Chapter One: A New Job
Beka Valentine got back to the Eureka Maru late that night. Rev was asleep, and Trance was still gone. So she made her way through the drab brown halls with slumped shoulders. Another week, another job done.
She just hoped the money lasted this time. The last thing she needed was another repair job on the Maru. It seemed like pirates were getting worse these days.
Still, before she could sleep, she had paperwork to do. Forms to fill out. The less glamorous aspect of smuggling stood before her as she sat down.
"You have a reputation as a first-rate scavenger, Beka Valentine." said an unfamiliar voice.
Beka froze, then snatched up her gun. She Pointed it upwards and saw someone in the shadows. He emerged to reveal a dark-skinned, muscular man with black dreadlocks. He wore a white vest and was holding a rifle. It was pointed at her.
"Who the hell are you?" asked Beka. "Talk quickly, I don't like stowaways."
"My name is Tyr Anasazi." said Tyr. "I'm here to make you the most lucrative offer you'll ever find."
"You could have sent something in the mail," said Beka.
He kept walking forward. She pulled the trigger, meaning to fire a warning shot. But the gun clicked. Tyr set the power pack of her pistol down on the desk. How had he...
Had he slipped that out of her gun as she passed?
"My client wants you to know who you are dealing with before you do anything foolish." said Tyr. "We're going to be handling something that is very valuable and very dangerous. We'd like your help."
Beka was going to play along here. Otherwi,so her neck might end up snapped. "What's the pay?"
"Ten percent of all profit margins," said Tyr.
Never show fear. She stood up. "Cute. I want more than that."
"My client is willing to negotiate." said Tyr.
"I don't mean the price. I want details." said Beka. " I don't run drugs. What am I transporting?"
"Weapons. The most powerful weapons in the universe." said Tyr, raising a data card. "Be at these coordinates tomorrow, and the situation will be made clear. Do this job and you can retire to a tropical island somewhere. Or eat yourself to death or whatever it is you inferior specimens do."
Inferior specimens? Then Beka noticed something on his wrist. Bone blades. He was a Nietzschean. She took the card and looked down quickly. Don't show weakness. Never show weakness.
She looked up. "I'm still negotiating over the-" But Tyr was gone. He has disappeared from the bridge. "Price?"
Beka slammed a fist against her desk and slipped the power back into her pistol.
At that moment Rev emerged. The priest had put on his red robes and his hair face looked concerned. "Is something the matter, Beka?"
"Yeah something is the matter." said Beka. "Some Nietzscheanbroke into this ship stole my guns power pack, and offered me a job."
"Strange that I did not notice." said Rev. "The divine plays strange tricks upon all of us. Yet if we seek the truth they are always to our benefit."
"Thanks, Rev. That doesn't help at all." said Beka. "He says he is transporting weapons. Really powerful stuff. But why the hell would he want the Maru for that? We can't move tanks.
"This ship was a tugship before my dad retrofitted it for moving cargo."
"Perhaps he means to move a ship." mused Rev.
"I thought about that. But why a smuggler?" asked Beka. "You can't slip ships past customs. He could just hire some day laborers. They'd be easier to intimidate and cost less."
"Perhaps it is something the is wholly unique to that Maru?" mused Rev.
"Maybe." admitted Beka. "We do have some of the most powerful engines you'll ever find on anything less than a capital ship. And we're a lot faster than anything else designed for moving ships.
"That's gotta be it.
"Tugships are meant for getting compromised vessels out of danger and moving wrecks. They're designed to pull ships more than twice their size. Nobody bothers upgrading their speed. My dad was nuts to do that.
"So maybe he wants us to pull something very hard to move, very quickly."
"It does seem the logical conclusion." said Rev. "The Maru is wholly unique thanks to its somewhat impractical design."
Beka looked up. "Watch it, Magog man, this beauty if my family's pride and joy.:
"Many things which are impractical are nevertheless important." said Rev. "Efficiency is not the only virtue in this wide and varied universe."
"Don't you ever stop?" asked Beka.
"It is often good to halt and reflect upon the nature of oneself." said Rev. "An unexamined life yields little fruit."
Beka laughed despite herself. "Shut up. I'm going to this meeting tomorrow to see what they want.
"I just hope Trance gets back soon. Clients don't like being kept waiting."
The meeting spot wasn't exactly what you would call luxurious. It was a warehouse. When Beka knocked on the door, she thought for a moment that the whole building was going to fall in. The windows certainly rattled a lot. Then it opened, and Tyr looked out.
"Well I'm here." said Beka.
"Beka Valentine." said Tyr. "I'm glad you could make it. Come this way. The meeting is about to begin."
