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Infinity Short Stories (Fiction)

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Back to The Guardians of Zion

Job Evaluation Edit

Starbase Omicron, the farthest flung sign of the Athenian civilization. The jumping off point into the wild beyond of deep space. The most broken down, squalor filled junk heap in the sector. Alexander Church walked through the crowded stations halls, taking in the sights (and unfortunately, smells) of the tens of hundreds of residents and fellow visitors to Omicron. He searched the many different floors, stores, stalls and employers for something. He wasn’t sure what, hadn’t been for almost three years now. He had all his worldly possessions in a simple pack slung over his shoulder, and no ties left anywhere in the five sectors. Whatever he could find here, no matter where it took him, would be alright by him. Sadly, the problem with such hiring criteria was the positions you were offered always tended to be less than legal. Or honorable. Or moral. Just today, he had already been offered a job by three different pirates and a slaver. And it wasn’t even noon. Alex may not fit the exact image of an upstanding public servant, but that didn’t mean he was willing to throw away his ethics for a payday. Tired and discouraged, he found a public service restaurant and entered. Ordering a simple meal and glass of water with what little currency he had left, he found a table and sat down for an early Noon-meal. However, it wasn’t two minutes before a shadow fell across his table and he felt someone watching him. Looking up, he was surprised to find a strange man he had never seen before looking down intently at him. He was a Loman like Alex himself, a rare sight this far out, despite their status as one of the most populous, even invasive, races in the five sectors. He was short, probably a little over five and a half feet tall, clean shaven, light skinned and blonde. Two bright blue eyes inquisitively studied Alex, even as he did the same to the stranger. What struck Alex about the stranger's appearance, aside from his dark brown long-coat, was the lack of visible weapons. Almost everyone aboard Omicron was armed (And for good reason, what with all the pirates around), even Alex, which made this man very brave. Or a pacifist. Or just stupid. “Is this seat taken?” the man interrupts Alex’s stream of thoughts, gesturing to the other seat at the table. Alex shrugged in response. “Nope”. The strange man sat down across from him and folded his hands, before speaking up again, like the two knew each other. “So I hear you’re looking for a job”. Alex looked up from his meal at the rather intrusive stranger. “Possibly. What are you offering?” The man smiled. “An opportunity like no other.” Okay, that wasn’t suspicious at all. Alex waited to hear more, but the stranger didn’t seem interested in explaining. Instead, he pulled a...a...something green out of that big coat of his and started munching on it. “...Aren’t you going to elaborate?” “Oh, right. Sorry.” The man finished the green thing and stuffed the wrapper back in his pocket. “I was hungry.” Alex thought that was rather obvious, but didn’t say anything. “I suppose I should start at the beginning. My name’s Cedric Noble.” He offered a friendly handshake, but Alex just continued to stare at him. “Noble? As in THE Nobles? Sorry ‘Cedric’, but I’m not interested in getting involved in your schemes.” Cedric withdrew his hand and frowned. “I assure you, I have no ties to any Noble family you are aware of. Distant relation at best. And what I offer you is not ‘schemes’.” “And Just what is it you’re offering? You seem to be keeping that part pretty mysterious.” Alex shot back, folding his arms and glaring at the man. But Cedric seemed to ignore his question and continue on with his little speech. “You are Alexander Church, correct? Former Ore miner from the Polaris System, divorcee and currently seeking deep space employment.” Alex felt his hand reaching for his concealed pistol and leaned forwards, fixing the man with a hard stare. “And just how is it that you know so much about me, ‘Cedric’?” To his surprise, the man rolled his eyes. “You’ve been handing out your resume on Omicron Station for over a week now, all perspective ship captains know who you are. And, I might add, all citizens have a public record within the Athenian Combine Database. I’m not as stupid as you may think Mr. Church, and I always screen prospective employees.” Alex relaxed a little, but remained on edge. “The only people interested in hiring me so far have been pirates and smugglers.” Technically he was leaving out the slaver, but he saw no need to mention him right now. “Unless you’re here to offer me a legitimate, non-inditing work, I suggest you find someone else.” Cedric seemed to be distracted by a stranger walking down the hallway outside the restaurant, giving Alex time to scarf down some more of his meal, but soon turned back and continued the conversation. “I believe the reason for your sparse opportunities, aside from the ireputable status of this Station itself, is due to a lack of experience on your part. At the risk of offended the proud profession of Ore Miners, there’s only so much they can do on a starship. They were only interested in you for grunt work, correct?” Alex shrugged. “Far as I can tell. I never stayed around that long to be honest. I’m no hero, but I’m no pirate either.” “Well good, because that’s not why I’m interested in hiring you. If you’ll take the job.” “You still haven’t actually told me what the job IS yet. And why are you interested in me? As you said, I can’t do much on a starship.” Cedric rummaged around in his coat again as he stood, withdrawing a Currency notice and handing it to Alex. His mouth almost fell open when he saw the words ‘Ten Million’ printed on it. “Let’s just say a friend recommended you. Docking bay six at 02100 hours if you’re interested. As for the job…” Cedric called over his shoulder as he exited the Restaurant. “I’m going to Eternity.”

