The First House of Argon (Complete)

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The Zig
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The First House of Argon (Complete)

Post by The Zig » Fri, 7. Jul 06, 02:53

The First House of Argon
by Fu Jila – Senior International Affairs Correspondent for the Boron Kingdom News Network


Foreword
This morning they ransacked my office. All my equipment was wiped or destroyed. They were trying to destroy this – this story you are now reading.

I wrote this uncertain whether it would ever go out. I was hesitant to publish. I had reservations – I still do. Its publication may hurt our greatest ally, our saviour and true friend, the Argon Republic. Is it really my place as a Boron reporter to air their ‘dirty laundry’?
The people attacking me say ‘no’. They want me to shut up. Now. They are trying to force the matter. Yesterday I was physically threatened. The day before that, my ship was fired on. We are still having problems with some mystery hacker in the Network. In twenty jazura with BKNN – the Boron Kingdom News Network – I have never seen anything like it.

I finished writing this yesterday. Only this morning did I finally decide to release it; people died for this, and The People have a Right to know the truth – to be informed – surely this is the true essence of democracy.
In any case, the latest attack has strengthened my resolve. I must publish now, or how much farther will they go to get my silence? So read on and learn a lost history, and a possible future for the Argon people.


Argon friends remember: we Boron stand beside you come what may.

FJ



Part One

Boron Kingdom News Network – the BKNN – has an office on every Boron Trading Station, always in the tip of the rounded structure overlooking the docks. In one such office, I was putting the finishing touches to a news-story when the secretary phoned through.

“An Argon female is here to see you, sir.”
“To see me?” I was shocked. I had only recently arrived. To the best of my knowledge no-one knew I was there. “Who is it?”
“One moment... ‘A woman with a story,’ she says.”
I sighed. As a well-known journalist, I am occasionally stalked by people who wish me to report on some matter that is pressing only to them! It is always awkward to spurn them, so I gave my usual rebuff.
“Tell her I am preparing to leave. If she has a news story she can go through Network.”
The secretaries with BKNN are invariably polite, yet firm; this would be the last I’d hear of the matter. It totally slipped my mind as I engrossed myself in finishing the article.
...

A stazura and an unhealthy amount of stimuline later, I finally posted the story to Network. Job done! As is my habit, I now headed for the bar to celebrate – that is, to stare emptily into space over a half-glass of Orikin Bite (we journalists know how to party!)
Before long, an Argon female placed herself opposite me at the table. The bar was quiet, so this had to be deliberate. Mildly offended by the intrusion, I stood to move away.

“Stop,” she said. “I need to speak with you.”
“I’m sorry?”
“Fu Jila,” she said. “Sir. I came to see you.”
I was taken aback by her recognition; an advantage of written journalism is that one's face is rarely known. Despite the fame of my name, I have always enjoyed moderate anonymity. I looked down at this female. She wore some kind of black mask concealing much of her face. Blacker eyes stared up through it.
“Do I know you?”
“Unfortunate you turned me away before,” she stated. “Your story was incomplete.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Shades.”
I stood gazing for a moment. The ‘Shades’ were a enigmatic team of Pirates that were all the talk of the fringe sectors lately. They use black ships, invisible to scanners, hence ‘shades’. I had come across the name while researching a story about Xenon activities in the fringes. Letting out a breath, I sat again.
“What can you tell me of the Shades?”
“Not much. Just a messenger,” she answered. “It’s someone else you need to speak to. You, friend, have been given the chance to meet the most important, most knowledgeable Argon in space.”
I considered this: The Goner Protector of Truth? Ban Danna? Simons? Surely not the Argon President – actually, no: the President was hardly ‘knowledgeable’!
“For now,” she said. “You can’t know more. However, the leader has made arrangements to meet you at a secret location.”
“Where?”
The eyes narrowed behind the mask, “A secret location.”
I scoffed, “This is ridiculous.”
“Yet you're curious.”
“Nonsense! Why would I go when..?”
“But we know you, you will... Especially when I tell you The First House is involved.”
“I...” I was lost for words, The First House! The Shades and the First House?
“Okay. How do I know I'm not being kidnapped?” I asked flatly.
“You have my assurance,” she said. “For what that’s worth! But you will be protected.”
Seeking assurance, I managed to drag this conversation over another twenty mizura. In truth, she had me at ‘Shades’. Curiosity always won over my wiser senses – a symptom of journalism. ‘The First House’ only made it easier to rationalise. I was to meet her by the docks: one stazura.

