First Day of Peace (Short Story)
I decided to write this little short story from the POV of someone joining The Peacekeepers; The Peacekeepers are one group that I haven't really fleshed out as I've only written notes about them and seen them through the eyes of the High Flyers, who are kind of their enemy. So, I think it's cool to have a bit of insight into the workings of this organisation from the inside.
The building towered overhead, the architects went above and beyond to give it style, in an old-world kind of way. Ornate trim leaned down, ushering guests forward; uniquely designed, with many vertical straight lines, which, he assumed, in a way represented incarceration. Pillars held up areas of the roof that carried on further than the main structure and there were many poles and spires dotted throughout that reached for nothing and served no purpose than to look ominous. The Peacekeeper HQ in all its glory; it was the bane of anyone who found themselves on the wrong side of order and it acted like a bastion of hope to those wishing to live on Jex free of strife; to Kellen Ocano, it was gainful employment and the hope of a better life.
Approaching the door to the building filled his stomach with a sickly nervous feeling. Kellen wanted to leave. Just turn around and get on the communicator. Say there was something important that came up. Maybe there was a death in the family? A last-minute trip off-world? A mugging? Yeah, a mugging. I got jumped. Sorry about that, I'm incapacitated, laid up in the hospital? Visit? No, that's not necessary, I'm much too sick. When will I be better? Oh, well, the doc said that I'm, I'm dying? Yeah, that's it. Sorry, I couldn't make it to work, I'm dead. Smart. The thoughts and rationale bounced around his head rapidly. His mind jumped so quickly that he didn't see the door swing open until it was too late.
"Have you got business here? Something to report?" A uniformed woman asked him, with an impatient yet concerned look in her eyes. "Yeah, I'm. It's my first day. I'm supposed to be starting work soon, I had a meeting not long ago, and well." His voice croaked, each sentence spilled out, rolling away as they left his mouth. Every time he tried to stay on track another spout of rambling emerged. The woman gritted her teeth at it, only stopping him in the end with a wave of her free hand, as she held the door open with the other. "The rambling is cute and all, but, give it a rest. Shut up and go inside. I'm not holding this damn door all day, babe."
Babe? Kellen could feel his cheeks flush with the idea of someone calling him babe, and cute in the same breath. He was dumbstruck, however, he managed to regain his composure quickly and moved to hold the door for himself. He threw his hand closer aiming for the door, but as it landed, he brushed off hers with his own. Now with his back facing the entrance, he watched her pull away and carry on to give some distance between them. Awkwardly he maintained eye contact with her and smiled. She was slightly shorter than him, with wisps of blonde hair hanging from her helmet, her eyes were brown and she looked like a troublemaker; something about the way she smiled, it wasn't out of politeness or kindness, it seemed to be concealing something.
She continued to take a few steps back and automatically, Kellen mirrored her. The only thing he didn't mirror was the look she was giving the hand he brushed off. "Bit of physical contact, huh? I bet you learned about that in some of those dating holo-vids." He was flustered again and didn't know how to respond. His mind was taken back into the moment as he collided with something while backing up. "Watch it!" a gruff voice from behind him grumbled. Kellen turned to see a tall Doshan male. He was old for a Doshan, and his face was worn and scarred. "Sorry. I didn't see you."
"Distracted?" The Doshan asked, with a serious look on his face. "No." Kellen said while shaking his head. "Yeah, he was flirting with me." The woman cut in, with that sneaky smile on her face. "What? No." He responded lightly, too which the other two just laughed and continued to walk away. Kellen continued to watch them leave and couldn't help but notice that the woman turned back to give him a look, before shaking her head, then she looked forward and started speaking with the Doshan.
