Karen Tingan leaned back into the shuttle’s comfortably upholstered seat. With single deft movement she popped the avi card that had been hanging around her wrist into the reader. The screen on the back of the seat in front of her lit up, the sound transmitting directly to her communications implant. The outward silence wasn’t really necessary though, as the passengers around her had already moved away to other seats.
“I now convene the High Senate Foreign Affairs Subcommittee. The committee would like to recognize High Chairman Reiy Jilk’s presence at this meeting, as well as the honorable ambassadors, Krin Tesway of the Toyyan Confederation, and Aolin Gramk of the Reitskrei Federation. We will be forgoing the usual reading of the minutes, and old business for the purposes of this special session. Instead we will immediately proceed to the matter at hand, the so called Human Empire, Terra Imperialis. To start of with, the chairman will cede the floor to Ambassador Tesway who is prepared to speak to the council on behalf of the Toyyan Confederation, “
The translator in her communications implant kept the original language under the translation, though comparatively quiet. Even if she couldn’t understand the series of clicks and short grunts, it always set her on edge to have the person speaking soundlessly. The following speech was flowery enough, unwarranted human aggression, the terrible atrocities perpetrated against them, same bullshit propaganda all the other races wound up being taught out of the history books. Only one race besides the humans actually showed their students the footage taken from the Toyyan torture chambers, though only the humans would show their children. The ambassador sat down and the chairman called up an admiral. The admiral reminded her of a horse almost, leathery fur hide and a build that seemed made for heavy lifting.
“The humans have been making steady progress in their advance through Toyyan space. As you are aware, the Toyyan forces won most of their early battles with the help of superior numbers and technically superior weaponry. However, over the last three months human weaponry has begun to close the gap in terms of damage output. Even more importantly though, human tactics have advanced by leaps and bounds. Fleets are forced into situations that require them to break formation or fight without the benefits of communications or with limited sensors. These tactics have pervaded the battlefield, effecting both large and small engagements. As of this moment, the Terra Navy along the Toyyan front has an average kill death ratio of seven point two to one.
Along the Reitskrei front we have a different story, despite early setbacks the Reitskrei Navy has managed to slow the human advance to a near stand still. The surface battles are especially fierce, with enormous casualties on both sides. However, the fact remains that this is the result with almost half again as many men and ships. If the Humans were able to redistribute their forces, it is most likely they would be able to resume the quick pace they set early in the war.
It is our estimate, that of the naval intelligence office as well as among the admiralty, that if this continues, we will see a total human victory within four years on both fronts. If, at that time, humanity were to turn it’s attention to the Alliance, well it would be a long war that we would most likely loose.”
The general stood in the silence of his final statement. The moment ended with half the senators in the room shouting questions at once. Karen felt her stomach tie to knots as she watched the remainder of the meeting play out. Transcripts were required reading in primary and secondary schools, and even at the academy, so it wasn’t that it surprised her, but seeing it in context was somehow much more emotional.
“Please prepare for orbital re-entry. Attention, please prepare for orbital re-entry.”
The myriad of aliens around her formed a bubble as she walked into the building. Red of her suit jacket seemed to serve as a warning, despite her wearing it open so it seemed almost casual. Some security personal watched her out of the corner of their eyes, but didn’t challenge her as she walked out of the public area. She stopped and looked at the guard standing to her right.
“Were you told to expect me?”
“No ma’am. Who the hell are you?”
“My name is Karen Tingan, and you should have stopped me and asked that earlier. You should also be having me wait here in the care of your partner while you go check that I really am expected, and you should probably be getting me an ident card so that you can track my movements through the building.” The guard gave her a defiant look, but then nodded to his partner and walked off towards the reception desk. A few moments later he returned with a badge and handed it over without saying a word.
The elevator ride was uneventful. Low sonorous tones and ambient white noise played in the background, meant to relax. For her it was an utter failure. With a quiet echo of escaping air the doors in front of her opened. In front of her was a room lit purely by natural light which flowed in from the glass ceiling and glass walls. To her left was the only opaque wall, which the secretary at the far end of the room faced out away from. Seeing her, the secretary stood up and opened a door in the black wall, motioning for her to come in.
Karen walked past the vaguely fishy woman with only a slight nod, walking into a room with glass walls on her right and left and a glass ceiling. She could look up and see that half the building continued for another four stories, the living quarters for the company president and his family. On the opposite wall a video was being projected, it was a little hard to make out at first, but soon enough she had it figured out. It was the helmet cams of a group of private military contractors working for the Darvek Corporation, mixed together such as to get the best view of the actions being taken by an opponent.
“Doing your research?”
The company president looked at her with unreadable black eyes. The Kelvic were probably the closest species in build to humans, a couple meters tall on average, bipedal, usually with skin some variation of peach or blue. Still their faces seemed unnaturally serene to human eyes, and their whole eye was black making it hard to even read eye movements.
“I suppose you could say that.” A loud gurgling noise came from the wall, signifying that another of the mercenaries had been killed. “I find this video rather morbidly fascinating. The first time through, I would try to predict where they were going to be attacked from, most of the time I was wrong. Even after multiple playthroughs, knowing how or why they were attacked from certain angles eludes me.”
“Well, one way or another, that’s why I’m here,” Karen said watching as the last of the mercenary group fell off a building to his certain death. “I assume you have a particular job in mind for me.”
“Oh, yes. Yes I do. Do you know of Zerencar Armory?”
“I haven’t been a battle without their logo somewhere on me. Same for everyone I’ve ever worked with.”
“A certain competitor of mine has been entering some kind of negotiation with them. I am… concerned, as to what precisely they are negotiating over. I’m not int he habit of being blind-sided by my enemies, and I will not get into that habit now. All I need is someone to get in and see what the precise nature of their negotiations is.”
Karen sat down on one of the large and overly padded chairs that faced the company President’s desk. “I was hoping to get out of the business very soon, Mr. President. I’m not sure making enemies with the big Z is very healthy for my job prospects.”
“I’ll guarantee you a post as head of my family’s personal security, if that is your main concern. As to Zerencar, I have even less desire to make an enemy of them. If it comes to it, I’d rather scrub the mission than do anything to warrant their Ire. That is why you’ll be tasked with acquiring my competitor’s files on these negotiations, so long as they have not yet allied, you will still only be dealing with the one entity and not the other.”
Karen chewed it over in her mind for several long minutes. Finally she made up her mind and sighed. “All right, I’ll do it. Just send the details down the line tomorrow, they’ll know to get them to me. Also if you wouldn’t mind sending me a copy of that footage, I would like to add it to my collection.”
He smiled, his taught skin making it creepy rather than reassuring. “Of course. I wouldn’t dream of withholding a memento of a former victory from you.”