“Don’t be late.”
...
Last edited by The Zig on Tue, 12. Sep 06, 11:24, edited 1 time in total.

The Zig
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Post by The Zig » Sun, 9. Jul 06, 13:51

This is my new fan-fic. For anyone who was reading Terraformer Dreams (tbc), they are connected (though you don't have to read one to understand the other). This is gonna be much shorter, and will all be on this thread. Expect new parts every couple of days. Feel free to comment between parts - feedback welcome!
Cheers,

Da Zig




Part Two

I straightened out my office ready to leave. My mind was spinning – The First House!

“I’ve heard people talk about this First House,” the BKNN secretary was saying. “So what is it exactly?”
“Well, ha,” I laughed. “That’s quite the question! I really... It’s hard to say. It’s all rumour. Depends who you ask. Which bars you drink in. Who you believe.”
She still looked to me for an answer.
“Okay. Well, in Home of Light they say it’s a secret cult. Rumour there is The First House has infiltrated Argon Prime, that they secretly control the Argon government – even the Vice President is a member according to them... along with Ban Danna of course!”
“Ban Danna? Head of the Argon Secret Service? He’s involved?”
“Danna’s at the centre of every conspiracy theory ever! He has something to do with everything – if you believe the chatter. What would be telling is if Ban Danna wasn’t implicated.”
“So it’s just a conspiracy theory?”
“Well... No. You see, it’s not that simple. That’s one view. The miners around Ore Belt will tell you a different story. To them The First House is some bunch of rich-kid politicians playing at Pirate Clan. By contrast, a real-life pirate clan member in Black Hole Sun swore to me that The First House are a cartel, ruthlessly taking over all other Pirate cartels.”
She nodded.
“Then again, there’s the religious angle. The First House and the Goner have some kind of history. A Goner priest I interviewed refused to tell me much, but did say the First House were ‘lost Brothers in search of Truth’. The First House may see itself as a Goner sect.
“Another theme that keeps appearing is a connection between them both and the Xenon. Ha! An ex-freight-pilot out of Aladna Hill swore to me that The First House is working on behalf of the lost planet Earth, with the Xenon and the Goner, to ‘topple the corrupt Argon regime’ – that this is the real reason Xenon ‘terrorists’ don’t attack the Goner. But, of course, that’s ridiculous!”
“Sure,” she laughed. “It doesn’t sound likely! So essentially you’re saying you don’t have a clue what they are!?”
“Exactly,” I laughed. “No one does. But they exist. Maybe a cult, maybe a cartel, or anything between. They’re a mystery. But now, I might finally get to the truth.”
“Ha! Well have fun,” she laughed as she waved me good-bye.
...

The First House!
Possibilities spun around my mind as I approached the internal docking area. This is the part of the station where people kiss goodbye to loved ones who are about to fly off somewhere; where merchants attempt to hawk shoddy goods to unsuspecting visitors; where fighter-pilots trade ‘true’ stories about what happened to a friend’s friend out in some unknown sector. It was a long room, narrow – perhaps too narrow to really be called a room – if it led somewhere you’d be tempted to call it a corridor. But it didn't, so it was a room. And oddly deserted at this time.
All along the left wall, a long line of windows, interspersed by a number of doors. The windows overlooked the external docking bays outside, the place where traders and adventurers park their ships. Each door was the entrance to its own little airlock chamber each leading out into the bays. Airlocks are needed, of course, as the outer docking bay cannot be pressurised due to obvious flammability issues.
I found the bay we had agreed upon, no sign of her yet. I was getting a bad feeling already. Relax, I told myself. She’ll be here soon enough.

