Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Last Son of Prano - Chapter 2.

Chapter 2.

5 years ago.

The crisp morning air still held the scent of dew as staccato pangs of clashing blades rang out from atop one of the larger skyscrapers on this well-to-do Gallente planet.

The enormous rooftop terrace was a masterwork of scenic walkways and zen gardening. A crystal dome, which housed a wondrous library, dominated the centre of the space. The terrace, and the entire building, was home and headquarters to Mr. Marcus Frontenac, a rare materials mining mogul who employed elite capsuleers to mine the most valuable ores and minerals from the most dangerous edges of space. 20 years ago one of his surveyors, an old man who was one of Frontenac's first employees and looking for a pension to retire with, ran across an Amarr escape pod while heading back from a fairly profitable venture into nullsec. Inside lay a child, barely alive and covered in blood and grease. This worked all the better for the old surveyor, as this child's poor condition would pull at his old boss' heartstrings and allow for a better bargain.

Frontenac took the boy in as his own, and after viewing the recording made by his mother found in the pod, understood the immense responsibility he had to raise the boy to be more then the son of a businessman. For 20 years the boy had the best tutors and trainers, went to the best schools and was constantly pushed beyond his boundaries. One of the ways Gigaer and Frontenac bonded as father and son was though study of the methods of combat. Strategy and politics were things he learned in school, but this pair found common ground on the edge of a blade.

They were called kandjals. Frontenac learned of them on a vacation to a Pator hunting resort. A kandjal was an arm-length staff which was mostly straight expect for a 30 degree curve at one end. The other end held a diamond-shaped blade usually made of a metal found only in the most inhospitable areas of Pator. It had a mirror finish and had the strange characteristic to vibrate acoustically when in motion. The faster it traveled the louder and higher pitched it sang. Singing steel was rare and only used for kandjals. The staff itself also had a trick. By activating a series of springs inside the hollow staff, it could extend to quarterstaff length with explosive force, and retract just as quickly and easily. The kandjal was a traditional weapon to the Matari tribes and masters of their use were very well respected even today. Frontenac had the opportunity to train with a great master and he took great pride in passing on his skills to his son.

Marcus and Gigaer spun wildly with their kandjals in hand, both in evasion and looking for an opening in their opponent's defenses. Gigaer had never bested his father before. The man who knew more about the arts of war, peace, life, love and commerce was elderly to be sure, but an unstoppable force when he chose to be. Twin whirlwinds danced around each other, testing each other, weapons humming and whistling through the air until meeting in rapid clanging flurries. Both warriors extending and retracting their staffs, angling in new directions, anything to throw their opponent off his game long enough to win. They spared every morning, but it had never gone on this long. The sun was high in the sky now and both men were becoming winded.

Today was different for Gigaer. He was at the top of his game, and he was beginning to see holes in his father's technique. He's seen them before but they always ended up being traps. If Gigaer ever got overly-cautious about those holes, his father scolded him for playing it safe and not trusting himself. Today the holes seemed different somehow. Was his father trying something new to tease him or were his instincts starting to take over? Gigaer decided to stop fighting it and let his training and instincts take over. Marcus spun wildly and brought his blade down from high, but instead of blocking it forcefully, Gigaer wasn't there at all. At the instant Marcus committed to the attack, he was unaware that Gigaer's stance had changed. Gigaer's timing was perfect. Before Marcus could recover, he could hear Gigaer's blade humming softly behind his neck, the point of it tickling the skin. For the first time, Gigaer had beaten his father in a contest of skill.

Gigaer was ecstatic, but didn't let it show as they bowed to each other in respect and retreated into the library for relaxation and refreshment. The library held many books, but no shelf stood high enough or close enough together to make the room seem cramped or block the awesome vista of the cityscape and sky made visible by the crystal dome. Gigaer and his father sat at the large round table at the centre of the library. The table was covered with open books and other documents of varied type. Some were for study, others were related to Frontenac Mining Corp. and consisted mostly of timetables and personnel reports. Gigaer rarely viewed those reports, as his father didn't seem to want Gigaer to take too much interest in his business. A quick towel-off and a drink was all they needed to relax.

"I have nothing left to teach you, son. The last thing I still had on you was my kandjal skills, and now you've proven that you're my better." Said an exhausted Marcus.

"You're still wiser then I, father. Wisdom comes with experience and you'll always have a head start on that." Gigaer said jokingly.

"I'm serious. There's nothing left of real value for me to teach you. Nothing that will help you find your destiny." Marcus suddenly got serious. Almost solemn.

"I don't understand. You've always told me one makes his own destiny and only the weak leave it to others or chance." Gigaer was beginning to become confused as he nibbled on a sandwich.

"That's true, but you have a path that you must walk. A path I've trained you for since you first came into my life. A path I've kept hidden from you until you were ready... until today." Marcus looked deeply into his son's eyes. Marcus had never created the illusion that he was Gigaer's biological father. Gigaer's Matari heritage was obvious. Gigaer had wondered how he ended up in that Amarr escape pod, but his life had been so full of other tasks that he never found the time or opportunity to think about it. Marcus arose and walked over to the historical section. There he found a book and brought it back to the table, laying it in front of Gigaer. The title printed on the hardcover was "Gears of Destiny: The Role of Myth and Lore in Empires." and the more Gigaer studied the book's coverings, the more he realized this was no book at all. In fact, it was a small, locked safe make to uncannily resemble a book. The back was a disguised pad that read one's DNA and biometrics, which would unlock the safe.

Once Marcus realized Gigaer had made the discovery, he took the book from Gigaer's hands, placed it on the table face down and placed his palm on the reader. a series of beeps told the two that the reader was working, and after few seconds it let out a clear tone signaling the user had been identified, accepted, and the lock had been opened. Flipping the book back to the face up position and opening it as it were a normal book, Gigaer took notice of the internal construction. It was very sturdy. The entire building could have come down on it and it would have survived. Inside was only an old Amarrian datacore that seemed to be covered in dry blood. Marcus carefully picked up the core and handed it to Gigaer.

"Tell me what you think." Marcus said softly, noticing that Gigaer was already intensely studying the object and not wanting to break his concentration. Gigaer noticed that the core had been damaged but should still be readable, and the bloodstains were actually calligraphy in ancient Matarese. Gigaer focused on the writing as he recalled his learnings of the language. His lips moved silently as he tried to decode what was written. Once he had it, his eyes widened and turned to his father.

"Would you care to explain why is my name written in blood on and old datacore that you've kept hidden from me?" Gigaer's voice betrayed his growing sense of frustration. It's not that he didn't like mysteries, but he got the sense that his entire life was about to be thrown into a whirlwind.

"This was the only thing other then you we found in that Amarr escape pod. On it there's a recording of your biological mother. I've only watched it once. What I learned from that vid has helped me to push you as hard as I could. I knew you'd need to be the best you could be if you were to survive the journey ahead."

Gigaer looked again at the datacore. He didn't understand anything that was going on. Marcus Frontenac smiled and pointed him to the main work station located at the north end of the library. There Gigaer could view the recording on the datacore and access all the information he needed to in order to fill in some of the blanks. Gigaer stood and walked towards the station, Marcus patting his son on the shoulder in reassurance as he passed him. Marcus walked over to the south side of the library, where he entered the elevator and left his son alone.

Nobody saw Gigaer again until three days later.

2 comments:

Ahnog said...

Love your stories.

Sarah Barah said...

I love the way you're fleshing out Gigaer and his foster father. I can't wait to find out what happens to him next.