Reign of Arturo
Copyright © 2016 Colin Weldon
All rights reserved.
Edited by Audra Labak
My greatest adventure
A huge thank you to Audra Labak for her tireless editing of this book. As always, a huge thank you goes out to my wife and my family for their continued support of all my wacky projects.
Office of Chancellor Arturo Verge
hancellor Verge, I have an updated itinerary of tomorrow’s execution for your signature,” said the scrawny female aid towering over Arturo’s desk holding a sheet of paper in front of him. “Just leave it there, Florence,” he replied momentarily pointing to his desk. He kept his gaze firmly fixed on the nearby ship through the porthole.
“Yes, sir, as you wish,” she said. Her voice had a high pitched nasally quality about it that was beginning to bore a hole into Arturo’s brain. He contemplated moving her own execution up by a few weeks.
“We have another pregnancy in Blue, sir. Shall I commence extraction?” she said.
“Yes, Florence. Also, it would be greatly appreciated if I was undisturbed for the next few hours. See to it,” he said out of the corner of his mouth. He saw her turn and pause for a moment before responding.
“Yes, sir,” she said before slowly gliding out of the room. The hiss of the door confirmed her exit as Arturo returned his gaze to the stars. The lights in the nearby village station began to flicker off as per the power conservation order. He looked on as the darkness
began to creep over the surfaces of the space station. The lights in his office began to dim. He turned his head and glanced over the file that his assistant had placed on his desk. The torn paper edges revealed a single page document that he gently slid out of its worn covering. He looked at the photograph of the collaborator coldly and scanned the brief biography of the summary judgement beneath his withered old face.
Name: Thomas Greenly
Children: Two (Ben and Grace Greenly)
Wife: Jane Greenly (67)
Occupation: Waste processing
Offence: Unauthorised entry into forbidden zone
Summary judgement: Order of execution granted by the office of Chancellor Arturo Verge on this day 23/08/3339.
Execution to be carried out at 08:00 on 30/08/3339.
He gently placed the piece of paper back on his desk and looked out at the nearby space station, now cloaked in darkness. Greenly had been stronger than he had anticipated. He had screamed under questioning all right. They always did. Hard for any man not to with electrified hooks being inserted into his eyeballs. But, he never broke. He had to admire that. He was in no mood to delve deeper into the particulars of the man. Not today. He was still surprised at how heavily days like today had affected him. Every year he thought it would diminish, but like clockwork, his soul would sink the moment he opened his eyes on this date. His father’s last words to him.
“Yes, Arturo. I promise.”
Like a yearly time bomb, they echoed through his mind from the moment he woke until his last moment of consciousness at night. It had all changed after that. Everything. He spun his father’s ring
around his finger as he listened to the silence. He turned his head towards his desk and tapped a button next to his glass of water. It made a slight beeping noise. He waited.
“Yes, Chancellor, how can I be of assistance this evening?” said a deep growling voice.
“Doctor Vishal, how are the power output levels?” he said. Something small and moving caught the side of his eye. It looked like a small rock off in the distance. He followed its movement carefully for a moment before dismissing it as a piece of space debris.
“Not good, sir,” he said.
“Projections?” Arturo replied.
“Six weeks at best, sir,” he said.
Arturo looked on at the nearby vessel tracking smoothly along the connected space stations.
We need more
he thought. It was time to start the draft.
“Cut curfew by two hours beginning tomorrow” he said into the comm system.
“That won’t be enough, sir. It may buy us a day at the outside,” said Vishal.
“Just do it!” Arturo snapped.
“Yes, sir,” he responded with a growl.
“How many do you need to keep us running for three months?” Arturo said.
There was a momentary pause on the other end of the comm channel.
“Six,” Vishal finally said.
Arturo thought for a moment.
“Thank you. You shall have your six within the day. Arturo out.” He tapped the comm system which bleeped closing the channel. He tapped another button bringing the computer on his desk to life with a momentary flicker of light. He opened the passenger manifest and began scanning through the names and faces. He paused on one, separating it into an empty file directory he had just created, and moved on. Two others followed shortly after that. He scanned
through the names pausing sporadically before completing his selection and closing down the computer for the night. He closed his eyes and let his head sink back into the soft headrest of his chair. He took several breaths as he relaxed his body and began to drift off to sleep. His father’s voice echoed once more into his thoughts“
Yes, Arturo. I promise.”
Deep Space Mining Vessel
“This tastes like shit, India,” said Aron Elstone to his first officer who looked in no mood to be challenged on her coffee making skills.
“Don’t like it? Get off your lazy ass and go make it yourself, cupcake,” she said taking her seat next to his on the flight deck.
Aron smiled at her giving her a wink before taking another sip of the beverage. He winced at its bitterness and stared out at the floating rock they had been orbiting for the past three days.
“Did you eat?” he said putting his feet up on the flight controls.
“If you can call that cardboard crap we have back there food, then yes, I did. You?” she said.
“Nah,” he replied.