Beka followed him through a hall and into a wide open room. Within it there were a large amount of rough and ready people. All of them were armed, and some had burns and scars except for one person, a skinny guy who looked like he hadn't eaten enough as a kid. He was leaning up against his seat and trying to put the moves on a beautiful blonde mercenary.
He was failing.
"Who are all these?" she asked.
"Security." said Tyr. "He thinks his partners might attempt to cheat him."
"Well that is the usual risk." mused Beka. "Where is this mysterious employer? And what's his name?"
"Gerentex." said Tyr.
They sat down. Then into the room came a nightsider. The brown-skinned animal man came forward, clad in black leather. "Welcome all of you. I am Gerentex."
"I'd like to thank you all for coming." said Gerentex. "What we're planning is perhaps the most lucrative trade of my entire career." He pressed a button, and a hologram sprang to life before them of one of the Old Commonwealth's ships. "I give you the Andromeda Ascendant.""
"Andromeda?" asked Beka. "You mean that legendary Commonwealth Ship that was lost in a black hole?"
Geretex scoffed. "I would hardly call it legendary. Though the story of Dylan Hunt is the subject of one or two brainless bedtime stories.
"Seamus, elaborate." There was a pause. "Seamus!"
The scrawny guy sat up and ran up to the front quickly. He straightened out his white shirt like he was wearing a blazer and waved. "Hello everybody, great to be here. I'm Seamus Harper, professional genius and the most eligible bachelor of the universe. Nice to meet you, I sign autographs."
"Get to the point." said Geretex.
"All right, all right, already." said Harper, taking out a control. "The point, ladies and gentlemen. Is this." He pressed a button. A hologram changed to that of a black circle of void surrounded by clouds of orange and yellow. "A black hole near the edge of the Hephaistos system. Nice weather there, by the way. Usually cloudy with a chance of meteor showers.
"Like Gerentex said, it's the place Captain Dylan Hunt died in the back during the Old Commonwealth."
"So what?" asked Beka. "Nothing that goes into a black hole survives. The Andromeda should be less than dust by now."
"True enough, lovely lady." said Seamus. "Even the most advanced starship brought in would be crushed tinier than a pebble. But, and here's the big but, as you get closer to a black hole time slows down. And it only gets slower as you go. Singularities are fun like that.
"Which means that the Andromeda wasn't sucked into the Black Hole. She is still being sucked into it and has been for three hundred and three years. Kinky I know."
"What does it matter?" asked Beka. "Even if this ship is still there, if we tried to get it out we'd get stuck too."
"Oh really? Well roll out the red carpet for Ms. Science." said Harper. "Seriously, stop living in the twentieth century. I mean, I am a fan of the twentieth century, don't get me wrong. And it's true that the scientists back then thought nothing could get out of a black hole. But then again those brilliant ancient scientists never met Seamus Harper.
"Getting something out of a black hole isn't impossible. It's just really, really, difficult for the average person.
"So with my direction, this will be the easiest job you've ever pulled."
"Sure it will. " said Beka. "Okay, so let's say we get this ship out. It's top of the line. Who are we selling it to?"
"That remains my concern." said Geretex. "Not yours. Follow my orders and we'll all be richer than god at the end of this. Pay not attention to the secret machinations of scary people."
"Why do you need us?" asked the mercenary Harper had been hitting on.
Geretex looked up, annoyed. "Hasn't it occurred to you that transporting one of the most powerful ships in the universe has risks? I need you as muscle, to make sure that nothing gets out of hand. You'll be taking orders from my associate, Tyr Anasazi."
"You want us to work for a Nietzschean?" asked the mercenary.
"If you want to get paid, yes." said Geretex. "We're all professionals here. Aren't we?"
"...Yes, yes we are." said the woman.
There were murmurs of agreement. Beka did not join them. Geretex looked to Beka with narrowed eyes. "And what about you?"
Beka judged her chances. "I want fifteen percent."
"Ten percent or I find someone else who will work for ten." said Geretex.
"Fifteen percent or you find someone who doesn't exist with a class of ship that hasn't been made." said Beka. "The Eureka Maru is one of a kind. That's why you picked me."
Geretex clasped his fingers and met her gaze head-on. Beka met his carefully. Finally, Geretex shrugged. "…Fifteen percent it is, my dear. Do we have a deal?"
He offered a hand. Beka stood up and took it. "Yes, we do. I just need to wait for one of my crew to get back from a personal mission."
"Surely you could find another on short notice." noted Geretex.
"No. I can't." said Beka. "Trance has abilities you can't find just anywhere. She could save all our butts if things get dicey."
"...I suppose we could afford a minor delay for higher quality." said Geretex.
