Sub-Citizen - Docklands
"That's another thee shipments handled, should keep the customers happy"
Govorq observed the handler drones move the large shipping crates that had arrived in the hanger where he worked. He was an operator, his job was to make sure that each of the drones in his cadre performed to maximum efficiency, about thirty under his guidance. He checked each one though a series of remote cameras that hovered around the hanger bay, whirring as the drones skimmed along the ground on top of bags of air, moving the crates around as if they weighed nothing, yet their size alone implied each crate weighed several tonnes. Each crate was a hexagon, rounded at the edges, four metres high and perhaps six in diameter, formed of some, smooth, plastic-like material and giving the crate an elegant, rounded, perhaps nature-inspired appearance. The material was a common component in shipping crates because it was cheap and easy to mould. The crates could dissolve into a platform to reveal their contents, "nanotech" Govorq told himself many times.
It took two hours to transfer the crates to a storage room adjacent ot the hanger. Here Govorq organised the drones to move between row upon row of honeycomb-shaped shelving units that reached high to the ceiling some thirty metres up. This was the toughest part; each cavity had a corresponding code that matched each crate. He had to match the hole with the crate so that when a forcefield tunnel materialised to suck the crates down towards the transfer lines there would not be some crate of utensils accidentally being sent to the mines 40km outside of Keylos - the city he worked in - instead of going to Tamvalii some 200km away. He made errors like this before, the last time he did was three months ago when a cache of zero-point siphons went to elsewhere on the surface instead of going to another hanger where it would be taken to the shipyard in orbit.
So he double-checked.
Overseer Velob - "Careful Brek'targ" - Bellowed by some portly amphibian with orange skin and standing a head taller than him, his belly bounced underneath his navy-blue boiler suit as he waddled over to Govorq, that eye-on-a-stalk that all his species possessed on the tops of their heads bounced about comically as he approached - "Ten of those crates contain computronium substrate for the Royal Academy so you had better not mix up the shipments"
Govorq - "Sir that whole incident with the ZPSs was four months ago."
Overseer Velob - "You weren't the one who had to apologise to UFC's subsector managers for the slip-up."
Govorq - "And if I do screw up this time?"
Overseer Velob - "Well I could always fill out the paperwork to have you work in mail transfers, or you could be sent offworld. Don't mess up today and I'll let the whole Utopis-ZPS mixup slide."
This thought plagued Govorq's mind; the constant thought that a mere signature on the right form would send him possibly halfway across the Imperium when he had worked his hardest to make his life here. It's not like it was uncommon, Govorq was a Siptamian, 450 years ago they once ruled a sector-sized network of stars. They thought - like so many before and after them - they could profit from the Imperium's wealth and power, they hired pirates, and mercenaries from their own people. But the Imperium is like a behemoth; it slumbers in the centre of a field, surrounded by beautiful flowers. But the moment you try and pick the flowers without asking it stirs, wakes up, and crushes you underfoot.
That's what it was like for the Siptamians. They underestimated how quickly the Imperium reacted. After two months of raiding they were engaged in a bitter and futile four year war. But the Imperium were merciful to some; Govorq's ancestors were of the labour caste and when they were found by imperial marines during an invasion they were taken to an internment camp to be processed. In such camps you had two choices: Take the Imperium's oath of allegiance honestly and wholeheartedly, or condemn yourself and your descendants to living as second-class citizens. He recalled hearing his ancestors refused the oath, too afraid of their captors to want anything to do with their civilization.
At least they had a chance to live, apparently two thirds of all Siptamians were killed in the war, the other third like him. Four-hundred-and-fifty years on and here he was, a member of the Imperium's "sub-citizens." He was recognised a person no doubt about that, the Imperium had such legislation in place for millennia, predating the very early beginnings of Siptamian civilization but he wasn't like other citizens, he was by law owned by the sate. He could not leave, he could not travel off-world without verification from state officials, he had been assigned to the community he lived in now (although rumours existed of influential sub-citizens being able to choose from a selection), but at least he was able to choose to work here at the docks. At least he had access to good food and access to the Exonet. He could still form social bonds as he pleased, in fact he had been seeing this girl at the community he lived in for two months now, images of her sometimes appearing in his mind on slow or quiet days.
Govorq kept an eye on the handler drones as they left their airbag feet and rose up to insert the crates into the honeycomb slots with a quiet efficiency. He'd heard that places like where he worked were dinful, deafening places in more "backwards" civilizations, but not here, everything was as quiet as a calm talk by a drinking fountain. Granted he was listening to some ambient music he had picked up from a music shop in the city, that's where he met Deveth, the girl he felt attracted to, she was the one who sold him the music, one hundred songs for a mere seventy-three Mimidas; "a bargain" he had thought to himself when he bought it.
His train of thoughts were interrupted when he heard a bleep from his wrist console; all thirty of his assigned handler drones had stacked the shipments within the holes. He ran a piece of software on his wrist computer three times in order to verify the shipping codes had been matched with the slots. All lights were blue, indicating the slots were in their correct places. At least this time it appeared his software was working properly. Just to make sure he accessed the sorting area's mainframe - all lights blue. He programmed the handler drones to return to the hanger in preparation for the next incoming shipment, taking one final look as strips of plasma began forming between the shelves, each creating a tunnel of translucent blue liquid. This wasn't his job so he returned to the hanger himself, hopping up to ride on the side of a passing handler drone as it skimmed though the doors to the cargo sorting area.
