King and System

Tam sat in the brig of the Ouroboros. The small and narrow room had nothing but a single bed, toilet and sink, and the locked metal gate. Standing outside, with a wicked smile across his face, was Officer Oliver Beckett, the man in charge of bridge operations on board the Ouroboros. Since the Storm, Beckett was the de facto second in command, reporting only to Tam himself. Or, at least this had been the case.

‘I don’t suppose you are going to take the time to explain your master plan?’ asked Tam as he rubbed the bruise on his head where Beckett had smashed the butt of his pistol.

‘I would have thought it was obvious, Tam,’ said Beckett smiling, ‘So I won’t insult your intelligence.’

‘Fair enough,’ sniffed Tam as he stood up, just barely enough floor between the edge of his bed and the gate for his boots, ‘So what’s your plan now? What’s next?’

‘We are going to turn this ship around,’ sneered Beckett, ‘Home is where we should be going.’

‘With you as captain, I presume?’

‘We prefer Overseer,’ said Beckett, and he indicated down to the red flash of a band that was strapped around his arm. Emblazoned against the red fabric was the symbol of robotic fist clenching the neck of the snake of the Ouroboros.

‘Who is we?’ asked Tam, looking up from the patch.

‘Just me and the boys,’ Beckett smirked. Behind me were two crewmen not dressed in the Ouroboros uniform. Instead, they were dressed in a soft blue shirt and wearing a blue beret. This was the uniform of the Royal Navy of the Anglian Kingdom.

‘Don’t be fooled,’ continued Beckett, ‘We’ve got others on board with our little scheme too. Soon they too will be dressed in the King’s colours.’

Tam sighed and then smiled to himself. ‘I shouldn’t have let you get away, should I?’

‘Not your smartest decision, no,’ Beckett said, ‘Although neither was trying to continue the mission.’
‘I will break out of here, you know that, don’t you? The crew will help.’

‘We will see about that. Any crew who try to resist us will be shot. And who was that whelp running with the civilians? Burman, was it? I’m sure we can get him on side. I just hope it doesn’t come to him losing a limb or two in the process.’

‘Well, you would know about that, wouldn’t you?’

For the first time, the smirk dropped from Beckett’s face. He stretched out a hand, to point to Tam. It was entirely metallic, a prosthetic of the best quality but deliberately missing the synth-skin wrapper. As Beckett’s anger flashed alight, an orange glow pulsed once behind his eyes.

‘This was your fault, Quinn,’ spat Beckett.

‘What’s actually left inside of you that is human?’ Tam pressed, ‘Two metal arms, two metal legs, two metal eyes, a metal heart – is there anything even in that brain of yours not augmented in some way?’

‘You made this, Tam,’ said Beckett sternly, ‘You made me this.’

Tam and Beckett stared at each other. Their eyes were locked in a furious storm of two fierce rages crashing invisibly. The silence between them became thick like a sheet of steel. Not either one dared to gather the strength to break it. Time seemed to slow, grinding painfully along as the two men fought a battle of stares. Neither even seemed to blink as the piercing blue clashed with the tempest of grey.

‘Where did you get the virus?’ asked Tam, finally breaking the silence.

‘I was wondering when you would ask that,’ said Beckett, the smile returning to his face, ‘But it wasn’t us.’

‘Wasn’t you?’ asked Tam, unconvinced.

‘Wasn’t us,’ Beckett repeated, ‘We were actually hoping you would know. But don’t be mistaken, we vented the supplies. I was attached to the mainframe while it happened, simply took advantage of the weakened system. It caused enough confusion for the New Ouroboros to grab the weapons. A bit excessive, perhaps, but it was the best we could do.’

‘Oh,’ said Tam in feigning to be impressed, ‘Is that what you are calling yourselves? New Ouroboros?’

‘Some of the members found Royal Navy distasteful.’

‘Why are you doing this, really?’

‘For King and System, Tam. For King and System.’

<<OCC - Sorry that took so long, but hopefully that gives everyone something to react to. Does everyone appreciate the new rule? Or will some resist?>>

< Prev : An evolving situation Next > : Into the Fire...