The Buccaneer Chronicles:
Keeping the Peace
By Andy Simpkins (despite interference by Keith Dunn, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
Part One - "Talk of change lately, but everything's been done before."
Prologue - What Rough Beast...
"Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread..."
The first man sat at a desk that wouldn't have looked out of place in any major executive's offices on Earth, Procyon or any of the other major civilised worlds of the Western arm of the galaxy. He was wearing a close fitting business suit that was the latest fashion on Earth. It was dark in colour and hugged close to his body, accentuating his tall, almost lanky frame. Appearances were deceiving however. He may have appeared lean, almost gaunt of frame but what flesh he had on his bones was all highly toned muscle, ready to spring into action at any moment. His face was thin and angular, with prominent cheekbones and a mouth that was more of a slash across his face than anything else. A light goatee beard framed his mouth and his hair was close-cropped and shot through with grey at the temples. The most disconcerting thing about him were his eyes. When you looked closely at them, they appeared to be almost black in colour, with a look that that could pierce right through to any observer's soul like an arrow. They were deep set and conveyed a melange of emotions behind them; sorrow, grief, joviality, hatred and a host of others. Behind his chair and desk was a large window that looked out onto a barren and desolate night-time landscape, the soil laid bare by immense concentric circles of strip-mining and excavation, illuminated harshly by banks of mobile lighting. The deep-throated roar and rumblings of excavation machinery and labourers going about their business was muted to a distant rumble by the soundproofing that the office had built into it. He was sifting absent-mindedly through some data on his comp-term when the communication annunciate chimed for his attention.
Sighing distractedly, he pressed the appropriate button on his desk to allow the visitor admittance to his domain.
A small globe unfolded in the air just above the table, in it was a buzz cut, white haired man. His age was some where in his late fifty's, bull neck with a bullet head. He was a large man with a look of a bully he was used to getting his own way.
"Prospector... Prospector! Prospector Seidh! Adh Seidh answer me"!
The man looked up, and with an almost beatific smile on his face and proclaimed:
"Why, my dear Executor Reeve! Just as I was getting settled in, up you pop with your florid face to stop me from getting complacent. To what do I owe the pleasure of this manifestation in my humble abode?"
Slapping down a file of transparencies on hid desk in the image, Reeve all but bellowed, " look at them!! Do you have an explanation for this!!"?
Seidh leaned back in his chair, placing down the comp-term; he looked at the hologram with a hurt expression on his face "Executor Reeve! These accusations cut me to the quick. I' am at a loss to know what to say"
"You know full well what I am going on about!!" Pausing to get control of his boiling temper, he continued: "The Spinward Corporation has given you free access, as an employee, albeit given great rein and mobility and a certain amount of autonomy, to conduct our business in the most profitable manner possible. Firstly, we must point out that the corporation is very grateful to you for pointing out the location of selenium deposits on this planet. It has proven invaluable in our negotiations with several companies involved in spaceship production and manufacture for the raw materials they need. You have made substantial inroads into increasing the corporation's profits many fold, BUT THIS! Dealing in forbidden technologies is something else!!" He paused in his tirade to collect his thoughts. At this opportune moment, the first man smoothly interjected:"
"A mere bagatelle, my dear fellow. Admittedly, time-tech is some thing of a hot potato, jealously guarded by a few of the more elderly races, but, needless to say, I have my... contacts. As for the more curious of our staff in the higher echelons of power, a few incentives to stay silent here, a few financial inducements there and... voila!" He made an expansive theatrical gesture with his hands and continued:
"No-one needs to know. The corporation is happy at its exponentially increasing bank-balances. The customers are happy because we supply what they need and anyone who asks too many questions are either handsomely paid off to ensure their silence or are unfortunately deceseied. All around, a very convenient situation, if I may say so myself!"
Executor Reeve could only gape at the man, sitting in his chair, with an almost palpable air of self-assurance and confidence. Before he could say any thing else, Seidh said, with a slight edge of irritability to his voice:
"Come now, man, before you have a heart attack, say what is on your mind!"
"But what if word of this leaks out... anyone using time-tech... the possibilities for corrupting the time line..."
"...Are inconsequential at this moment in time, to use a pun. My dear fellow, the third party I sold the relevant technology to are well conversant with its use. Rest assured, there will be no trouble from them... as far as we are concerned. Do try not to lose any sleep over it. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a myriad of minutiae to attend to and it is clamouring for my attention. Please close the door on your way out..."
With that Seidh lent forwarded and artfully flicked a contact, the holo-globe swirled closed.
Seidh sat in his chair. The look of affability had vanished from his face to be replaced with something more cold, calculating and callous. He murmured to himself..."That was easy. Bluffing your way through was child's play with that fool Reeve. The buyers for the time tech are like savages playing with a loaded pistol. One wrong touch and it will all go off in their faces. I have my reasons for selling it and I only hope that they know what they are doing with it... I may have to nip forward a few millennia just to see if there not being to stupid."