But really, she was there already.

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Post by KiwiNZ » Sun, 9. Jul 06, 16:26

Cool start! Nice background of a conspiracy that actually does sort of make sense when seen in combination with Terraformer Dreams :D

Looking forward to the next part! :thumb_up:

The Zig
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Post by The Zig » Tue, 11. Jul 06, 18:42

Part Three

Five mizuras passed.
By now I was almost twitching with repressed excitement. You must know the feeling: a need to do something when there’s nothing you can do except... Wait.
I kept glancing through the windows to the bay outside. There it was, her Nova, still docked. The serial number matched, it was definitely hers. I was in the right place, so where the hell was she?
Now, I glanced into the nearest airlock chamber, one of many chambers linking the station to the bays. The chamber was open to the far side, to the docking bays. So obviously the near door was sealed – air-locked – it would be a total vacuum inside the chamber.

“Hm?” Something in the chamber caught my eye. There was an odd pattern on the usually plain-white walls. Tiny circles of colour, some overlapping. I had never seen this before.
A sound to my right. Aha! The next chamber along was pressurising. Someone was coming in from the docks! I dashed over to it. The door slid open, but the person who nearly walked into me was an Argon male – a short man with no hair and an odd facial tattoo. He glanced at me, grunted a greeting, then stepped around me, disappearing into the station.

I sighed. Where is she?

I loitered uneasy. Here was that chamber with the strange colour pattern. I peered into the chamber through the little window in the door. The pattern was strange; it was uneven, random-looking. And something was floating in the far corner of the chamber. Must be luggage. That’s bad. Station rules explicitly state that airlock chambers must be cleared of luggage after use. It was dangerous to leave things loose in there. It looked almost like... Was it a space-suit?
It was! An empty Argon space-suit. Just floating there. Odd.
I pressed the ‘door open’ button. Some warning lights flashed inside the chamber. A moment later, the far door closed and the pressurisation cycle began. Sssssss! A beep indicated the pressure was up – the near door slid open. At the same moment the artificial gravity hit the chamber. The space-suit slumped to the floor, arching over backwards.
A dead face – her dead face – stared out at me through the shattered visor. Her skin was chalk, and red seeped from her mouth, her hanging. bloated tongue, those empty red eyes.

I remembered the colour of Argon blood at just the same moment as I noticed the red ‘pattern’ now oozing down the plain-white walls surrounding me.
...

KiwiNZ
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Post by KiwiNZ » Tue, 11. Jul 06, 20:26

Ouch. Somebody followed her tracks. Now what is he gonna do? Call security? Probably. Or will he just head for the Nova and go on a trip? Perhaps but risky. Looking forward to the next part! :thumb_up:

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fiksal
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Post by fiksal » Wed, 12. Jul 06, 01:16

Interesting read.
If the main character a Boron, what station were they at? It seemed like Argon woman didnt need the suit to be in the station (at the bar)... or did I miss something again? :)
Lord Farquaad wrote:Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I am willing to make.

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Post by KiwiNZ » Wed, 12. Jul 06, 09:00

You need to read Farnhams Legend then :P They are generally using force fields to allow communication between different races while each of them being in an environment that does not require space suits.

