Apply for a Job at Elysium Corp.
“Welcome to Elysium Corp.” The man said. “My name is Timonthly, and I will be in charge of introducing you to our corporation and getting you up to speed with what we do, and what we expect of you.”
I gave him a puzzled look. Something told me he was quite used that kind of expression when he replied: “Yes, Timonthly. It’s a funny story, but not one to tell right now.” His smile never flickering.
“As you well know, Elysium Corp. is one of the leading companies operating this side of the Galaxy, trading in commodities from chemicals and consumer items to metals, minerals and technology. We even have our own mining fleet, and numerous very experienced explorers collecting and selling cartographic data. We are industry leaders in…”
“Excuse me,” I interrupted as we walked down the station’s corridor. “I’m already hired, right? I believe I was told that after the, erm, freelance work I had done, that I had a job?”
“Certainly, certainly,” He said, bubbling optimism.
“Well, considering the kind of work I had to do to get a job, you think we could skip the public relations presentation?”
Timonthly’s smile did not falter for a second. If anything, his posture seemed to relax slightly, and he sounded relieved to have to dispense with the conventional speech.
“Elysium Corp. focuses on commerce, business, information, and control.” He said “A lot of that can be achieved through what I mentioned before. But sometimes, in order to, how to say, promote market growth and generate profits? In order to achieve that, we need to carry out business in alternative and innovative manners. If there are demands for goods in a system, but some bureaucrat or politician feels inclined to prohibit them, are we to deny the consumers access to them? Certainly not. We would encourage the leading factions to change their views on the matter via diverse strategies. Sometimes a system has to undergo some administrative changes, and we are happy to encourage the process by aiding a faction that will look more favourably on a business oriented policy.”
“So me smuggling a container from a scientific outpost, that is what you call alternative business practices?”
“That,” Thimonthly said, his chest looking like if about to burst in pride, “is our exceptional attention to detail and focus on customer satisfaction. If a client of ours requires a specific good or service, Elysium Corp. goes above and beyond to ensure we meet our customer’s needs.”
A clearer picture of the way Elysium Corp. operated started to form in my mind. So far, I liked it much more than what the Empire, Federation, and Alliance seemed to offer. It paid better, too.
“Every enterprise, Elysium Corp. included, faces a wide array of challenges and obstacles,” Thimonthly continued. “We at EC take on these challenges head on. If we have unnecessary or cumbersome traffic in our systems of operations, we have a team of security consultants highly trained in dissuading unwanted trade and traffic that may inconvenience our clients and investors.”
I chuckled. “So, basically, by security consultants you mean bounty hunters and pirates driving rivals and the competition out?”
Thimonthly laughed heartily. “I wouldn’t go so far as call them that!” he said. “These are highly skilled professionals. Experienced, determined, innovative, ambitious, and discreet. Just like you, commander.” He added as we reached the docking area of the station.
“We have given your ship a full maintenance check-up, and provided a couple of modules to enhance its offensive/defensive capabilities.” He said proudly.
“Offensive/defensive capabilities?” I asked. “You mean weapons? What was wrong with the ones I had there already?”
He patted me on the back as he led me through the door to the tunnel leading to the ships. “They weren’t offensive or defensive enough!” he said with a laugh. “But don’t worry about that for now. Your first task should be fairly easy, and it will provide an invaluable service to Elysium Corp. Something straightforward for a couple of days while you settle in and get familiarized with our company, and we’ll move on from there. So, what do you say? Ready?”
There was not much I could say at that point other than nod in assent as my datapad lit up with what looked like mission dossier. I wonder how he managed that, as I had not seen him reach for any device or even take his eyes off me. I got the impression Elysium Corp. had eyes and ears everywhere.
“Excellent!” Thimonthly beamed, “Welcome to Elysium Corp. commander! We are more than happy to have you, and we are sure you will fit right in here with us!”
Coulomb Terminal rotated in front of me in a slow and infuriating manner. I let go of the protein bar I was chewing on, took the controls, and spun my ship to be face to face with it as the bar floated in front of me. The station kept rotating as I masticated what tasted like wet cardboard someone had left out of an airlock for a couple of days. Every few minutes, as the station rotated, I would repeat this process. It was the most fun part of my job. I had been doing this for two days.
I wondered if you could get space dementia without actually being in outer space.
My job was to monitor the traffic in the system by scanning ships coming in and out of the station. Unofficially, that was. Every station monitored its own traffic. I was an ‘outside consultant.’ Timonthly had described it in his mission briefing as ‘building an intelligence portfolio in nearby systems to aid in the decision making of Elysium Corp. with the objective of furthering commerce opportunities to the betterment of all associates’. I described it in a more colourful, if explicit, way.
So there I sat in my Diamondback Explorer, a ship designed to brave the great void of deep space, scanning the ships coming in and out of some backwards station in Wonneriti, ‘exploring’ their modules and status.
‘Ship Type: Anaconda. Clean, no faction.’ I would write down.
Followed by ‘Ship Type: Type-7 hauler. Clean. Frag Cannon, Beam-Laser, Burst-Laser (2x), KWS, ECM, Point-Defence and AFM-Unit.’
Ship after ship, I wrote them down and updated the internal database.
Then, sometime later: ‘Ship-Type: Viper. WANTED. Multi-cannon, Burst-Laser, KWS.’
I had just finished updating the database when an loud voice shouting over my comms channel almost made me lose all the protein I had ingested.
“That Viper!” I heard Timonthly shout in an uncharacteristic way. “Hail it. If it doesn’t respond, blow it up!” He yelled. He still sounded his usual smiling optimistic self, just much louder.
I fumbled on the controls and tried hailing the Viper as it made its way out of the station, but got no reply. I tried again as I powered up my thrusters and deployed my weapons. I figured that ought to change his mind.
The Viper turned hard to the side, boosted to get some distance from the station, deployed its weapons and initiated combat maneuvers. I angled towards the Viper just as it opened fire on me, my shields lighting up from the barrage of kinetic weapon fire. The protein bar floating in zero-G bumped into my forehead. I flinched, and pressed the trigger for my primary and secondary weapons.
A bright burst of laser fire shot forth from my ship hitting the Viper straight on just as it flew over me. Whatever class and level the new weapons were, they made my previous lasers look like novelty toys in comparison. You know the kind, the ones people use to have cats chase after. These new ones practically vaporized the shields off the wanted ship. They also seemed to suck all the power from my ship.
I grunted as I turned my Diamondback Explorer as fast as it would go. I swatted the protein bar away again, but between the lack of gravity and the movement of my ship, it seemed to always end up directly in front of my face. I cursed loudly as I tried to get the Viper back in my sights and opened fire one more time.
The Viper shields were quickly depleted and my lasers cut through its hull, inflicting damage to modules and components better left untouched if you planned to stay alive in space. I felt how the power drained from my ship as I sustained the beam laser on my target.
I could see the Viper’s engines sputter out as it floated in an angle that looked unnatural, drift for a second, and explode only a few meters from my cockpit. I shielded my face instinctively and batted the protein bar directly into my nose. I felt a bit of bile and chewed up cardboard rise up my throat. I really needed to improve my diet.
“Excellent job!” I heard Thimonthly shout over the comms. “That’s a 65k bounty, apart from your salary. Not bad for a day’s work, is it?” He asked. I could picture his puffed up chest rising as he said that.
I was sweating and breathing heavy from exertion. Not knowing what to say or do, I reached for the protein bar and chewed off a piece. I requested permission to dock, and flew my ship into the station. I felt I deserved a break from scanning for the day.