Join Sasha and Jarret, the crew of the Angel’s Vengeance, as they take a routine contract, and head towards adventure.
Hello Citizens, Erris here! Welcome to Angel, part I. Angel is the first story we here at The Relay are featuring that was not written by an The Relay staff-member. We hope you enjoy it! And if you've written some Fiction yourself, and would like to see if The Relay will publish it, get in contact with me - ErrisThe [email protected]
Most people find the darkness of space depressing and disconcerting. Human beings were meant to live in the light, meant to soak up the sunshine. All that vitamin D. Historically, the lack of sun was once called seasonal affective disorder. With the advent of space travel, though, the whole seasonal part became obsolete. There is only one season in space, and it never changes.
To me, it’s like being welcomed back into the womb; space is my second mother. Decking beneath my feet, stars shining far off in the distance, the slight pull of zero gravity, the almost imperceptible spin of the ship… I call this home.
Home… it’s such a strange word to use in this sense. When one thinks of a home it’s a structure with four walls and a roof. Mine just happens to be mobile, with an Arc Duo 400 and Leaper jump engines.
I’m known around the ‘Verse as Angel’s Vengeance, or Leo, but my real name is Sasha Leonidas. Only a handful of people would know me by that name, and most of them are dead. My mother died having me and my father couldn’t be bothered to try to raise me. He stuck me with my aging grandmother who despised me. I ran away from home when I was 10 and never looked back.
It’s just me and Jarrett now. I found him starving on the streets when he was 5 years old and I was 15. Against my better judgment I became his protector. Ten years later he’s still with me, my only family, even if he is at an age now where everything he does bugs the shit out of me. I’ve convinced myself that if it wasn’t for his wizard-like skills with my Freelancer’s engines or her other technical components, I would have dropped him long ago.
We’re experts in…what are the best words to use here – Let’s call it ‘acquisition and re-allocation’.. Sometimes for free, but more often than not we work for Credits. Everybody’s gotta eat, and my baby can be damned expensive. She can be a demanding ship, but I love her all the same.
I study the emptiness of space from my pilot seat, making minute corrections to our course. No one flies my Angel but me. She was my salvation out of a permanent life of poverty, and I treat her as such. Jarrett flies second seat if the occasion calls for it, but he himself has admitted it’s not for him.
Noises distract me from my train of thought and I turn to see Jarrett watching a vid transmission at one of the rear workstations. I roll my eyes at another press conference with another load of empty promises. Politics. I can never understand why he finds such things interesting at all.
“Jarrett, turn that shit off.” I almost bark at him. The vid transmission immediately winks out, a disgruntled grumble escaping the lanky boy who had been watching it intently. I don’t know where he got his interest in politics; it certainly wasn’t from me.
“So, does this mean you’re not for affordable public transit?” Jarrett asks with an almost imperceptible upturn to one corner of his mouth. He’s being snarky. Again.
I sigh with exasperation. He knows full well how anti-government I am, and he thrives off baiting me. He doesn’t understand. Some woman in a crisp business suit with a fancy speech isn’t going to make me change my mind.
“Quit being an ass. You know that if she gets elected and your ‘affordable’ transit goes through it would mean the death of all of us private contractors.”
The sly upturn to his mouth disappears.
“If you’re as anti-government as you say you are, then why are we picking up a load of Retaliator parts for Aegis?”
I’ve already turned my attention back to the stark blackness outside.
“As much as I hate to admit it, the government pays the most. Unfortunately. For that reason alone, I endure my dealings with them.” I smile, wistful, “Besides the Imperials we get for this trip we’ll finally have enough to overhaul the weapons system and upgrade the Angel’s ordnance.”
Jarrett inclined his head in agreement. They’d been running two-bit jobs here and there for awhile now, and people with no money tended to pay very poorly. Maybe it was because of their street upbringing, but she and Jarrett tended to agree to work for entirely too many down on their luck cases, freighting for little to no money. It could be nice sometimes, rewarding. But it definitely hurt the bottom-line.
When the Aegis contract came up, though… the Angel would be one of a handful of ships selected to transport small components to assembly plants. It was good pay for honest work.
