Tales from Space Short Story Contest - On Now!

Tales from Space Short Story Contest - On Now!

An Incident in El Noor Excerpt

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of An Incident in El Noor, the latest GAF Mainframe novel, written by Tony Stark. We enter the action as the Prime Minister of the Galaxy prepares for the fateful briefing that leads to the deployment of Verily Wrought’s Detach Detachment to the most volatile, dangerous, torsioned portion of the Galaxy.

Tune in later this week for the second half of the fateful briefing, featuring Andrew Pierce from the OFC and Tobias King, the sinister head of the IUS.

Chapter One- copyright Tony Stark, 2015.

Quetzal Ferguson stared out the window.

He caught himself thinking that exact phrase, even thinking of himself in the third person.

Quetzal Ferguson stared out the window, he thought to himself. He was aware that there were innumerable cameras and holovids trained on this bulbous protrusion of the GAGA Headquarters as it orbited around Telamer V. This particular room in which he stared from the window was called the Awareness Room. It was a more subdued epithet than the Old Earth Situation Room, designed in humans’ extreme boredom to stimulate the panic centres of the brain.

Ah, for the days when we had to incite ourselves to panic, Quetzal thought. Now, we have a whole galaxy of terrifying crises to keep us busy 30/8.

He sighed, knowing the cameras would catch it. They were hiding behind the 500 km radius kept sterile of ships by the GAF- no one was allowed to enter the GAGA HQ space unless escorted by a dedicated detachment of GAF Jump Jets. 500 km was as close as the recorders for the Galaxy’s news media companies could get, but with their ultra-high fidelity lenses and such, Quetzal knew that the whole Galaxy would know if he picked his nose from here. He’d seen it happen on the evening news before, but today he didn’t feel like causing quite such a trite scandal as that.

Knowing he was nearly constantly watched by cameras, his every move dissected by pundits and celebrity watchers alike, had driven a tiny part of his brain mad. As the years of his tenure as Prime Minister of the Galaxy continued, Quetzal became aware that this miniscule part of himself had begun to narrate his life. He supposed that part of his brain was mad- either that, or he had become plugged in to the cosmic awareness of the Universe and was actually picking up on the Narration of All Things.

It could have been that. He had done an awful lot of peyote and mushrooms in his day.

High-fidelity,” Quetzal muttered to himself in his thick Scottish brogue. “What the hell was that? You’re supposed to be in the Thirty-first Century, not the bleeding sock hop era.”

He turned away from the vast window, which, while he was bothering to be current, was less a window and more a giant sphere of polyglass reinforced with inner and outer forcefield shields in multi-wavelength interference frequencies. The bulbous protrusion could implode, explode, disintegrate, melt, crack or become out of phase, and the two interference shields would not so much as let a gnat out of the Awareness Room- or once iota of space dust inside.

Yup, he thought, as he walked to the Prime Minister’s desk. They’ve got me knit up nice and tight.

He sat at the long, thick, immense obsidian-topped desk and idly polished a smear off its surface. Oh, but he loved the desk. It was a great desk. It was the kind of desk the second most powerful person in the Galaxy should have- it was the kind of desk the Prime Minister of the Galaxy deserved. It was fifteen feet by eight feet of solid fucking obsidian, jetted out from the real, original Mexico to this space station. It was six inches thick. It was the sort of thing Edward Kelley would have got really, really excited over- you could scry with it to see things the whole Galaxy across. It was the sort of desk his namesake Quetzalcoatl would have been proud to slap a couple virgins on and do some impromptu cardiectomies.

Quetzal ran his fingers over the edges of the beautiful desk. Not for the first time, he thought:

All it needs is a few good blood runnels…

Clicking, clacking across the ultra-steel floor, the President of the Universe entered the Awareness Room. The gait was the easy, brisk stride of an individual in complete command of themselves, and the scene.

You are missing the blood runnels again,” Gabrielle remarked compassionately as she approached. Her movement was a sinuous animal that drew the eye and ensured total submission.

Quetzal smiled sadly at her. “Yes,” he replied wistfully. “It’s that obvious, isn’t it.”

She nodded, moved around the giant obsidian masterpiece of a desk and kissed her Prime Minister on the top of his head.

Those days are gone, nino,” she cooed. “Now we are the peaceful ones. Spreading peace and… peace. Throughout the Galaxy.”

Quetzal looked up at her and smiled. From this angle, as will any other angle, the President of the Universe was a delight to behold.

Well, then,” he said, bucking himself out of his remarkably dark funk. “Let’s have our briefing and figure out how to spread peace this time.”

Gabrielle touseled Quetzal’s inky black hair and took her seat beside him at the President’s desk.

Beside was, of course, a broad description of her position. The President’s desk was, of course, more magnificent than the Prime Minister’s. Gabrielle’s desk was a massive, oval chunk of garnet from the Gamma Sector. Unlike the PM’s desk, the President’s hovered at desk height in neo-modernist minimalism- free from the fetters of the dark oak and black marble of the Prime Ministerial desk, and free also to reveal the President’s unbelievably sexy legs as she listened to her briefing.

Removing the acoutrements of her desktop had been the President’s own idea. One didn’t rise to the most powerful position in the GAGA without a General’s understanding of assets and how to best deploy them. A skillful re-crossing of the Presidential legs during heated summit meetings had, after all, ceased wars, ushered in peace treaties, and signed lucrative trade agreements. The Peaceful ones needed to use their assets even in the Awareness Room- especially there, for it was in this giant, sparse room that alien officials, GAF Generals, IUS officials and the other most powerful peoples in the Galaxy were relayed to convey the absolute Latest Events in the GAGA.

The incredibly realistic sound of the speaker system rattled the bones of the GAGA’s chief officials. The sound-on for the GAF debriefing began, and the logo for the military wing of the GAGA began to hover, many times larger than it need be, at the far end of the room. Faces and images beamed from all over the Galaxy would shortly engulf the thirty foot high room. As the logo continued to spin, the light entering the giant portal behind them faded as the polarity of the shields blocked out all light emitted. It was the only time in the Awareness Room the Quetzal knew he would not be filmed, and he let out an immense sigh of slouching relief.

I know,” Gabrielle looked over at him with commiseration. “I’ve had an exhausting week, too. This whole rebel thing is driving me crazy. Why do they think I have an opinion that will change the Galaxy when I am at my aquacise class?”

Quetzal chuckled. “No clue, my love. They had better get us some definitive information on the matter today- watching this giant screen gives me an eyeball ache.”

A computerized voice, very lifelike but still artificial, greeted the dignitaries.

Good morning, President Gabrielle, Prime Minister Ferguson,” the feminine voice declared.

It continued on, heedless of Quetzal’s flip-off and Gabrielle’s stern, amused glance.

This morning’s Awareness briefing comes to your from the IUS, and includes intelligence from the GAF and the DFC.”

Quetzal and Gabrielle looked at each other and each mouthed the words, ‘El Noor’. Smiling, they returned their attention to the disembodied voice in time to catch:

…will be joining you for a live conference call immediately following the briefing.”

Who’s splicing in?” Quetzal asked, large blue eyes panicked.

I don’t know! Gabrielle mouthed, raising her hands in question.

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