The Zig
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Post by The Zig » Wed, 12. Jul 06, 10:15

Hey,
Thanks for the comments. And thanks for the save KiwiNZ! ;)
If the main character a Boron, what station were they at?
They're in a Boron Trading station.
It seemed like Argon woman didnt need the suit to be in the station (at the bar)... or did I miss something again?
An equally valid question is: how could a Boron be having a "half-glass" of anything in a fluid atmosphere?!
Force-fields works, but my explanation is: the narrator simply prefers international bars. He's a foreign-affairs specialist, he's got international tastes. He's spent most his life trailing around Teladi, Paranid, Argon and Split stations - his enviro-suit is a second skin to him. He's not gonna bore his readers by telling them every time he changes outfit or switches between environment; he abridges to what is necessary for his story.

Thanks for the feedback though. I'll try to make stuff like this a bit clearer.
:)

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fiksal
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Post by fiksal » Wed, 12. Jul 06, 19:40

The Zig wrote:Hey,
Thanks for the comments. And thanks for the save KiwiNZ! ;)
If the main character a Boron, what station were they at?
They're in a Boron Trading station.
It seemed like Argon woman didnt need the suit to be in the station (at the bar)... or did I miss something again?
An equally valid question is: how could a Boron be having a "half-glass" of anything in a fluid atmosphere?!
Force-fields works, but my explanation is: the narrator simply prefers international bars. He's a foreign-affairs specialist, he's got international tastes. He's spent most his life trailing around Teladi, Paranid, Argon and Split stations - his enviro-suit is a second skin to him. He's not gonna bore his readers by telling them every time he changes outfit or switches between environment; he abridges to what is necessary for his story.

Thanks for the feedback though. I'll try to make stuff like this a bit clearer.
:)
Ok, that makes sense :)
I think that could be an interesting trait of a character. That he prefers to sit at "Argon" (or international) bars, as opposed to a Boron equivalent.
Lord Farquaad wrote:Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I am willing to make.

The Zig
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Post by The Zig » Fri, 14. Jul 06, 01:12

Good point about the character trait, fiskal. Thanks for pointing that out. Some of the stuff I'm writing now could develop that angle nicely. Cheers! Here's part four.

Part Four

“This kind of thing is surprisingly common,” the Dock Supervisor told me.
Absently, my ‘hands’ rotated the black-mask I had picked up from the speckled floor of the dock; there was dried blood on it.
“Suit visors do just blow out sometimes,” he went on. “You’d be surprised. See, I'd bet one day, maybe jazuras and jazuras ago, she went out for a space-walk and just a little bit of space-dust, or maybe a little baby space-fly, it hit her visor and Crack! She probably didn’t even notice at the time. But it made a tiny chip – microscopic, invisible to the eye – but that chip left a network of tiny, tiny cracks. And everything seemed normal. But every time she went through an air-lock – every pressure change – they just got bigger and bigger. A time-bomb. And sure enough, one day, a sharp pressure drop and BOOM – the visor blows out! Dead. Honestly, you’d be surprised just how common it is. It’s not the first one we've had here. On this station. The moral? Get your suit serviced regularly.”
...

An accident? I wasn’t convinced.
I argued with the station authorities for stazuras. I demanded to watch every mizura of security video. After one particularly implausible threat of a BKNN article on docker incompetence, they finally conceded and we spent nearly a tazura staring at screens. Nothing.
In the end, it was logged as an accident. Death by misadventure.
I wasn’t buying that. It was murder.
...

I spent the next few tazuras loitering at the station, a pathetic creature, desperately seeking some new lead, some explanation. All to no avail.

Eventually, Network lost patience and curtly recalled me to Kingdom’s End. It is no exaggeration to say I was heart-broken. I love mysteries, and my only lead in the Universe’s greatest mystery had breathed her last secrets into the void. I had nothing. I was inconsolable. But when Network recalls you, your only choice is to obey.
The economic route to Kingdom’s End led us through the anarchic systems around Brennan’s Triumph. We had just left Brennan’s Triumph and were half-way through Split Fire when a squadron of marauding pirates broke off their attack on a Mercury and made a beeline for us. We tried to go around, but they were locked on. No less than twelve M5s bore down on us. We couldn’t outrun them – with one gun to fight with, we were doomed.
But rather than opening fire, the pirates opened comms.
...

