Antares fiction: Refurbished Part Two

Since the launch of the Beyond the Gates of Antares Rulebook, we’ve been contacted by several community members who wanted to share their own writings – and we’ve been hugely impressed with some of the fantastic work that has been sent in – it’s fantastic to see the community making their own mark upon the canvas that is the Antarean universe!

We were particularly impressed with the writings of Tim Bancroft – who has sent-in a number of pieces! This is the second part of his first story – Refurbished part one can be found here.

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High Commander Karg 12-40-9 kept him waiting of course, a deliberate tactic intended to demean a brood-mate. Shaltok tried to think his way through the problem. I must remove this shame; my promotions already lag behind the others of my brood. Except for the Outcast, of course…

Outcast: that was it. A glimmer of hope, a strategy. Mechanics and Outcast were easy to come by, but since the rebels were founded, trained engineers and troopers were in short demand.

A buzzer sounded; his name appeared on the pixelated display. He stood, walked through the door guarded by a pair of Ghar in assault suits.

‘High Commander. This Ghar offers his service.’

‘Except you didn’t, Shaltok. You allowed your team to destroy a suit.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Be humble.

‘The accident very nearly destroyed a maintenance bay. Tell me why I should not pour more shame on you and your team?’

‘Sabotage, sir.’

‘Sabotage?’ Karg frowned in confusion. ‘How so?’

‘The Outcast rebel leader, sir, Fartok. One of my mechanics used to service his suit.’

Karg slammed his fist down on the console. ‘Fartok! Again!’ The annoyance turned to curiosity. ‘What has the mechanic have to do with the cursed rebel?’

‘I believe he developed a sentimental attachment to the rebels’ suit, sir. It seems he replaced my scourer’s plasma feed with a poorly refurbished item from his ex-commander.’

‘Sentiment?’ Karg looked shocked.

Shaltok took a risk in mention the hated name again. ‘Yes, sir. If Fartok was involved, it seems hardly surprising.’

‘Antares take Fartok!’ Karg scowled. ‘I trust you punished the technician involved.’

‘Telmak 60-53-32 died in the blast, sir.’

‘A fitting end.’ Karg’s expression was one of deep satisfaction. ‘Good.’

‘Sir? May I make a recommendation?’

‘As long as it is sound.’

‘I believe it is, sir. I recommend all of Battle Group 9’s refurbished spares be double-checked by those from other groups. I also suggest that all Fartok’s technicians be made Outcast. There is a risk this may happen again, sir. Fartok’s memory and erratic influence needs to be eradicated.’

Karg pulled at his lower lip. ‘Good suggestion, but difficult to implement. The revolt has made things difficult – the vats can barely keep up with replacements.’ He thought for a moment. ‘Have the refurbished spares be double checked, on my orders. Interrogate the technicians with questionable authority. Only those who are not proven loyal to me and our cause are to be Outcast or shot, understand?’ He scratched his head. ‘You may have uncovered a deeper problem in our ranks, Shaltok.’ He frowned, looked deep in thought.

‘Thank you, sir,’ said Shaltok. Push it. ‘Sir – Do I have permission to break out a new suit from storage?’

‘What? Yes, certainly. Dismissed.’ Karg muttered to himself, words that sounded like a curse on ‘Fartok’.

Shaltok ignored the comments, saluted and marched out as sharply as he could. Saved myself. That he had done so by risking the lives of hundreds of mechanics was of no concern: they were Ghar, would just have to take their chances. I had better keep a few of Fartok’s techs around, though. They may come in useful, again. He nodded to himself, satisfied. Such strategic thinking was the heart and soul of a Ghar.

Tim Bancroft has been longlisted for the James White SF Award 2015 and won the Orwell Dystopian Fiction Award 2014. Follow Tim on his Blog at: timbancroft.me.uk.