EV/EVO Chronicles: Serum Runners

(Posted on 05-05-2000)

Serum Runner

In the year 2254, a plague broke out across the galaxy, decimating whole colonies, killing billions, and destroying commerce throughout all of human society. It was carried from planet to planet by trader vessels, and military warships stopping off before going into battle. It looked as if all hope was lost, with less than one percent of the population being immune to the plague. Then, a cure was discovered.
It came clean out of the blue. No one knew where it came from, or who developed it. All they knew was that it was filtering in, curing a few colonies at a time. Then, a man came forward with the secret. He told the entire galaxy how to make their own salvation. However, no one knew where to get the materials to make it. They were some of the most rare materials in the galaxy. So, the one man, calling himself Charon, constructed a manufacturing station in orbit around an uninhabited planet. He hired corporate couriers to ferry the serum around the galaxy. He almost rested easy, thinking his work was done.
He was wrong.
Pirates had fared better than most groups, because the anarchy ensuing from the plague sent people to the banner of the jolly roger like sheep. But they too died, and almost more rapidly than others. So when the serum became available, they decided that their own lives were more valuable than others, and began to hijack serum carriers, essentially keeping the serum from the rest of the galaxy.
Charon, realizing that for every day he hesitated, another million died, he set into action a desperate plan. He founded the informal organization known forevermore as the ‘Serum Runners’.

“What the hell?” cursed Freo Gibraltar, looking over at his radar screen, seeing the two red dots closing in. Another volley of weapons fire shook the ship, and Freo hit his face on the flight yoke, splitting his lip. He muttered a curse between bleeding lips, and spun the yoke, sending the ship into a rolling spin. He watched the modified Lightnings shooting over the cockpit of his Corvette. He reoriented the nose until his targeting display lay firmly on one of Lightnings, and pulled the trigger twice, watching two missiles streak towards it. The Lightning dodged around an asteroid, triumphantly flicking his landing lights on and off, right when the second missile slammed straight into his engine compartment. The ships modified nuclear engines went off, vaporizing the entire craft in an instant. The other Lightning, seeing this grand fireball off to his right, turned left, and ran straight into concentrated laser fire. Freo glance back at his radar screen, checking for more hostiles. Seeing that there were none, he set the ships autopilot, and put a handkerchief to his bleeding lip. He then proceeded to sigh, and lean back in his seat, closing his eyes. A few moments later, a gentle nudge at his elbow awoke him.
“What?” he said, a spraying a little blood down his shirt. He wiped it off, chagrined, as he looked up at his accoster.
“You’re off shift, big guy. You’ve been at the stick for almost six straight hours, with four of those hours being combat hours. Go to sleep,” she said, crossing her hands across her chest. Freo got up, and stumbled to his bunk, yawning. He crashed down, and fell asleep on his face.

“Freo! Get up, man!” came an obnoxious, loud voice. Freo groaned, and lifted his face up from the pillow, with his lips swollen.
“What happened? What time is it?” asked Freo, burying his face into the pillow.
“It’s 0545 hours, and the captain needs to talk to you, PDQ,” said Greg Mimas, another shipboard pilot. After an inarticulate curse, Freo pulled himself out of bed.
“This had better be good, or else I’m going to be ticked,” said Freo, stumbling towards the door.
When he got to the captain's room, he saluted, and sat down, without asking permission. The captain smiled, and waved him on.
“I’m sorry, I know it’s early. But God knows we need to speak. Now, let me tell you what is going on.”
The captain ruffled papers on his desk, and arranged a knick-knack or two before proceeding, “A load of serum was hijacked last night. Our shipment is just diddly, and has actually reached it’s destination, ahead of schedule. But, one bulk freighter’s escort was ambushed, and vaporized. No survivors there. And then the pirates threw the freighter's crew out of the airlock, killing them all. But one ingenious bastard, no offense, managed to put a copy of the ship's log on his person, and we found these while preparing the body for burial. He also managed to nab the logs after the pirates had set their course, so we know where they went. What we want now, is our serum back. Doing this is you and your team's job. You are to, through any means possible, recover as much of the serum as possible, and also find out who participated in this assault.”
Freo sat silently for a moment, and stuck his hand out, waiting. The captain handed him a small infuser patch, which Freo stuck in his pocket. Freo got up to leave, and turned toward the captain, saying “What was the crew manifest of the freighter and its escorts?”
The captain sighed, and said, “Only one real noticeable name. Charon.”
Freo swore, and walked out.

A lean, hard man walked into a small conference room, wearing a clean cut suit, and carrying a steel case. He also wore a mask over his mouth and nose, forming a complete seal around his face. He pulled it off, and deposited it in a receptacle marked ‘biohazard’. He walked straight to the council table, and lay the case down in front of its occupants. He released the catches, one at a time, and slowly cracked the case open, exposing two vials full of a clear, thick liquid. Everyone at the table looked at those two vials like hungry vultures. One of them almost reached for it, but pulled it back before any of the other men could reach out with their varied weapons, and take the hand clean off.
“Gentleman, this is genuine serum, I assure you. And there’s another five hundred million liters of this where came from. I am willing to give it to you, all of it, as long as you allow me to keep one thousand liters of the serum, the freighter that it came in, and a rally,” said the lean, hard man. He ran his sleeve across his shoulder, brushing off some imaginary dirt.
“What kind of rally?” asked a particularly fat man, wearing a mu-mu of fine silk.
“A rally to lynch the one man, who has kept the serum away from us for so long. The one man who has made sure that our ranks shall fall, who has said that we don’t deserve to live. Charon.”

Freo walked down to the landing bay of the corvette Holy Grail, and stared out at the massive entry doors. He looked around for a few seconds, and saw a technician who looked like she knew what she was doing. He tapped her lightly on the shoulder, and asked, “I’m Freo Gibraltar, and I’m here to pick up my assigned ship.”
The tech looked at him with a certain amount of disdain, and said, “So, you’re the one who’s taking our pride and joy. Well, come this way, and I’ll show you where she’s kept.”
She led him down a passage in the floor, and to another landing bay, this one much more compact, but loaded with tools, and equipment. And in the middle, lay a small, compact fighter, of Confederate design. The paint had been changed too, with black lightning strikes running down either side. Freo let out a low whistle.
“Damn straight,” said the tech, “This baby’s a modified Confederate Gunboat, with proton cannons, an expanded missile rack, capable of holding almost two dozen missiles, an enhanced radar system, a missile jammer, increased armor plating, and enhanced shields. You are gonna want to fly her until her enhanced engines die out.”
Freo took in all the details of the craft, slowly walking around it, and underneath, opening up engine cowlings, and inspecting the weapon ports. Finally, he said, “What’s she called?”
The tech looked at him again, sizing him up, and said, “The Retriever of Life.”
Freo nodded, and grabbed a flight helmet. The tech helped him into the cockpit, handed him a data card, saluted him, and left. Freo, whistling to himself, started the power up sequence.

(This message has been edited by moderator (edited 05-05-2000).)

Thus far I'm impressed. Can't wait to read the next addition...


Sorry, it'll be along time coming. I went braindead, and didn't write much until I remembered it'll still take a couple of weeks for it to be posted.



Nice story. Can't wait to see the next part. Keep up the good writing.

-- Greg
-- AIM Screenname: Food Velocity
-- E-Mail: foodvelocity@mac.com
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--"In the frozen bowels of hell, you will be flogged." -Greg Anderson