NationStates Jolt Archive

What is life worth? (Closed; Attn TRD.)

Central Facehuggeria
13-06-2005, 04:11
It wasn't a particularly strange day. Everything just seemed to fit into place. There were no extraneous wars, no great battles worthy of song. There were no tanks rolling up the streets, no troops waiting on every street corner for you to slip up. There were no inquisitors kicking down the doors of dissidents. There were no political executions, tortures or murders. For once, for one shining morning, there was peace in the Empire.

Business went on, and in the Empire slavery was *the* business. Peddling flesh was a job that yielded immense profits, if you could leave your scruples at the door. Alan Satran was one of those who couldn’t. Indeed, his morals were firmly entrenched in his brain like a tick. His conscience simply would not let go. Not let him forget that he was breaking up families, destroying lives. His conscience would never forgive him for what he did, no matter how much money he received in return.

Xenophobia was a mindset very popular in the Empire, but Alan did not readily subscribe to the notion that other races should be exterminated like animals. It just seemed wrong somehow. Perhaps that was merely his good Christian upbringing taking hold, not the bastardized version of the faith that most people in the Empire preached, the faith that condones slavery and xenocide. That is not to say he considered aliens his equal, indeed he did not. He merely felt that annihilating or enslaving them was morally ruinous.

“Look at yourself. Here you are selling sentient, thinking beings like sides of beef! You should be bloody ashamed of yourself!” His conscience kept telling him as he sold families and lovers apart, but to no avail.

What else was he supposed to do? Join the military? No, he didn’t have the right mindset. He’d get eaten alive in basic, much less when he actually got to a unit. The Imperial Police? No, they were even worse. A bunch of sadists who brandished a pain-whip with a loose hand, doing anything to keep up on their beating quotas. There weren’t many other decent paying jobs out there, unless he wanted to sell arms. He’d make a killing both figuratively and literally then, as his weapons would no doubt be used to kill an untold number of innocent people. Every paycheck would be blood money. His options were unfortunately quite limited.

Sometimes, a distraught Alan would walk the moon-lit Opterran beaches, gazing with wonder upon the marvelous night sky. His feet would touch the cold blue-white sand and make tiny marks that nature would wipe out ere the night’s end. He walked the beaches as an escape, to lose himself in the gentle waves and the dark, beautiful sky. An escape from his conscience, a flight from the horrendous actions he did day in and day out in the course of his duty.

He had nobody else to share his pain with. He had no wife, no children. He did not even keep a personal slave, as was customary for one of his class and occupation. He did not feel he needed another. He thought it better to simply bottle up his misgivings and let them wash over him at days end when he haunted the beach late at night. Much better to keep the pain to oneself, lest it spread to another.

But something was strange about this night. There was a star where none had been before. It seemed to sparkle as it fell.

“Heh, a shooting star.” He thought with a chuckle as he gazed up at the falling point of light in the night sky.

It fell and fell, moving inexorably closer. That’s when Alan realized that it was not a shooting star at all. It was a space ship! He squinted his eyes, piercing the sky with a penetrative gaze. If it was an invasion, it was a damn poorly planned one with but a single troop pod. Why, it would take millions of men to capture Opterra.

”No,” He thought, ”It’s probably some sort of escape pod or… perhaps a cargo module.”

His curiosity vied for his favor with his rationality. Both conflicting emotions clashed like great logical gladiators, each one trying to trap and crush the other with his reason. “What if it’s valuable? Imperial Law says you can claim it if nobody else does…”

“Yeah, and what if it’s the military’s? Or worse, the Inquisition’s? They’d kill us on the spot, and that wouldn’t be too good for my continued health, I can tell ya that right now.”

“But what if somebody needs our help?” Curiosity asked, his voice the very essence of his being. Curious.

”Better somebody else gets hurt than we do, why -…” Replied the harsh voice of rationality, always looking out for number one.

“We’re going.” Alan thought to himself with an air of finality. Both voices were instantly silenced for he had made his decision.

With that, he began walking towards where he estimated the capsule would crash, a place on the very edge of the beach, near a dark and foreboding forest full of military recruits training, and loaded for bear. Best to avoid that place entirely, lest a trigger-happy kid with a powergun get overexcited.

The pod streaked down quickly, too quickly. Alan would not be able to greet it when it landed, so whatever was inside would have to wait for a few minutes as he trudged through the beach sand. It was lovely to look at, but running in it, especially with a full executive’s suit was not the simplest task in the world. The sand had a nasty tendency to get everywhere.

