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Hades Proper

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    Story Hades Proper

    Hello folks. Another story to share. This one from a project I'm volunteering at.
    The story setting focuses on Hades 9, an alien station that has become refuge for mankind following the sudden loss of every world mankind used to own in the galaxy.
    And in a galaxy like this, while mankind still thrives on Hades 9, humanity has been left behind in the twenty years following the Extinction.


    “Shields down! Shields down or we will fire on you, Icaria!”
    The warning was broadcast straight to Icaria’s command bridge where Admiral Konstantin sat watching the sensor display. The panels that rendered nearspace were usually empty but for his own vessels. Now, it was filled, chaotic by sheer quantity alone as even his strategic implant struggled to sort and categorise the vessels being picked up by their sensors. Everything from freighters to mobile drydocks floated in space, a horde numbering in the hundreds of thousands that seethed with their own individual purpose.
    It was a sight he had thought did not exist anymore, a mass of humanity measured in millions, maybe even billions.

    Beyond them was an unknown non-orbital structure. Its size exceeded his nearspace display with the edges appearing to trail away towards the infinite. Konstantin hesitated. The lives of his crew and of those on the ships that made up his fleet depended upon his judgement.
    His concerns about the safety of his crew warred with his fears about their immediate future.
    Konstantin could have ordered an immediate jump.
    He could take his people away.
    There was no guarantee this was safe harbor.

    But he knew if he ordered a jump, he would be signing their deaths. Each crewmember on the bridge looking at him had the same sunken cheeks and loose-fitting clothes he saw in the mirror every day-cycle. They would not survive on quarter-rations any longer.
    He licked his lips, leaned forward and nodded at his tactical officer. “Shields down.”
    “Aye sir, shields down.”

    With the immediate crisis over, he turned his attention to the vast station. It didn’t match any military records in the ship’s digisphere, but a visual request pinged a response from the historical archives. He pulled the report, scanning through it. A Titan station. One of barely a handful known to exist in the galaxy and the only proof of non-human activity in space. He looked back to his bridge, one hand coming to cradle his chin.
    There was still a decision to be made.
    It came easily.

    “Helm, take us in.”


    Icaria settled into her berth, the kilometre-long battleship coming to a smooth halt as her forward thrusters fired to halt her motion. Platforms rose up, cradling the ship to the station. Beside her, above her, Konstantin’s other ships were berthed, cradled together in a single group. There was a sense of jubilation amongst the crew who had heard Konstantin’s announcement.
    A surviving human habitation.

    The Admiral shook his head. Even his own officers were excited. They knew nothing about this settlement, or how it had weathered the extinction. Konstantin had fought off too many survivors-turned-pirate to expect civilisation beyond the walls of his ship. Perhaps he was a cynic at heart, he conceded to himself, but there had been too many difficult decisions to expect things to return to a semblance of ‘normal.’

    It was a relief to discover that his credits were accepted as currency when he stepped off-ship, but that didn’t mean he was ready to trust these people freely. He ensured each ship had a rotation of crew on guard before he made his own way off, onto the station’s dock.
    The dock was a large enclosed space and for all Konstantin’s worries, it was nevertheless a joy to be out of an Erracom-standard survival suit.
    He was not prepared for the sheer mass of people on the dock.
    Anxiety seized him as he felt his shoulders brushing against a teeming mass of people. Crews in multicoloured uniforms, shoulder pips of ships he’d never heard of, nor seen.
    People. More people than he had ever seen, even before the extinction.
    He had to fight the urge to order his sailors to clear a space for him.

    “Admiral Konstantin?”
    He turned, found himself eye to eye with a grinning, freckled face. The man gave him a mock salute and straightened his jacket. Konstantin caught the metallic gleam of a stunner. A deep electronic growl alerted him to the CAI-nine that padded through the crowd to watch him.
    “What do you want?” Konstantin said, eyes narrowing.
    “Sten. Kharon Corp, I’m the berth representative, I thought we’d exchange digisphere info, I’ll be your contact for all dock requirements. We have on-dock facilities for your sailors and can guarantee a measure of safety on-dock, but obviously we can’t extend that if your crew enter the station proper.”
    Konstantin grimaced, “You know, I wasn’t sure if even docking was a smart idea.”
    “You wouldn’t be the first, Admiral.”

    He was walking down the dock when something caught his eye. It wasn’t much, a flash of colour, but as he peered closer he recognised it.
    Another Icari class ship was berthed ahead of his own Icaria. He pinged the station’s digisphere for information and swore. Icarib. The sister ship to his own Icaria.
    They’d met before.