He could feel her worried gaze on his face.
“You need to eat,” she said.
“Jesus, you’re like my mother, you know that?” he said.
India grumbled something under her breath and began tapping commands into the flight controls. She was right though. It had been two days and he was beginning to feel the effects of hunger taking its nasty grip on his body. The crew had to come first though. Nothing quite so dangerous as hungry men and women under someone’s command.
One more day
“What’s the status on the Helium 3 tanks?” he asked her.
“Should have them tanked up in three hours,” she replied. “Then we can get those poor bastards off the surface and back on board. Ollie is starting to get grumpy,” she said.
Aron looked over the flight deck and through the windows at the asteroid below. On the surface a glistening light beamed up from their locator pods. Aron looked at it for a moment before resting back in his seat. He rubbed his brow and dreamt of getting some sleep. His leg hurt more than usual. He rubbed the wound he had received on the previous mission gently and tried to hold in a yawn.
“How long you gonna keep this shit up?” said India.
Aron looked over at the shaved head of his first officer and smiled.
“How long you gonna keep THIS shit up,” he replied pointing to her head. “You had beautiful hair, you know. When you let it hang loose, you almost passed for attractive.”
India laughed and gave him the finger.
“Go fuck yourself, sir,” she said.
They shared a moment of joviality before India pressed on.
“I am serious,” she said.
Aron looked at his worn out boots and torn trousers and took another sip of the terrible coffee.
“When are you not serious?” he said.
“Captain, we have to do something,” she finally said looking straight at his eyes.
He was surprised by her calling him captain. Something he had tried to get her to do for years, but which she refused. He knew it was time. But his crew wasn’t ready.
“We can’t hold out much longer while this son of a bitch murders and enslaves us. If you don’t do something soon, I fucking will,” she said.
Aron got angry and snapped back.
“You’ll do nothing. You hear me? Nothing, unless I say so. That hot head of yours has no place taking revenge when there are thousands of lives at stake,” he said looking deep into her eyes.
“You do anything without me, and I’ll not only relieve you of your post, but I’ll kick your ass from here to Aristaeus,” he paused taking a breath. “If it even exists,” he finished.
India looked at the deck plating and then out of the window. She drew a breath calming herself.
“I’m sorry, Aron, you know I wouldn’t do anything without your support and leadership,” she said.
Aron extended his arm and placed his hand on hers.
“We’ll get him, India, but we’ll only get him if we’re together in this. We need to do it carefully. Or we’ll all end up on the wrong side of an airlock,” he said.
India nodded and squeezed his hand back, stroking her fingers across his. He withdrew his arm not allowing the tenderness that she was beginning to imply by their touch. There was no room in his heart for what he knew she felt for him. She took his signal and sat back in her chair. He could feel her disappointment, but knew she had grown to live with it. He sighed and looked at the grey floating rock outside. He was sick of it too. Endless mining. Endless missions. Impossible quotas with no end in sight. The Signal Maker’s planet was centuries away. By the time they reached it, there would be nothing human left to settle on the planet.
“What about Thomas?” she said.
Aron looked at her. Greenly had given him strict instructions that no rescue attempt was to be made if he was captured. He had left his affairs in order and given Aron a letter just before taking on the mission. He had opened the tattered piece of paper moments after the old man had left his quarters. He had slowly unfolded it. His fingers shaking as he read its contents.
You asked me once what I would do to rid humanity of this evil. I remember feeling so frustrated that my old age and infirmity would be of little help to you in your struggle. I woke every morning and looked at my wife and children who had lived a life of slavery and felt completely helpless. Although I
have not known your loss, nor would I wish that on any man, the fear of doing nothing has been weighing heavily on my conscience. I have lived a full life and unlike most have had the privilege of raising a family. They look to me for guidance and protection. A burden I fear I cannot give. I can no longer live my life not knowing. I see in you our last hope for survival as a species. I know you are afraid. If my gift to you is my life in taking on this mission, then so be it. You need to know that I am at peace with my decision. There is an old Earth saying “I regret that I have but one life to give.” Do not be afraid of what it is you are about to do. If I am captured and consigned to oblivion by these tyrannical forces, I need but one thing from you. And it is not revenge. Show my children who their father really was. Teach them to be strong. Be kind and understanding to my wife, as she will no doubt hold resentment towards you for sending me to my death. She will eventually learn to understand. Tell her that I love her, then do one last thing for me. Kill Arturo Verge
Thomas Greenly (The first rebel)
He had shaken Greenly’s hand firmly. He remembered nearly calling the whole thing off, but before he could muster up the words, Greenly had left. It was a few days later when India awoke him early to deliver the news of his capture.
“Thomas knew the risks, India. We all do. He told me not to avenge him and I’ll honour that,” he said gritting his teeth. He had been half dressed in his quarters after she had given him the news, and was about to order an all-out assault on the space stations, but knew they wouldn’t last two minutes against their weaponry. He felt India’s
anger and knew it needed addressing. He decided to give her something to do.