A cursory glimpse from afar confirmed that it was definitely some sort of escape pod, although he did not recognize the make of it. The military would know about the crash and would have troops there soon, so Alan had to act fast.

“Hello…?” He asked cautiously as he peered through the thick and acrid smoke, trying to see if there was anything left alive in there. The seconds ticked by as he waited for a response, with each moment lost making him more and more nervous. What if this was a military pod and he was caught snooping around it? He shuddered to think of that particular possibility…
The Resurgent Dream
13-06-2005, 09:26
The Star Sailor had not a single weapon on her. She wasn't supposed to need them. She was a low-priced civilian tourist transport, small enough to be mistaken for an escape vessel, albeit one carrying a few score people. A ship like her didn't attract the pirates the cruise ships of the wealthy preferred to travel in nor did she often travel outside of friendly space, relatively safe from foreign powers except in times of actual war. Of course, the passengers aboard the Star Sailor didn't yet know they were outside such safe space. The last time they'd been able to get an update of their heading, they were just leaving Necron space and also just losing navigation and communications.

Beyond the smoke, female voices were heard speaking loudly in English, discussing the repair of the ship. They didn't mention any wounded but were simply discussing structural damage. From their talk, if one understood English, the engines, navigation, and communications were out and the hull was breached in several places.

The first passenger to step into clear view was a Bogganess. Her face was quite lovely and her figure, while rather plump by Human standards, was also quite full. Her black hair was curly and full. She might have been mistaken for a Human woman of about twenty-two, pretty if overweight, except for the eyebrows, which were inhumanly thick and pointing slightly upwards. She was dressed casually in red short shorts, a white t-shirt, and sneakers, the kind of thing a girl might wear on a summer vacation. In one hand she held a small white banner, of peaceful intent rather than surrender, and she waved it in the air as she ran towards Alan. "Excuse me, sir! Our ship's crashed. We're in great need of assistance."
Central Facehuggeria
14-06-2005, 23:08
Alan’s eyes widened as he saw the woman climb up through the smoke. She was cute in a plain sort of way, but what really caught his attention was her eyebrows. They were… inhuman. They naturally sent extensive warnings through his already overextended brain. He knew that he had very little time.

“You must listen very closely. You’re in grave danger and you’ve got to get out of here right now. The government will have detected your landing and they’ll have a kill team here within moments.” Alan said, his voice outpacing his breath as he spoke.

“You’ll want to make for those mountains over there, there’s a way station there where you can hide and try to get off-world…” Alan said hurriedly as he pointed to a series of blue-white peaks far away on the horizon.

“...Oh bloody hell. I’m too late.” Alan sighed as his eyes focused on something far into the sky. He’d been watching the heavens nervously since he saw the ship, and what he had feared had come to pass…

In the distance there was a fast approaching visage, and though it was too far yet to identify, Alan knew it was a gunship. His blood ran cold as he imagined what its contents, a cadre of trigger-happy inquisitorial storm troopers would do when they found free aliens on Imperial soil…

Within moments, the gunship had grown from a mere dot on the horizon to a monstrous bird of prey, ready to snatch up and devour the hapless crash survivors. Its features became very visible as it streaked through the night sky towards the landing site. Great gun-turrets and missile packs hung lazily from its wings and fuselage. On top of the craft there was a single reflective blue wind-shield, glaring at Alan like some sort of hideous cyclopean eye. If Alan didn’t think of something fast, the gunship and its deadly cargo would kill the innocent survivors without batting an eyelash.

A heartbeat passed, and another. The gunship slowly edged its way in for a landing, it evidently wasn’t in much of a hurry. Good, because it gave Alan more time to think of a way out of his predicament. Unfortunately, he was still drawing a total blank.

A single grey-armored figure stepped out of the gunship , flanked by a pair of the more mundane black-armored storm troopers.

“Uh-Oh” Alan thought. ”That’s an Inquisitor…”

In the Empire, Inquisitors were given great latitude to root out subversion and political dissidence. The Inquisitor’s helmet was impassive and faceless, as though the man inside did not respect his foes enough to let them see his face. If the Inquisitor wanted to kill the aliens in the crash, there was precious little that Alan could do to stop the unrevealed monster.