    “Hey! Hey, you!” He yelled, waving at Sten before he grabbed him by the arm and jabbed his finger at the offending ship. He ignored the CAI-nine’s growl, trusting the AI to be smart enough to tell the difference between an actual threat and an urgent demand for its master’s attention.
    “What the hell is that ship doing there?”
    “Forgive me, isn’t that an Icari class battleship? You’re both from Fatham’s Hope right? Hang on.” Sten’s eyes unfocused, “Yeah, same Naval service. Helps cut down on-dock incidences.”
    “They’re traitors! That bastard of a captain, Antel, fired on my ships!”
    Sten raised his hands, “Alright, alright. If you feel so strongly about it, I’ll have their berth moved further down the dock.”
    “What? No, I don’t want them moved! I want you to seize their ships and charge them with piracy!”
    Sten laughed. It was a genuine laugh that went on long enough for Konstantin to feel distinctly uncomfortable.
    “You want me, as representative of Kharon Corp, to bring charges of piracy against a Naval vessel? Why would I… Oh! You’re new here.”
    Admiral Konstantin didn’t like the look on Sten’s face, it was not quite pity, but dangerously close.
    “Admiral, there are certain political realities for Kharon Corp to consider.” Sten put his arm around Konstantin’s shoulders and gestured towards the observation windows, half concealed by the crowds. Ahead of them, the scarred hull of Icarib rested.
    “What do you see?”
    “A damn traitor!”
    Sten sighed, “Let me tell you what I see. I see an Icari class battleship. One of many ships docked across the station. Each one with sufficient power to overwhelm another ship of equal tonnage. Some of those Antares ships can take two, long as they lined up nicely. Now, yes, Admiral Antel has a reputation as a pirate. In an ideal world, we would board his ship and seize it.”

    Sten then gestured at the stars beyond, at the lights of engines that marked the thousands of ships in flight. He held up three fingers, folding one back.
    “Here’s the reality. We seize his ship. Suddenly, the other Megacorps are thinking ‘Kharon Corp is planning to build its own navy! They’re building up for a hostile takeover.’ Next thing you know, Kharon CEOs are accidently falling out of their bedroom windows to their deaths like it’s going out of style.”
    Konstantin pulled himself out of Sten’s grasp as he glared at the corporate rep who continued.
    “That’s before the other Admirals decide that corporations seizing ships could mean they might want to seize their ships too. Suddenly, we’re back to the pre-Navy standoff again. Except now there’s a population measured in trillions on-station. A lot of death and glory stuff happens, the last safe harbor mankind has disappears and humanity becomes a past-tense.”

    Sten folded the second finger.
    “We report him. Navy doesn’t give a shit about station laws, the Metropolitan doesn’t have the manpower to arrest the Navy plus it’s not their jurisdiction. So, we go to the Tribunal. High Admirals.”
    “Wait, High Admirals?”
    “The Navy’s most powerful admirals. It’s a new title, still squeaks when they turn around too quickly. Basically, the Admirals with enough clout to call the shots amongst the flock of you. Anyway, we go to the Tribunal. They look at Admiral Antel. What do they see? A ruthless pirate, certainly. But one with a battle-trained crew, good void-hours and a willingness to undertake certain unsavoury activities. He says he’ll swear fealty to the High Admirals and beg for their leniency. And they like that, more people under their thumbs. So they deliberate. They look you over. Fresh arrival. No proven combat records. No clout. Then they say, ‘sorry, not enough reliable evidence.’ Next time you go off-station, Antel gets a little message with a location. Your location. You don’t come back.”

    Sten folded his last finger,
    “Finally, don’t get me wrong Admiral, but Kharon Corp won’t lift a finger to help you. Antel is always on time with his payments and a customer with a track record. You’re just a malnourished man who turned up raving about piracy.”
    Admiral Konstantin blinked, it was a lot to take in especially from the upbeat man before him.
    “But-” he started. He closed his mouth. What more was there to say? He’d seen enough in his journey here to know that life would never, could never return to the way life had been. He shook his head.
    “Where have I taken us?” He mumbled to himself.

    Sten smiled, but there was little mirth.
    “To hell. Welcome to Hades 9, Admiral.”
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  • #2

    Do tell us more about this project. I really liked the setting and world-building going on here. I am very intrigued as to what the rest of this looks like.
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    “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob


    • #3

      I shall be sure to Mr. Birb!

      I was thinking of spacing out the uploads to one a week, so as not to flood the forums. But I'll preface them now with 'Hades 9' the universe name for it.
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      • #4

        Sounds good to me! Nice to have some cool story content ccoming along. It's also great to see you're still around, rufus!
        Daryn's Signature

        “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob


        • #5

          Thanks Daryn.

          I was putting some thought to how best to describe the universe to you.

          I think the most succinct answer is that it is a grimdark cyberpunk.

          Although if I am brutally honest, it is heavily influenced by Hong Kong, where I live.

          I prefer to explore the setting via short stories, so I have a great deal of them and I'll have another story up by this afternoon.

          PS: An earlier story on SFF, "The Dataknecht" is also set in the same universe.
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