Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Artefact. Chapter Four.

"Oh, don't mind the boy." Milo Hellesby nodded towards Greg as he chomped down on his electric cigar. "He's been on the Dutch since he was five, I think the constant spinning has sent him a bit... Peculiar. Still, my brother made me promise to keep an eye on him, keep him out of trouble and that..."
Foster smiled politely, and sat himself down on the smaller of the two chairs. He suspected, correctly as it happens, that 'Uncle' Milo had deliberately laid out the furniture in this way to establish his authority.

Greg was pacing outside the glass-walled office, clearly annoying Milo's secretary, Laurie, whose desk he kept bumping into. Laurie seemed to be displaying the patience of a saint, although Foster was sure she was going to be smashing some plates after her shift ended.

Even without the raised seating, Milo dwarfed Foster, both in height and width. The Wreck's food MUST be good, Foster smiled to himself as the large man's belt seemed to strain as he sat.

"Anyway," Milo broke Foster's train of thought. "Welcome to Dutch Gate, four and a half miles in diameter, four quadrants, eight hundred crew, fuel refinery, casino, prison, restaurant... If you want or need anything in this sector of space, you come to the Dutch."
He punched the arm of his chair triumphantly, Foster wondered if Uncle and Nephew were as crazy as each other. "I can get the boy to give you the grand tour if you'd like. Or if you'd prefer to get down to business first..."

"Down to business it is then." Said Foster, opening his briefcase and pulling out a few files. Milo looked a little perturbed, obviously expecting a little more small talk. "Black Department has sent me to-"
"Sent you to see this ruddy great lump of rock?" Interrupted Milo, leaning forward to press a button on his terminal. "It's in the loading bay waiting the ok from the hazmats, but i can show you this..."
The holographic image of a large sphere appeared. The sphere appeared mostly smooth, with a number of symbols carved in a circle on one side.
Foster leaned forward and examined the image. The hologram image rippled as his fingers touched the symbols.
"Tell me it's story then," He asked, using his PIC to write notes on a holographic pad. "Who found it, how it got here..."

"I can do better than that. I can give you this guy." Milo bit down on his cigar. "He's sat in one of the office suites in Quad 2, spouting some nonsense about 'alien invaders' or something. Mentalist."

"Alien invaders?" Foster laughed, "Crazy." He switched off his PIC and put it in his pocket. He stroked his chin, then stood.

He walked to the other side of the room and looked out of the slightly clouded window.
"Tell me about this man." He avoided looking at Milo, now. "where did you find him?"
"He was stowed away on the tug that brought the artefact here, wearing three exo-suits on top of each other, said something about the extra helmets stopped them seeing his brain or reading his mind or something." Milo stood and walked to a cupboard next to his desk. From it he got out a grubby bottle of whisky and two grey plastic beakers. "Seems harmless enough mind, kept warning about 'little green men from the future' like he's never read Trentworth."
Foster smiled, Trentworth's studies proved the lack of any intelligent life within a million light years of Earth, and how it had been this way since the dawn of time. In private, Foster had always referred to Trentworth as his 'favourite lie'.

"How long until the artefact is hazmat cleared?" He asked, finally making eye contact with Milo again.
"I would say..." Milo checked the antique watch on his wrist. "About eight hours. Might be less. Probably won't be."
"In that case," Foster said, taking the grey beaker from Milo and downing the sour imitation of scotch in one.

"Take me to the guy."

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