Saturday, February 9, 2013

Roland Aesteban

 “The enforcers are coming!” The message flashed through the under-slum like lightening. Roland stepped into the passage way. Underworlders were running in all directions, clearing the signs of anything illegal. Any vice you care to name, and some you might not, could be found in these vast secret worlds below decks. Yet Roland knew there was good here too. Born on one of the enormous void ships, he grew up amongst these people. Their only real crime was eking a living as best they could. He could see some of them taking up hidden positions. For every one he could see, there would be two more he couldn’t. If the enforcers wanted trouble they would get it.
The huge airtight door slowly opened to reveal ten men in arbites uniforms. Their leader announced “we are looking for Roland Aesteban”. For a moment panic struck him, but he quickly recovered. He had done nothing wrong recently, certainly nothing likely to require a full squad of men to come looking for him. This was something more.

He stepped towards them. “What is the trouble officers?”

From the centre of the group, a previously hidden man in a dark blue robe spoke. “Are you Roland Aesteban?”
Roland stopped. He surreptitiously glanced to his side to reassure himself his comrades were still there. Could this be a setup? Had one of the rival clans turned him in for something? “And if I am?” he replied.

“Stop wasting my time boy. If you are not Roland Aesteban take me to him immediately.” The tone was not one of menace, but of impatience. This was no enforcer.
“Yes, I am Roland.”

The robed man stepped from amongst the enforcers. “I am Lucien. I have been sent to deliver this to you.” He handed Roland a data slate. “Well read it boy”. After a moment he added “You can read can’t you?”
“Yes, I can read thank you” Roland grumbled as he activated the slate.

The council of the noble house of Aesteban has selected you to inherit a recently relinquished Imperial Warrant of Trade. You are to accompany the bearer immediately. Your ship awaits you. Congratulations Lord Captain.
“Do you accept?” Lucien pushed.

“And if I don’t?”
“If you accept, come with me now. If not...” Lucien shrugged.

Thoughts raced through his mind. His mother had always told him there were related to the mighty house of Aesteban, and he had read a great deal about their history in what archives he could find. Obviously, this was a chance to escape this life, but to what? Yet, he had no real ties here. He had lived on countless ships and space stations and both his parents had died many years ago on some other ship. Life was often short in the underworld.
 “You have five minutes to collect your belongings and make your farewells. I can wait no longer than that.”

“I will only need one”, he said, turning and re-entering his hab. He grabbed a small bag, threw in a data slate, a knife and the few thrones had had stashed away. As he turned to leave, his neighbour Jak entered. “What is going on? Is everything ok?”
“Yep. It’s just time to move on again. Sell whatever you can here and keep the credits.” He walked out and did not look back.

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