Black Rhino and Darkflame

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Prologue

The timer rolls past five minutes and continues to count down; five minutes left to live.

I've always wondered what it would be like to know in advance that I was going to die. I'd heard of folks diagnosed with diseases and given months to live, sometimes only weeks.

Time to make plans. Time to say goodbye.

It's times like this when I wish I would have listened more closely to what my mother told me. I'm sure that somewhere between not running with scissors and brushing my teeth were the words, "don't get involved with intergalactic terrorists." I'm sure she told me that. I just didn't listen.

So here I sit, my hands and feet bound. My vocal chords finely cut so that I can't scream. It doesn't hurt much. They're expert surgeons. It doesn't hurt unless they want it to. They didn't need to make this job painful. I guess sticking me in the aft cargo hold of a frieghter docked with a space station full of civilians was good enough.

Did I mention the bomb? Yeah, there's a bomb right here with me, too. A big one with a nice flashy timer that now reads '4:13.'

So many loose ends to tie up. Who's going to take care of the dog? Who's gonna clean up that mess I left in my old apartment? And just who in the hell is gonna take out these blasted intergalactic terrorists?

It was supposed to be me, but it appears as though I've failed. I got close. Too close, I suppose. Or perhaps not close enough. Too late to kick myself now.

You see, I've been an enforcer of sorts for the last six or so years. Now that I think about it, I guess those years have gone by pretty fast. The average career of the folks who work for 'the family' is only about six months long, so I guess I did alright. Most people, though, don't even know that they're working for the family. You don't even need to be a criminal to work for 'em. That's the way they run the show: Like a grandfather clock with a billion cogs. Nobody really knows who's running it. Everyone makes money. Nobody gets hurt.

Well, nobody really worth mentioning, anyway.


It was a win-win situation for just about everyone. Businesses were happy with some added protection. Police had 'plausible deniability' and some cash on the side. The people, especially, were happy because they could have their moral laws as well as their immoral practices. Gambling, prostitution, election-rigging and smuggling; it was all there ans it was all good.

There were two main powers in the galaxy: The Confederacy of United Star Systems and the Galactic Core Conclave. They're been the big kids on the block for the past hundred years or so. Each side has a trillion or so citizens and a thousand or so star systems under their banner, but niether of them had the real power.

We had that. The Family appointed Governors, Judges, Senators and even Clergy. They all knew where the power came from and how easily it could be taken back. Or course nobody wanted to upset the balance anyway, we were all making money. Well, everyone worth mentioning was making money, anyway.

But then came the scourge that was the Independence League. Idealist bastards with no morals but plenty of funding. For as rich as they are, they sure seem to hate anyone who makes a profit. They blew up mines, factories, shipyards and luxury spaceliners. Wherever there was wealth being created or flaunted, they were there to destroy it.

Naturally, that wasn't good for business.

After a few months of random attacks in random systems on both sides of the starmap, it was collectively decided that someone shoudl do something about this. The economy of the entire galaxy was hanging in the balance and they sent yours truly to save the day.

How wonderful I feel right now. "Send Zrrg," they said. "He's the best we've got, "they said. "We're counting on you"

Yeah, great. Three minutes left.

So here I sit, awaiting my fate. I suppose this is where my life flashes before my eyes in an instant.

Yup, I was right. Here it comes.