Chapter 26

82 7 36

It is a universally accepted fact that anyone who fancies themselves an expert on many things is no good at any of them. For decades, my focus had been lasered on a single purpose - fulfilling contracts. Recent events notwithstanding, I was good at it.

I had never fancied myself to be anything else but what I was.

A contract killer.

I had never entertained the idea of being a shipowner. I knew next to nothing about ships - probably because I'd never been contracted to kill one.

I introduced everyone to Pyke and Suzanne. Pyke then led the tour, excitement and pride in every step, every phrase. You'd have thought he was the one buying the bloody ship.

I noted that when I introduced Pyke to Partridge, neither gave the slightest hint that they had already met.

The frigate wasn't as big as the public cruisers I had been on, but she was still a very large vessel. She was built around a huge, vertical, open collar that housed the preon fission drive. The main hull was built directly above the collar. Two collar wings stretched down from the front of the hull to support and run the preon drive, one on each side of the collar.

There were a total of eight decks in the main hull. Each of the collar wings held another four decks in each wing. Left and right. Or starboard and port, as Pyke insisted.

The command deck was the very top deck of the main hull. The decks below were nominated main deck A, B and C as you moved down. There was one fore deck and three aft decks.

The command deck was like nothing I had ever seen. Even in fictions. There were screens, lights, little chirps and beeps everywhere. There were two stations each for captain, pilot and navigator. Presumably for the main and secondary officers, though I didn't ask. Each station could be floated by its occupant to adjoin or connect with any other station. I had no idea why that would be useful.

The single weapons station was twice the size of the other stations. Suzanne trailed her fingers across the control boards and sticks. I was fairly certain that the bright light in her eyes was more than reflection from the screens. Yael and Chase sat in their respective stations and looked through the controls with muttered 'oohs' and 'ahhs'. No one seemed overly concerned by the vast array of options and screens in front of them. None of it made sense to me.

The three staterooms were larger than my own cell on Melchi Prime. Each room was luxuriously appointed in a separate colour scheme - a blue room, a green room and a grey one. The additional five cabins were also very comfortably furnished. I saw Chase and Yael swapping delighted grins. Even the dormitories looked amazing. By my standards at least. They each contained twelve cots, arranged in double bunks down each side of the dormitory.

The hallways were painted with light grey floors and dark blue walls. The lighting was subdued. It was a relief from the kilometres of glaring white tiling on Melchi Prime. Elevators and moving platforms connected the levels. The ship was clean the way a new conference room was clean - pleasant and fresh with none of the harsh chemical or antiseptic smell of a med-cent or laboratory. Pyke explained that the ship had an advanced bot cleaning system that managed surfaces and air quality.

Dotted along some of the hallways were a series of personal ejection pods. They looked like large yellow power suits fitted with grappling appendages instead of arms. According to Pyke, they would keep you alive for a week if you needed to evacuate the vessel. Each evac-pod had a limited propulsion system and could be programmed for atmo entry and landing on the surface of the nearest planet.

There were no portholes anywhere in the vessel. Instead, screens adorned the walls, displaying views from cameras mounted on the hull. The cabins and general rooms could select from a number of different cameras to change the view as desired. Pyke told us that in the case of complete power failure a portion of the hull outside the command deck would retract to reveal a large viewing port.

Murky WatersWhere stories live. Discover now