Quite a Feeling Edit

Alexander couldn’t describe how, or why, but he knew. Somehow, he knew. Outside The Eternity’s main observation window was a field of unfamiliar stars in unfamiliar constellations, but that wasn’t it. Any trip into deep space would of course present different stars. They had just dropped out of a tunnel of bright golden streaks of lightning, but that wasn’t it either. There was a near limitless amount of different engine systems available for starships, all of which might produce a distinctive visual effect when in FTL. No, it was something just beyond his mental grasp, something in the very air that told him he was somewhere unbelievably far away. “Quite a feeling, isn’t it?” Alex jumped, having momentarily forgotten the Starship’s captain. “It never really goes away, although there’s nothing quite like the first time. The feeling as you slip away and through the fabric of reality and into another existence. It is a privilege only a handful have ever enjoyed.” Alex wasn’t sure he understood everything Cedric had just said, but he thought he got the gist of it. He knew he should be surprised, but he wasn’t. It could never be explained to someone who had never experienced it, but once you traveled like this, even once, you could tell that each Universe had a distinctive feel, one that you would never noticed day to day. But when that unmistakeable feeling was replaced with a new, foreign one, every part of you realized what had happened: You had just left reality altogether. But that meant... “You” Alex slowly turned to Cedric. His face revealed no emotion as he studied Alex’s reaction. “You’re a… A wanderer. A Visitor. A…” “A traveler between Universe’s, yes. You’ve heard of such people before? Good. That’ll make this a lot easier.” Even while they continued talking, Alex found his attention drawn back to the stars outside The Eternity. Just because he knew where they were didn't mean he wasn’t amazed by the reality of what was happening. These were new stars in a new Galaxy in a new Universe! Alex found it hard to string enough conscious thought together to reply to Cedric. “I’ve heard myths, Rumours...Legends really. But I never really thought you guys existed.” “That’s okay. I didn’t believe in Ore Miners until I met you.” “But this...This is impossible. How…” “There are a number of ways I could explain this, but the simplest would be the truth: It’s magic.” “Um...what?” Alex’s attention was drawn away from the window and back to his mysterious employer. “Magic? Seriously? I’m confused, not stupid.” “You’re also thinking in terms of YOUR Universe. As I said, disregarding my proud vessel’s name…” Alex had a brief flashback to the mixture of annoyance and amusement he felt when he discovered his employers cryptic ‘going to Eternity’ comment had simply been referring to his ship’s title. Now, it seemed he had been literal after all. “... I’m traveling to and through Eternity. Literally anything you’ve ever heard or thought of is possible somewhere out here. A supernaturally powered starship is the least unusual thing you’ll see out here.” The two men stood in silence for a minute, before Cedric abruptly marched to a small table sitting in the middle of the Observation Deck and pressed a series of buttons. A 3D holographic display of his starship appeared And slowly began rotating. Alex reluctantly left his stargazing for a better look. The Eternity’s main body was a simple saucer shape with a single engine pylon extending from the top and  rear. Cedric ‘poked’ the floating image and a series of readouts and displays appeared, describing and cataloging various functions of the ship. Alex tried to keep track of them all, but his engineering knowledge was geared a lot more to mining operations and not starship technology. And THIS? This was probably beyond ANYONE from the five sectors. The Hull was decorated with a series of pitch black Runes that starkly stood out from the steel-hued body itself. Alex had originally thought these to be simple decorations but Cedric was now pointing towards them specifically. “See these? They’re…” “Don’t Bother.” Alex said. “I believe you, for some reason, and I wouldn’t understand even if you tried to explain it. I’m impressed.” He admitted. “If you were trying to blow my mind, you’ve succeeded with flying colors.” “Nah, that’s just a bonus.” Cedric switched the hologram off and drew in a deep breath, as he watched Alex take a seat on the (surprisingly comfortable) elbow couch that surrounded the holographic table. “So… questions?” Alex found himself with surprisingly few to ask. He was convinced they had traveled too a new Universe and that the ship ran off of magic (Or really advanced tech). That just left personal inquiries. “Why me?” Alex was surprised to see that cedric seemed unbothered by this question, despite Alex having already asked him the same thing twice. “Well, this may surprise you, but it really is because you were recommended by a friend. Just one of mine, not yours.” Alex jumped as the figure of a woman dressed in a military uniform sprung into existence, floating right in front of him. It was only six inches tall and a grainy red, unlike the clear holographic image produced by the table. “Hello” she said, in a surprisingly loud voice. “I am Esther: This ship's resident computer systems controler, Cedric’s wife and currently in charge of hiring Ore Miners.” Alex couldn’t help himself from staring for a few seconds. “...His wife?” “Anyways” Cedric cut in. “Esther’s race is mildly clairvoyant. We needed someone with experience in Ore Mining and she had a good feeling about you. THAT’s why I hired you. Don’t worry: As soon as we’re done with this job, I can return you directly back to Omicron Station the moment we le…” “Are you insane?” Alex cut him off, standing up. “You think you can show me THIS and just send me back?” He shook his head. “The reason I was on that Station to begin with was to get hired for a deep space voyage. I wanted to get away. This…” he gestured out the window. “This certainly qualifies. You yourself said this was a unique opportunity. If you’ll have me, I’m staying for a lot more than one job.” Silence filled the observation Deck after the outburst. After a few moments, Esther’s projected image turned to Cedric and smiled. “Told you.”

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