“Troopers. Purge the Xenos.” The Inquisitor said, the voice coming out soft, feminine, and icy-cold. It wasn’t a man at all, it was a woman, of course that changed nothing. A woman she may have been, but that does not make her merciful, especially in her line of work.

The two storm troopers flanking her gave small, almost imperceptible nods to each other and raised their incinerators. Hellish flames danced on the tips of their wicked, claw-like weapons. They were tools for cleansing infestations, not weapons of war. Slowly, the two troopers advanced until they were within range of the crash, and the hapless sentients still there.

“Stop!” Alan cried in desperation, hoping to buy at least another moment to think of a way out of this mess.

The Inquisitor raised her gauntleted hand and said “Hold, troopers. Why? Why do you wish to spare these inhuman creatures?”

”I… I represent the slavers guild and I hereby claim these creatures as merchandise under Article 405 of the Imperial Code.” Alan’s voice was cold as iron as he said that. If the Inquisitor detected even a hint of falsehood, he knew full well that it wouldn’t just be the aliens who would be ‘cleansed’ that night.

“Show me your identification.” She asked, her voice as rigid and unbending as a steel beam. If something, anything was amiss… Alan suppressed a small shudder at that possibility.

Alan fumbled in his pocket for a moment before finding his Universal Data Assistant, something that the government gave each and every citizen, both to keep track of them, and to spy upon them. Trying his best to remain cool, he handed it to her after digging it out of his pocket and brushing off the lint.

The Inquisitor looked over the device for a moment before handing it back to Alan. The helmet made the woman’s thoughts imperceptible. Had she found something wrong, and was she thus merely toying with him? These anxious doubts gnawed at Alan as he waited for her to speak…

“Hmm… Looks like everything checks out. We’ll have to wait here with you until your slave-transport arrives though, to prevent these filthy aliens from getting loose of course…” She said, her voice a little suspicious. Something seemed odd, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

“Of course, just allow me to call it. I’m afraid that I didn’t get a chance to before you arrived…” Alan said as he flipped open his UDA and called the Guild. Chances are, Frank would pick up. He would have been ideal because he was not too adverse to allowing merchandise to escape if one threw enough money his way…

Unfortunately, it wasn’t Frank who picked up the line. It was Overseer Zorak, Alan’s boss…

“Uh, Hey boss! You’re up late…” Alan said with a slightly nervous chuckle.

“Well, there were some minor clerical tasks to do and Cindy called in sick. So what’s up?” The man asked curiously. Alan never called without a very good reason, especially this late at night.

“Uh… I was walking on the beach, and… well let’s just say it’s a long story, but I’ve acquired some new merchandise…” Alan’s words made him sick, he could never in a million years imagining actually participating in the taking of slaves. He abhorred it. But until today, he did not understand just how much he hated it. The only thing he could use to console his conscience was the fact that he saved the poor beings (and probably himself as well) from being incinerated.

Zorak’s eyes lighted up like miniature stars. Finally, he thought, Alan is starting to act like a real slaver!

“I will be there with the transport as soon as possible…”

Minutes ticked by until Zorak arrived with the slave-transport. It certainly was not designed for comfort, being little more than a sealed metal box with air holes poked for good measure.

A quartet of armed military surplus combat drones herded the crash survivors into the transport, occasionally prodding an unruly individual with an electric jolt so as to force them back in line. The interior of the box was about as uncomfortable as it looked, so naturally nobody wanted to get in. Hence why the drones were equipped with their electric slave-prods.

“I trust my presence is no longer necessary, Inquisitor?” Alan asked tentatively, fighting back his mind’s desire to retch.

“Actually, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me, and fill out some paperwork…” She replied in an odd and almost sultry voice.

”Is she hitting on me!?” Alan thought to himself, repulsed at the idea that an Inquisitor, an institutionalized butcher would find him attractive.

No. An Inquisitor need not need to lower themselves to asking for anything. In the Empire, they had authority to requisition what they wanted. And right now, the Inquisitor seemed to want him, or at least certain parts of his anatomy. And what this Inquisitor wants, she gets…

But not today. “Err, sorry. I don’t have the authority to sign for the guild. Ah… good night, Inquisitor!” Alan said as he walked away as fast as his legs would take him.

“So, the puppy wants to play hard to get? That will just make it all the sweeter when I break him…” The Inquisitor thought to herself as she smiled and watched him practically leap out of his skin, turn tail, and run away.