Domestic Security - Armed Response
- Aleus - "Can you believe it, Sukarum came fifth in the sector prix again"
The Araveene Domestic Security officer rubbed his foreheadi n frustration, his other hand was his tablet device, he was reading the results of last night's sector pris cycle races. Sitting beside him in the driver's seat of their aptrol car was Tavarn, a Ryketian and Aleus' partner. He shook his head with a smirk.
- Tavarn - I keep telling you Sukarum's engines are last-gen, you should bet on Tavin like everyone else.
- Aleus - Tavins' a safe bet.
Tavarn only chuckled at his partner's frustration.
- Tavarn - How much did you bet on them this time?
- Aleus - ...twenty-five hundred credits.
- Tavarn - Al, you have a problem. You need ot see a doctor.
- Aleus - Screw you, man - Aleus laughed, he was interrupted when the police scanner spoke out.
- Scanner - All units in precinct 45 we have a 10-35 on 24th avenue, known perpetrator resisting arrest with armed response
- Tavarn - Ahh shit, and I thought tonight was going go be a quiet one.
Aleus leaned forward and tapped a pad on his shoulder.
- Aleus - Confirmed command this is unit 61 we are en route.
- Scanner - Unit 61 be advised, perpetrator weapons fire is heavy and rapid.
- Aleus - Confirmed command. Over and out. - Aleus turned to his partner - looks like we're going in hot.
Tavarn disengaged the brakes and activated the siren. The patrol car dipped to the underlevels of the skyward metropolis, where glass and brass stopped and steel beame dominent. The sunlight that trickled from the top of the steel canyon faded as the car skimmed deeper into the lower levels of the metropolis. As they approached the site of conflict they were joined by three other patrol cars with sirens blaring. "Over there!" Aleus called, pointing to a building marked by steel shutters. Domestic Security cars surroudned the front facade, with officers in the Prussian blue uniforms and silver vests of of Domestic Security's armed response division.
When Unit 61's car landed, the two officers pulled similar silver vests from behind their seats, walking around and opening the rear of the car. They had parked their car a short distance from the front of the building, away from the vehicle barrier other officers had created. Inside the rear cavity the two officers stored more dangerous ordinance - assault rifles, shotguns, flashbang grenades. The two were approached by a security captain, identified by the pips on his shoulder.
- Aleus - What's the plan, sir.
- Captain - First response has established a cordon, you two will join a flushout group while the occupants are occupied: You will enter the service tunnels, travel though the basement and ascend the building. Priority perp is on the eighth floor, your callsign for this operation is Ohlon. Officer Aleus, you are Ohlon 3, Tavarn you are Ohlon 4.
- Tavarn - Understood captain.
Under the din of weapons fire, the two ifficers joineda team of four as they descendeded into a nearby service tunnel. What little light from Araveene's parent star made it this far into the city's underlevels could not reach far into the tunnels. The team used infrared torches in order to move though the tunnels, which could not be seen without the right receptors.
The team used breachign charges to break into the building's basement, blasting a hole in the wall and surprising the two gang members in the basement. They were quickly neutralised with shots to the body from magnetic weapons. Their opposition, comapratively, was rather rag-tag. The gangs of the lower cities were often armed and equipped with what they could purchase off the semi-legal and illegal markets. Although armed with weapons similar to what law enforcement were using, but lacked the protective gear as many gang members were expected to purchase or somehow acquire their equipment, sometimes gang chiefs or veterants were generous to the lower ranks by providing handed-down weapons. Regardless of the disparity between the gangs and law enforcement, the small street gang were little competition to the trained teams of Domestic Security's armed response division.
The firefight outside provided ample distraction, this gang was not a military unit, and the distraction outside allowed Ohlon team to sweep the building. The eighth floor was different. The gang leader wasn't taking part in the distraction outside - paranoia pushed him to the back of the room, the grip of a large handgun was in his hand. He twitched with anxiety, he could hear the Domestic Security team ascending the guts of the building. As his heart raced, the door was blasted open and the officers burst in, their weapons trained towards the last of the gang members. They announced their entrance bellowing "Domestic Security weapons down now!" in a commanding voice that echoed though the room, panicking two of the more junior gang members. The gang leader was not so eas to frigthen, he threw the table forward and held the handgun with both hands.
- Gang Leader - Another step and I start firing!
- Aleus - We can do this without more violence. Put the weapon down.
- Gang Leader - Fuck you Security Dogs!
- Aleus - Put the weapon down and we can work this out!
- Gang Leader - With the current death toll? Likely story.
- Aleus - Put the weapon down. Now.
The gang leader flinched, aiming more hastily. Sweat trickled down his face as he stood his ground, testing his endurance.
- Gang Leader - Stay back, or I fire!
A swift shot to the shin knocked the gang leader to the floor, an impulse squeezed the trigger but the shot was unaimed, missing one of the strike teams and embedding in the wall. The other gang members witnessed this, but with their leader down they lowered their weapons, raising their hands in surrender. As their leader writhed on the ground from the wound in his leg, one of the strike teams kicked the handgun away from his hand before he was picked up and taken downstais and out of the building.
Aleus and Tavarn returned to their car, removing their silver jackets and settlign in ther seats. The key was turned, and the patrol car ascended towards the upper city.
- The concept was originally experimented with in Wrath of the Imperium and developed on within this blog