Venture has sync’d and is ready to enter link mode, proceed?”

A moment passed and then in silver three-dimensional floaty-text, there appeared the words, “Yeah, let the bastard in.”

“He’s singing, Sir,” replied the comms officer, not exactly sure what the protocol was in this situation.

“He’s singing?” repeated  the captain.

“Singing, yes Sir. For approximately three hours now, Sir.”

“And we’ve sent all disconnect codes, termination handshakes and final telemetry?”

“Yes, sir, it has been thirty minutes since the Ice Venture has transferred it’s last ice blocks to our hold and received end of operation transmissions.  We still have not received proper acknowledgement.

The captain turned slightly in his seat, and rubbed his eyes wearily, not only were they in disputed territory but the local system channels indicated three new vessels, apparently all flying for Marmite Collective.  War declarations had not been fully processed but those thugs rarely let bureaucratic procedure get in their way.

“Put me through, ship-to-ship proximity comms only.”

“Yes sir.” The comms officer entered the appropriate codes.

“John? John?  We have plus three in local, we have to get going, over.”

He was greeted by a deep bass voice in full crescendo, if slightly slurred in parts:

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of shteel;
“As ye deal with My condemnersh, so with you My grace shall deal”;

“John?” the captain tried to cut in.

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.

“God dammit John we’re going to leave your drunk ass here, if you don’t acknowledge!”

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on!
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat…

The captain cut the channel, “Fuck him, prepare whole fleet jump.  Initiate warp to anomaly last known coordinates on my mark.”

“Yes sir, immediately, sir.”

As all ships had already aligned, almost immediately Aura’s voice was heard throughout the decks:

“Warp drive, active”.

The pale alabaster statue turns slowly on its pedestal and faces the plasma winged demon which filles the sky from horizon to horizon.

“Where is it now, Lord Debye?”

The demon sits in the crimson upholstered chair offered.  As he settles in, he brushes the armrests appreciatively with his massive hands, carefully tracing the spiral designs with long black fingers. “Your taste in furniture is, as with all, exquisite, dear Onyx.”

“Why, your appreciation is warmly received Lord Debye, as so few notice such things these days.  May I offer you something to eat, drink?” She answered, apparently unconcerned with his avoidance.

“No, I must be off.  A rather interesting phenomenon has begun monopolizing my attention and I am preparing to give it even more; as soon as our business here is concluded, of course.”  He smoothed the arm rests and then patted them down.  He looked up and the pulsating white hot lava flows adorning the massive horns which sprouted from his temples cooled to a deep orange.  He furrowed his brow in a very human-like fashion.

“We don’t know where it is.” He says.

“What?” she gasps.

“It is worse,” he continues, “we also believe that it is no longer whole. It is perhaps, everywhere.”

“Are we to hope this is the ‘phenomenon’ you will be attending to?” Angry red droplets begin to form upon her brilliant white forehead. Rivulets coalesce and flow down her goddess face.

“It is, and I ask a favour of you, my Queen.” he rises from the chair and shakes the wrinkles from his great wings. Nervously.

“I will hear you,” replied the statue, letting the blood streak down her curvaceous body.

“As my attention is brought to bear upon this situation, I will be unable to maintain it upon the tasks you have entrusted me with.  For this I would ask that a surrogate be metastasized in lieu.” He stared upon her beautiful face marred as it was but, as always, was met with her cold sightless mask.

“And where would you have this incarnation be?” she asked.

“Tash-Murkon,” he answered immediately.

The blood running down her body begins to pool around her perfect toes as she considered his request. “Brazen. Perhaps even foolish. But interesting.” she states.

He looks on, encouraged.

“You are granted your favour, Lord Debye. Do not squander it. You are dismissed.” she rotates away from him.

“I thank you for your generosity, my Queen.” He bows and begins to fade.

As she feels his presence leave, she muses to herself, “Oh, ‘generosity’ has so very little to do with it…”


(Author’s note: This was a background story for a fellow corp mate, John Klark.  Hope all is well Dude!)