Fiction: Fall from Grace, Part I

Adam Murton (aka Vardos Cadix) has his own Antares fiction blog where he has a number of continuing stories.  We’re delighted he was inspired by the panhuman heads for the Concord and wrote us a serial on the Vyess and the Gyohn. Here is part I…

Fall from grace, Part I by Adam Murton

+++Please lie still Togor. The treatment will be complete soon and the scars gone. +++

Togor brushed the larger drones to one side and rose to his feet. “Then, how will anyone know I won?” he asked, genuinely puzzled. He strode across to the door, which didn’t open.

The cold voice came again. +++ You have neglected your clothing+++

“I have nothing to be ashamed of.” The door remained closed.

“You run this whole space-craft at temperatures for baselines,” he grumbled, but to no effect. Togor was a Gyohn morph, a strain of panhumanity renowned for its resilience. There were no redundant extremities such as ears or nasal cartilage, his ears and nose were just open holes in his hairless head. White scars criss-crossed the greyish flesh of his face. Gyohns could function and survive at much lower temperatures than the baseline humans from which they had adapted.

When the door finally opened, Togor was indeed dressed. Although, he was wearing more pistol holsters than clothing.

Moments later, he marched into the transmat station and requisitioned armour from the adjacent fabricator. The mission commander approached and Togor sprung to attention and saluted. “Sir, Sub-squad leader Togor reporting for duty, sir.”

“You are not rostered on Sub-leader.”

“Sir, surely, you need every man you can field, sir.”

The commander opened his mouth as if to respond and then promptly closed it again.

The IMTel spoke again this time using its calm, reassuring voice, +++ Togor, you have not completed your treatment and you are scheduled for four hours rest to return you to optimal efficiency.+++

The armour appeared and Togor started to pull it on.  “I’m fine. Send me down.”

+++ Operational parameters necessitate… +++

“We both know you are going to agree to this; otherwise you wouldn’t have released my armour. So say whatever you have to say, but I’m going.”

The voice did keep on intoning but Togor phased it out. He noticed that it had stopped, just as he lifted the helmet above his head. Predictable.

Togor fitted the helmet with practised ease and then he could feel the suit cooling him back down to his preferred temperature. The Commander looked across at him. “I’ve got two five man squads going down to the old city. They’re to secure this region”, a glowing map appeared before him with an area highlighted in green. “and from there, they should have good sight of the northern approach.”

It was a solid tactic, but it was of course completely predictable. “So, where is the Old Man?”

“The information we have is about forty-two minutes out of date.” A single red dot appeared on the holo-map, just across the northern approach. “The IMTel is confident quantum 850 that he is in this zone of probability.” A pink zone appeared around the red dot. No doubt completely logical and no doubt also completely predictable.

Togor stared at the map absorbing it all in. “OK send me down with the two squads.”

The Commander hesitated and stared at Togor’s belt. “You know that carrying two pistols in addition to your carbine is against standard equipment practices?”

Togor nodded. “Yes, I know.”

C3 Vyess Intelligence Operatives

The Commander looked like he was about to say something, when the door swished open and in walked a tall Vyess woman in the uniform of an Intelligence Officer. Like all Vyess pan-humans, her forehead and the back of her skull were maybe three times as large as a baseline panhuman. The Vyess were renowned for their intellectual powers and their understanding of human behaviour, which is why many served in Intelligence Services. She walked up to the fabricator next to Togor and instructed it in a crisp sharp voice. “Request Mija eleven.” It quickly spat out three metallic strips about two hands widths across.  Holding them concealed in the palms of her hands, she spun back to face Togor and the Commander. She smiled gently. “Hi Togor. I’m Senior Intelligence Officer Mija and I will be coming with you.”

Togor stated plainly, “No, you’re not.” He went to turn away, but Mija held up a metallic strip. Silvery embossed letters rose from it. They read ‘No, you’re not’. She fed it back into the fabricator.

Togor didn’t miss a beat. “I work best alone,” he continued.

As he spoke, Mija raised a second strip to reveal more words: ‘I work best alone.’

He frowned as the strip was fed back in, but he ignored it and continued to argue. “We can’t defeat them with standard operating procedures.”

A third metallic strip was flicked up, ‘We can’t defeat them with standard operating procedures’.

Togor’s next line withered on his lips.

Worryingly, Mija smiled. “You were planning to say it’s too predictable.”

Togor shrugged.

“I predicted Vol… the Old Man’s fall, and his defection. I predicted that we would struggle to defeat him with Standard Operational Procedures, but I also predicted you would be back down here within half an hour all suited up and spoiling for a fight. You’ll do better with me and I won’t survive on my own.” Togor thought he detected a note of fear as she made her last point.

“Ok, but don’t…”

She interrupted him. “I won’t slow you down.” She turned back to the fabricator unit. “Please modify my uniform to remove the intelligence markings and add the additional beacon as requested.” She returned to the transmat platform dressed in standard Strike trooper armour except, of course, the enlarged helmet.

Togor shrugged and the armoured shoulder-pads emphasised the movement. “You know you won’t fool anybody. The moment they see you’re Vyess, they’ll know you’re IntServices.”

Mija didn’t seem worried. “I wouldn’t say that. Most of the hostiles would not recognise a Vyess, if one head-butted them. Some of those that do know, won’t know we are typically employed in Intelligence functions. But yes, some won’t be fooled and the Old Man certainly won’t.”

Togor tried to warn her again. “He’ll try to capture you, if he can. They’ll torture you.”

She smiled, “And I thought predicting the actions of others was my role.”

Behind Togor, the Commander spoke up, “Ready to go in 5… 4…” Mija, Togor and ten Strike troopers stepped up onto the platform and it glowed with a bright, golden light.

Then they were gone.

The next part can be found here.

More about the panhumans in the Concord can be found in an article on the Nexus

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