The stunned captain called me to the cockpit. The pirates had asked to speak with me.
How come everyone seemed to know where I was even before I did?

“Fu Jila?” the pirate asked.
“Who’s asking?” I was cautious. Hostage-taking is rife in these parts; I would fetch a good price.
“Are you Fu Jila. Yes, no? Answer.”
“... Yes.”
“Move into camera. I need visual confirmation.”
“No,” I said. “Let us pass.”
“Can’t do that,” the pirate told me. “I have an urgent message, but I need visual confirmation. It has to do with a ‘black-mask’ woman who visited you.”
“Black mask?” I almost choked.
“A murdered ‘black-mask’ woman? I was told you’d know who...”
“She was murdered! Who did it? Why?”
“I don’t know details. I only know what I was told, okay?” the Pirate said. “My clan-boss contacted me personally and I’m getting paid to pass a message to you. So if you’ll please show your damn face Boron, I’d like to get this done.”
Again, curiosity won over my wiser senses. I went on camera.
“Okay, good.” the Pirate smiled. “The message is: ‘Go to the Space History Museum on Argon Prime. The museum’ll be expecting you, they’ll know what to do. So just go with the flow. Someone will make contact with you.’ That’s it, that’s the message. Oh, and... uh... there’s also something in Boron I’m meant to say to you, um... ennoy ruyooshah manja... is that right?”
“I... Uh, yes. Almost right. I understand. Yes, yes ... Thank you.”
At that, the Pirates broke comms, moved off and let us on our way.
“Change course for Argon Prime,” I told the pilot. “Now.”

The language the Pirate had spoken was Giuhruhn, a minority-language that wouldn’t be picked up by most translation systems. It is used mostly between Boron aristocracy – it is actually my native tongue – ‘e nui ra’iusha manya’ means literally ‘the one my-dwelling awaits’.

Or to a native-speaker: ‘The First House awaits you.’
...

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Post by KiwiNZ » Fri, 14. Jul 06, 11:40

Nice! Nice klittle bit of nerveous break-down. :D Also good idea with the pirates picking things up again.

Looking forward to seeing what awaits him in AP! :thumb_up:

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Post by The Zig » Fri, 14. Jul 06, 15:08

Cheers KiwiNZ! As for the Pirates bit... it was a real struggle not having them start every sentence with a good ol fashioned: "Yarr!"

On a related topic (kind of ;) ) I'm excited! I'll be seeing the 2nd Pirates of the Carribean film this afternoon once I get outta this dump (aka work). I'm really looking forward to it! Heard very good things about it - should be awesome!

Thanks again,
Z

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Post by KiwiNZ » Fri, 14. Jul 06, 15:33

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 is something that is on my to-do list, too. I loved the first one, mostly because of Caribbean pirates sporting an Australian accent. :lol: Sounded amusingly wrong. :D

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Post by fiksal » Fri, 14. Jul 06, 22:14

KiwiNZ wrote:Pirates of the Caribbean 2 is something that is on my to-do list, too. I loved the first one, mostly because of Caribbean pirates sporting an Australian accent. :lol: Sounded amusingly wrong. :D
For a movie that got many things wrong from "real" life (pirates, ships and what not), and that had some holes in its own story, it was definetly really fun.
I look forward to see the next one,... maybe I'll just go and see tonite! :)

on a related note,
do you remember the opening bit for Jack in the first movie - the one where he sank his ship/boat ?
That looked kinda unrealistic to me, but appearantly, I was told by people who know more about the ships than I do, that's actually possible to sink the ship that way.
Lord Farquaad wrote:Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I am willing to make.

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Post by fiksal » Fri, 14. Jul 06, 22:21

And the comment about the last bit;

The hunger for news will get that Boron into trouble :)
Lord Farquaad wrote:Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I am willing to make.

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