Zorak took a leisurely pace back to the guildhall. A trip that took him ten minutes to make on the way there was trebled on the way back in an effort to show his new commodities who exactly was in charge here.

“Attention all merchandise in the rear compartment! We’ll be landing at the Slaver’s guild soon, and you had best be on your best behavior. If you even think of making trouble, you will be… made example of as a warning to the rest. I trust I make myself clear?” Zorak’s harsh sounding voice filtered through the large, almost cavernous hull of the transport, blaring through a set of high-mounted speakers in the wall.

OOC: If you want to describe what it’s like in the back of the transport, it’s hot, humid, and filled with the stench of excrements and rotting food. Not a pleasant place to be. If you’re looking for what to do, you can probably write a good post about the character’s confusion at their predicament and their own thoughts.
The Resurgent Dream
14-06-2005, 23:53
The Boggan woman just blinked at him. "What...?" was all she managed to get out before the inquisitors came.

The inquisitors quickly surrounded the forty or so vacationing women who had survived the crash. The Pooka, Nanehi, and Boggans all put their hands over their heads. One of the Boggans cried out. "No, please, we surrender!"

A Pooka, one with semi-canine features, wearing a black short skirt, white blouse, and sneakers, as casual as the Boggan, cried out. "Please, Miss Superior Human Lady, ma'am, we'll do whatever you say!"

A whimpering Nanehi in cut-off jean shorts, hiking boots, and a black t-shirt, with braided hair, cried out. "I can be of service to you, lady!"

The Trolls, having no weapons, made no move to fight, but they didn't make any gestures of defeat or supplication either. They remained on their feet, calmly eyeing the guns of what seemed at the time to be impending death.

The Boggans actually looked relieved at enslavement, when compared with death. The Pooka whimpered and the Nanehi cried. The Trolls simply stood calmly. The only time they made a noise was when the Inquisitor referred to them as aliens. One of the Trolls, dressed more modestly than most of the other Fae in a black ankle skirt, a native brand equivalent to Chucks, and a black t-shirt, said. "We're actually from earth, officer."

The Trolls moved towards the transport with all the dignity of regular prisoners of war, refusing to act like anything more or anything less, despite the words of those around them. They spoke not a word.

The Boggans went in with heads lowered. For the most part, they were silent. One of them, a particular plucky brunnette in black shorts and tee, did venture "We need a transport container free of cold iron, sir. We have a fatal allergy. I assume you want us alive."

A number of the Pooka tried to run from the line but were herded in by the prods. A Nanehi shrunk to her minimum size of two feet tall and tried to run under the robots.

Once everyone was herded into the back, they sniffled silently, except the Trolls who remained calm. All of them could not help thinking how suddenly this had happened. Less than a day ago, they had been happy, upper-class citizens of a free and powerful nation. Now they were in the hands of racialist psychopaths with no one back home knowing where they were. One of the Trolls was the only one to answer when Zorak's voice was broadcast back. "Your meaning is quite clear. Forgive me for not knowing how to address you. I assure you that it is the result of ignorance of your laws rather than an attempt at defiance. In any event, we will cooperate. A wise warrior knows when she is beaten. My name is Rene Benice. I am the leader of my party, or was prior to our capture." She was dressed in three quarter yellow pants, sneakers, and a sleeveless white shirt.
The Resurgent Dream
18-06-2005, 22:35
Maile Drozden, the same Boggan who had first approached Alan, sat in the corner of the rear compartment. At first, she had stood, as some of the other girls were doing. The floor was filthy and covered in places with rotted food and excrement. Still, the minutes went on and on, much longer than she had thought she'd be in the transport and it was hard to keep balance in a moving vehicle. So Maile had sat against the wall in a spot where the floor was relatively clean. Her soft, white hands rested on plump knees as she pondered her situation. Merchandise? These really were slavers then and ones somewhere where they could operate in the open. Her government had no way to know where she was or what had happened. Very slowly, it dawned on Maile that this might really be for the rest of her life. With that realization came a burst of sobbing, face in hands.

The woman's mind kept going back to the man on the beach. It seemed like he had wanted to help. Maybe he still would? But he was also the one who had announced their slavery. How could he help? Her emotions were numb when she heard their arrival announced. She stood slowly and steadied herself against the wall for landing.
The Resurgent Dream
20-08-2005, 00:54
The Resurgent Dream
14-09-2005, 04:04