“Can I just point out again that Aegis is no longer a government contractor. So your whole view is pretty hypocritical.” Jarrett piped up after the momentary silence. He always tried to get in the last word.
He rarely succeeded.
“One can’t run with the wolves and then join the sheep,” I retort, “Once a wolf, always a wolf.”
“Point taken, and as much as I love your analogies can you knock it off, they’re pretty lame.” Jarrett says his voice trailing off to a whisper as he’s been boxed upside the head more than once for his smart-ass remarks.
Okay, he gets in the last word a lot. But then I get to smack him. It works out even in the end, I think.
Reaching under my seat, my hand comes into contact with the smooth leather of my shoulder holster. I pull the significant weight of the twin LH-86’s up onto my lap. The cold, smooth surfaces of my prized weapons gleam back at me. Pulling one out, I sight with it automatically before checking the clip – fully loaded, as I left it. My thumb runs over the smooth round surface where the UEE emblem once adorned the grip, now replaced with my own design. An angel, her wings spread wide, arms extended, with hands holding a duplicate pair of LH-86’s in her hands.
“We’re coming up on Cestulus.” Jarrett announced, slipping into the seat next to me, trying to get a good look at the planet ahead. All I see is grey, lots of it, the only thing breaking up the color monotony are the numerous biodomes covering this side of the planet.
Slipping the gun back into its holster I shoulder the harness, the leather sliding into place between and over my shoulders like a second skin. I would need my jacket later. It’s not illegal to carry on Cestulus, but…in some situations it’s not proper to announce that you are.
Aegis had arranged for the Angel’s Vengeance to land at their supply facility on the outskirts of the largest city, Jata. At least it would save me having to pay docking fees this time around. “Jarrett, contact Aegis and let them know we’re on the way in.”
“Aegis control tower, this is the Angel’s Vengeance,”Jarrett spoke clearly into the calm air of the cockpit, waiting a moment for it to transmit. “We are currently inbound, ETA ten minutes.”
Jarrett and I sit, side by side, watching the planet slowly fill the cockpit, waiting.
A response breaks the silence, “Copy, Angel’s Vengeance. Aegis is ready to receive.”
I take the controls just before the Angel breaks the invisible barrier between space and the planet’s atmosphere, a slight shudder shaking my hands is the only sign we have crossed that line. I angle our trajectory towards our intended landing site, the Angel gliding through the cloud layer as we descend further towards the planet’s surface. I could let the autopilot complete the approach for me, but…hands on controls, drifting through the atmosphere. It feels… right.
As we break through the clouds our eyes are met with the sight of organized chaos. Air traffic is moderately heavy, especially over the bigger cities. Transports, cargo vessels, and the odd personal craft zipping around. It looks disorganized, like a large mess of ships. Even knowing that the chaos below is ordered to the extreme, the order is hard to pick out by eye.
Leveling off, I sight the continent we are heading for – eyeballing the coordinates Aegis had transmitted. Inputting those coordinates into my nav computer, I follow my readouts as they take us closer to our landing site. I push the Angel into another descent as we make our final approach towards the Aegis facility. Gravity is pulling down on her and I feel it through the extension in my arms, a slight quiver starts shaking the controls.
“Are you going to be able to land this by yourself?” Jarrett asks, giving me a sidelong glance.
“Sure… it’s just been awhile since I’ve had to do without EDL Assist.”
Circling the facility, I gaze out at the extensive layout of the manufacturing branch covering acres of land. It’s an impressive set up, but Jarrett interrupts my inspection, “I see the landing site, north end of the complex.”
I turn my eyes in the direction he indicated and sure enough I see four distinct landing zones, each with enough room for a large freighter. The Angel comes to a complete stop just above one of the zones, hovering momentarily before dropping in slow increments. “Drop the landing gear.”
Jarrett quickly responds and I hear the mechanism drop down, just in time. Moments later we settle on the pylons, the hydraulics hissing in momentary protest. I wait for Jarrett to initiate shutdown before I release my controls and slide out of my seat. Walking aft, I grab my jacket off my rack, shrugging into it and pulling the edges around my shoulder holster.
“Into the lion’s den.”