"Glad to hear it." said Beka.
"Now," said Geretex, "there is a table of refreshments over there. I hired catering."
The catering was actually pretty good. Though Beka waited until after everyone else had eaten before taking any of it. She noticed that Tyr did not eat any of it, he instead leaned against the wall in the corner, examining the room. The blonde woman from before eyed him warily as well.
Beka finally had had enough. She approached Tyr. "So, how does a Nietzschean end up working for a Nightsider?"
"Much like yourself, I provide an essential service." said Tyr. "Only where you move cargo, I move people to the morgue."
"Right, I guessed that much." said Beka. "What are you being paid?"
"A great deal." said Tyr.
"Hoping to save up for a beach house somewhere?" asked Beka.
"I'd much rather arrange for all my enemies to disappear mysteriously." said Tyr. "Preferably without it being traced back to me."
"How's that working out for you?" asked Beka.
"Quite well so far." said Tyr.
Beka blinked. Then she shrugged and looked up. The blonde woman had left the party. "You Nietzscheans are always are looking out for yourselves, aren't you?"
"We always do what is best for us, if that's what you mean." said Tyr.
Tyr was definitely nice to look at. It was a shame he wasn't much for personality.
When Beka got back she was still thinking. Something about the mission didn't rub her the right way at all. Something had been going on beneath the surface there, and she didn't know what it was.
It probably didn't matter.
She found Trance in the main room, a place which doubled as storage and a living room. The violet skinned alien girl was playing holochess against herself. Somehow she seemed to be losing.
Trance glanced up. "Beka."
"Trance?" asked Beka. "You're back. How did it go?"
"I managed to deliver the data you asked me to." said Trance. "It got a bit awkward though. Rev says you had a meeting."
"We've got ourselves a new contract." said Beka. "We're going to get the Andromeda out of the black hole it fell into. This one is going to be really lucrative. It's a good thing you took so long or they'd have missed us."
"Great." said Trance. "Any idea what I should wear?"
Beka blinked. "Wear? What you usually do. We're not going to a ballroom blitz."
"But if a ship got trapped in a black hole singularity and survived the crew might also have survived." said Trance. "We might be meeting people from the far, far, past. I don't want to make a bad first impression."
Why hadn't Beka thought of that? Trance was always thinking about these things. She thought about it. "Relax. Every story I've read says the crew all evacuated long before they reached the planet. Captain Hunt became a martyr who lengthened the war a lot.
"Besides, I think we've got bigger problems."
"What kind?" asked Trance.
"Gerentex, our employer, won't tell us who we're selling to." said Beka. "And there is this guy, Tyr Anasazi. He's being put in charge of the guard detail even though none of the mercenaries like him.
"I think there is something going on."
"He's selling to the Drago-Kasov Pride." said Trance. "I think."
Beka did a double take. There was no way Trance could know that from what she'd been told. Except whenever Trance made a prediction she was always right. Always. "Trance, what makes you say that?"
Trance shifted nervously. "Well um, isn't it obvious?"
"Not really." admitted Beka.
"Well if Gerentex is selling to anyone it would have to be someone with a lot of money." said Trance. "The Drago-Kasov Pride is the richest of the group. And if they were hiring Gerentex to get the ship, they'd want someone on the sight to make sure he didn't backstab them.
"Plus the Andromeda went into the black hole near the Hephaistos system. That is under Drago-Kasov control. They'd definitely notice if someone got the Andromeda out. So it would make sense for Gerentex to have them as a client.
"Even if he wanted to backstab them, he'd want to do the operation without getting blown out of the sky."
Once again there was a perfectly logical basis for her apparent prophetic abilities. There was always one of those. It rubbed Beka the wrong way. "…Thanks for reminding me for why I never leave port without you."
"I thought it was because of my sunny personality." said Trance.
"Where is Rev anyway?" asked Beka.
"Meditating." said Trance. "We'd better not disturb him."
"Fine." said Beka. "Just finish up anything you need to do on this rock quick. Tomorrow we're going back into space."
Why did Beka think this mission would be more than she bargained for.
So a few months ago I watched through Andromeda. And I gotta say, I really loved the first season. The second season was pretty good at first. But little by little the entire storyline got derailed in favor of making it into the Dylan Hunt show. The last straw was the third episode of Season 3. It was filler episode which was so utterly terrible that it destroyed any interest I had.
What annoys me is that the myth arc was really interesting and many of the characters were great. If they hadn't fired all the good writers the show could be right up there with Stargate SG 1. You don't get five seasons unless you are doing something right.
Anyway, I tried to write all the characters like they were in the show. You be the judge of if I succeeded.
Enjoy and please review.