The ceiling inside the building was high and when staring up at it, Kellen felt so small. Now inside, he knew there was no way of turning back, especially when the eyes of a man fell on him. "Yes?" The man asked impatiently. He was sitting behind a holographic shield in the centre of a large wooden wall with doorways on either side. Kellen couldn't help but notice a man and woman sitting on a bench to his left; they seemed uncomfortable and out of place. The woman's eyes were red as if she had been crying, and the man bounced his leg rapidly and had a face of thunder. He wanted to wave or say hi, but, decided against it. "Excuse me? Can I help you?" The man said louder this time, staring at Kellen with a look of contempt on his face.
"Yes, I'm starting here today." The man's eyes were fixed as if staring into the depths of his soul. "Name?" He asked lazily while looking down at the holo-projection on the desk in front of him. "Kellen Ocano." The man muttered to himself while searching through some files; the light from the projection flickered blue with shimmers of white throughout.
"You've been processed?" Kellen nodded. "Who interviewed you?" Kellen had to think for a moment. "It was an older man, he was, err," Stuck for names he froze up and didn't even know how to describe him. The man impatiently waved his hand lightly, as if the gesture would pull the information out of him. "Oz Hartjen?" He asked while shaking his head. Kellen nodded to that. "Yeah, that was him." "Right." The man continued to flick through files. "Okay, you're being placed with. Kiani Calder. Through the door to your left, carry on down the hall and it'll be the forth door on the right." The man said as he hit a button, as he did that, Kellen could hear a locking mechanism disengage. "Thanks." He started to walk for it and as he lay a hand on the door to push it open he could hear the man talking once more.
"Now then, Mr. and Mrs. Camien, you say that your daughter ran off with some gang?" Out of the corner of his eye, the man stood up and walked to the desk, while the woman remained seated. "Yes, it's that damn High Flyer waster she's been seen hanging around with. I know it." The door closed behind Kellen and the conversation was dulled.
Four doors down to the right, he knocked and there was no answer. Then he tried again, this time he could hear rustling and movement, within a few moments the door swung open and Kellen came face to face with a Trisken who said nothing and instead just stared at him and gave a slightly confused and curious look. "Are you Kiani Calder?" "I am, you must be Kellen. I heard we were being paired together, trust my luck to have to show the new guy around. Come in." Kiani turned back to the room and walked to sit behind one of two desks.
"Okay, here we are. This is where we'll be sifting through whatever write-ups and reports that get thrown our way, get used to it, because, for every hour you spend outside, there's about four hours of this crap when you get back here." Kellen just stared at the small office and walked to what he assumed was his desk and sat down. "You look disappointed." "Me? No, I'm not, I kind of knew that a lot of writing was a part of the job." Kiani let out a slight huff as he leaned back in his seat. "Refreshing not having someone who's full of delusions and ready to save the world; Jex needs more realists. Word to the wise, the seats are as basic as they can afford, and the first thing on the list should be to get a new chair. Two reasons, comfort is number one. Number two is for the previous occupant. He lived in that thing and didn't have the best diet, most of the time I had to keep the door open due to the smell. Alers Maille, I miss him, but, I was never shy to point out his flaws."
"Sorry to hear, did they die?" Kellen asked. "Yeah, tried to take in some Rotchi after hours. Stupid reason by all witness accounts. He was drinking in Limbo, hanging out with some of the Dollies, then this Rotchi comes up and offered him Chems. I know the bastard was partial to joy now and again, but, this night he was drunk enough to show off; started spouting about being a Peacekeeper and demanded the Rotchi go with him. Warning. Don't try and take in a Rotchi, it's not worth it. They work for crime bosses on New Trisk, and they're dangerously loyal and have no problems with publicly executing Peacekeepers. The more public the better as I hear it, as they get promotions and gifts from their leaders." Kellen shook his head. "So, what? Just don't try to take them in?" "No, never try, they don't open their mouths once we get them and they have such a short lifespan it's not worth the paperwork, just shoot them." Kialli laughed so hard at the end of his sentence his seat started to rock slightly.
