Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

Mature Content

This content is intended for mature audiences.


or, enter your birth date.*


Month

Day

Year*
Please enter a valid date format (mm-dd-yyyy)
Please confirm you have reviewed DeviantArt's Terms of Service below.
* We do not retain your date-of-birth information.
   "Qualifications?" The man across the desk looks the picture perfect bureaucrat. If he tries to look further down his nose at me, I'll disappear in the eclipse. He poses the stylus above the faint blue aura of the screen, waiting for me to help him fill out the application. The application that will be dutifully filed at the bottom of the pile, below the work-release felons and those bucking to be the former. Just another pile of muscle begging to kiss this desk-jockey's shoe.
   The cold air of the office smells nothing like the machine grease and sweat of the rest of the colony, a geodesic pimple on the craterous ass that is Ganymede. Beyond the limp beast of officialdom before me is a ship, a heavy transport headed for System Center, by way of Mars. One of the last private launches for a good long time, if common sense is any indicator. Nothing left in Jovian orbit worth visiting anymore.
   The catch, as there must be, is that I have to get on the crew first. My skills, whatever they be, in exchange for flight and a cot. I've never cooked anything that didn't come out of a ration kit, much to the interviewer's dismay. I'm good with my hands, but not in a way that mixes well with magneto-plasma pulse drives, or whatever it is that moves the crate I'm trying to get on to.
   Turns out that I have very few marketable skills, as far as space-flight is concerned. Not that the Legion hasn't imparted its own proficiencies, but this is peace-time, if you listen to the news. And the war is as cold and dead as any rock it was fought for. So here's me, bucking for a golden ticket back home.
   I learned many things on Ganymede, things that even the Legion couldn't teach me. I've learned about fear, and how far shrapnel flies on a world with the atmospheric density of a dry cough. I've seen what a heavy anti-material rifle does to an EVA suit, and how long it takes for a body to realize it's dead.
   "Mr. Varangian?" the wire-neck pesters. "Do you have any real skills to contribute to this flight?" Zero-hour and no where to run. I did not want to do this. I begin tugging off my canvas jacket, much to his horror. I'm not sure what he's expecting of this, and I don't want to think what others have promised him for passage off this forsaken rock. I gesture my arm towards him instead, mark of service in full display. His eyes actually open up for the first time, and his stylus rolls off the desk. Laser-branded into my deltoid with mechanical precision, SPQR under the wings of a stylized eagle. Mark of service, mark of shame, the symbol of our glorious Senate, a billion miles away. The one that will get me stabbed and vented out a hatch, should anyone here see it. I can hear the wheels spin under the interviewer's comb-over. A Legionnaire of the Ganymede campaign, scraping for a ride home. Anything to get me out of Independent Jovian space. We fought for the Senate, and Empire, and nothing that mattered, to take back cold barren rocks from the people that lived on them. And we were stranded when we failed, our Legion shamed from years and orbits away. Lucky us.
   "I-I see..." the man whispers. I can see him furiously thinking, flipping my fate back and forth like a coin. His eyes tell me before his mouth does. "We have no use for your services at this time." Never has bureaucrat-speak carried quite so much raw hatred in my time. There it is, behind the myopic eyes, the flame of a new Republic, burning bright in even its lowest members. He keeps talking with his eyes, imagining everything he would call me if he thought he could get away with it. And somewhere between "at a later time" and "may have a use for your unique skillset", I reach across the desk with one hand. I don't mean to kill him, and I may not; I just wanted him to be quiet. I shrug my coat back on, careful to cover the tattoo. I turn back as I head for the door, as the interviewer grasps feebly at the cartilage of his throat, silently screaming for precious recycled air. "I guess I do have a few qualifications after all." It's sullen and dry, and he's wildly banging his fist on the console as I step out the door. I look at the line of people waiting for their interviews, desperate and hopeless in equal measure.
   "Give him five minutes," I mutter aloud, to the next guy's pity. I do a double-take for a second, trying to place his face somewhere I'd know it. And he tries to do the same. He's Legion too, another cast off. He smiles, dawn breaking over stress lines and gaunt cheeks. I shake my head tersely and walk off. This isn't Rome, not by a long shot, and I'll have new dogs chasing me now. Better we don't know each other. Better we never came here, to Jove's own domain.
An insomniac attempt at flash fiction. Will be edited in future. Suggestions and critique requested.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
you know what? I hate you right now. I'm in a slump just dredging through trying to write and you show up and this crops up. The story is amazing, the internal dialogue and descriptions are well balanced and presented in a way that draws the reader into the exhaustion, regret with a tinge of pride and the overall distaste and frustration for bureaucrats.

This was my favorite sentence 'I can see him furiously thinking, flipping my fate back and forth like a coin.' just gives the value and focus of how everything revolves around making a profit in this. I like where this could lead.
Reply
:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:headbang:
Blame :icondark-precipice: for goading me on.
Reply
:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I thought you'd enjoy the attention. good work.

Bu-bu but, it's so much easier to blame you. ;)
Reply
:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This. I missed this. :la:

Even though the story is perfect the way it is, I really want to know what will happen to Vanargian. You can really draw this out and turn it into something truly heart-breaking - the tale of a disgraced soldier who only wants to go home.
Reply
:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Aw, I missed this too. 8-)
And don't worry, Varangian will be around...eventually. Really, I just wanted to get some ideas together, and see if I could hide some historical jokes in plain sight. Any suggestions at all, before I try to get this one a bigger audience? This is currently in its raw, 'strung together at 1 in the morning' state.
Reply
:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, Varangian is a shell-shocked, bitter and disillusioned solder who's stranded away from home with little to no hope to ever return there, and he's also killed a(n innocent) clerk. He can try and hide from the long hand of justice, eventually being joined by others and forming a republic of their own... and Varangian turns out to be a complete psychopath and the de-facto villain of the story, with the forces of the Republic trying to capture him and put a stop to his followers' atrocities. I don't know. This is the first idea that came to me after reading the story
Reply
:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:shocked: ... we're going to have to work on this aren't we? Call this one the teaser. (seriously, any critiques? I'm not that coherent at night.)
Reply
:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If you were trying to portrait Varangian as a psychopathic killing machine, you did well. And if this wasn't your intention, well, you still did a great job with this short story.

You can indeed use this as a prologue, then skip several months/years into the real story. Or this scene can happen in the middle of the story - the point where Varangian snaps.
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconisengim: More from Isengim


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
July 28, 2013
File Size
4.7 KB
Mature Content
Yes
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
218
Favourites
2 (who?)
Comments
8
×