Bark: Rants about the world in general.
Byte: Rants about videogames, technical matters and the IT Industry.
Hence, Bark and Byte.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Bark: Elite: Dangerous - Requiem - Chapter Eight
Euryale: EG Main HQ
I stared out of
the canopy of Fell From The Top(...) for hours, watching the traffic passing overhead, a constant stream of
incoming and outgoing ships of all sizes, colours and affiliations. I drank
deeply from a half-litre glass filled with Eranin Pearl Whisky. The potent
silver spirit burned my throat and numbed my grief. Each sip I took was both
medicine and a punishment for my continued existence when all the people I had
ever loved had been taken away from me. I accepted the pain willingly - knowing
my hangover the next morning would not be pretty. ASTRA warned me that I was
drinking a dangerous, potentially toxic, amount of ethanol.
ASTRA. Honestly, at this point, what do I have to lose?"
revenge, my lord." the AI told me, sending a chill down my spine.
I set down the
glass on the radar projector panel, blinking with the realisation that ASTRA
was correct. Revenge. Revenge against Zemina. It was the only thing I had left
to live for. The Senator's mail response to my threat following Laure's
assassination had been utterly contemptuous.
Good luck with that, traitor's son. I have eyes everywhere.
You won't make it within a hundred light seconds of my station.
reply made it obvious that Zemina wanted me to do the hard work for her by
embarking on a suicide run into Synteini to attack her base at Lagerkvist
Station. I knew that I would never be able to get close enough to the Senator to
kill her. She was too well-defended and I lacked the necessary resources to do
any more than superficial damage to her Orbis starport. I had taken refuge in
the independent system of Euryale, on the border of Zemina's sphere of influence
in the Empire, to consider my options. I wasn't going to throw my life away in
a futile gesture of defiance. The legal protection her position as a Senator
gave her might have indemnified Zemina against potential fallout from Laure's
murder, but for a woman in her position, a loss of face could be more damaging
than a bullet. I wanted to hurt Zemina, damage her, and in the Empire, there
were worse things to inflict upon someone than death. Instead of trying to kill
her, I would dishonour her, make her seem weak, fatally wounding her political
ambitions. It would be a fitting punishment, more lingering and poisonous than
death. The only remaining question was how, and what would I need to do it?
think I'd like to take a look at that data package now."
An hour after Imperial
Intelligence had verified Laure's death at Beta-1 Tucanae, Serf Myles, her
adjutant at Adams Orbital, had sent me an encoded data package, along with his
condolences. In the days since the assassination, I hadn't been able to work up
the courage to open it.
lord. There's a short video message, and a binary file. Would you like to watch
me the audio, ASTRA." If the video was what I thought it was, I couldn't
bear the thought of seeing Laure's beautiful face again, knowing that I had ended
our final conversation without telling her how much I loved her.
Aemon." Laure's voice echoed silkily around the flight deck. "If
you've received this, you'll know by now that something has happened to me. I
just want you to know that I love you, and I never would have changed a minute
of it. By now all of my assets should have been transferred over to you, but I
have one more gift, for you to use as you see fit. I've attached the command
codes to Adams Orbital to this message. They're hardwired into the station and
can't be changed. It's a safeguard to make sure that the Governor can never be
locked out of their station. I know you'll put them to good use. Goodbye,
Laure." I said to myself, reaching again for the glass of whisky. "I'll
I swirled the whisky
around the glass, contemplating how I could utilise the backdoor access codes
to the Coriolis station. Zemina had left her Interdictor in position outside
Adams Orbital, ostensibly to maintain order in the interim period before a new
Governor could be installed, but I suspected it was there to keep me out of the
system and away from the station. As I walked to the galley to top up my drink, a plan
began to take form. No-one I knew in the Empire would dare risk helping me
sabotage Zemina's ambitions, but I did know one person who would happily
sacrifice internal organs to gain control of a space station crammed to the
rafters with High Tech goods.
With my whisky fully
recharged, I sat at my desk in my stateroom, fingering the chip Thunda Sue had
given me in the nightclub at Sorbago. While Senator Torval was an influential
figure in the Empire, my own standing in the Imperial Navy gave me access to
information that was well-hidden from the public at large. The latest
intelligence reports I had received implicated Thunda's crew with the theft of
no less than four 50kT tactical fusion warheads from the shipyard at
Groombridge 34 in the immediate aftermath following my assault on the Farragut-class battlecruiser that had been under
construction there. The dossier also claimed that Thunda Sue hadn't had any luck
thus far in being able to sell the weapons on the black market.
First and foremost,
I knew that Suzie was a businesswoman. The potential value of the nukes paled
in comparison to the command codes for a space station in one of the Empire's
most technologically advanced economies. I felt sure that she would make the
trade in an instant. I just needed to crack the encryption on the data chip she
had given me to be able to set up a meeting. I took another sip of whisky as I
turned over the ceramic cuboid in the fingers of my right hand, trying to put
myself into Thunda's head. What would she use as an encryption code?
I thought back to
the conversations I'd had with Suzie since we'd first met during my hunt for
the rogue Imperial agent, Zeta. I activated the OLED touchscreen on the chip, my
fingers hovering over the miniature keyboard as I pondered what the pirate
queen would have set as a password. Suzie had already invited me to join her
operation twice, heavily intimating an interest that she had in me beyond the professional
skills I could bring to her crew. Even so, I knew that she wouldn't simply give
away access to her whereabouts. Suzie would want me to work for it a little
I used my
terminal to help me eliminate the usual password choices people used for basic
encryptions, date of birth, place of birth, names of pets and siblings. I
smiled when I saw that Suzie had programmed the chip with sarcastic, withering
responses to these basic attempts to crack the encoding on the chip.
TRY AGAIN, SWEETIE...
SURELY YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT...
DID YOU REALLY THINK I'D BE SO OBVIOUS?
NOT THIS TIME, SUGAR...
I put the chip
back down on my desk in amused frustration, chuckling as I slurped another hit
of whisky for inspiration. I ran my fingers through my hair, imagining the affectionate
smirk on the willowy pirate's face as she cheerfully mocked my efforts. Then it
I entered the word into my terminal, before typing the first keyword result from
the Galactopedia entry into the chip's touch sensitive interface.
I laughed in delight, glad to know I was finally on the right track. "I
think I've got it."
I held my breath
and tapped the Enter key on the touchscreen.
WELL DONE, SWEETIE.
congratulation message appeared on the screen for just a second before
disappearing to reveal a rolling hyperwave frequency and countersign that
changed once every thirty seconds. The chip Suzie had given me was a
security dongle that would give me access to the Thunda Crew's private
hyperwave comms net.I inserted the
dongle into my terminal's chip reader slot and opened my mail app.
Suzie, it's Roche. I need to speak to you. I'd like to give
you an offer you can't refuse.
It took less
than two minutes to receive her reply.