Backgorund story to a map I'm working onChapter One: Home, Sweet Home"C
ut that out Walters!", the cockpit bellowed. Unlike most unit commanders, Vogel's bark tamed in comparison to his bite. There had been as many stories of broken noses as ribs for those who aroused the mildest displeasure in the man. The most famous rumour detailed -with as much accuracy that a rumour can- a castigation
resulting in a cranial fracture with an early return to the homeworld for the rookie and a new left gauntlet for the Commander.
You would have thought that he would have a new recruit for every glove he went through, what with all the injuries in Vogel's team; all in the line of duty, naturally. But the fact was no-one had the heart to apply for a transfer, let alone a holiday. Putting in for R&R was like inviting a half-starved Xectaclion death lizard round to your home for Sunday lunch, and burning the roast; the Commander wouldn't like it, and for this fact and this fact alone it was a tight unit Vogel kept. Snivelling over photographs of loved ones wouldn't get you his sympathy either. His head hadn't the heart for flashbacks of friends and family. He saw them as heavy baggage, hating to have to fork out extra emotional currency for something he'd eventually realise he should never have brought in the first place.
But that was Simian Vogel. He travelled light through life and expected the same from his men. But when shore-leave came he was as sexually ravenous as the rest of the men, all eager to swap that empty space in their hearts for an empty space in their wallets. But the sad truth of the matter was that the Commander didn't like being tied down to one girl or to one place. He had to keep moving, which was why for him the TSA scoutship Agudo was the only corner of the universe worthy of the foreign-sounding nomenclature: "home".
A jolt. The crew steadied themselves before another shunted the ship, this time throwing them against the cold, metal sheen of the sides and floor of the vessel. Something had hit them -or they had hit something- hard, and had richocheted off-course. As Crawford wrenched his weedy counterpart from the floor to strap him in Polluck was in the process of doing the same for the new guy, Rivers. This orderly, string of soldier-ants was a pocket of irony inside the chaos that was spiralling its way through the calm of space like a sycamore leaf in the twilight hours of a winter's day.
Meanwhile Vogel's frenzied hollers were the cue for the rest of the Frontiersmen to panic. "Walters, check the starboard engine, our readouts aren't telling us squat!". No response. Crawford prodded the palsied, limp marionette he had just instinctively secured in-place. Their training drills didn't allow pause for thought and as such it had not occurred to Crawford to check the squad's engineer for signs of life.
"Hammer's down, sir!".
"Dead?", the Commander lost his authoritative poise for a second and his voice uncharicteristically upped an octave.
"No, just out cold", came the reply.
"Well didn't he just pick the wrong moment to go sheep-counting", Vogel remarked with clout, his composure reinstated as the shephard informed his own flock of what they were going to do next. "Looks like we're gonna have to pay this place a visit", he said, his index finger eclipsing an anonymous blip on the radar.
Under his finger sat Solace. Prior to RelaxationStation #873's construction the planetoid had been known simply by it's co-ordinates, having no biological, geological or strategical value. Now it bore the same name as the terminal that RS-Corp had carved into its inconsequential surface. As the Agudo hurtled towards its perimiter a welcome message flashed up on its cockpit and aft screens in an over-friendly, neon glare.Housed on a distant planetoid on a 514 day orbit around Horus, Solace is currently the Betelgeuse System's only RelaxationStation. Catering for travellers from every corner of the universe, Solace provides nourishment, sleeping accomodation and secure cargo storage facilities for its guests.
Remember, for a safe trip and a good kip, choose: RelaxationStation
Solace will not accept fugitives outlawed by Supreme Justice, Inc. or store volatile or organic goods which have not passed quarantine measures implemented by the Interplanetary Assurance Collective