After a short silence, the Trisken stood up. "Anyway, enough of this. No point in giving you a tour of the entire building, you'll be living here essentially and can explore on your own time. Let's head out, I'll show you our patch of the city." Kialli headed for the door, Kellen followed him keeping up a quick pace. "Shut the door behind you."
Kialli turned left and carried on walking through a door at the end of the hallway. Now, outside in the back of the compound, he looked at all of the speeders, they weren't the open-top rough ones synonymous with High Flyers and young racers, but the heavily armoured closed ones. The three engines on the back stood out from the rest of the vehicle as the steelwork was smooth and painted, while the back was a disorganised mess; cabling, tubes, pipes, and what looked like scrap metal took away from the rest of the vehicle and if there weren't plenty of them side by side, Kellen would have assumed it was a chop job. "Come on, don't stand there, get in," Kialli said as he stepped through the open door.
The city was a buzz with life; speeders, cargo haulers and larger transporters filled the skies above, and occasionally, Kellen could see some larger star farers. Kialli flew mid-way between the rows of ships above the buildings and the ground below. Every so often a ship would pass by at the same altitude, but they would slow down when presented with the Peacekeepers speeder; bright white with streaks of red seemed to be eye-catching enough to anyone in their vicinity.
"This is pretty much it. Our job is essentially to patrol and let everyone know of our presence, if there's trouble the big gunships will come in, but, for us, it's check over the place and call them in when we need it. You're getting in at the right level, you can do this for a few years and get some extra training if you want to go the gunship route. Me, I'm happy here. I saw enough of the war on Trisk and I'd rather leave that behind me." Kialli said while sitting back in his seat lazily looking around at the buildings. "So, do you hate the Rotchi? Based on what happened to your homeworld?" Kellen asked. "No, I don't. I've had some Rotchi friends, we even passed legislation that says they can join The Peacekeepers now if they want. It may have been Rotchi tech that destroyed Trisk, but it was used by The Confederation. Besides, we lost our world, but so did they. Rotchnok is now New Trisk, so we have a world back. Not that anyone would want to live there, not with the mess they have made of it over the last few years."
"I read before that Triskens as a whole lost something; like a part of their mind, or connection to the universe or something like that, after Trisk was destroyed." "Yeah, I've read some of the work of Imis Dintis. I don't know whether there's validity in his research. Doshans have a weird way of looking at the world, based on their own connection with theirs. The way I see it, if we lived to be over seven hundred, we'd most likely talk a lot of crap too." Kellen was dismissive and tried to mask his defensive tone with a slightly jovial one.
"In saying that, maybe he's right. Who knows? The research isn't complete, so whatever he says is just a theory. He's good at what he does, but, I think he should stick to compiling history and leave the psychology to the psychologists." Kellen tapped on the control panel as he finished and he continued to look around lazily at the buildings. This time though, his movements were more sudden than before.
"Anyway, welcome to the rest of your life. Swooping around, warning people that there are rules now. Jex, it's a great city; it's the one place all the corporations came to after the war, and with them came the money. So, it's the only place that's "Civilized," the rest of Free Space is a bit backward, but, that's changing each year. Some day, it'll be back to how it was. But, by then, we'll be dead, or too old to enjoy it." Kellen couldn't help but laugh at the way Kialli was so nonchalant when it came to his mortality.
Compared to how Kellen felt before entering the HQ, he was starting to feel more comfortable and couldn't help but imagine what the next few years had in store.
This is an excellent way of obliquely revealing the characteristics of the Peacekeepers by focusing on their architectural style, which throughout human history, has often been used to define a cultural epoch (e.g., Pyramids, neo-classical architecture, Bahaus, etc).
Oh man, I'm really sorry for not seeing this and replying soon. Thank's so much! In the last few weeks I've really been trying to work on my descriptions of all things in my writing. Dialog was always the place I spent the majority of my time while writing, but I think this post is one of the first times I feel that I got descriptions right.
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I thought you had already replied for some reason. Hah. Great piece.
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