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A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 1/2/2021 3:09:36 PM
Franklin Clay's face was calm and placid, as though it were carved from mahogany. It did not match how he felt as he sat down at his desk and activated the screen. There was a delay; even when using the full ability of the Alliance's satellite network, there always was in interstellar communication. But the sinister face of the man he hated soon appeared. Brannigan Steele, self titled Scourge of the Stars and commander of the Dark Cloud Armada, a vile hive that had a magnetic attraction to the worst scum of the galaxy, always adding to its ranks as it roved from target to target. Steele looked as he always did. A stocky but muscular build, pale skin only ever touched by far flung alien stars shining through a port window, shaved skull, tattoo of the Dravian religion on one side of his face, and of course the titanium steel hands he was famous for crushing the skulls of his enemies with, encased in supple black leather. His clothes were charred by laser fire, perhaps recent. Pity someone hadn't had better aim. His expression betrayed surprise, then his smile curved into one of devilish amusement. "Why, General Clay, how nice of you to check on me. I've been so lonely here, even with all these lovely holograms of your sister..." "I'm calling you on a matter of official Alliance business," Franklin said, cutting him off. "So let's leave off with the personal jabs this time " "How strange, I never get consulted about the Alliance's plans, but I always thought that I should be. If you're calling to surrender your resources to me by the way, that's great, but you know I was eventually going to take them anyway." Franklin cleared his throat. "Actually, we did have an offer for you." "Oh?" "Yes, we've been discussing it, and in exchange for ceasing all raids in Alliance Space, we're willing to offer you full legal control of a planet." Brannigan smirked, lighting up a map of the galaxy behind him and spreading his arms. "If I wanted to play king I have access to dozens of habitable planets and thousands of colonists just waiting to be my slaves, what's the use of giving up my fun just because you people toss me a bone?" "It's not just any planet," Franklin said. He lit up his own screen with a hologram of the world and watched Brannigan's eyes light up with sudden recognition, then narrow again as they faced him. "Interesting. What's your game here?" "There's no catch, believe it or not. It's a straightforward deal. We withdraw Alliance forces from Miro II and transfer ownership to you, and in return you end your raids on us." "Heh. What'd Miroto do to piss YOU off?" Brannigan pronounced the planets name of course, like a local would. Franklin sighed. "It's simply the opinion of Alliance Command that we can't fight a war on two fronts. With the Vansili threat it's better to redraw the borders of protected space to something that won't stretch us so thin, and negotiate a truce with you. Miro II did nothing wrong except being in a strategically awkward location." Brannigan's eyes flashed and one of his metal fists cratered the table in front of him. "They did PLENTY wrong!" This was of course, the planet that had forged him into what he was, in more ways than one. The planet of his birth, which it had taken months of research to uncover. "Well, as planetary governor that will for you to judge." Franklin admitted, looking pained and feeling a little sick. He could tell Brannigan was warming up to the idea, as the pirate quickly regained control of his emotions and began to thoughtfully stroke his chin. "Hmm, so it will be. But what makes you think I'll stick to any agreement?" "Well that we don't know for sure. But the hope is that THIS planet, you'll want to keep, and so you won't provoke us into ousting you. Or if nothing else it'll buy us time to deal with the Vansili while you entertain yourself." You sick fuck, he mentally added. But at the same time he knew he was as responsible as anyone for this. That poor planet. "I'm surprised at you, Clay. This seems a bit more ruthless than your usual ideas. I'm going to kill sooo many of those Miroto shitstains, with full Alliance approval, eh?" Franklin struggled to keep his composure. "Not everything Command approves is my idea or has my support, Steele. I'm just the messenger, this time." That wasn't entirely true, of course. He'd been the first one to identify the problem with Miro II. This solution WAS ruthless, but he told himself again and again the planet was doomed either way. "All right, you've worked this hard to set up the bait for me, so I'll bite. I'll take the damn planet, and we'll only raid outside your precious protected space. But let me tell you something, if this is a trap you're going to regret it." Brannigan warned, adding next with a grin. "Actually, I'm pretty sure you're going to end up regretting this no matter what, but a deal's a deal, right?" "Right. I'll let the others know we've come to an agreement." Clay ended the comm call, feeling numb inside. But the planet was doomed either way, right? And in the projected three and a half months when hundreds of invading Vansili Imperators poured out from otherspace right outside the Miro system, maybe that rat bastard Steele would go down with them.

A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago
Not bad, but don't you have a dark fantasy game to finish?

A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago
I'm making some all right progress on that, I just needed a break but still wanted to write today. Steele and Clay are my two favorite characters from my sci fi setting, I might even turn this idea into a storygame some time.

A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago
I was going to say the story did a good job of giving the sense these characters had a real history, interesting it turns out that's because they actually do. I have my own favorite characters from highschool still that I still think about sometimes, and I actually have posted a couple of short stories featuring modified versions of them. (I started working towards rebooting the whole setting at one point to be less Mary Sue centric, but then decided you know what, screw that, I like my mental comfort food....) Anyway, good luck with the contest story. You'll need it, because you know, otherwise you'll be banned...

A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago
Very well done! (Now I want page 2 of that)

A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago

This was really good!

A Comm Call With the Devil

3 months ago

I love the characterization of these two, the minor details like "Brannigan pronounced the planets name of course, like a local would" really highlight the difference between the two characters.

The ending, although expected, is still satisfying.